HC Deb 30 January 1930 vol 234 cc1366-9

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."—[Mr. Pethick-Lawrence.]

Captain CROOKSHANK rose


On a point of Order. Did I not understand that you were in the act of collecting the voices?


I was in the act of collecting them, but I had not collected them.


We wish to reserve what we have to say to the Lord Privy Seal for Monday, but I should like to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why it has not been found possible to adopt the suggestion which I put to him on the Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Bill. It was that some sort of short memorandum or schedule should be attached to the Bill to show the subjects dealt with. It was a considerable surprise to us that, when we added up the total of the Supplementary Estimates we had been taking within the last week or so, we found that there was a little sum extra. That was the Lord Privy Seal's salary. It seems like trying to slip the Lord Privy Seal's salary through without members being fully seized that they were possibly losing an opportunity of debating the old subject of unemployment. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury said that it was a point of substance when I put it to him. He said that if he found the change desirable he would do it. I can only think that he found it desirable, because in these little things we may not be quite awake. The Lord Privy Seal is obviously no party to not showing the subjects for he has sat up in case the question of his salary was raised. I think it desirable that something of the kind I have suggested should be done in the future.

May I also say that in future we must emphatically protest against the way that the Government are managing their business. That the consideration of a Consolidated Fund Bill for over £5,000,000 should be entered upon after 11.30 is nothing short of a scandal. The Bill involves enormous expenditure.

There are important matters raised with regard to unemployment insurance administration, and the Sugar-Beet Subsidy about which some of us have a good deal to say, particularly hon. Members who are lucky enough to have factories in their constituencies, like myself. There is also the Lord Privy Seal's salary. Seeing that the Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Bill was brought in after midnight, and that the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) is brought in after 12.30, I think the Government should make an endeavour to manage their business in a more efficient way.

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)

I am glad to answer the point which the hon. and gallant Member has made. I promised on the occasion when the last Consolidated Fund Bill was before the House to give consideration to the question of giving a list of all the Votes which were covered by the Bill. I carried that out very carefully. I very sympathetically considered the possibility of taking the course which was suggested to me. I find on going into it, that the practice adopted in this Bill has been the practice for a very considerable time. I find that there is not generally any difficulty in finding what are the subjects which are covered by the Votes in the Bill. I find that the hon. and gallant Member himself has not found any difficulty in discovering the three Votes covered by this Bill. There is no secret about it. But I discovered at the same time that there was a certain objection to including a schedule of all the Votes covered in the Measure. Although on an occasion of this kind it means only two or three, in particular Bills a large number of Votes may be dealt with. These Bills have to be prepared very quickly, and it was expressed to me that it would be a very great inconvenience to the officers of this House to carry it out. If Members had been seriously inconvenienced, I would have set that above the convenience of officers of the House. I feel that no such difficulty really arises. I am sure hon. Members will extend courtesy and consideration to those who do a great deal of the effective work of this House. After sympathetic consideration, I am unable to carry out what the hon. and gallant Member quite properly suggested on the previous occasion. I hope that explanation will satisfy the House and that this particular stage of the Bill will not detain us further. The Committee stage has already been promised for next Monday, and there will be full opportunity for going into all the points which the hon. and gallant Member raises.


I do think the Financial Secretary ought to consider this matter again. It is through his courtesy that I was able to confirm exactly what was covered by this particular Bill. I do not see why he should not, as is the practice in connection with other Bills, have a short memorandum in front of the Bill setting out what matters are covered. The hon. Gentleman will see that it is very inconvenient for Members who desire to take part in the discussion of some of the matters covered in the Bill. When you have a Bill of considerable length it is inconvenient to Members, and very difficult sometimes, to ascertain exactly what is covered by the Bill. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should consider the matter again. I know that full notice as to what is contained in a particular Bill would be welcomed by everyone, and would meet the convenience of the House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.