Saturday, 11 April 2015

Not on Mr King's Secret Service

On 1st March 1916 Joseph King made a stand in Parliament against the secrecy of the war effort, and more generally that the Government "kept from the public things which might just as well be attained in a public way".  In doing so, King appears to set himself apart from his peers.  In retrospect there is some irony here, as King himself was successfully prosecuted under the Defence of the Realm Act later that year, in October 1916.  

Perhaps his treatment in that case was informed by his very public stance in respect of the Defence of the Realm below.  


In response to a motion to provide a supplementary sum for the Secret Service of £50,000, the following debate took place (HC Deb 01 March 1916 vol 80 cc1139-48):

"Mr. KING 
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
Whenever the Secret Service Vote comes before the House I always take the opportunity of drawing attention to one or two peculiar circumstances connected with it. On former occasions, and in times of peace, I have always objected to the Vote because it is secret and because it attains, or attempts to attain, by methods kept from the public things which might just as well be attained in a public way. But at the present time the other view may be entertained, that as practically all our expenditure of a war nature is secret, all our Army expenditure, all our Navy expenditure, all our advances to our Allies and to our Colonies are kept entirely secret from us, what is the good of having a Secret Service Vote at all? All Votes for the War are entirely secret. As far as I can understand, they are not even to be put before the Public Accounts Committee. I, at any rate, have seen the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, as printed, and I do not understand that the expenditure of the War is set out there at all as we were given to understand it would be, or at any rate in such an intelligible form that we can understand what the expenditure on the War has been. Why have a Secret Service Vote at all when all the operations, to the extent of £5,000,000 a day, are carried on secretly? It is a mere absurdity. It is a contradiction in terms in these times to put forward a Secret Service Vote at all. I am sorry that no one connected with the Foreign Office is present. I think on previous occasions, as the Secret Service Vote is in some sort of way connected with the Foreign Office, we have had a representative of the Foreign Office to support and explain it. Whether that be so or not, I intend to call attention to two definite facts in connection with this Vote which I think are of some importance. If the Secret Service Vote is to be in any sense effective it ought to be kept secret, and at the present time there is a gentleman going up and down the country lecturing, and making a very large amount of money by his lectures, which he puts forward on the ground that he was employed for a good number of years by the Foreign Office on secret service.

William Le Queux,

I refer, of course, to Mr. William Le Queux. If you go to any watering-place you will see advertisements of Mr. William Le Queux, stating that he will give to the public, in return for the purchase of a half-crown ticket, the benefit of his great experiences and the secrets of the Courts of Europe and of diplomacy which he has attained while he was in the Secret Service. If it is true that he was in the Secret Service, he ought not to be allowed to go about disclosing the secrets. If he was not in the Secret Service, he is a fraud, a deception, and a humbug, and he is also a discredit to the country and ought to be prosecuted under the Defence of the Realm Act for throwing discredit on the country and on the Foreign Office. I should like some explanation of what to my mind is a perfect scandal—the way in which Mr. W. Le Queux has been going about for months saying he was a friend of the late Marquess of Salisbury, that he had many intimate communications with him, that he was sent on a secret service mission with Secret Service money. And then he gets ex-Cabinet Ministers to take the chair for him at his lectures.

St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Middleton,
Vanity Fair
The gentleman known as Viscount Midleton, who in this House was known as Mr. St. John Brodrick, who was formerly Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, takes the chair for him. I have no doubt, therefore, that Mr. St. John Brodrick, with all his authority at the Foreign Office, backs him up. If it was not that this gentleman professes under such auspices to give away the secrets of the Foreign Office the matter would be of less consequence. But with this backing up it becomes a perfect scandal.

There is one other, to my mind, important fact in connection with this Vote that ought to be met from the Treasury Bench—I refer to the case of Mr. Master-man. It has become an open secret, which anyone can see clearly by giving attention to the answers which have been given to frequent questions in this House as to the work, emoluments and method of pay of Mr. Masterman in his present position, that he is serving in the Secret Service and is paid out of the Secret Service Vote. I have always been a very great admirer of Mr. Masterman, but I do not agree with all his views, and I do not agree with a man being in the Secret Service and publishing elaborate statements of the policy of this country under his own signature. If he is in the Secret Service let him do secret work and not public work. I have it, everyone has it, on the very best authority, that he is in the Secret Service at present. Let him, therefore, do his work quietly and in secret. I am sorry I have not the
attention of any Cabinet Minister, because I am perhaps misguided enough to think that these matters I am bringing before the Committee are of such interest and importance that they ought to receive the attention of a Cabinet Minister, and I hope they will get some answer now.

They will not get any answer?


Then I am very sorry.

I am now asking for money for the Secret Service. If my hon. Friend wishes to persuade us not to vote that money, he is perfectly entitled to do so. Secret Service money is money deliberately and repeatedly voted by Parliament about which hon. Members abrogate their right to ask any questions. If you do not like the Secret Service, do not vote it; but do not ask questions as to how it is spent, because then it is not Secret Service.

I am afraid I shall have to make my speech all over again. I have just been pointing out two definite cases of men who say they are in the Secret Service and are doing public work, and one of them is giving away, with the support of men who have been in the Foreign Office, what he declares to be the secrets of the Foreign Office. It is a perfect scandal, and it only bears out what I say, that if you vote money in secret you will have it misused and misapplied and you will put it into the hands of people who are quite unworthy of your confidence. I suppose as we are not to have any reply to my speech it is a case of either take it or leave it. I am afraid I shall be the only Member who will have the courage to speak out against this Vote, but I must, as a protest against the way in which my entirely well meant and serious allegations have been met, move a reduction of the Vote."

Joseph King's war themes

A cursory review of Hansard highlights Joseph King's interests in the war effort.  His speeches are commonly concerns with the well-being of soldiers, others and the cost of the war.  There are numerous speeches that King initiated or took part in that are titled "deserters", "conscientious objectors", "nerve shaken soldiers", "court marshall prisoners", "prisoners of war", "aliens" and "military service".

Hansard, from Parliament UK

For example in 1916:

10 January 1916: 

"MR KING asked the Under Secretary of War whether he will state the number of desertions from the Army at Home reported from 4th August, 1914, to the latest available; and whether any men have during that period been imprisoned for desertion?

MR TENNANT I do not consider that it is in the public interest to give this information, but I will ask my hon. Friend not to run away with the idea that the number of desertions during the period in question causes concern." (Hansard, HC Deb 10 January 1916 vol 77 c1276)

and also that day:
"Mr. KING 
asked whether the number of divisions contributed by this country to the land forces of the Allies has reached or has exceeded the limit laid down by the Secretary of State for War on 25th August, 1914; what definite undertakings, if any, have been given by this country to maintain a definite number of fightiog men in the field; and what is the number of battalions which have to be in training or in reserve in order to make good losses or wastage in the field abroad?
My hon. Friend must be aware that it cannot be in the public interest to give this information." (
HC Deb 10 January 1916 vol 77 c1279)
On 21st February 1916:

"Mr. KING asked the Prime Minister whether, with a view to bringing the financial and military demands on the country into harmony, the question has been considered of limiting the numbers of our military and naval forces; and, if so, whether any Cabinet decision has been reached?
The relation between the military and financial requirements of the War is engaging the constant attention of the Government, and, as I stated last week, has recently been the subject of special consideration." (
HC Deb 21 February 1916 vol 80 cc432-3)
"Mr. KING 
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to an answer given by the Under-Secretary of state for war on 20th January with regard to the execution of persons in this country by the military authority within some forty-eight hours of the dismissal of the appeal by the court of criminal appeal; whether such a period admits of an appeal to the clemency of the crown and the consideration by the crown of such an appeal; and whether he will endeavour to secure consistency of practice in this respect as between the war office and the home office?
In every case where an appeal to the clemency of the Crown has been made the execution has been postponed in order that the appeal may receive full consideration. Prisoners of this class are always assisted by experienced counsel and solicitors, who are free to give any advice they may consider necessary or desirable regarding the matter of appeals." (
HC Deb 21 February 1916 vol 80 c437W)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Joseph King, the Union of Democratic Control & election defeat

Joseph King wrote a number of political pamphlets and articles that are held in the library at the London School of Economics.  One, The Russian Revolution: The First Year (April 1918) is published by the Union of Democratic Control.

Russian Revolution, King, Joseph,
Union of Democratic Control, April 1918

According to Wikipedia, the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) was a "British pressure group formed in 1914 to press for a more responsive foreign policy.  Whilst not a pacifist organization, it was opposed to military influence in government."   King is listed as one of the early members of the UDC.  Other early members included Arthur Ponsonby, Rolston (Haslemere 1850 - 1950, Phillimore) reported that Joseph King held a party for Ponsonby and another's elevation to the peerage in 1930 at his house, Hill Farm with George Bernard Shaw addressing the gathering.

The UDC was formed the day after the declaration of war by Charles Trevelyan (the former Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Education) who resigned from the Cabinet, he was joined by two Liberal Party pacifists: Norman Angell and E. D, Morell, and Ramsay MacDonald the leader of the Labour Party.   The group was mainly funded by Quaker businessmen George Cadbury and Arnold Rowntree.

In 1916 Joseph King is reported to have voted against the Conscription Bill (Hull Daily Mail, 8 January 1916) in an article: "The "Daily Graphic" gives the following particulars of the Liberal's (including the tellers) and Labour members who voted against the Bill to compel unmarried men who are hanging back without reason or excuse to join in the defence of this country."  Also listed as having voted against the Bill is "Mr Arthur A. W. H. Ponsonby (Stirling) Leader of the Union of Democratic Control.  Has been challenged to resign.  Age 45."

Rochdale Observer, 28 September 1918, p1

Spartacus educational reports that "in the 1918 General Election all the leading members of the Union of Democratic Control lost their seats in Parliament."  Joseph King did indeed lose his seat at the 1918 election, and perhaps this explains why.

An Easter Rhyme by Rev R.L. Gales April 1914

The Peasant Arts journal The Vineyard provides a number of Easter article choices.  Following on from my previous post from the Rev. R. L. Gales in April 1911, it is interesting to read his poem 3 years later that refers to the symbolism of the owl.

from Arbor Vitae, Godfrey Blount, 1899

"An Owl sat in an ivy bush,
ALamb hung on a tree,
For that ill fowl, the ancient Owl,
A goodly sight to see,
Whose eyes might mark in that fell dark
What deathly things might be.

On the third morn he Lamb was freed,
He stood all bright in a green mead,
In Daylight before day;
The ivy bush was cleft in twain,
Was riven and rent with might and main,
And the Owl fled away."

from Arbor Vitae, ibid.

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Queen of Festivals by Rev. R. L. Gales

Rev. R. L. Gales contributed plentiful pieces to The Vineyard, in April 1911 he wrote an article called "The Queen of Festivals".

I do not know much about him, but a small bit of internet researching delivers some details on Richard Lawson Gales (1862-1927).  Born in Littlehampton, he read English as Oxford University and won the Newdigate prize in 1886; a prize for the best composition of English verse by an undergraduate.  He was ordained in 1888 and became the curate of Stanwick (1888-1895), then Kirby in Cleveland (1895-1896), Wanborough  (1896-1907) and finally Gedney, Lincolnshire.  I wonder if he met the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement whilst in Wanborough?  This is approximately 15 miles away from Haslemere. has a number of mostly poetry books by R. L. Gales here, it includes titles such as A Posy of Folk Songs, Ballads & Carols and The Vanished Country Folk.  

In A Posy of Folk Songs (October 1912) for example:

"Good Friday (A South German Volkslied, 1590)

As our Lord into the Garden went
The olive trees before Him bent,
The green leaves shivered, for they knew well
To-morrow’s Sorrow, ere it befell.

The fales Jews into the Garden came,
Judas the traitor had showed them the same,
Our Lord they took, His Head they crowned,

His Body they scourged, His Hands they bound..."

In "The Queen of Festivals" (The Vineyard, ibid) Gales wrote "A country without festivals must perforce be bleak and unhomelike - at least, no home for the spirit.  I must confess that to me a festival is the greatest and most sacred of all great and sacred things...Allover Christendom the "Queen of Feasts", the Day of days, is not Christmas but Easter...

"It is fitting surely that the Resurrection should have taken place in a garden, and there can be no fitter way of celebrating it than our English custom of decking the churches with flowers.  An English country church, to its dress of moss and primroses gathered by village children, has more of the spirit of Easter, at least to my own thought, than an Eastern shrine glittering with candles, or an Italian basilica strewn with laurel.  But the flowers should be fresh spring flowers, and wild, shy, wood things.  Talking of plants and flowers, it used to be an old country custom for people to eat a taury pudding on Easter Day.  The meaning of the name is, of course, a deathless plant, the life-giving herb.  An old English name for the wood-sorrel was "alleluia".  It is a lovely thought to think of the earth being thus carpeted with Easter praise.  

"In this garden, the Easter sunrise took place at midnight, long before the rising of the earthly sun.  The old devout writers always speak of it as the Coming of the True Brightness, the Light springing up for the righteous, shining on those in darkness and the shadow of death.  The evil spirits were scared by its Rising like owls, and bats by the sun.

Barbagianni, the great owl
In his ancient ivied keep,
Hunting, in the midnight deep,
Helpless mice and poor small fowl,
Flutters in a blind affright
At the sudden silent light.

"Hilarity, gaiety, has always been the note of the popular keeping of Easter.  The mediaeval name for its joyous pranks and games were "Paschales risus" "Easter laughter".  There were in the Middle Ages cathedrals where the canons played at ball in the nave on Easter Day...Another North Country custom is that of rolling coloured Easter eggs by the children, this too on Easter Monday.  The egg, of course, has always been a type of the new life of the Resurrection.  The song of that new Life is "Alleluia".  The very name is synonymous with Easter.  It is the song of recompense and renewal, beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.  It was, and I hope still is, a piece of popular custom that one must always put on something new for the first time on Easter Sunday, must wear upon that day some token of the new creation, the everlasting renewal.  For Easter means "the restoring of the things that have been cast down, the renewing of the things that have grown old, the return of all things to their perfection through Him in Whom they had their beginning, Jesus Christ Our Lord.""
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...