A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 72

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THE OUTBREAK OF WAR


personal liberty that had been built up for many generations "I do not think that the liberty of the subject is so trifling matter that it can be swept away in a moment because some of us are in a panic."

The Act, nevertheless, passed into law, and the military authorities, as expected, used their great powers prudently. But the feeling grew that it was not right that all the ancient limitations on the supreme authority should go, and when the House of Lords met on January 7, 1915, Lord Parmoor introduced an amending Bill, to restore to citizens their right to be tried by the ordinary courts. The government promised, if this was withdrawn, to bring in a similar measure itself. It did so, and a new law was passed, giving any accused civilian the right to choose whether he should be tried by civil court or court martial. It was provided, however, that in case of special emergency, such as invasion, this choice would be withdrawn. The effect of this law, however, even as amended, was to vest in the government such powers as it had never enjoyed before. The civilian was no longer free to go where he pleased, should the military authorities desire to stop him. The task of leaving or entering a country was made one of great difficulty by severe passport regulations. The visitor to a strange place had to fill up a form declaring his identity, hotel guests had to be registered in the same way as had long prevailed on the continent. Great Britain was fighting for her life, and her people knew that, faced with this supreme issue, the rights and privileges of ordinary times must of necessity go.

The government at the outbreak of the war was called upon to decide what should be done with the very large number of enemy subjects in Britain. For years Germans had come and settled there in growing hosts. German financiers were among the leaders in the banking world; German stockbrokers formed a section of their own on the stock exchange; German importers and exporters dominated branch after branch of commerce in London and in great provincial cities. It was notorious that the young German clerk, speaking three languages and requiring little wage, had ousted young Britons from thousands of offices. Most of the great hotels were run by Germans or Austrians, while as waiters the only serious competitors of the Germans were the Italians and the Swiss. Germans had captured the greater part of the baking trade of London, and their food stores were

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