§ Question again proposed, "That this House do new adjourn."
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I trust the House has not been put to any inconvenience by waiting until this hour, but I was very anxious that they should have the latest authoritative information at their disposal before we separate for the week-end. My statement will be very brief, but I think it comprises the three or four points in which all members will be most interested.
With regard to the docks and certain forms of transport, negotiations are still going on. I am not aware of any hitch in these negotiations; they are pursuing their normal course. An agreement that work should be resumed to-morrow on buses trams and tubes of the Underground Railway system has been reached, but the terms of the settlement are not at present available.
1141 With regard to the railways, a few minutes ago, I had a telephone message from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. H. Thomas) who told me he hoped that by the time I would be making my statement in this House a settlement would be signed between the parties which he thinks will be satisfactory to all parties. My right hon. Friend beside me tells me that it is expected to be signed by ten minute past four this afternoon.
With regard to the mines, we have been working very hard on that. I have come to the conclusion that there is no possibility of the two parties coming to an agreement by themselves, and I have therefore prepared proposals which in my opinion form a reasonable and fair basis for settlement, and these proposals will be handed to the two parties within the next hour for their consideration over the week-end.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
I think the best service we can all do is to say as little as possible. As long as we have got the assurance that negotiations are going on relating to the three important points, docks, railways and mines, I think we will let things alone and not jeopardise anything by any words innocently but wrongly uttered. I propose to take that course. We are very glad that we have been able to have the statement. I wonder if I might venture one observation which I give with great hesitation, but which I think might help. It is with reference to the mines. I am quite certain, if I might venture to say so, that the conclusion to which the Prime Minister has come—that, if he leaves a settlement to the miners on the one hand and to the owners on the other, he will find, probably, that it is an impossible thing—is correct, and personally I am very glad he has taken steps to make his own proposals. One little thing I want to add is this. I wonder if he can consider whether in the circumstances it is expedient or wise that he should do something else; that when the negotiations on his statement are conducted he or somebody with good 1142 influence on both sides should be present to give a guide and a sort of guarding hand to what is going on. I do not want any reply. I only throw it out as a hint that if there is any sort of hitch in the negotiations and the talk over the proposals he makes, he might find it necessary to keep in touch with them and not allow them to run away on a disagreement when, perhaps, a gentle, kindly and influential hand over them both might help to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I want to say only a few words. The information which the Prime Minister has given in regard to the railways must be very gratifying to the House and it will bring great joy to the public outside. I am also very delighted to hear the Prime Minister has come to the conclusion that there is no hope of any arrangement being effected with regard to the mines between the parties without the direct intervention of the Government, and that proposals have been put forward. I thought it was very clear that that was the case a long time ago. I am very glad that definite proposals have been put forward. May I also reinforce the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition that either the Prime Minister or some authority accustomed to handle affairs between two parties like these should preside over their deliberations? Otherwise I am afraid that they will not be guided to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order, No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Four Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next (17th May.)