§ Mr. T. Williams
Might I ask, Sir Dennis, what distinction there is between 900 the previous Amendment on the Paper, which you have decided not to call, and the Amendment which you are now calling?
I think I must leave it to each Member of the Committee to form his own opinion on that. In my opinion the chief difference is that I have decided to call one, and not the other.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I beg to move, in page 16, line 6, to leave out from "period" to the end of the Sub-section.
Perhaps you will allow me, Sir Dennis, to deal also with the next two Amendments, which are consequential. These Amendments deal with the power of the war agricultural executive committees to take over derelict land. Shortly, the policy and procedure which would be followed, under the Clause as it stands at present, is that the committees, with the approval of the Minister, would have power to take over land that was derelict, and either farm it themselves or re-let it; and before three years after the termination of the war they would be compelled to hand back the land to the present owners, charging the present owners with any improvements which the committees had made, as a result of their work upon the land during the war and the three years after the war. The effect of the Amendment which I am now moving, and of later Amendments, is to empower the Minister to keep that land if he thinks fit to do so. I am doing this not because I have any theoretical belief in the State taking over the land of this country, but because I have a detestation of seeing one of our major natural resources being wasted by the neglect of individual owners. I do not know whether any hon. Members in this House—there may be some—know of any land that was taken over during the last war by county agricultural executive committees acting under exactly similar procedure and then handed back, as is suggested in this Clause, and which now have to be taken over again. I am pretty sure that there is some such land existing in England.
The county committees took over quite a lot of holdings towards the end of the last war and farmed them very creditably. There are reports concerning them in the official history of the Ministry of Agriculture and the war; glowing accounts of 901 the improvements effected and the increased production that was obtained as a result of the county executive committees taking over land. I heartily approve of the power of the Government to take over land which has been misused by its present owner or occupier, including building land outside towns, but more especially odd pieces of land and odd farms, and possibly old estates, which have been utterly neglected by their present owners. It may be that an owner is incapable of keeping his land in order or that he has not got the capital, through no fault of his own. I do not wish in any way to apportion blame, but when a vital asset in war-time has got into such a state of neglect, then it is necessary for the Government to take it over in order that it can be made to produce food efficiently. But it is a mistake to lay down categorically that land must be handed back to the owner who has neglected it in the past, and who will, no doubt, waste the whole of the improvement which has been carried out at the expense of the country during the war.
As I have said, there is nothing that I detest more than seeing land wasted through neglect, and this is the time and opportunity to take over that land and see that it is farmed properly. For the purposes of the war it is probably right that the war agricultural executive committees should do this work, but I cannot refrain from referring to the bigger question of this derelict land and the misuse of that natural resource. Lord Astor and Mr. Rowntree recommended, in a very important work published last year, that the way to treat this derelict land was to take it over and give it to a land improvements commission. I do not wish to dwell upon that, as it is not what I propose in my Amendment, but I suggest that some permanent organisation is needed in order to make use of waste land of this sort.
I had a letter the other day from a pillar of the Conservative party in my own constituency suggesting that the twin problems of agriculture during war-time were labour and capital. There is the means under this Clause of taking over the worst cases of derelict land, and I do appeal to the Minister to consider whether he can accept my permissive Amendment, which makes it possible for him to retain land in the national interest. It leaves it open to him to hand the land 902 back again but, nevertheless, gives him the opportunity of retaining it if he thinks that by handing it back it would be allowed to drift once more into a useless condition.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Smith
The Amendment on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) and myself does not differ in purpose from the one which has just been moved—
§ Mr. Smith
That may be, but it does serve the purpose which we had in mind, and I hope the Committee will give it consideration. If we pass this Clause as printed, it means that within three years from the end of the war period this land must be handed back to the owner. This land was requisitioned in the public interest because it was either not being cultivated or cultivated on the principles of good husbandry. It was taken over in the public interest, and there is no doubt that it will be improved as a result of public effort and public money. Where you have the State spending money for the purpose of improving the land, it appears to be rather bad business to say that at the end of three years from the end of the war period you must hand it back to the owner. You have no guarantee that what you have handed back will not fall into the derelict position it was in before it was requisitioned. Nobody in this Committee knows what will be the position at the end of the war, and it may not be in the national interest, at the end of that period, to hand the land back to the previous owner even though he may get compensation. Many will remember the promises held out during the last war and will recall the slogans about "Back to the land" and land settlements, both in this country and other parts of the Empire. It may be that when this war is over conditions will be such that it would be good business for the State to retain this land for longer than three years.
I submit that this point is worthy of consideration. I am one of those who believe that this country of ours can get more from the land than in the past. Therefore, I hope the Committee will give the Amendment serious consideration. I can imagine hon. Members opposite talk- 903 ing about private enterprise and private ownership as good individualists usually do. They believe in private enterprise so long as it pays them, but if there is one thing war shows it is this: the moment war breaks out private enterprise in the ordinary sense has to go and the State has to step in. Critics of State policy have to admit that the State does badly what private enterprise cannot do at all in war-time. The national interest must come first, and private interest must stand aside. The Committee will be doing a good stroke of business if it accepts the Amendment.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
This is an important Amendment, and can be approached without debating whether land nationalisation is right or wrong. It is certain that the Government would not have taken these drastic powers if they were not receiving considerable evidence that they were necessary for those who are doing the business of farming in war-time. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment asked if there was an instance of land taken over in the last war, treated and then surrendered, which has now to be improved again. There is an estate near Peace haven in precisely that condition. About 200 or 300 acres were recovered, produced excellent crops, then relinquished, and are now being recovered by four land girls, one of whom was a mannequin in a Bond Street shop and another a dancer. I do not know the identity of the other two, but they have made a supreme job of it. The agricultural organiser for East Sussex tells me that every time he sees these girls working a tractor he has to put his hand to his hat because of the excellent job they are doing in bringing back this derelict land into cultivation. It was brought into cultivation, then allowed to drift into a derelict condition, and is now being brought into cultivation again. On the last occasion the Government did not take powers to levy a charge on that land.
The President of the Land Agents Society knows that there are estates in this country which are in a derelict condition because of the charges which cannot be recovered from the land, and he knows that some land cannot be used because of the existing charges and that 904 no tenant will go on to the land and farm it. Here the Government are proposing to bring back derelict land into a high state of cultivation and then within three years relinquish it. Why not accept the good work done by the war agricultural committees? They are taking a pride in this work. Why not let them go on with it?
The hon. Member is getting beyond the scope of this Bill, which is limited to the war emergency.
§ Mr. Morgan
It is specified in the Clause that the Minister or the War Agricultural Executive Committee may be charged with the management of this land, and they are to undertake it, if necessary, for three years after the war. I am discussing what they are to do with it after the war. There is a case at Sutton Scotney in Hampshire which is well known to the Ministry. There are 3,000 acres of land, with a mansion that is now occupied by gypsies, and cottages which have the roofs off. Those 3,000 acres of excellent land cannot be handled. Why? Because the owner will not pay certain charges on the land. Under these powers, the Minister or the War Agricultural Executive Committee will be able to take over this property, and I have not the slightest doubt that—
The hon. Member apparently is not as well acquainted with the Bill as I thought he was. Its main subject is drainage, and it is limited to war emergencies.
§ Mr. Morgan
The Amendment deals not with the handing over of drainage after the war, but the handing over of properties which have been acquired by the Minister or the War Agricultural Executive Committee.
I must rule out of Order any discussion which has for its object the permanent acquisition of land under this Bill.
§ Mr. Morgan
After that Ruling, Sir Dennis, it is extremely difficult to understand why the Amendment we are now discussing was allowed to pass the Chair, because it raises the whole issue of whether or not the Minister is to be allowed to hold the land for the three years or less defined in the Bill, or for longer.
The hon. Member is in considerable danger of persuading me to interrupt the Debate and rule that the Amendment is out of Order.
§ Mr. Morgan
The purpose of the Clause is to acquire land and administer it in the national interest during the war, and the question is whether or not that is desirable, and the period for which it should be permitted. I have referred to a case in Hampshire with which the Minister will be called upon to deal. I find it extremely difficult to understand how the Minister will deal with such an estate unless he takes powers to hold the estate for such time as is necessary to recover the charges.
I must ask the hon. Member to study the Bill a little more carefully. I have not been able to find in it any power for the Government to acquire land.
§ Mr. T. Smith
Further to that point of Order. If this Amendment were carried, the Government could hand back the land either a month or 10 years after the end of the war, but it would not give the Government the right to acquire land for ever, as was the object of an Amendment on the Paper in the names of some of my hon. Friends and myself, which was not discussed. I submit that if this Amendment were carried, it would allow certain permissive grounds.
§ Mr. Boothby
Further to the point of Order, may I direct your attention to the fact that the argument of the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts), in moving the Amendment, was addressed solely to the position which would arise at the end of the war and the use to which the land was to be put? He addressed strong arguments to the Committee against handing back this land to any farmer who had proved in the meantime that he was not fanning it in the best possible way. I respectfully submit that unless we can continue discussing the question in those terms, the Amendment, as a whole, is out of Order.
In view of what has been said by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), I plead guilty to not having stopped the hon. Member earlier, but I wish to make it quite clear that under this Bill there is no power to acquire land in the sense of a complete 906 and permanent transfer of ownership to the State. The provision in the Bill is "to take possession" of the land, and it is well known that that phrase, when it is a case of obtaining possession of land for a certain period and for a certain purpose, means something quite different from acquiring the land as owners. To give an instance, anyone who takes a tenancy of a house for a period takes possession of it, but does not do so in the sense of becoming the owner. The whole scope of the Bill is that it is one to deal with war emergencies and to deal with drainage questions. There is no question of acquiring the land for other purposes.
Sub-section 1 (a) of Clause 22, refers to the case in which possession has been taken of land by the War Agricultural Executive Committee under powers conferred by regulations made under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939. That, clearly, is a war emergency measure. But under Sub-section (2) which we are now discussing the Minister mayafter and notwithstanding the expiry of the said Act, continue in possession of the land.It seems to me, therefore, that while my hon. Friend may have to use another verb instead of the verb "to acquire," he is in order in arguing that the Ministry should continue in complete possession, without any limitation of the period.
When I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) it was not on the ground that the Amendment was out of Order but because of the arguments which the hon. Member was using. The right hon. Gentleman's argument might be used to show that the Amendment is out of Order and I should certainly rule it out of Order if it appeared to be an Amendment for the purpose of making the Government absolute owners of the land but I do not take that to be its intention. It is true that Sub-section (2) does provide for the possession of the land, which is taken by the Government, under this power, being continued after the war but only for a short period and is really part of the general scheme for dealing with the land which has been taken possession of, for a particular purpose.
§ Sir Percy Harris
May I say that my hon. Friends drafted the Amendment so that it should be in Order and well within the purview of the Bill?
I took that to be so and that the Amendment was to be read in conjunction with the two following Amendments on the Paper.
§ Mr. Woodburn
May I suggest that the words "for any period" do not alter the principle of the three years?
I am afraid I must ask hon. Members not to discuss the matter further. I have given my Ruling.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
I am sorry to have given you, Sir Dennis, and the Committee so much trouble. I wish only to refer to the situation which it is proposed to create by this Clause, enabling the Minister to take possession of land for certain purposes, that land being described as, more or less, derelict. I gave instances of the position which arose after the last war, and which is affecting the present situation. Then, land which had been taken possession of was released, and fell back again into a derelict condition. Now the State is placed in the predicament of having to recover possession of that land and again restore it to a proper condition. I am putting in a plea to the Minister that he take powers, not necessarily to give up possession of this land at the end of the three years, but that he hold it if he sees that he cannot recover these charges which he must impose under the terms of this Bill if imposing these charges would have the effect of causing that land to become in its original state again, I can see that the Minister might be able to discharge some of the expenses and responsibilities which he has incurred during the war by retaining possession of this land recovered for war purposes and which may have to be used for war purposes again. As evidence, I can give Peace haven, where we have had to employ land girls from Bond Street.
I hope that the Amendment will be sympathetically considered by the Minister. It is not an Amendment devised for the purpose of acquiring land in order to insert a principle which we advocate. No action which can be taken which involves laying charges upon that land can ensure the appropriate use of it afterwards. I know some of the good work being done by the War Committees. On Tuesday morning we were summoned to attend a meeting with the land agents of a thousand acres in Essex, which is some 908 of the finest land, where all the farms cannot be occupied and we cannot get tenants yet. The whole committee have requested the chairman to take powers similar to these in order to see that this land is used in such a way that it can be—
Is the hon. Member referring to land which cannot be made use of because of lack of drainage?
§ Mr. Morgan
It is the lack of drainage resulting in the general condition of the land deteriorating to a point that crops cannot be taken off it and tenants are unable to occupy it. I cannot take up the time of the Committee any more because of the limitations necessarily imposed by the Chairman, but I think the general sense of the Amendment has reached the members of the Committee, and we can expect the sympathy from all quarters to see that the powers in this Bill, if considered good at one point of time, may not be considered good for another time.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Colville
It may be well to remind the Committee that we are dealing with an emergency Measure. [Hon. Members: "And land drainage."] It covers a number of subjects essential to the war emergency. This Amendment seeks to secure for an indefinite period after the war the retention of land by the State. I am not going to argue the question of nationalisation. I should be out of Order. As Secretary of State for Scotland, I think I am the largest landholder for the purposes of land settlement. We have a proposal which relates, not to the purchase of land, but to the retention of land under emergency powers. The words which the hon. Member seeks to omit enable the Minister, where possession has been taken of such land, to let it on a tenancy under the Agricultural Holdings Act, which is the proper way to deal with it.
§ Mr. J. Morgan
Would the land be taken possession of merely because it was not being properly drained?
§ Mr. Colville
That might be a factor. The words which the hon. Member seeks 909 to omit are for the purpose of enabling us to let the land long enough to bring us a reasonable return for the work involved in bringing the land back to a state of cultivation. This Sub-section is to be read in conjunction with the Sub-section which enables recovery from the owner on his return of sums equal to the value of the land which is attributable to what has been done to enable the land to be properly farmed. The hon. Members who are proposing the Amendment are reading into what is purely war emergency legislation something quite different. It refers only to property which has been taken possession of as a war emergency measure. We should apply our minds to the purposes of the Bill and to getting immediately as much return as we can from the land, and it only confuses us if we are asked to consider wide and sweeping changes of the kind which the Amendment proposes.
§ 11.7 p.m.
I am not convinced by the reply of the Secretary of State. He admits that this Clause is not restricted to the question of land drainage, and therefore admits a good deal of the case put by the Mover of the Amendment. We are dealing with land taken over under the Emergency Powers Act, in the first instance, by war agricultural committees for the reasons stated in Clause 22 (1, b); that is that the land was not being cultivated in accordance with the rules of good husbandry. We are submitting that if, as a result of three or four years of intensive expenditure by the State upon that land, and of expenses of public management, the land is better used, there are two courses open to the public authorities in control of the land. Instead of the Government limiting their powers under Sub-section (2) so that they must return the land after a period of not more than three years after the war, they could first make a charge upon the owner and recover the whole or part of the special State expenditure; or they have open to them what is, in our view, a much better course, and that is at least to retain possession of the land until they had recouped the State to the full for the whole of the public expenditure that has been made on the land during the war emergency and retrieving it from a position of complete dereliction. We have received no real answer at all to that point, and I beg the Gov- 910 ernment, whether they go into the Lobby or not against us—for we certainly must divide—that they will reconsider the question between now and Report. I see no real case at all for us to be demanding public service from every class of the community in a war emergency and for us to be spending tens of millions upon agriculture and then calmly hand this back to the very people who did not know how to use it and had no sense of responsibility to the State in respect of its ownership.
§ Sir Stanley Reed
May I ask the Secretary of State to reconsider this on Report and give due weight to the arguments that have been put forward, because it embodies a principle very dear to many of us?
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I only want to add to what I have said that this is not an ideological but a purely practical Amendment. I do not believe it is possible to bring much derelict land into proper production and hand it back within four or five years from to-day and to do that with any satisfaction to anyone concerned. What sort of satisfaction can a tenant get when he is told that after the war, when he has put his work into the farm and really improved it, he is going to be handed back to the landlord who could not do a thing for him before? What sort of tenant are you going to get? I get a lot of information from circulars that I receive. I am interested to find out what the Government really intend to do under this Clause as the result of the instructions that they send out to the committees concerned. The owner of land which is derelict, producing practically nothing, because of his inability to contribute anything towards the cost of bringing it back to cultivation, is useless as an owner. You put a tenant in to bring the farm back and tell him that the moment he has got it back into good order you hand him back to his derelict owner.
§ Sir E. Shepperson
I should like to ask a question of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. If the derelict land is wrongly cultivated, as he suggests, and is to be farmed by the war executive committees, or some other body, for many years after the war, who will finance the losses that will be sustained? 911 Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
|Division No. 21.]||AYES.||[11.16 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Albery, Sir Irvine||Hambro, A. V.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Assheton, R.||Harbord, Sir A.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Harland, H. P.||Robertson, D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Rowlands, G.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Holdsworth, H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Salt, E. W.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Jennings, R.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Keeling, E. H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.)||Selley, H. R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Channon, H.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Levy, T.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lindsay, K. M.||Somerset, T.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lipson, D. L.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Critchley, A.||Loftus, P. C.||Storey, S|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|David, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||M'Connell, Sir J.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|De la Bère, R.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Tree. A. R. L. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||McKie, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Denville, Alfred||Magnay, T.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Drewe, C.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Emery, J. F.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||White, Sir R. D. (Fareham)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Munro, P.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Etherton, Ralph||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Everard, Sir William Lindsay||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Peaks, O.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Mr. James Stuart and Lieut.-|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pym, L. R.||Colonel Kerr.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Gallacher, W.||Milner. Major J.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mort, D. L.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Owen, Major G.|
|Barr, J.||Hicks, E. G.||Paling, W.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Parker, J.|
|Batey, J.||Hollins, A.||Pearson, A.|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Horabin, T. L.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Isaacs, G. A.||Price, M. P.|
|Benson, G.||Jackson, W. F.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jagger, J.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Cassells, T.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ridley, G.|
|Chater, D.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Ritson, J.|
|Cocks, F. S.||John, W.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Collindridge, F.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Daggar, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Dalton, H.||Leach, W.||Sloan, A.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leonard, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lunn, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dobbie, W.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||MacLaren, A.||Tomlinson, G.|
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 134; Noes, 87.
|Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Williams, T. (Don Valley)||Woodburn, A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wilmot, John||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)||Mr. Wilfrid Roberts and Sir Percy Harris.|
§ Brigadier-General Brown rose—
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain Margesson.]
§ 11.24 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury what his intentions are with regard to this Measure? We are agreed that Progress must be reported, but we want to know the intentions of the Government with regard to the remainder of the Committee stage. As I see it, the Order Paper contains two more Amendments of substance. It was agreed provisionally that, should we fail to complete the Committee stage of the Bill to-day, we should continue with it as the first Order to-morrow. That was the general impression among my hen. Friends. I am sure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realises that little or no time has been wasted, and certainly not from these benches. Hon. Members opposite have taken a very great part in the criticism to-day. I suggest it would serve the best interest, not only of the House, but of the Secretary of State for Scotland and everybody else, if the remainder of the Committee stage could be taken as the first Order to-morrow. I am sure it would expedite the business, and it would please hon. Members in all parts of the House. I do not object to the Motion moved by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ 11.26 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)
I should like to correct one part of the statement of the hon. Member. When the Prime Minister announced the business for this week he said that we should take the Committee stage of this Bill to-day, and that if we failed to complete the Committee stage to-day we should continue with it to-morrow. He announced to-morrow's business as being the India and Burma Orders, first; and, secondly, the Rating and Valuation (Postponement of Valuations) Bill. He never said—and I can speak with authority on this, as I had something to do with it—that this would be the first Order to-morrow. But if the 914 Committee are agreeable that we should continue with it as the first Order, and then take the India and Burma Orders and then the Rating and Valuation (Postponement of Valuations) Bill, I have no objection. But that is only if it is clearly understood in all parts of the House
§ Mr. T. Williams
I thank the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his very generous and, I think, exceptionally sympathetic response. I would only point out that on the Paper there are 2½ pages of Amendments, not one of which is from the official Opposition.
§ 11.28 p.m.
§ Sir P. Harris
I would like to express the views of my party on this. I am quite willing to fall in with the views expressed by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I take exception to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) that there is anything generous in what he has done. On the contrary it is very generous of this Committee to facilitate the Government in the way it has. The Committee has been very generous to the Government in the way it has dealt with the business to-day.
Question put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.