§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)
I beg to move,That the proceedings on the Committee stage, Report stage and Third Reading of each of the following Bills, that is to say, the Transport Bill and Town and Country Planning Bill, shall be proceeded with as follows:—
§ (1)Committee Stage
- (a) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is referred shall report the Bill to the House on or before the second day of April next, and the general provisions set out in paragraph (3) of this Order. shall apply so far as applicable.
- (b) At a sitting at which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the Sittings of the Committee until the proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.
- (c) At a sitting at which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under such a Resolution no Motion relating to the sittings of the Committee, no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Committee, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the question on any such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate.
- (d) On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without question put.
§ (2) Report stage and Third Reading
- (a) Three allotted days shall be given to the Report stage and one allotted day shall be given to the Third Reading.
- (b) The proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 9.30p.m., on the last of the days allotted in the case of the Report stage and on the day allotted in the case of the Third Reading, and the general provisions set out in paragraph (3) of this Order shall apply.
- (c) Any day other than a Friday on which the Bill is put down as the First Order of the Day shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order.
- (d) Any Private Business which has been set down for consideration at 7 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 8 on an allotted day shall on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to Sittings of the House.
- (e) On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order those proceedings shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
- (f) On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or under this Order, nor Motion to re-commit the Bill, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ (3) General
- (a) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee us by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time. so appointed, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause which has been read a second time, also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill, and shall next proceed to put forthwith the questions on any amendments, new Clauses or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses or Schedules), and any Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Government Amendments or Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Questions that the Amendments be made or that the Clauses or Schedules be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
- (b) Nothing in this Order or in such a Resolution shall—
- (i) prevent any proceedings which there under are to be concluded on any particular day or at any particular sitting being concluded on an earlier day or at any earlier sitting, or necessitate any particular clay or sitting or part of a particular day or sitting being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
- (ii) prevent any other business being proceeded with on a particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, if any proceedings to be concluded on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of."
§ I informed the House last Thursday of the Government's intention to bring in a Time Table for the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, which are now before Standing Committees. I propose to explain to the House, for their information, how this has come about, and why we should do it now. The Motion carries out our intention to bring in the Time Table, or the two Time Tables, which I announced last Wednes 54 day, and it fixes Wednesday, 2nd April, the day before the Easter Adjournment, for both Bills to be reported back to the House from the Standing Committees. It also allocates three days for the Report. stage of each Bill, and one day for the Third Reading of each Bill. While there are many precedents for Time Tables for stages of Bills taken on the Floor of the House, which have been proposed by all parties at one time or another, this is the first occasion that an allocation of time Order has been proposed in relation to a Bill in Standing Committee. That I admit.
§ Mr. Greenwood
The Select Committee on Procedure, which this House appointed in August, 1945, reported that a Memorandum submitted by this Government stated:The scheme was originally drafted by a committee of Ministers of the Coalition Government, but it did not, at any time, receive the approval of the War Cabinet and the Members of the War Cabinet are not in any way committed to it. The present Government,"—That is, the one now sitting on this side of the House—whilst not thinking it right to commit itself at this stage, feels that the scheme covers a number of proposals which are eminently worthy of consideration by the Select Committee and form a useful basis from which the Committee may commence its discussions.It seams clear to me that in the days of the National Government this question of the best use of Parliamentary time and the effective use of the Committee and other stages of a Bill was under very active consideration. Members of all parties in that National Government were obviously exercised in their minds as to whether in the great strain of the days after the war—whether they sat on this side of the House or opposite—there would have to be some sort of speeding up of our legislative machine.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is no good saying "No." Why did the right hon. Gentleman the then Prime Minister agree to the setting up of a committee to examine this problem? He did not waste his time in those days in calling for the examination of problems which were purely academic—
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is no good hon. Members opposite saying that the right hon. Gentleman who was then Prime Minister regarded this as a purely frivolous suggestion on behalf of somebody. The Government did in fact examine it very seriously. [HON. MEMBERS: "But they did not approve it."] I have explained that they did not approve. I am not trying to pull a fast one. I have explained that they did not approve. I am only making a simple point which I should have thought might have got into the heads of hon. Members opposite. The matter was so important in the view of the then Government that, whilst they were not committed to any conclusions about this, at least they recognised the importance of a possible change in our Parliamentary machinery.
Therefore, we set up a Select Committee which reported to the House. Its first Report was issued in October, 1945. The recommendations of that Select Committee were brought before the House by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 15th November, 1945, in the early days of this Government. The House agreed with the Committee in its proposals in general and did not challenge a Division. That Report was, more or less, accepted by this House. Later that wry same day, in November, 1945, Sessional Orders were passed which made special arrangements for the application of a Time Order to Bills in Standing Committee. I have already said that we have not done it in this way before. This is a new experiment—[Interruption.]—a new experiment resting on the authority of this House.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for the right hon. Gentleman to call those of us who have done a little bit for our country, Nazis? If so, the right hon. Gentleman may as well understand quite clearly that I regard him as a low class Fascist.
§ Mr. Speaker
If I may give advice to hon. Members, I would say the fewer points of Order we have, the better. If this sort of thing continues, we shall have nothing but points of Order all the evening.
§ Mr. Greenwood rose—
§ Mr. Tiffany (Peterborough)
Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for any hon. Member opposite deliberately to impute that a right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House is a Fascist?
§ Mr. Speaker
In a matter of this kind when hon. Members on one side of the House call hon. Members on the other side Fascists, and they reply by calling the others Nazis, really I think it is better that we should drop the whole thing altogether.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)
Mr. Speaker, further to that—[HON. MEMBERS: "Franco."] Further to that point of Order, is it not a fact that the only consort of a Fascist in this country is now a Socialist Minister in this Government?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I shall withdraw any statement that I make if I am invited to do so by Mr. Speaker, and not by a horde of shouting hon. Members on the opposite side of the House.
§ Mr. Greenwood
Under the Sessional Order which permits this procedure to be operated Mr. Speaker will nominate the Chairmen of the two Standing Committees involved in respect of their Bills, and seven Members of the Committee, to be Members of the Business Sub-Committee provided for in our Sessional Orders. The subjects upon which the sub-committee are authorised to report to the main Standing Committee—not to this House—are four. They are: the number of sittings to be allotted to the consideration of the Bill; the hours of sitting, if any, additional to the usual morning sittings; the allocation of the proceedings to be taken at each sitting; and the time at which proceedings, if not previously brought to a conclusion, shall be concluded. All resolutions of a Business Sub-Committee are to be printed and circulated with the Votes. The resolutions will be reported to the Standing Committee, according to our Standing 57 Orders, and put to the Committee for its agreement. The question must be decided—
Colonel Sir Charles MaeAndrew (Ayr and Bute, Northern)
I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a mistake—by the Sessional Order, not the Standing Order.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I beg pardon. I should have said that the resolutions will be reported to the Standing Committee, according to the Sessional Order. The decisions of the Business Sub-Committee will be reported to the Standing Committee for their agreement. The question must be decided without Amendment or Debate, and the Resolution, once passed, will operate as though included in the Allocation of Time Order made by the House. These are merely the provisions of the Sessional Order passed early in the first Session of this Government, as I said, and renewed last November. They embody the new procedure recommended by the Select Committee on Procedure which, as I must reaffirm, has been accepted by this House.
I am sure that, faced with this problem, the Business Sub-Committee of each Standing Committee may count upon the assistance of the authorities of the House in working out the new scheme, and my right hon. Friends the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Town and Country Planning will be ready to assist the sub-committee in any way possible. [Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members opposite are not going to disturb me too much, because I should feel a little irritation myself if this procedure were operated against them. I have been here longer than some hon. Members, and I think it is a pity that we were not able to carry through the Legislature proposals submitted to Parliament by voluntary arrangements—[Interruption.] I am saying that I am sorry that it has not been possible for it to be done by voluntary agreement, and that if it had been done by voluntary agreement it would have been to the satisfaction of the Government; but, in view of the state of the programme, and of the fact that no voluntary agreement has been reached, we have no alternative but to put into operation the machinery with which we have been armed. Standing Committee B, which is considering the Transport Bill, has had II Sittings up to and including last Thursday. Five Clauses have been obtained—
§ Sir John Mellor (Sutton Coldfield)
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman in Order in referring to what occurred in Standing Committee before that Committee has reported to this House? Has it not been frequently ruled from the Chair that this House has no official knowledge of what has taken place in Standing Committee until that Committee has reported?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The answer is that the House is fully aware of the Sittings of Standing Committees through publication of their proceedings in HANSARD.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
Are you aware, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that, in spite of that fact, Mr. Speaker ruled against me and my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) on this issue and on this very point, when we questioned the actions of the Minister of Health in criticising Amendments upstairs?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman asked if he might make a comment before I answered the point of Order.
§ Mr. Greenwood
No, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I asked if I might answer that question. Is it not a fact that the Sessional Orders come before the House, and must do, when we examine the question of expediting the Business of the House in Committee?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is perfectly correct. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith), I cannot give a decision on that matter until I have seen what was stated in HANSARD and ascertain if they are comparable.
§ Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)
May I also state that, when I referred to what had happened upstairs, with Mr. Speaker in the Chair, he ruled that I could make no such reference?
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
May I put a point? The House is now 59 being asked to discuss the Guillotine Motion which affects proceedings upstairs. I submit that, in these exceptional circumstances, it is absolutely in Order to discuss what is going on upstairs.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that statement. I am in agreement with him.
§ Mr. Greenwood rose—
§ Sir J. Mellor
On a point of Order. May I have your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on the general point which I put to you? Is it not correct that this House has no official knowledge of what has transpired in Standing Committee until that Committee has reported? We all know that reports appear from day to day in HANSARD, but I submit that we have no official knowledge until the Committee has reported.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
So far, the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly in Order. He has simply acquainted the House of that which we already knew—that certain Sittings have already taken place—and I therefore rule the right hon. Gentleman in Order.
§ Sir J. Mellor
With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill had only got through five Clauses. I submit that the House has no official knowledge of that fact—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am not a Member of that Standing Committee, but I have that knowledge, although the Committee has not officially reported, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is not giving to the House information which he should not give.
§ Mr. Hogg
Do we understand that your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, means that, notwithstanding that it has been proved that what is contained in HANSARD in the past regarding Standing Committees does not constitute official knowledge, either of this House or of the Chair, anything which is contained in HANSARD which happens to he within the knowledge of hon. Members in this House can be referred to?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman knows that that is an absurdity, 60 [Interruption.] I withdraw that word, and I say that it was an intentional misunderstanding. I only ruled with regard to the fact of the Committee sitting. Obviously, if an hon. Member referred to the actual Bills now before the Standing Committees. that would be out of Order.
§ Mr. Hogg
I distinctly heard you say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you had knowledge of what has taken place upstairs, although you were not a Member of the Committee, and I ask you now whether your Ruling, which I thought I heard distinctly, means that anything which we know unofficially, or which the Chair happens to know, may be referred to in our Debates? I ask for a Ruling on that point.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not take objection to the words I am going to use. We are dealing at the present moment with an exceptional matter, and, therefore, either to make or to disprove a case, it will be necessary, presumably, to state certain facts which have happened with regard to Standing Committees, and I rule that that will be perfectly in Order, but that any mention regarding the merits or demerits of the Bills now before the Standing Committees will be out of Order.
§ Sir C. MacAndrew
Is not this the position? We cannot discuss what happened in Committee upstairs unless it has been reported officially to the House, but, as it is, the day after the Committee sitting, the report appears in HANSARD. As no Committee has been sitting this morning, is it not in Order to discuss anything that happened upstairs?
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
In Order to make that quite clear, is it not within your recollection, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that, a month ago, I called attention in a Question to something which had occurred upstairs, namely, the defeat of the Government, and Mr. Speaker definitely told me it was out of Order to refer to it? May I put it to you that the Ruling you have given will only have relevance to this particular Debate, and that, in future, we shall not be able to discuss what occurs upstairs?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
My opinion is based on the fact that the Motion refers to Committees upstairs, and is, therefore, within the range of the discussion.
§ Sir Alan Herbert (Oxford University)
Arising out of your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would it be in Order to describe the contents and quality of the Clauses?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We can have no discussion at all upon the particular Bills which are being considered in the Committees upstairs.
§ Mr. Prescott
If it is in Order in this Debate to refer to the number of days on which the Committees have sat, and also to the number of Clauses that have been considered in those Committees, will it not also be in Order to discuss, in general terms, the manner in which the Committees have conducted their Debates, and the general atmosphere of the Committees?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have already ruled that that would be out of Order. I suggest that we have now got rid of the point of Order, and that we ought to proceed with the Debate.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
While entirely agreeing with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has said, may I, with great respect, put this point to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? Supposing it is relevant to suggest that there has been obstruction in the Committees upstairs, then, I submit, it must be relevant for us to refute such a suggestion. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal withdraws any suggestion of obstruction upstairs—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is a purely hypothetical question: we must wait until such a situation arises.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South)
If the hon. Gentleman does not want to make any sensible contribution to the Debate, he should, by all means, carry on with his point of Order.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal has based his case upon the acceptance by the House 62 of the Report of the Select Committee. The Report of that Select Committee involved among other things a view not wholly manifest about Bills which were or were not wholly constitutional or fundamental in their nature. While wholly respectfully accepting your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that we would not be in Order in dealing with the merits of this Bill, the Transport Bill, or whatever it may be, I put it that it would he in Order to say whether either or both of these Bills hale both those qualities of being fundamental or constitutional.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
With regard to that, I think that we had better wait and see how the Debate proceeds. I am ruling that nothing relating to the Bills, except the actual number Of Sittings that have taken place and Clauses that have been passed, will be in Order.
§ Mr. Greenwood rose—
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs) rose—
§ Mr. Maclay
On a point of Order. This is a serious point because it has a bearing on your recent Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I submit that, as the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal has already referred to the fact that Standing Committee B has had II Sittings during which it has dealt only with five Clauses, that puts an implication into the mind of the general public that there is something wrong. I would merely refer the matter to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport who, I think, would agree that there has been nothing wrong with the Debates in that Committee. My point is that, under your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, when we come to the Debate, we shall not be able to explain in any way what those five clauses were about. If we were allowed to do so, we should make it clear that II sittings represent an extraordinarily short space of time in which to deal with the matter.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot deal with implications, and I now rule, as, indeed, I have done already, that it is perfectly in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to state the number of Sittings which have taken place and, the number of Clauses that have been passed. It would equally 63 be in Order for anyone to say that so few Sittings have taken place and so many Clauses have been passed.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I still propose to say what I meant to say. First, let me deal with the point of Order—
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
Is it in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to deal with points of Order; is not that a matter for the Chair?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I was only dealing with the assertion—because it was an attempt to undermine my argument—made by the hon. Member. He said that my case was based upon the Report of the Select Committee. I have said that my case is based on Sessional Orders adopted by the House.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I really must appeal to the House to proceed with the Debate as, otherwise, we shall spend the rest of the day on points of Order.
§ Mr. Foster
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to say that points of Order raised on this side of the House are not points of Order, but attempts to undermine his argument?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I was not referring to the point of Order, but to a statement made by the hon. Gentleman. I now propose to continue. The point I wish to make—and I shall not transgress any rules of Order; I know as much about rules of Order as any hon. Member in this House, and I have no intention of dealing with the merits or the details of the discussions which have taken place in Standing Committee on these particular Bills—is that the Committees have sat for so many days, hut have only got so far. However, enough publicity has been given to the matter, and it seems that hon. Members opposite are a little upset about it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)
On a point of Order. Surely, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order in suggesting that there was obstruction on this Committee?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am sure that the public will now be aware that we have not made great progress with these two Bills. Last Session—and I think it was a great tribute to the House of Commons and to Parliament—we were able to pass several large and very important Measures into law without the aid of special procedure. Among others were the big social reform Bills and the Coal Industry (Nationalisation) Bill, and, as we are not proceeding at the same rate this Session, we feel that we must now adopt this special procedure with which we are armed by the House of Commons. After their completion and Report to this House on 2nd April, these Bills will come to their final stages after Easter, as will other Measures now in progress. Our real aim is to try to even out the Business of the House, and to complete as much of the legislation as possible before the House becomes engaged on the Finance Bill and the Business of Supply—
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would speak more loudly? Does he appreciate that a powerful voice is a customary and necessary weapon of a dictator?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am wondering how many hon. Members want to disclose that they have powerful voices.
§ Mr. Callaghan
On a point of Order. In view of the gross discourtesy which the Opposition are showing, may we hope that you will not ration points of Order when their speakers are trying to put a case?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not intend to ration points of Order. I shall accept points of Order from whatever parts of the House they come May I express the hope that they will be points of Order?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
In reply to the hon. Member for South Cardiff (Mr. Callaghan), may I say that to be forewarned is to be forearmed?
§ Brigadier Mackeson
May I draw attention to the fact—[Interruption.]If hon. Members want me to, I can show that I 65 have a much louder voice than they have. [An HON. MEMBER: "Chelsea barracks."] May I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the very serious remark that was heard by us on these back Benches from the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock), who said that she had the last word? Surely, the Chair has the last word in these questions, and the voting of Private Members.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not a point of Order. May I express the view that this is a serious Assembly and that we are dealing with an important matter?
§ Mr. Greenwood
Of course, hon. Members opposite would not like to be thought guilty of obstruction, but the least one can say is they are not facilitating the course of the Debate. I now proceed to conclude what I meant to say. I was saying that it was our aim to complete legislation as soon as possible before the House becomes engaged in the very heavy work of the Finance Bill and the Business of Supply which takes up so much time of this House between Whitsun and the end of July. We have now reached the period of this Session when legislation should be well advanced, and further advanced than it is at the present time. I may say that it is the intention of the Government, so far as we can, to avoid an autumn Session, a conclusion with which, I think, hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree.
§ Mr. Greenwood
In view of the facts which I have given to the House—somewhat disjointedly because of the persistent interruption—we are, in my view, entitled to use the new machinery with which we have been provided by Parliament. After this Motion is passed, I hope that the Business Sub-Committees will be able to map out a Time Table for the two Bills concerned, using the time to the best available advantage, and securing the consideration of all the important issues thrown up by the Bills within the new framework. We had a heavy Session last Session. We have a heavy programme this Session—
§ Mr. Greenwood
I explained last Thursday that we have no intention of cutting it down. A heavy burden is likely to be thrown on Parliament in future Sessions. Our programme was put before the country, and, in accordance with our undertakings, it has been carried into effect—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. John E. Haire (Wycombe)
Is it in Order for hon. Members on whatever side of this House, while still remaining seated, to interrupt a speaker? If not, what steps do you propose to take, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to prevent these continuous interruptions?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
For Members to rise when interrupting would be difficult to enforce as a rule, and it would be extremely difficult to determine who was speaking. Interruptions are in Order but it is to be hoped these interruptions will be few and far between.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
Is it in Order for hon. Members sitting on the Parliamentary Private Secretaries' bench to anticipate their promotion to office?
§ Mr. Greenwood
My right hon. and hon. Friends were sent here to carry out a mandate. Hon. Members opposite have heard so much about it and they do not like it, anyway. Let me try, in a few sentences, to summarise the case which I have tried to put and which has been subject to constant interruption from hon. Members on the other side who have shown me less than the usual courtesy.
§ Mr. Greenwood
The need for an examination of this question of the work of Standing Committees and Parliamentary procedure was acknowledged by the National Government. I assert, further, that the House accepted the Report of a Select Committee which was set up to consider the proposals to which the Government were not committed. Out of that came a Report which was accepted by the House. Sessional Orders were adopted by this House to implement those proposals. We are operating them now. Last Session we were not called upon to use the new procedure though we did 67 have late Sittings. I think I was leading for the Government when we had three Sittings in one day, and we wound up the Commitee stage of the Bill at 10.25 one night. Hon. Members may remember the occasion. I am not saying there was obstruction; but I am saying we made the necessary progress. I am saying further, that with voluntary arrangements big Bills went through, and were put on the Statute Book this Session. This Session again, the House adopted its Sessional Orders. But progress has been so slow on the two Bills—
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
The right hon. Gentleman has said twice that progress was slow on the two Bills, but he has said nothing about the Town and Country Planning Bill. Is he aware that the Committee dealing with that Bill has sat four times, and the last time it rose early at the request of the Minister?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I thought hon. Members opposite were very indignant at the disclosure of such secret proceedings, because when I referred to the number of Sittings it was frowned upon by hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am not going to answer the question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not? "] I am saying that the progress on these two Bills is too slow. Therefore, we propose to apply the new procedure. The broad issues which divide you and us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—The broad issues which divide hon. Members opposite and ourselves are very well known. A large number of these issues on which we are divided are not new ones. Ever since the first structure of the Labour Party in 1900 our ways have lain apart; they always will lie apart; and I hope they may do. However, I should like to keep the Conservatives alive, if only as a museum. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members opposite will concentrate on major issues of real, fundamental importance and not on minor points, and make it easier, without the heat that has been engendered here this afternoon. I may say, we have decided that we must, and will, carry out the programme to which we are pledged.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
The right hon. Gentleman will have perceived already that we on this side of the House—[Interruption]—I am in no hurry, I assure hon. Members—resent and deplore the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has brought this Motion before the House at this time. I must tell him that the arguments which he used this afternoon in support of it are utterly unconvincing. In the course of his observations he suddenly referred to the desirability of avoiding an autumn Session. But if the House has to choose between inadequate discussion of these most important Measures and an autumn Session, of course we are ready to have the autumn Session. I am absolutely amazed that it should be a Socialist Government which comes down to tell us that we must use the Guillotine because we cannot have an autumn Session.
The right hon. Gentleman referred, quite rightly, to the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure. I wondered if he had himself read his own Government's recommendation to the Select Committee. If he had, he would have found that it dealt exactly with the point with which he was dealing just now. This is what they said—his own Government's recommendation—If in the relevant period a situation arises where one or more important Bills are likely to be lost through lack of time at the end of the Session the first line of defence should be, in their view,"—that is the Government's view—to prolong the Session so far as this is possible.Yet today the right hon. Gentleman comes down and says: "We cannot do that. We might have to have an autumn Session." [HON. MEMBERS:No."] If he did not mean that, perhaps he will explain what he meant. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] No doubt somebody will explain whether the right hon. Gentleman did not mean what he said.
I now come to the next point. Last Thursday the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to realise the drastic and unprecedented nature of what he is doing. There are, in fact—as I ask the House to note—two departures here. The first departure is that Bills of this major, national importance should be sent upstairs at all. Over and over again, we, and hon. Members below the Gangway 69 also, have registered our protest against that practice. Secondly, if they are to go upstairs to a small committee they should never be subjected to a guillotine at that stage in this way. I tell the right hon. Gentleman, as I told him last Thursday—and he did not seem to know last Thursday—the Guillotine has never been used upstairs before. That is the position. The right hon. Gentleman contradicted me last Thursday. But I think today he admits he was wrong, and has changed his mind. I make no complaint of that; we all make mistakes. What I do complain about is that, having made that colossal mistake, he does not now see the significance of it. If this Guillotine has never been used upstairs before—as the right hon. Gentleman admits—then he must make a case infinitely more far-reaching than the one he has made today. I am bound to say, it seems to us utterly scandalous to use the Guillotine in this way, on major Bills upstairs at this stage of the Session.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to our discussion when the then Leader of the House brought the proposals of the Select Committee before us. I remember those discussions very well, and we on this side of the House issued some warnings at that time. We warned the Government that present Standing Committees, of only 50 Members, are much too small to be wholly representative of all sections of opinion in the House. Everybody knows that is true. But if the work is to be given to these small Committees, they should at least be given full time to discharge that work; and if they are not, Parliamentary proceedings are reduced to a mere mockery. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the sittings on the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, which we are discussing. Nobody in this House pretends, so far as I have heard, and I do not wish to pretend that there has been any obstruction on those Bills. Indeed, I am told that, in fact, the Bills have been improved. I am going to refer to one or two of those matters. But I do take the strongest exception to the fact that a daily newspaper makes a charge which, in fact, is not—
§ Mr. Eden
Yes, a charge which no member of the Government has yet made. The "Daily Herald" says today:In the past few weeks the Tories have been seeking, by all manner of dilatory and obstructive tactics, to hold up…measures of reform.It goes on later to say:The Opposition by delaying procedure in Standing Committee …I am going to ask the right hon. Gentlemen in charge of these Bills whether they allege obstruction or whether they do not.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
May I put this point to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? I never referred to the proceedings in Standing Committee. I thought that hon. Members on the other side of the House challenged any reference to the proceedings in Committee. I said the progress had been slow. I did not say that there had been obstruction. May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is now putting the substance of what happened in the Committees?
§ Mr. Eden
I asked the right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of these Bills a question which, I submit to you, Sir, is entirely in Order, which is germane to this discussion, and which is relevant to this monstrous article in a daily newspaper. I ask the two Ministers whether they take the view that the discussion on those two Bills has been obstructive or not.
§ Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)
On a. point of Order, may I ask for your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? If a Member opposite resumes his seat, is any Member on this side, who is fortunate enough to catch your eye, entitled to carry on the Debate?
§ The Minister of Town and Country Planning (Mr. Silkin)
I do not propose to run away from the question. I was proposing in due course to answer it.
§ Mr. Eden
Perhaps I may make an observation or two on this subject. I am given to understand that these Bills have, in fact, been considerably improved. Although I would not discuss the merits of what goes on upstairs—which is not our concern—I am, I think, entitled to discuss the time table of what goes on upstairs. I understand that the Committee on the Town and Country Planning Bill have had important discussions on the part to be played by local councils in the planning of town and country, and that they have made pretty good progress, having regard to the complexity of the Measure. They have not sat three mornings a week, although I understand they took a great deal of time one morning to discuss whether they would sit three mornings or not. One morning they adjourned at twenty minutes to one o'clock because the Minister was not ready with his own Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman explained his reasons, hut, on the face of it, it seems odd to adjourn at twenty minutes to one o'clock if Government Business is in good shape. Then the Committee on Town and Country Planning Bill has had only four Sittings, yet at this early date the Government come down and- say, "This has to be guillotined."
What about the Transport Bill? Short of going into the merits of the Bill I can say that a third of the time has been taken by the Government's supporters. That is quite right. Nobody makes any objection. Naturally, they have their contributions to make. But the Minister in charge has withdrawn a very large part of the Bill affecting compensation, under Part II. The Minister has had to table a very large number of Amendments—75 in all, affecting Clauses 13 to 93—a complete recasting of the financial compensation provisions, and the method of payment. That was done—and quite rightly done: I am not blaming the Minister—as the result of Members of the Committee from this side of the House having pointed out that the 72 existing procedure could not possibly work. If it is possible for the Minister to recast the greater part of the provisions of one Part of the Bill, which the Committee, through their arguments, have induced him to recast, the Committee ought to have the opportunity to examine the revised proposals when they come before the Committee; but they will not have the chance to do that under the Guillotine. Down it comes, and unless the Minister is willing, nobody can make any Amendment to his revised proposals when they come back, as the right hon. Gentleman will see if he reads this Motion carefully. How can it be argued that this does other than reduce the whole proceedings of the Committee to a farce?
Let me come to my next argument. When the new procedure was discussed on the Floor of the House, I pointed out that these Committees were much too small, that they did not give true representation to the minorities, and that, as a consequence, more time ought to be given to the Report stage. I must quote to the House what I then said, because the right hon. Gentleman said we agreed with all this. I uttered this warning to the right hon. Gentleman:If we have Standing Committees of 50 or less dealing with major Measures sent, after Second Reading, to this House, those Committees cannot be fully representative of the House politically, geographically or industrially. However well we arrange matters it is impossible to contrive that. I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree"—that was the Lord President of the Council—hat it flows from that that there will have to be more discussion on Report stage of major Measures than there has been hitherto. I am not saying that in any obstructive sense, but because we have always attached, and must attach, great importance to minority views being expressed in this House, you cannot get, on a Standing Committee, full representation of minority views and at the Report stage they must have their chance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 5945; Vol, 455, c. 2353, 2354.]That is what I said to the right hon. Gentleman on this matter when it was discussed. May I call the attention of the House to what the Lord President replied? I beg the acting Leader of the House to give heed to this, because, in my submission, what he is now doing is a complete breach of what the Lord President said to the House. The Lord President said:I think, in principle, that is a fair point for consideration, and I have no doubt, as was 73 revealed in the evidence, that Mr. Speaker will give proper weight to that consideration"—That is to say, to more time on Report stage. But, Mr. Speaker cannot give full weight to the consideration, because the rule that is to be applied at the Committee stage upstairs is to be applied then. That is a direct contravention of what the Lord President said. Then the Lord President said:I agree it would not be improper—indeed, it would be right—that the Government, if they make a Guillotine or Committee upstairs, and Report downstairs, should also take that point into account. As to the degree to which it should be taken into account, and its consequences on the time on the Report stage, there might he room for differences of opinion, but I agree that if a Committee stage is taken in Committee upstairs the rights of the House are rather more pronounced on the Report stage than if the Committee stage is taken in a Committee of the whole House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 15th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 2394.]So far from the rights of the House on Report being more pronounced, they are very much less pronounced than they have ever been on any major Bill before this House. The last time this House discussed a Transport Bill was in 1921, a Bill which, as some hon. Members of this House will remember, was nothing like as controversial as the Measure at present under discussion. Then we had four days for the Report stage. Now, after a Guillotine upstairs, we are offered three wretched days to try to get through the Report stage on the Floor of the House. How can the right hon. Gentleman defend that? He has made not the least attempt to do so.
I am going to pray in aid the evidence that the Chair gave before the Select Committee in respect of this proposal, for this is really a matter of fundamental importance for the future life of this House. Mr. Speaker gave evidence before the Select Committee, as hon. Gentlemen remember, on this question of the Report stage, and this is what Mr. Speaker said:I would remind you that on Report stage of a Bill or anything else the Speaker has pretty drastic powers. He has the Closure entirely in his own hands, he has the selection of Amendments; and again the Government have power to suspend the Rule and keep the programme going if there is any attempt at obstruction, which I doubt (I hope this Parliament will not do that); but there are pretty drastic powers to deal with it, and I doubt if Report stage of a Bill or a Money Resolution require further drastic powers in addition to what we have got already, provided they are used, of course.74 This evidence from the Chair is in support of the view that if Bills go upstairs, the Report stage should not be guillotined. That is advice which the Government have not seen fit to take. Why does the right hon. Gentleman shake his head? That is what the advice said. If a Bill goes upstairs, more time should be given on Report, and it would be wrong, in Mr. Speaker's view, to guillotine the Report stage. But that is what the Government are doing, equally clearly; there cannot be any dispute about that; if there is I will gladly give way. One more quotation from Mr. Speaker, because these things are the life of this House. The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) asked Mr. Speaker:Did I understand aright that your view was that, if nearly all Bills are referred to Standing Committees, that would reasonably demand that a longer time should be given to the Report stage for debate?This is the answer:I think that is inevitable. After all, if a Bill goes before a Standing Committee it is going before one-sixth of the House—May I interpolate there that in this case it is going before very much less than one-sixth of the House—If it has been before a Committee of the Whole House I see no reason for calling the Amendments on Report unless they are of tremendous importance; but when they have been before one-tenth of the House I cannot apply the selection so drastically.In other words, Mr. Speaker in his evidence certainly visualised that, if major Bills went upstairs before a Standing Committee, more time would be given on Report stage. It was a point we made from these Benches, and I can see absolutely no defence for the Government's attitude in this matter.
I must add that "The Times" remarks this morning, quite rightly, that when this procedure was first proposed—and many hon. Members will remember this—it was contemplated that the House would some time adjourn after Questions in order to allow the Committees to sit in the afternoons. That was certainly visualised at the time. In fact, this has never happened, because there has been too much urgent Business. But whose fault is that? It is not our fault. It is not the fault of the minorities in the House. I daresay it is the Government's fault, but if they have so much Business that they cannot carry out their original proposal of occasionally adjourning this House for the 75 Committees to work in the afternoon, they must draw the only logical deduction, and give more time for Committees upstairs to do their work. The right hon. Gentleman the other day referred to the "Kangaroo" procedure, which I think he got mixed up in his mind with the power of the Guillotine. That is a procedure which has much to recommend it, because the object of the "Kangaroo" procedure is to ensure discussion on the most important points. This does exactly the reverse. The "Kangaroo" is selective, the Guillotine is merely murderous, and that is the procedure, as the right hon. Gentleman knows.
So I say that these proposals are intolerable and unacceptable. I am going to ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he will, to visualise for a moment what will be the result of this ruthless curtailment of discussion. What must it be? Obviously, that large parts of these Bills will not be examined at all, either upstairs or on the Floor of the House, either in Committee or on the Report stage. What does that mean except an unprecedented denial to Parliament of its free right of discussion, debate and amendment? I am going to inflict one more quotation on the House. I apologise, but it is an important quotation. It is from a speech made in 1937, which so well puts my case that I will quote it to the right hon. Gentleman. I should be interested to hear if any Minister can answer it:This House has never been a mere assembly for registration. It has never been a mere debating society. It has never been merely a House which the Government use as an instrument of registration. It has never been a House to which the Government say: "Here is our suggestion. You may take it, and say Aye or No.' This House has always taken an active share in legislation. The Members have shaped legislative proposals. A Bill is brought in, it is discussed in principle, it is taken to Committee, it goes through Report, and by the time it has been through these various stages, although it is the Government's Bill, it has been framed by the co-operation of Members of this House. Where certain Members oppose the Bill in principle, they take an active part in trying to make it workable. Therefore, every Bill that goes through the House becomes in that way the work of the whole House.The importance of that procedure is that the experience and ideas of the Members of the House are brought into the common pool. That is the traditional British method and the democratic method. There is another method that obtains in other countries. In some countries a Dictator frames legislation and 76 submits it to a Grand Council, but the Grand Council has no right to say anything but 'Aye' or 'No', and it always says 'Aye' There is a danger"—This is the last sentence of the quotation—There is a danger that this House may be turned into the equivalent of a Fascist Council …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1937; Vol. 321, C. 815–816.]That was in 1937. Does the right hon. Gentleman know who was the author of that speech? The present Prime Minister.
Mr. Sydney Silvermar (Nelson and Colne)
What did you do about it?
§ Mr. Eden
I have no doubt that I listened and paid great heed to what he said; I am quite sure that I did not produce a Motion like this. I am glad the hon. Gentleman has mentioned that; he has recalled a point which had escaped my mind. For some years I was Leader of the House, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and he sat on these Benches not as Leader of the Opposition but as Leader of those of his party who were not in the Government. We sat facing each other, and never on any occasion in the worst of the war years, as far as I can recollect—I stand to be corrected—was there an attempt on this scale to curtail discussion against the strongly-expressed wish of this House. It is not true, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that there was no Opposition. There were minorities, there were minorities which sat below the Gangway. [HON. MEMBERS: "There was no legislation."] Still the principle is the same. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Surely hon. Gentlemen see that the principle is that the right of minorities to find expression in this House is what differentiates democratic government from Fascist government? When we were discussing a Measure and there was opposition from below the Gangway—as there was, for example, on compulsory national service—we always gave the fullest opportunity for discussion, and even for division. What I am complaining about is that the Government of today are not treating the House with anything like the consideration with which minorities were treated even in the emergency of war. Of course the right hon. Gentleman can say "I have got the voting power, I have got the hon. Members who sit here and they will go through the Lobby, it does not matter what you say."
77 The right hon. Gentleman will remember his "Alice Through the Looking-Glass," where Alice says to Humpty Dumpty, "The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things" "The question is," Humpty Dumpty replied, "who is to be master. That is all." Of course, the Government may reply, "Who is to be master? That is all that matters," but I say that in doing this they are violating the traditions of this House. Let me remind the Government of something more. They have a large numerical majority in this House but they have not a majority in the country for the Measures they are now introducing; they have against them all those who are not their devoted followers answering to the Government Whip.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider what he is doing. It is the height of unwisdom to seek to trample on the rights of minorities. The right hon. Gentleman may ask what we would do. He might ask what is our proposal. I will give him a proposal. I would say to him: Give these Bills a chance to run upstairs. Let them run until Whitsun. There has been absolutely no obstruction, so I am informed, and Ministers have not contradicted that, the only authority for saying that there has been obstruction being the "Daily Herald." Let them run, and the Government at Whit-sun can then judge the position. There is absolutely no case for asking the House to pass a Motion of this kind at this stage of the Session. I know that the right hon. Gentleman will say if he does that ye shall want longer for the Report stage, and we most certainly shall. Parliamentary programmes are important no doubt, but the freedom of Members and the opportunities of Members to express their views and fears are more important. The right hon. Gentleman could say that the Government are under the pledge of the General Election to do these things. Well, we discussed a subject at the end of Questions today where the pledges seem to have gone a bit awry—Palestine. They are pledged to these things, but not to put them through in two years of Parliamentary life, unless it is perhaps that they are not sure how long this administration is to continue. However that may be, it is neither just nor fair to Parliament to press the machinery beyond its working powers.
78 In conclusion, I say that the Government, by the action they are taking, are deliberately choking the Parliamentary machine. They are making it impossible for Members of this House, however diligent they may be, and wherever they may sit, to carry out their duties as they should be carried out. I beg them, even now, for the sake of our Parliamentary traditions, and for the sake of their own reputations, to withdraw this monstrous proposal, and to give the House an opportunity to be something other than merely a rubber stamp for Socialist dictatorship.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
The characteristic of this House is that it is a great deliberative Assembly. Deliberation is one of its duties, and that means, among other things, that a Member of Parliament is responsible to the Division he represents. This new procedure alters the character of the duties of a Member of Parliament, and that is as important to hon. Members sitting opposite as it is to hon. Members who sit on this side of the House; it is also important to the constituencies represented by hon. Members on both sides of the House. In what way does this procedure alter the position of a Member of Parliament? There are some five major Bills going forward at present, and every one intimately affects the life of the community, including the life of every Division, whether it be industrial or agricultural. A Member can hardly follow every one of these five Bills. Even worse than that, suppose that a Member is on one of the Committees upstairs, the importance of the Bill is such that the work of the House combined with the demands of the Committee make it impossible for him to spare the time or give the full consideration to both which is necessary, if he is to do his duty effectively. While Ire is considering the Bill which is passing through the Committee of which he is a Member, four other Committees are sitting and considering equally important Bills to which he can give no consideration or time at all.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
That has always been the case. A Member has never been able to follow every Bill, and certainly no Member of Parliament knows everything about every subject on which he takes part in this House.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
It is the first duty of a Member of Parliament to make himself cognisant of what is going on. I am not going to say that the procedure as it stands is an ideal procedure, but what I do say it that this amendment to the procedure worsens the position a great deal. If I go down to my Division to a public meeting concerned with agriculture, I might not have served on the Agriculture Bill Committee, because I was a Member of the Committee on the Electricity Bill, and the whole of my time had been occupied in considering the provisions of that Bill. How can I answer for what is happening on the Agriculture Bill?
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
The fact that it has happened before does not justify it now. I would point out to the hon. Member that if he supports this procedure today, the same thing may happen again. As far as I am concerned, I would equally object to it if it did happen again. This procedure reduces a Member of Parliament to a sham position. It is his first duty to be able to deal with the problems in which his constituents are interested; this procedure stops him from doing so. There is another objection. I happen to be a member of a very small party. At the moment there are six Committees sitting, and it is impossible for a small party to provide sufficient Members to serve on those Committees. Therefore, we have no say, and Liberal opinion in this country, which is far greater than the number of representatives who have been returned, is not merely inadequately represented, but by this procedure is deprived of the opportunity to make its point of view heard.
These are serious alterations in procedure. The new attitude towards procedure is apparently concerned, not about the quality of legislation, but about the amount of legislation. It is important that democracy itself should be informed of the nature of the discussions about, and contents of, Bills which come before this House. The proceedings of this House are fairly well reported in the newspapers, even in these days of shortage of newsprint, but the proceedings of committees upstairs—important as they are—are not reported, except perhaps by way of a paragraph in "The Times", and that paper alone, unless something sensational 80 takes place. The public, the electors of this country, have no means of knowing, through their newspapers, what is happening in Committees upstairs. I doubt whether, "To-Day in Parliament which is broadcast by the B.B.C. each evening, contains any reference to what is happening in Committees. The result is that when these Bills are sent upstairs electors as well as Members of Parliament are deprived of any chance of knowing what is going on.
§ Mr. Daggar (Abertillery)
We all appreciate what is taking place, but is not the case which the hon. and learned Gentleman is now making that the number of Committees should be reduced to three, two, or one?
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
Any reduction would be an improvement, because it would enable Members to deal more effectively with business. One Committee, obviously, would be better than five. The first necessity in a democracy is that a Member of Parliament should be well informed. [AN HON. MEMBER: "He can read what is going on."] That is a fair answer in a way, but if a Member is engaged in Committee on a Bill of major importance he has to study the Clauses and Amendments, prepare for Sittings and deal with ordinary business here on the Floor of the House. With his other work what time has he for reading reports of other Committees? The argument for keeping day to day business on the Floor of this House is first that the Member of Parliament is kept informed; and, second, that his constituency is kept informed. That is worsened by bringing in the Guillotine. It is reducing legislation to something like a farce. This matter is as important for Members opposite as it is for Members on this side of the House. Suppose my party had a working majority, and resorted to this procedure. It would mean that the opinion of the other two major parties in the House on legislation would be wiped out. Why not leave it to the Executive and a Government Department to say: "This is a good Bill; all we want is to have it registered and passed into law?" That is what this procedure is coming to. It negatives completely the character of Parliament as a great deliberative Assembly. It negatives almost completely the opportunity for a democracy to be well informed about the legislation that will govern it.
81 I much regret that the Lord President of the Council is ill, and I hope he will soon recover. Anyone examining the evidence which he tendered before the Select Committee cannot have read it without great misgivings. Obviously, the right hon. Gentleman did not rate Debates in this House any higher than the provision of good entertainment for the Government. He said that it was a good thing to have a row, and a scene occasionally between one side and the other. The extraordinary proposal was made that this House itself should adjourn to enable Standing Committees to carry out their work. The whole trend of thought behind that is that Parliament, as a great deliberative Assembly, no longer really matters. Members of Parliament are sent here to represent their Divisions, to see that their constituents know what is going on, and their power to do that is being gradually whittled away.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
Over 1,800 years ago a Latin poet wrote the two words Festina lente. That wise advice to make haste slowly has been pursued over the centuries by diplomatists, statesmen, politicians, industrialists, and many others in other walks of life. But this Socialist Government reject with contumely this wise advice. Instead, it is endeavouring to deal with too many subjects at once, and to present to Parliament more Bills than the House can possibly pass into legislation without excessive speed and without proper time for Debate, Let us look at the effect of all this: In the first place, the draftsmanship of Bills cannot be kept up to the usual standard. A few barristers have chosen the drafting of Parliamentary Bills as their career. They are excellent. To our knowledge, they have always done their work well, but, if the Government suddenly decide to double the number of Bills that are to be presented to the House in any one Session, then the existing expert barristers will be overworked and will be unable—as the Minister of Town and Country Planning has already discovered—properly to interpret the exact intentions of the Minister in the Bill which has to be presented.
Having regard to that, it becomes doubly necessary that the House itself, either the Whole House, or in Standing Committee, should have the opportunity of examining every Bill Clause by Clause, and line by line. Even although Bills presented in the past have been well 82 drafted, it has always been found that they have been improved by Amendments which have been made in Committee, either by Amendments which Members themselves have thought of, or which have been suggested to them by people interested in the subject matter of the Bill. In 1939, I had the privilege of presenting to the House the Inheritance (Family Provisions) Bill, which went through Committee after many Sittings. That Bill was examined line by line, almost word by word. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the result of that complete examination in Standing Committee brought about a better Act of Parliament than would have been the case if the Committee had not examined it so carefully. The Transport and Town and Country Planning Bills, under the Motion put forward today, will become law without the advantage of adequate Committee examination.
By passing this Motion today, both the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Town and Country Planning, and all their officials will be overworked. The protest was made elsewhere recently that the Minister of Fuel and Power was occupying time on the Electricity Bill which should have been devoted to the crisis. The Minister of Fuel and Power is not the only Minister who is concerned with the crisis; equally, I think, it is a matter for the Minister of Transport. The difficulties of getting coal through the country depend largely on the railways, roads, ships and other methods of transport, and, surely while this crisis lasts, it is entirely wrong to call upon the Minister of Transport and all his officials to devote time to this particular Bill, which will have no effect at the moment, when they should be giving their attention to the difficulties of transport.
The fact is that all the Members of the Government are being overworked, as a result of the excessive speed and the overloading of the legislative programme. I called attention, when we had a Debate a few months ago on private Members' time in the House, and a Motion was put forward to prevent them once again from exercising their ancient privilege in that way, to the amount of illness that had taken place among those occupying the Front Bench. I drew attention, on that occasion, to the late Minister of Education, the President of the Board of 83 Trade, the Minister of Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the present Minister of Defence, all of whom had been absent from their duties both in the House and in their Ministries—and to a number of others, too—during the previous few months. The Lord President of the Council replied to that Debate and disagreed with me. The Lord President of the Council has himself now gone down, and looking at the Front Bench during Question Time today, I thought that they did not look a particularly healthy lot of people. This is all due to overwork.
Overworked men are not physically fit, and, if men are not physically fit, they are unable to come to calm and correct judgments on matters of the greatest importance to this country. We know how many such matters there are at the present time—in India, Palestine, and the crisis at home. This Motion will overwork the Ministers still more, and make them less able to give those calm decisions which are so needed in the matters which concern us at the present time.
§ 6.5. p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I do not intend to take up much of the time of the House today, but, as a very old Member, I should like to give my support to my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), in the protest which he has made against this Guillotine Motion. I have never seen anything like it on the Order Paper of the House of Commons; I do not think that there is any case of the occupation and domination of the House by the Executive similar to this. It always has been thought an advantage to Governments to have their Measures put through the Parliamentary mill. I have sat in a lot of Governments, and I do not think that any of them would not have been rather afraid of just having their own ideas, shaped by their officials, driven through on to the Statute Book.
When you are dealing with matters of great principle where one side of the House thinks this and another side of the House thinks that—then we come to a clash where no kind of parley is possible, and it can only be settled by voting. But with Bills of this kind, like Town and Country Planning, Transport, Electricity—all these Bills which affect vast numbers of people, and vast numbers of local autho- 84 rities, and small and intricate interests that have grown up throughout the country—it surely would be an advantage to the Government to have these Measures a little shaped and a little fitted to the shoulders of the public who are to obey them.
I should have thought that it was not at all wise to proceed on this naked line of saying, "We have a majority; we are going to get our Measures through, and we will not give time for them to be discussed—we will vote you down." That, I should have thought, was an attitude inconsistent with the kind of view of national affairs, of the way in which peoples and States ought to be governed, that we have taken in the world successfully during the last few years. That is reducing legislative Assemblies to mere registration machines of Government will. The whole aspect of the British Constitution has been to the contrary. It has been the shaping of legislation by the action of Parliament, by the influence of minorities from day to day; end even the time factor has had a modifying effect. That is why, in this island, there is a very great respect for the law, because the laws have been shaped by Government and Opposition.
As was pointed out by an hon. Member on this side of the House below the Gangway., there is a feeling that the laws that come down to the people from Parliament and the Crown are laws which Parliament, as a whole, has had a hand in shaping. That is particularly important in regard to all these very complicated matters. It is quite true that in foreign countries they have followed other methods. They have admired our Parliamentary system, but they have not liked it, because of the corresponding inconvenience. They have liked to have assemblies filled with members so long as the Executive will was in no way affected. They have even allowed free criticism from time to time in order that an appearance might be given that anyone could blow off steam and that they were free Parliamentary countries, but they have not allowed any interference with the will of the Executive by Parliamentary Debate or by the length of time involved in full discussion. I could mention a good many countries where this has been the case, and we have certainly set ourselves very much against that kind of thing. We have always had the idea that, for good or for ill, the Measures which go out, and which the nation has to obey, should carry with them the 85 sanction of Parliament and should have been shaped by Parliamentary fingers.
Let us look at one of these Measures. Take, for instance, the Transport Bill. I say that this course is something quite different from anything I have seen happen in my very long Parliamentary life. The Transport Bill is a most important Bill, and millions of people all over the country are worrying about it. Some want it, some do not want it; many will be very much affected and disturbed in their daily lives by it; but they are all very attentive to know what is to be their fate. We were told this was to be the principal Bill of the Session. I have never heard of the principal Bill of the Session not being taken in Committee on the Floor of the House. I have always understood so. I remember that, when the Liberal Government of 1905–6 came into power, on the great Education Bill there were eight or nine months of discussion in the House, subject to the ordinary Business. The Transport Bill affects vast numbers of people and their affairs, and the Government would really be much safer to know where they are going in that matter.
I should have thought that to take it on the Floor of the House would have been a natural proceeding and was the right of the House. Members are returned from constituencies, thousands of people vote for them, and they expect, when they get to Parliament, to have some opportunity of considering, and possibly debating, Measures which are of great consequence to the parts of the country they represent or to the interests of the constituencies which they represent. I was astonished indeed when I was told that the principal Measure of the Session, the Transport Bill, was not to be taken on the Floor of the House. I say it was a most unfortunate departure. But that was only the beginning. We sent it up to a Committee, where, of course, proceedings are not reported—casual incidents may be reported—and the country is not able to follow it. It was sent up to a Committee. No one has dared to allege there has been obstruction in Committee. Suddenly, the Government come forward and, by an altogether unprecedented step—there is not the slightest warrant for it—wish to impose a Guillotine in the Standing Committee.
86 First of all, the Measure is taken from the Floor of the House, then it is sent up to a Committee of only 50 Members or thereabouts, so that six-sevenths of the House are denied all right of intervening in the matter, and even those 50 who are picked out—some 20 from this side of the House, or however many it may be—are not permitted to debate the matter and go through the different Clauses and proposals carefully one by one. On the contrary, a rigid Guillotine is to be enforced which will dispose of the matter and return it back to the House of Commons. Thus, first of all, it does not take the principal place on the Floor of the House; secondly, it goes up to a Committee where very few Members are allowed to take part; and thirdly, these Members and the part they take are to be controlled by the unprecedented, arbitrary institution of the Guillotine. Then, when this Transport Bill comes down to the House again on the Report stage, with the many restrictions that there are on the Report stage, which have been built up on the basis of there having been full and free discussion in Committee, there are to be only three days for the discussion of this immense Bill, and that is all that Members of Parliament from every side, and every party, and all over the country, are to be allowed to say on this Bill. They may have three days to try and shape it in accordance with the wishes and desires of their constituents. I say it is absolutely without precedent, and I have not heard of anything like it happening before.
We had wondered whether the party opposite would uphold Parliament. They owe a great debt to Parliament. Parliament has enabled them, by peaceful and constitutional methods, to advance by the will of the people to the discharge of the great offices and functions of the British nation, with the assent even of those who have voted against them—to discharge the high functions of the State and to settle our fate and fortune. Can they complain of the Constitution which has led them on to power? Believe me, it is not democracy only, it is Parliamentary democracy, that we uphold. Parliamentary democracy is absolutely opposed to this idea of legislation by ukase, as it used to be called in Russia a long time ago—legislation by decree—this idea of government of the people by the officials for the party bosses. It has always been odious here. I am 87 really astonished that some of those whom I see opposite, or who sit on that Bench, have been ready to press their advantage at the Election in this harsh manner to the detriment of Parliament.
As I said, it is an advantage to them to have the hands of Parliament mixed up in their legislation. Of course, if we are simply to have these Measures proclaimed, flung at us with very little notice, and then carried through, our old system has undoubtedly passed away. Whatever mandates the Government may claim they had at the last Election, they had no mandates to mutilate and hamper the control of Parliament over the legislation which it passes. There is the Home Secretary, a Minister for whom I entertain much respect; I cannot believe that in his heart he considers, any more than I can believe that the Prime Minister in his heart considers, that three days' discussion on the Floor of the House is all that should be permitted for the shaping of this mighty and complicated Transport Bill. Of course, the Government have the advantage of a Parliamentary majority, and within certain limits it can be used with great effect. It may be it would be to our advantage that the Government should use it in the way they are now proposing to use it. It may well be that legislation which goes from this House to the country, which it is known that Parliament had not had a chance to shape, which is full of all the mistakes and errors made by overworked draftsmen and officials, and which has not gone through the Parliamentary mill, would do the Government more harm than if they carried the considerable reforms which they have in mind by the recognised processes of Parliamentary discussion.
I profoundly regret the course which is being taken. And what is the reason that this course should be taken? We are told by the Government, "We have our mandate which was given us at the election and we shall carry our Bills," but the mandate, whatever it may be, prescribed no time limit. There was no Guillotine upon the mandate. The life of Parliament is a reasonable time for the execution of any programme which is put before the people. There is really no reason why some of these Bills should not have been gone through to the next Session of this Parliament, with the full 88 advantage of discussion on the Floor of the House. That would be of great benefit to the public and would not be any detriment to the Government. But no, the Bills are ordered to be put through this Session and through they must go. They were in the King's Speech—the Speech which Ministers place in the mouth of the King at the beginning of the Session—not the mandate, and that has to be carried through in this Session. That is the end of it, we are told. I am inclined to think that this course of affairs is most deeply detrimental to all concerned. Here is a resolve to carry through these Measures irrespective of whether they are properly or fairly discussed, because there is no accusation of obstruction.
Then we are told, "Oh well, we have another reason for getting them through. It is not merely that they were in the King's Speech, and, therefore, we are going to put them through however complex they may be, but we do not want to have an autumn Session." Can anyone imagine such a state of degradation for a Parliament to fall into to say that it will pour out a flood of machine-made legislation upon the country and will not allow proper discussion, because the Government cannot be forced to the inconvenience of an autumn Session? If Parliament had to choose between having a prolonged Session on the one hand, or not having Bills properly discussed on the other, I have not the slightest doubt what they would choose. Even now I feel that one might appeal to the Government. I wish the Prime Minister were here. I know he has a lot to do. I know him well, for we worked together side by side and I know his fine qualities. I did not think he would ride roughshod over the House in this way, and I do not think that it will reflect well upon his name and repute that Measures should be driven through without plenty of time and latitude available for discussion an consideration.
I have said a lot of things in political argument about the party opposite, but I did believe that many of them had a great love and affection for the House of Commons. I stand here and I hold up this Transport Bill before them. It is a major Measure taken upstairs to a Committee of only 50; a Guillotine is imposed although no charge of obstruction is 89 brought; and the House is to have another Guillotine on the Report stage, which gives only three days for discussion. This is something which is beyond our control. I do not wish to add anything to the bitterness which is felt. I have sat with many hon. Members opposite and I cannot imagine that they will gain any advantage in this. We must, of course, submit, for we shall be voted down. The Liberal Party will vote and they will be voted down; the National Liberals will vote and they will be voted down; and the Independent Members will vote. and they will be voted down—and voted down by a minority. Hon. Members opposite with all their pride and arrogance had not a majority of the voters on their side at the General Election. What it is now I cannot tell, but a minority, owing to our peculiar Parliamentary and electoral system, has a vast majority in this House.
It is only by suffering that the people of this country have learned. They will have plenty of suffering and further experience of Socialist rule, beginning by the strangulation of Parliamentary Debate, enforcing ill-considered legislation through the snoopers of 17 different Departments, and finally no doubt, as the ideals are further realised, being assisted by a police Gestapo. There is the path on which we are embarked under the impulse of hon. Members opposite. The first step has been taken. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should contain himself. The first step in endangering our National liberties is the—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
I should like to suggest that hon. Gentlemen should not generate more indignation than they can contain.
§ Mr. Churchill
I firmly believe that the liberty and the free life of Britain are in great danger at the present time at the hands of the party opposite. I quite agree that they cannot do it all at once, but the first step upon the road on which they have started is the effective strangulation of Parliamentary Debate and the substitution for it of legislation by Government decree.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Acock's Green)
Before proceeding with the few remarks I want to address to the House, I should like to make an apology. I was unfortunately unable to be at the House to hear the opening speeches of 90 this Debate, because the train on which I normally travel from Birmingham has been taken off, and I was two hours late. I mention that by way of an apology for taking part in the Debate when I failed to hear the opening speeches, and, secondly, to illustrate that this is an example of the kind of difficulties in which we are living today and with which the whole country has been suddenly faced. It is part of history; it is part of the existence which we have now to face; and it is part of the crisis which all of us together must try to get through.
To a certain extent I have some sympathy with what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). I agree that the Motion which is now before the House does, to a certain extent, endanger what I believe to be the greatest form of Parliamentary democracy, and for that reason I am very frightened of it. However, I do not think it does any good to oppose any proposal unless one can propose something which is better, because we are now faced with some facts which are inevitable. I believe that there is now a situation in which we are faced with two alternatives. Either, according to the spokesmen of the Opposition, we are asked to shelve some Bills and to delay their passage, or else we have to hurry them through and fail to discuss them adequately. Those appear to be the alternatives; I do not see that there are any others as the matter is now presented.
Hon. Members speaking for the Opposition, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, seemed to indicate that it is advisable that we should delay the passage of some of these Bills. The right hon. Gentleman asked, "What is the need for this great hurry? Why should we push these Bills through in this Session? "If I may say so with all humility, I think that that is a little inconsistent because what I have learned in the course of the last two or three weeks is that there is now an almost unanimous view held in this Parliament and in the country that a plan of action for the next few years is long overdue, and that the Government must now have a plan to show the country how it is to get through the crisis which which we are faced.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
May I interrupt 91 the hon. Gentleman? I think that this goes to the root of the matter. The people are certainly worried, but that does not necessarily mean that we have to pass six major Bills, which will need two years before administration can begin. What the people are concerned with is enlightened administration.
§ Mr. Usborne
That is precisely what I believe they are getting. It happens to be a fact that we must have these major Bills on the Statute Book, because unless and until we pass them we cannot carry out the plans which we intend to make. It is no use having the plans; we must first have on the Statute Book the necessary legislation to enable us to enforce the plans. That fact I believe to be inescapable. There are hon. Gentlemen opposite who refuse to see that fact, and of course if they refuse to see it, it is easy for them to argue that it is not necessary to have the legislation.
§ Mr. Osborne (Louth)
Surely the hon. Gentleman would agree that we have already a plan for coal. It has been talked of for 40 years but it is not producing coal, and we are short of coal. What the country wants is not more planning, but results.
§ Mr. Usborne
I can take up what the hon. Member has said since it precisely illustrates the point I was making. The hon. Gentleman asks what is the plan for coal. The plan is to produce more coal. That means, first and foremost, that we have to nationalise the mines in order to get them to produce more. Secondly, we are now faced with a shortage and cannot get through the next 12 months unless we convert to oil. We have converted some 1,250 locomotives to oil and that could not possibly have been done had we not undertaken to nationalise the railways. In a report which I have seen, the railway companies argued that this would raise the cost of running a train, but that since, by the time that cost was involved, the State would own the railways they did not mind if the conversion to oil was made. I maintain that for carrying out that particular programme in regard to coal prices, it was necessary to have on the Statute Book two major Bills of nationalisation. I merely want to make the point. I do not think that now is the time to argue it further. On this side of the House, at any rate, we believe that 92 these Bills are necessary in order to have an effective plan. Moreover, we believe that an effective plan must come soon, and we want it very urgently.
We are faced, therefore, with a predicament. We must have the Bills because we want to plan; we cannot, apparently, have the Bills adequately discussed if we apply the Guillotine, and they will, therefore, be bad Bills. They will be inadequately discussed, and we do not save time like that. If we cut discussion, that is anomalous to our Parliamentary practice. The Bills may have to come back and no time will be saved. Those, apparently, are the two alternatives now before the House, but I want, if I may, to make a third suggestion. Before doing so I would ask hon. and right hon. Members if they will consider it without prejudice and as open-mindedly as they possibly can. It is a suggestion that is as unprecedented as the Motion now before the House. It seems to me that if we adopted a certain procedure it would lighten the burden on this House and that is at least part of the plan which we all want to achieve. I suggest that there is, in one field, a particularly good possibility of lightening that burden. I suggest that we should contemplate setting up a permanent external affairs Standing Committee, and that all discussions of external affairs should be dealt with by that body, which would—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
on a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I call your attention to the fact that the hon. Gentleman is now discussing a matter involving an alteration in the procedure of the House and the setting up of a Committee to deal with external affairs, which would take away from the House the right of discussing policy? I am not expressing myself for or against that proposal but seeking your Ruling as to whether we should be in Order in discussing that interesting proposal, at this moment.
§ Mr. Speaker
I must apologise. My attention had been diverted and I was not listening, but of course to suggest the setting up of another Committee, with no relevance to the Guillotine Motion, is really outside the scope of this discussion.
§ Mr. Usborne
In view of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, I am in a considerable difficulty because if I may not suggest an alternative I am faced with the prospect of 93 having to vote on two alternatives with both of which I disagree. However, if that is your Ruling I will merely say that it seems to me necessary to think again over this matter. Neither of the suggestions before us seems adequate or suitable, but I believe that there is at least one other alternative which is worth examination. I conclude by saying that I propose to abstain, unless I hear more adequate arguments, and I very much wish that the Government would, at least, take back this Motion and have another think.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I was very glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Acock's Green (Mr. Usborne) thinks that this proposal is dangerous to Parliamentary democracy, that he is very much afraid of it, and he justly said that it is unprecedented. He wished to discuss an alternative which was clearly out of Order, but I shall hope in a few minutes to suggest another which I hope you, Mr. Speaker, will consider to be in Order. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and other hon. Members have demonstrated, beyond all possibility of contradiction, that this proposal is completely without precedent and that it is not only a grave assault upon Parliament's legislative function as we have known it in the past, but a completely novel assault. No one who really believes strongly in the value of Parliamentary democracy will consider that this can be justified unless the Government can make one charge—which they have not made and which I am sure they would not make—namely, that there has been obstruction. This specific question has been repeatedly put to Ministers from this side of the House. I again challenge them—and particularly the Minister of Transport who is dealing with the Bill in the Standing Committee of which I am a member—to say that there has been anything in the nature of obstruction. I venture to say that every member of the Committee I have mentioned knows that all the criticisms that have been made have been of the kind that should be considered in the Committee stage of a Bill, and that they have been expressed with as much brevity as was consistent with clarity. Secondly, I think that no Member of that Committee, knowing the complexity of the Bill and the vastness of the interests with which the Bill deals, 94 will assert that it can be adequately considered, in the way in which we have been considering the earlier Clauses, if the Time Table now proposed is introduced.
This, I say, is a new and extremely serious assault upon the legislative functions of Parliament. I deplore it all the more because it is only one of a long series of such assaults within the last eighteen months. We must consider them in their cumulative effect. Time after time, in the Borrowing Act, the Exchange Control Bill, and I might quote many others, clauses have been drafted so widely, that it has been easy for us to demonstrate that quite fantastic abusive action could be taken within the powers of the Bill. When this has been demonstrated, the Minister has always said: "That is not what I intend to do. I intend to do so and so. I hive quite a reasonable policy." We may agree that the Minister is sincere and that his policy is reasonable, but we cannot properly accept such assurances as alternatives to drafting the law in such a way at to define his powers. Otherwise, we abdicate from our position as legislators. We are concerned in this House, as legislators, with the legal intention which is to be inferred from the words of a Bill, and not with Ministerial intentions or assurances which do not bind even their successors of the same Government and still less their successors in another Government, while the Measure itself, with all the powers which were given originally, still survives.
I said that there had been a long series of assaults of this kind. The most outrageous is one which is contained in the present Transport Bill. The Bill provides that there shall be later consideration of what is to be done, and it may extend to nationalisation, with the ports of this country. Ports are essentially the servants of shipping, which is not to be nationalised, much more than of inland transport, which is to be. The Bill proposes that if nationalisation is proposed, it shall go through by the special procedure with which we are all familiar in the case of Orders in Council. Now surely everybody who believes in Parliament's legislative function will agree that when we are dealing with a great matter such as the national ownership of the ports of this country, the Government proposing the legislation should have made up their mind on the matter before they propose 95 it. When the Government have made up their mind about their policy they should then introduce legislation subject to all the safeguards which normally attend such legislation; and not ask Parliament to legislate away its future legislative function on such a matter. This is the latest, though it may not be the last, of the assaults upon the rights of Parliament; it comes on the top of a series of previous assaults all tending to the same effect.
Members of this House, and not least supporters of the party now in power, should, I suggest, view this matter with extreme seriousness. The relations between the Executive and Parliament are at the very core of our constitutional history and of our present Constitution. The danger of undue encroachment by the Executive upon the powers of Parliament is indeed at the crux of every political Constitution. The founders of the Republic of the United States were so impressed by that danger that they provided, under a written Constitution, for the separation of the Executive from the Legislature. We have taken a different course in this country. We think there is an advantage in a flexible and intimate relationship between Parliament and the Executive. So, indeed, there is, if it has as its counterpart the respect that previous Governments have shown for the procedure and functions of the House in its legislative aspect, and for the rights of Members and of minorities. If there is no such respect, there is no end to the extent to which the Executive may take away from Parliament practically the whole of its true legislative functions.
There is one very special reason why I would suggest that the Government should take another course from that suggested a moment or two ago by the hon. Member who thought it essential that, in the next few years, a vast array of new Bills should be rushed through and put upon the Statute Book. What is the nation's task in the next few years? It has been grimly set out in the Economic Survey. From that Survey we know that in the next few years we are running a desperate race—and not at present a winning race—with the exhaustion of our dollar loans. We known that many things have to be done in this period. We know that we need a concentration on competent administration. We know too that the industries throughout the country 96 need to be left as clear as possible of all that is not relevant to the great task that is now before the country. I venture to assert, in contradiction to the hon. Member, that no one of the six Bills that are now in Committee, can possibly assist the administrative action that has to be taken in the next few years, and that all of them will, so some extent, impede that action.
What is happening at this moment? Is it not clear that the pace and volume of the legislative programme of this Session is such that it is visibly breaking down Ministers, breaking down civil servants and breaking down Members of Parliament? It is clear that it is. Let me give a few examples. One or two of them have already been discussed. Clearly, the Ministry that is now occupied with the Electricity Bill, could have averted the recent breakdown by proper administrative action. Clearly, the Ministry that is now, and very efficiently, rushing coal all over the country to abbreviate the electricity crisis could have done a great deal to avert it by similar action before the breakdown. But for weeks and months, the Transport Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, and many of the principal officers of the Ministry, have been engaged in constructing a vast and complex new Measure; and they are now for three mornings a week engaged in constant attendance at the Transport Bill Committee. How can they administer properly?
The issue is clear. Either Parliament is to have its legislative functions undermined and Bills are to go through without adequate examination, or the programme of this Session must in some way be lightened. If that principle be admitted, and if there are to be candidates for the post of Jonah, I suggest that part at least of the Transport Bill should be chosen for that role. We all know that the Transport Bill has been too hastily designed, and has not been constructed in such a way as to limit to the utmost the dangers that are inherent in any such scheme. We know that one authority after another has pressed the necessity for inquiry as to the merits of co-ordination, and to the best methods of securing it and that that inquiry has not been held. There is one further reason—
§ Sir A. Salter
I should say that a conference which is composed on the one side of the four general managers of the great railways and on the side of road haulage of people of as nearly as possible corresponding authority, recommending unanimously on a matter on which they could have no professional bias in favour of their recommendation is a good authority, particularly when their advice as a whole, so far as it could at once be enacted in legislation, was accepted by the Government of the day and passed through by the Parliament immediately following. That was surely an authoritative recommendation, and I could quote others—
§ Dr. Morgan
Does that argument mean that any interested set of persons could set up as an authoritative body to disparage legislation which is deemed necessary by the country as a whole?
§ Sir A. Salter
I will not continue this argument. If the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) will look at the facts, he will see that the conference was not interested in the sense in which he uses that word. I suggest that a part of the Transport Bill might be selected for the role of Jonah; and I would remind the Government that after being thrown overboard, Jonah was ultimately saved, and was very much improved by his experience. I suggest specifically that the Government should consider withdrawing from the present Transport Bill everything that does not relate to the nationalisation of the railways and make road transport the subject of a Bill in a later Session, after they have had the inquiry which in any case is, on merits, very desirable. Surely the nationalisation of all the railways is an ambitious enough Measure for one Department in one Session. It means nationalising and bringing under public ownership the biggest mass of capital equipment in the country worth six or seven times as much as all the coal mines put together—
§ Mr. Usborne
The right hon. Gentleman's proposal is that part of the Transport Bill should be deferred, but one of the objections which appears to me is 98 that if we do not decide the argument about the "C" licences, a great many firms will be kept in a position in which they cannot make up their minds as to their future activities. We want all industry to proceed "full steam ahead." The suggestion is that one of the decisions which is a prerequisite to "full steam ahead.," should be deferred. How are we going to get over that?
§ Sir A. Salter
If I had to choose between going through the anxiety of several months of careful trial or immediate execution tomorrow, I think I should regret the anxiety but still choose the first alternative. I cannot now however go into the details of the Bill as I should have hoped to do in Committee were we not being guillotined. I am convinced that the "C" licence holder would prefer my alternative to the one which the hon. Member suggests.
In these two next desperately grave years we want to concentrate to the utmost possible on competent and efficient administration. I am sure that if we go on overloading the whole machinery of Government, Parliament and the Executive alike, the results will be fatal. We are now governed by a tired bureaucracy directed by Ministers who are themselves tired bureaucrats, and it is a bureaucracy ineffectively criticised and controlled by an overburdened Parliament. We shall never in this way get through the task of the next two years. If we now lighten the ship, it may still ride the storm—but not otherwise.
I would like as a final word to ask the Government what is their conception of the democracy in which they believe and which they are attempting to advance_ Does democracy for them mean only one which gives the mastery to the majority: or does it mean for them, as for us, one which also respects the rights of the minorities?
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Proctor (Eccles)
I rise to support the Government and I feel certain that we on these benches are on this matter defending Parliamentary democracy and making it possible for it to work. There is among Socialists all over the world a difference of opinion as to whether we can obtain Socialism by means of Parliamentary democracy. If we admit that it is impossible in this country for the 99 Government of the day, returned with a majority such as we have, to get its Measures through Parliament, that will be the end of Parliamentary democracy. I warn hon. Members on the other side to be very careful about what they are doing. It might be the end of this country as well—
§ Vice - Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
Is the hon. Member now arguing that democratic procedure in this Parliament is no longer possible by a Socialist Government and that we must therefore submit to a dictatorship?
§ Mr. Proctor
I am not arguing that. I am laying down the dictum that there is provision in the arrangements made by the Government for every reasonable discussion that is necessary on these Bills. If the Time Table laid down by the Government is observed in a spirit of helpfulness by the Opposition, they can put every argument which it is possible to put to influence the minds of the Government in the time available to them. That is the statement I make on this issue, but if the Opposition agree to waste time on the first Clauses dealt with, I admit it is quite possible for them not to have adequate time for discussion on the remaining Clauses, but the responsibility rests not on the Government but on the Opposition.
§ Mr. Maclay
There are two questions which arise out of what the hon. Member has said. Does he consider that the time of the Committee of which he is a Member has been wasted? The hon. Member also said that if this House kept to the Time Table which the Government proposed, there would be plenty of time for the Opposition to make their points. Does he say that there will be time for hon. Members on the Government back benches to make their points?
§ Mr. Proctor
The hon. Member has touched on a point which I will deal with later, but if I am asked the direct question, "Is there any waste of time on these Committees or not?" my answer is, "Yes, definitely and specifically yes." If I am asked to quote an instance, I will do so. I say that one day on one word is too long on a Committee. If hon. Members wish me to give another illustration, I ask them if a discussion of the fact that the Primrose League and the National Union 100 of Railwaymen have meetings in the same room in a certain railway hotel, would be regarded as a waste of time or not? I submit that any Member who rises on a serious Bill and introduces that sort of topic is wasting time.
§ Mr. Oliver Poole (Oswestry)
Would the hon. Member allow me to interrupt? He is speaking with great vigour, and I am sure he does not wish to misrepresent the case. Was the Debate on the one word not entirely due to the fact that the learned Solicitor-General was not present and the Minister could not answer? As to the Debate on the Primrose League did it not occupy about one minute?
§ Mr. Proctor
Minutes are valuable, days are valuable. I have given an instance of a short time and an instance of a long time; the Opposition can take their choice. However, I will answer the hon. Gentleman's other point on whose fault it was. I say, without the slightest doubt, that the offer made immediately by the Minister to take this point back, reconsider it carefully and, if possible, introduce an amendment on the Report stage was one which I have never known an Opposition refuse to accept without a great waste of time. Those are the facts, and it is time we had the facts of this situation. We must not allow it to go out to the country that the British Labour Party is attempting to destroy Parliamentary democracy. We are attempting to make it work, and I think that we shall succeed in that attempt.
I always listen to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) with interest and with care. We had the right hon. Gentleman today at his brilliant best on two or three occasions—once he was pleading, at another time he was laying down the law. The right hon. Gentleman, with his vast experience, has been responsible for the affairs of this country at the greatest crisis in its history, and no one on this side would wish to take away from him the glory that is his, on the way in which he managed affairs. But how were affairs dealt with at that time? The Government required the railways and they took them by Order in Council, I think. They required the mines, and they took them in the same manner. [An HON. MEMBER: "War."] Yes, in war, and I think that the situation in this country at the present time means that we must take the necessary measures to get legislation through 101 this House. We cannot continue to allow any time lag if the great plans which we have for this country are to succeed. The right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) was referred to the other night by the B.B.C. as the Conservative Member for Oxford. I thought that was a pardonable mistake. I heard the right hon. Gentleman on the Second Reading put the points that he put here this evening. I heard him put the same points in the Committee, and he expressed the hope then that he would be able to put them on the Report stage. I say that if you want Parliamentary procedure to continue, then we must be reasonable in these matters, and I think that the Government are justified in the action they have taken.
What is the position of the Government? We all know that negotiations are taking place with regard to these matters and that the Government are faced with a blank refusal to negotiate. We know that the Opposition have refused to timetable these Bills; that they have refused to consider any proposal whereby we should fix the date when these Bills will pass through the Committee. Are the Government, under those circumstances, to take no notice of that fact? The Government know very well that if the present rate of progress is continued on the Transport Bill, it will be a number of years before we get through it.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Is not that the fault of the inefficiency of the Bill, and not of the discussions that take place on it?
I thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman intended to controvert my statement, but as he does not do so, then I make him a present of attributing the blame. All I say is that I congratulate the Government that they will not wait for a few years. The Government know that under the special Parliamentary procedure, which allows a long discussion on all these points, it is possible for these Bills to be delayed so long that the Government will lose the Bills this Session, and lose them altogether. Hon. Members opposite know that very well. In order to make the Parliamentary machine work, we are forced to adopt this procedure. If this Motion is passed tonight, and the Opposition have any reasonable suggestion to make; if they agree to choose any points in these Bills on which they wish to express 102 their opinion, I am quite certain that on this side they will receive every encouragement and help. I mark all the Amendments on the Paper in any Standing Committee "1," "2" and "3"—I being "time wasting"; 2, "wrecking" and 3, "helpful." I have not many "3's" marked down. I find that on some occasions, however, even on a helpful Amendment, a number of Members can waste a great deal of time. I say, therefore, that the Government are justified in the action they have taken and that, far from undermining Parliamentary democracy, we are upholding it and making it work in a different set of circumstances.
Let the Opposition realise the difference between themselves and the Government. They wish at all times that the Government shall not interfere in any shape or form or, if forced to interfere, then shall interfere as little as possible; they wish to leave everything to private enterprise. If you start off with that premise, then you_ can let the House of Commons do its work in a leisurely manner. But if you have a programme and principles, such as we have here, which have been accepted by the country, then you must have an efficient and effective Parliamentary machine that responds to the will of the people.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
The hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor), who has just addressed the House with so much vigour, was rather noisier, if he will allow me to say so, than he was convincing. I have always regretted this Motion, but I must say that by far the most disquieting feature of this discussion has been the two speeches from below the Gangway on the Government side of the House. Those two speeches have one point in common, and one point of difference from one another. The point they had in common was that neither of the hon. Members had I think heard, or at least paid attention to, the first two speeches this afternoon.
§ Mr. Usborne
I did start my speech with an apology. Does that mean that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) did not listen to my speech?
§ Mr. Hogg
I did listen to the speech of the hon Member for Acock's Green (Mr. Usborne), and I thought his apology well-merited. That does not altogether alter 103 his responsibility for having stated an alternative which is not a true alternative. As he is going to abstain from voting on the Motion, it might have been possible not to have spoken on it, not having heard the speeches for and against it. The two hon. Members have proceeded on the assumption that it would be quite impossible for the Government to proceed with their legislative programme without adopting the measures now suggested. The hon. Member for Acock's Green regretted that, but the hon. Member for Eccles did not. There they differ. They both proceeded on the assumption, which is false, that there was no other way in which the Government could get their programme this Session.
§ Mr. Hogg
I heard that point made by the hon. Member, and he was ruled out of Order. Both hon. Members suggested there was no other way, except that the hon. Member for Acock's Green wanted an external affairs committee, which he was not allowed to discuss. I accept the correction. But, one thing appeared abundantly plain from the first two speeches this afternoon. The right hon. Member who proposed the Motion was quite clearly heard to admit that if there were an autumn Session this year it would be perfectly possible to conclude these matters within the present Session, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) also made a constructive proposal, which has not been controverted, and which I do not now propose to repeat. Both hon. Members who have ventured to address the House from the back benches opposite have proceeded on an assumption which is totally false. But far more terrifying to my mind than their absence of comprehension of the course the discussion has in fact taken, was the attitude of the hon. Member for Eccles, who seemed to me to fail utterly to comprehend the nature of the Parliamentary democracy which he claimed to be trying to make work.
The senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), who I regret to say is not a Member of my party, reminded us that this was not the first time we had 104 discussed this type of question in this Parliament. I may perhaps remind the House, without seeming egotistical, that on almost the first occasion when he discussed this matter, in August, 1945, I ventured to address the House on the topic. I said then what I say now to the hon. Member for Eccles. I first came into the House only eight years ago—I am not as old a Member as the noble Lord the hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) who sits in front of me. Sometimes, coming into the House as a Member of a great majority, as I was then, the first thing that strikes one is the tremendous waste of time indulged in by hon. Members opposite, on whichever side of the House one happens to be. One thinks the Rules of Procedure are tiresome, and archaic, and one wonders why the hon. Member for So-and-So must take up so much time in answering what appears to be a trivial point. Then it begins to dawn upon one, after a time, that the whole nature of freedom consists in people in this House, elected by constituents, judging for themselves—within the Rules of Order—what is important, and what is a waste of time. It is not for the majority, nor for a Member of the majority, newly-elected to the House, to tell us what we, representing our constituents, ought to say about matters which interest us. The nature of Parliamentary democracy is that we should be allowed to raise in this House and in Committees, to the length to which you permit us, Sir, matters which we consider of importance. We are ruled by our constituents, and not by a majority confining our discussions. It was the obvious—if he will forgive me saying so—blindness of the hon. Member for Eccles to that fundamental fact which rather frightened me about his speech.
It seems to me that there is, or may be, a fundamental cleavage in this matter between the two sides of the House. I hope it may not be so. I always thought that when the Labour Party claimed, as it has consistently claimed, to be a democratic party, a party devoted to Parliamentary democracy, that it meant by Parliamentary democracy more or less what I meant when I was talking about it. There were deep political divisions between us, but I had always hoped that there was some substantial agreement about the type of society, so far, at any rate, as freedom of discussion was concerned, to which both sides gave their 105 adherence. But I find there is growing up on the opposite benches—and not only on the back benches because I see with great pleasure the Attorney-General in his place—a view of criticism which is totally foreign to that which we hold on these benches. The view held opposite, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman ventured to put forward elsewhere with less success than he usually enjoys in this House, is that criticism is only a form of blowing off steam, and that it is good for people to be allowed to blow oft steam, provided that it is not imagined for one moment that the kind of steam they blow off has the slightest effect on the actions of Ministers. That view was not acceptable to the court to which it was submitted, but it is nevertheless the growing view of criticism of hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
A moment ago the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) rebuked my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) for having commented about criticism of hon. Members of the Opposition. Now we have exactly the reverse process, and he is criticising the Attorney-General for offering disparaging comments about the admitted lack of opposition.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) is not, as he is usually, very much on a point. What I was referring to was a widely reported argument of the Attorney-General that a certain type of criticism was only blowing off steam and that it did not matter whether the Minister had his mind closed from the beginning to the end or not. It was certainly not what the hon. Member for King's Norton was supposing.
The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley "Shawcross)
I certainly followed it as a most interesting example of a complete travesty of an argument in a case which is now sub judice. I do not propose to follow it up, except to say that the way in which the hon. Member has described my argument has no relation to the argument itself.
§ Mr. Hogg
It is quite obvious, as the matter is sub judice. that we cannot carry it further. But, whether or not the right hon. and learned Gentleman used that particular argument on that particular occasion, it is an argument I have heard 106 again and again put forward from the benches opposite during this Parliament, that criticism is only a sort of safety valve, that so long as one is allowed to do what one likes, and it is clearly understood that the Government intend to do exactly what they proposed all along to do, then the rights of free speech are safeguarded. That is not the way in which Parliamentary Oppositions have, in fact, conducted their opposition in the past. We recognise that hon. Members come to this House, and that right hon. Gentlemen bring their proposals to this House with fairly clearly defined views about the great issues of politics. The view we take about Parliamentary criticism is that the actual weight of what is said against the proposals, even after they have been brought forward, even by Ministers who may have started with a strong preconception in favour of them, should be considered, and it should even be possible to persuade Ministers that they may conceivably be wrong. That is not possible if we are to have the Guillotine procedure of this proposal, and, because it is not possible, we particularly resent the proposal.
I venture again to refer to the Debate which we had nearly two years ago. I should like to remind hon. Members of this argument also. This country is governed by a curiously balanced Constitution, in which the Executive, provided it has the undisputed control over the majority of the House of Commons, enjoys far wider legal powers than is the case in any other country. The only thing which really entitles this country to be called a Parliamentary democracy is not the right of free speech but the right of an Opposition, which has something serious to say in opposition to a Measure, not merely to say it plainly, but to say it at such length as the subject really deserves.
If the Government said at the beginning of any day's Debate "However unreasonable we are, however little attention we pay to the criticisms of the organised minority in this House, we will still get our business just the same," this would not be a free country, and this would not be a Parliment. It would be a Reichstag, and the precise criticism which we on this side of the House have to the Guillotine proposal now before us, is that without any provocation or justification being offered, or at any rate suggested, from the 107 Front Bench opposite, this House, for the two most important Measures which it has had to discuss, perhaps, in this Parliament, is being turned into a Reichstag. However unreasonable they are, they can stifle criticism and steamroller their proposals through.
§ Mr. Hogg
The Guillotine is a Measure which has been introduced since the 1880's, when it was invented, I think, by Mr. Gladstone, to deal with the deliberate obstruction of the Irish Party. It has always been resented by Oppositions upon whom it has been applied, and rightly resented, because it has always been seen that it had in it the seeds of dictatorship. It has appeared from our discussions today that never before, even in the face of the deliberate and determined obstruction of the Irish Party, never before in the whole history of Parliament, has a proposal of this kind been put before the House of Commons, when a Measure is not merely bundled upstairs to a Standing Committee of 50 Members, but is guillotined in Standing Committee, guillotined on Report stage, and guillotined on Third Reading in the House.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
Will the hon. Member excuse me for a moment? I have in my hand Volume 30 of HANSARD, and looking at column 114 I see that the National Insurance Bill was sent to a Standing Committee, and that there follows a Time Table, Clause by Clause, of the proceedings in that Committee.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. and learned Member has only illustrated my point. I said, and I repeat, that never had there been a Bill which was bundled upstairs to a Standing Committee guillotined there, and then guillotined on the Floor of the House. What he has said is no exception whatever to what I stated. There was, I think, full discussion of the National Insurance Bill.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Would the hon. Member excuse me once more going back to the same volume of HANSARD? In column 112 I find a Time Table for the Report stage of four allotted days, etc.
§ Mr. Hogg
What the hon. and learned Member has failed to understand is that 108 there was never a Guillotine. The Time Table was agreed between the usual channels—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—but the hon. and learned Member has not succeeded in any way in diminishing what I said. I said quite clearly that the National Insurance Bill was a Measure about which there was no fundamental division in this House. There was no Guillotine in the ordinary sense of the word, no division upon the question as to whether there should be a Time Table or not. There was, in fact, no curtailment of discussion.
§ Earl Winterton
Those were the days when Bills were taken on the Floor of the House. The time taken was 40 days.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has had to go a long way back to, if he will forgive me, another Left Wing Government, before he could find any precedent. What he says still does not controvert what I say, that never before has this combination of repressions taken place.
§ Mr. Hogg
No. The hon. and learned Member must permit me to conclude a single sentence. Unless I am much mistaken, again I am speaking without the book, but I think I am right in saying that the proceedings in 1911 were not guillotined in the Committee upstairs, because, in fact, it required a Sessional Order of this Parliament in order to introduce the Guillotine upstairs. I think the hon. and learned Member will find that never before has this collection of acts of repression taken place but some one or other of them. As the noble Lord, who was there at the time, reminds me, the Bill in question was taken on the Floor of the House. The hon. and learned Member evidently did not even hear me say that the whole gravamen of my complaint was that the Bill was bundled upstairs into a Standing Committee first.
§ Mr. Mitchison
If the hon. Member will allow me, I am still reading from HANSARD, and it says:The Standing Committee to which it is committed may … sit whilst the House is sitting. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911; Vol. 3o, C. I14.]109 I find it difficult to understand how that can refer to the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. and learned Member is entirely mistaken about this matter, but I scarcely think that I can continue the argument at length, or take this particular discussion any further, by going so far back. I hardly think that much useful purpose would be served by continuing this discussion. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is entirely wrong. I leave it to others to inquire, by research, as to whether that be so or not. If it be so, all I can say is this: the arguments which have been adduced today from the Front Bench and those which were, or may have been, used in 1911, were fundamentally different.
The arguments which have been used today by the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench—and I do not think I have missed any of them—amount to this. In the first place, it is suggested that the Parliamentary Labour Party has a mandate to carry all these Bills and, therefore, it is suggested that that mandate entitles them to carry this Motion for the Guillotine and for the repression and curtailment of discussion. That is the first argument. The second argument is that Parliament has given them authority, by the Select Committee and the Sessional Order which followed its first Report, to do this kind of thing. The third argument, as far as I realised it, was that such slow progress has been made with the conduct of these Measures that the Government have really no alternative but to force this gag through. The fourth argument, which I thought was perhaps a little destructive of the earlier three, was that after all it was very inconvenient to hold an autumn Session and that, therefore, this Motion ought to be accepted.
Let me take these arguments in order. First it is suggested that the Government have a mandate. In what does the mandate consist? The mandate—and I apologise again for referring to something which I said before—is that they may put forward their Measures, which they have quite rightly put before the electorate, through the ordinary constitutional channels. They have no mandate whatever to abolish the ordinary constitutional channels. I venture to say that had they come before the electorate in.1945 and said," We propose to carry these same Measures without adequate discussion by 110 a steam roller method although it is not suggested that there has been any deliberate obstruction by the Opposition "—if they had put those proposals before the country in 1945, the result of the election might have been materially different.
I would add that the Government have now come before the country with a new set of proposals altogether. I refer to those contained in a document which we have read in the last two weeks, the Economic Survey for 1947. The thesis of that survey was the need for co-operation between all sections of the community. I am sure indeed that all sections of the community will do whatever they can to help the country through its present difficulties. But it does not marry with the kind of appeal which has now been made that they should deliberately affront the right of discussion of a party which, even in 1945, was able to command 9,000,000 votes, that they should affront a second party which, even in 1945, commanded another 2,000,000 votes, and that they should affront the feelings and demands of every independent Member of this House. That was not the mandate of the people. That is not the policy upon which the Government will get the co-operation of all classes and that Dunkirk spirit for which right hon. Members of the Front Bench occasionally ask us. This argument about mandates is only the same argument as Hitler used when he got the mandate from his people. For ten years he dominated them with the appeal to the various "Yeses" which he had obtained by one means or another, and denied the right of Parliamentary discussion because he was afraid of all the criticism there might be.
Let us consider the second argument, that Parliament has given authority for this kind of thing to be done. This House has given no such authority. I can well remember the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council—whom we all desire to see restored to health—at that Despatch Box when the various stages of this Committee's proposals were put before this House, saying at each stage," You are only agreeing to set up a Committee. You are not committing yourself to any specific set of proposals. You are only agreeing that the Committee's Report be accepted. You are not committing us to any particular application of the machinery which this sets up." If it had been contemplated then, and if it had been said that without any charge of 111 obstruction this House should be asked to steam roller these most important Measures through after they had gone upstairs to the Standing Committee, it is even possible that we might have had some hint of criticism from the docile benches opposite. We were told expressly that we were not committed then and were not giving authority for any particular set of proposals to be put together. It comes ill from the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite to tell us now that, after all, it has been decided long ago.
I cannot take seriously the argument that these Bills have made slow progress. These are, if hon. Members opposite are to be believed, some of the most important Measures that have ever been put before Parliament. They deserve full discussion, and discussion in detail, even discussion which an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway treats as a waste of time. These are fundamental proposals and hon. Members opposite have no right to curtail their discussion. Then we are told that we must avoid an autumn Session. If I had to choose between keeping the rights of Parliamentary democracy and having an autumn Session, I think I should prefer an autumn Session. I have a suspicion that what hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite are really wanting is not so much an autumn Session as an autumn election. They see the support of the country gradually dwindling away and before it has altogether run away from them they hope, by a snap election, to try to get back with a greatly reduced majority. The real meaning of this Motion may very well be that; but if there was a General Election today, a hundred of those hon. Members opposite would cease to represent their constituencies. The Government may very well think that unless they rush through their programme now they will never get another chance.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I want to speak very shortly indeed, but before doing so I would say that I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), for. whom I believe most people in this country still have a great admiration, and the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) should have talked 112 about a Reichstag and a police State. Really, in relation to the Motion which is before the House, that is the most utter nonsense. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) interrupted the hon. Member for Oxford and proved to him that this same procedure had been adopted in 1911.
§ Sir C. MacAndrew
The difference was that in 1911 the Chairmen of the Standing Committees did not have the power of selection. Now the Chairmen have those powers. The position is quite different.
§ Mr. Blackburn
It is no part of my argument that there may not have been some minor differences between the procedure of the House in 1911, and the procedure today. Do those minor differences justify hon. Members opposite, whom we respect, in supporting this kind of monstrous suggestion that we on this side of the House, who fully supported them when they were in a majority during the war, would participate in any kind of Reichstag or in introducing—
§ Sir C. MacAndrew
I intervened for the sake of greater accuracy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) brought out what happened in 1911. Certainly, at that time the only way to get Bills through Standing Committee was by means of a Time Table. Now the Chairman has a right of selection instead.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I fully accept that there may have been slight differences in the 1911 Parliament, which was a Liberal Parliament, representing Liberal principles in this country, but to suggest that there is anything which justifies a charge—
§ Earl Winterton
Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that, under the old Standing Committee procedure, it took at least ten times as long to get a Bill through because the Chairman had to call every Amendment? Therefore, it is not a case of a minor difference.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I accept from the noble Lord the statement that there was a difference, but from my studies of constitutional law, for which I have a degree, 113 I do not feel that this proposal represents an abnormal departure from previous practice. Surely, the point is this. I go one stage further before coming to my main argument. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to realise that the degree to which they are right in the point they are making, is the degree to which the criticism of the Opposition is constructive criticism worthy to be addressed to this House. In so far as that criticism talks about a Reichstag or a police State, it ceases to be serious criticism worthy of being addressed to this House. If there ever were any evidence of that kind of thing, which I doubt, I think hon. Members opposite ought to realise that it is quite unfair to make any such suggestions.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The hon. Member has made an absurd accusation, in spite of being challenged on the point by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering. However I will leave it there. May I now press one argument which may be a little unpopular? I believe that on the Atomic Energy Bill, a Measure of fundamental importance, we were entirely lacking in any constructive suggestions of any kind from hon. Members of the Opposition. May I suggest that there are three reasons why we must deal with this situation as an unusual one? There are three reasons for the Government's present proposal. The first is that this Government possess the confidence of the working people of this country in a way which no other Government has done. Hon. Members opposite may agree with me in this—
§ Mr. Blackburn
Therefore, it would be of the greatest danger to Parliamentary democracy in this country if the workers should imagine that we are the kind of people who break their promises.
§ Mr. Blackburn
On the contrary, the Government and the party never gave any 114 pledges, nor did I. [Interruption] For the first time in British Parliamentary history, a party came from the people with a clear and explicit programme. If we departed one jot or tittle, from that programme, the hon. Member opposite would be the first to accuse us of a broken pledge. I am the last person to talk about a Tory plot. I do not believe that there could be a Tory plot to prevent us in fulfilling our programme.
I now come to the second point, and that is that we have to take into account the possibility of a veto in another place. I am not saying that this argument should be taken too far. I am merely pointing out that this is something of which hon. Members opposite have not taken notice. So long as the present set-up is maintained, it remains true that there is a very great difference in the position today from the position in the days of a Conservative Government. There is today an urgent need, on the part of the people, that action should be taken before it is too late. That demonstrably applies to the mines. Can it be seriously suggested that the programme for the nationalisation of the mines should have been held up for Parliamentary reasons? It is no good hon. Members opposite appealing to us, as they do, to safeguard the old principles of Parliamentary democracy without realising that those principles must be adapted to the changing conditions of the modern world. That is the essential point. We cannot achieve economic democracy, which is our objective, unless we adapt political democracy to the achievement of economic democracy. [Interruption.] I am asked what it means. It only means that the essence of Parliamentary democracy, as one hon. Member has suggested, is that any hon. Member who has an aggrieved constituent—and we all have—is entitled to get up and ask questions, ad infinitum and ad nauseam—
§ Mr. Hogg rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
That is not a point of Order. The hon. Member who is speaking did not say that he would give way.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I think it is within the recollection of the House and the hon. Member, no doubt, will read HANSARD. I turn now from all these remarks, which were very sincerely made, in order to offer two observations to the Government. The first is this. I suggest that we ought now to adopt the principle that the pace of our legislative programme should be limited to the speed at which administrative action to implement it is both possible and effective. I think that is a principle which the Government could accept, and I hope that my right hon. Friend, when replying to the Debate, will indicate that they have accepted it. It is not really a party view, but it is held in many quarters, that what is needed more than anything now is effective administrative action. [Interruption.] I am little more deterred by my hon. Friend saying "Nonsense" than I am by hon. Members opposite cheering. I have no doubt that what I am saying will prove true. The second thing is that we must indicate clearly that the principle of the value of Parliamentary time is regarded as sacrosanct by the Government. If it is the Government's view that there would be better discussions by our taking a fortnight off our holiday, I should be in favour of it.
§ Mr. Beswick (Uxbridge)
Would my hon. Friend agree that what he is calling a. holiday is the time in which the legislation for the next Session is prepared?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am grateful to my hon. Friend: certainly, I think there is a good deal in the point he made. It is all a question of priority. There is nothing more important in a Socialist programme that this question of priorities, and priority No. I must be to get the legislation ready, priority No. 2 to get the legislative action ready and priority No. 3 to pass all legislative Acts in such a way that administrative action is made effective.
Finally, I believe that Ministers, Members of Parliament and the public who approach Members, are all partners in a great enterprise—to make absolute the success of this programme on which we are engaged. I do not see how we can do that unless we have a little more time 116 in which to consider these Measures. It is a fact—and I think every hon. Member knows it—that we have not had sufficient time to consider these Measures and to deal with them as we should like to have done. I beg Ministers to consider whether, not in relation to this Motion, but in the future guidance of Parliamentary business, they cannot so order matters that we shall all have the utmost time to devote to getting the administration of our programme right, and to considering the legitimate complaints of our constituents, in accordance with the long history of Parliamentary democracy, which we shall defend even after the hon. Member opposite may allege that it has ceased to exist.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
I hope that the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) will agree with me on a practical aspect of the matter before the House. As I see it, the question is whether the Transport Bill can be adequately discussed in four and a half weeks. If it cannot, then this Motion is a false pretence and a fraudulent misrepresentation to our constituents that we are doing our work. Therefore, the first point which we have to consider is whether the Bill can be adequately discussed.
What is the object of a Committee stage? It is, even in Standing Committee, and with 50 Members who are, as near as possible, a microcosm of the House, to try to deal with every point of importance in the Bill which may touch the lives of our constituents and those of the people of this country. A Committee stage which does not do that is a failure. I think that the hon. Member will agree with me that today, when, owing to the difficulties of newsprint, and the like, one cannot expect publicity for the Committee stage, there is an even greater responsibility on Members of the Committee to see that points of importance which touch the lives of their constituents should be brought out and properly discussed by the Committee charged with so doing. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has realised what we are being asked to do in the Transport Bill Committee at the present time? I should not think he has. We are being asked to deal with 121 Clauses and 13 Schedules—or, if he likes it another way, 117 127 closely printed pages—in four and a half weeks. What does that mean? The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that he will shortly ask the Committee to sit in the afternoon, and, as he has a majority, he can do that. I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept that as one of our prospects. It means that we may have five sittings of the Committee in a week, or 22 sittings, or 55 hours in all—an average of 24 minutes for a Clause or a Schedule.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider that because he has obviously come to this point with honesty of purpose and with an attempt to achieve clarity of vision. Can he say that that is a fair attempt at legislation by the Mother of the Parliaments of the world? It is not; it is an abrogation of all that this Parliament, through its hundreds of years of history, has ever tried to do. That is why I ask the hon. Gentleman to believe that he, too, may be mistaken. When we express feeling about what is happening to the legislation in this House, there is sincerity in our minds, too, because we see it, and I am sure the hon. Member would see it. I see it because I have to consider every word of the Bill for the purpose of ascertaining how all these questions affect the people we meet, the people with whom we come into contact, and all the points contained in the innumerable letters which each one of us receives, and which, under this proposal, are simply going to be ignored by this House of Parliament, and never brought out into the light of day.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that he is making a grave constitutional charge against the Government? Does he not realise the enormous difference between a grave constitutional charge that the constitutional procedure of Parliament is being abused on the one hand, and, on the other, the suggestion that we are introducing a secret police and all the horrible, sickening technique of the concentration camp?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember how easy is the road to hell. The hon. Gentleman said that his party possessed the confidence of the working people of the country. We all heard Hitler say that dozens of times. I have heard Fritz Sauckel say it; I have heard Goering say it. I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that, if once we 118 abandon, not democratic forms, but the essence of democracy, which is full Parliamentary discussion of matters, because we are so certain that we are right about what the people want and what the people can have, it is just that super-confidence in one's own position which leads to those slippery courses on which we are taking one step today. On the hon. Gentleman's other point about legislation, does he really think that bad legislation, or legislation which has not been considered, can be of that necessity or desirability which he suggested? I want him to follow what we are being asked to do. We are being asked to discuss each of the 121 Clauses and 13 Schedules in an average of 24 minutes.
An hon. Member opposite argued the position which I am putting forward. He said, "Well, it is your own fault; you have taken 11 Sittings in which to deal with five and a half Clauses." I am sure that I shall not transgress the Ruling which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, gave earlier if I point out, without discussing their merits, the points which we have considered during those 11 Sittings. We discussed the question of the Commission, what its size should be, and whether it should be whole-time or part-time. A most interesting point was raised by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) whether it was right that the members of the Commission should take part in political activities. The hon. Gentleman will observe that the question of the public Corporation, which his party are putting forward as a new and vital contribution to our national existence, raises points like that. They have to be discussed and thrashed out. I dislike the conception of a public Corporation just as much as hon. Members opposite like it, but I am just as ready as they are to discuss it, and it is because I know it is going to be adopted that I believe there are certain qualities it must have if it is to work.
That is one of the points. I will take them briefly. The next one is whether the Commission or the Minister should appoint the members of the Executives. That raises the whole question of the relation of the Minister to the public Corporation under the new dispensation which hon. Members are urging, and whether in this case the Commission should have such a control that they can give concealed subsidies from one Executive to another My right hon. Friend the senior Burgess for 119 Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) spent half an hour on a point arising out of this matter. Who could grudge him half an hour on such a point?
Equally, on the question of the position of trade unions in the setup of the public Corporation, the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) moved an Amendment to raise the special position of the trade unions when it is, in effect, a private monopoly operating with the sanction of the' public monopoly behind it. I have never heard the right hon. Gentleman complain in Committee about these points. He always endeavoured, to the best of the ability which he could command—I do not mean that in any derogatory sense at all; when I want to be insulting I shall make it quite clear—to give us the best reply that he could at the time to these points. It cannot be said, in dealing with these early Clauses in Part I, which is the hub of the Bill giving the setup, that we have wasted our time. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary could make the point—although, of course, it is no real test—that one Clause may take some time and that we can get through two or three others almost in a run.
I submit that it is not out of Order to consider what are, very broadly, the points which we have still got to discuss. We have the question of the appointed day, whether the setup can be brought into operation on 1st January next, or whether the right hon. Gentleman will require more time. Then we have the question of compensation. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may have little sympathy for the stockholders. They may believe—I do not know—that most of the stockholders voted for the party to which I belong, and that very few of them voted for the party opposite, and they may have other reasons for treating them with a cynical disregard for their position. But the stockholders number over a million people and they have some 3 million or 4 million people dependent on them. Surely, it is fair that they should have the question of their compensation dealt with in a Committee stage and with that length of time and detail which the subject merits. The question which we are putting forward as to whether there should be a tribunal to discuss impartially and fairly the question of compensation is, surely, not an un- 120 reasonable one. Hon. Members may disagree with it, but it is a point of view whose existence they can understand, and that applies equally to our alternative Amendment on that point.
Then we come to the question which my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) touched upon in his speech. With regard to the substitution of the transport stock, the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal has had to do a great deal of recasting. He has had to put forward 75 Amendments. He has had to drop Clauses 18 and 19 and, in fact, has had to make the most drastic changes in the Bill. I wonder again whether the hon. Member for King's Norton has visualised—I am sure he understands—how this process works. Here is the Minister admitting that his first shot on that point was unworkable, that it was bound to have the effect that people would not be able to get their transport stock, would not be able to get probate and would riot be able to sell it, and that the whole working of the substitution would have collapsed. So the right hon. Gentleman comes forward with other proposals. Is it unreasonable, after he has made one wrong shot at that problem, that his second proposal should not receive adequate consideration? Let us face what actually happens. We have got four and a half weeks. This is a small aspect of my second point—the question of compensation. If we come to the end of the guillotine period, the right hon. Gentleman then proceeds to move one after the other, without a word of discussion, his 75 Government Amendments and they are all carried absolutely. That is the procedure. That is what the right hon. Gentleman is asking for and that is making nonsense of legislation.
We then come to the question of road transport. I am not discussing the merits, but there are, at any rate, three points. There is, first, the question of nationalising long-distance services. There is, secondly, the result of doing that and the effect which it will have on the other services, including any question of decentralisation or local allocation of road transport. Thirdly, there is the question of "C" licences. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have been in this position, or whether it is because I have been associated with the opposition to this 121 Bill, but I have had hundreds of letters from people asking for special treatment with regard to "C" licences, and my hon. Friends who support me are in the same position. What are these people to do? Here is a great change, whether we agree that it is right or wrong. For the first time, the people are not to be allowed to carry their own goods in their own vehicles. Hundreds of different categories of people feel that they should be entitled to do it and that they should be included in the exceptions. How long could we expect for a discussioin of these road transport Clauses—a week, 12½ hours to cover these points? What hope have these people who are affected of getting their position even ventilated in the House to which they have sent representatives to look after them?
After that, we come to the question of passenger transport, which is quite an important and complicated matter. Then there is the question of docks and harbours, on which a lot of points will arise. There are also the general matters at the end of the Bill, including the accounts of the public Corporation, and a number of other matters which again must be carefully examined if we are to be sure that this Bill is right. The hon. Member for King's Norton has made a great plea for restraint. I hope he will believe that I have tried to examine this in a restrained way, as someone who has given all the attention to this Bill that I can. But I do say, having considered it with such care and restraint as I can command, that four and a half weeks for discussing these Clauses and these subjects is not Parliamentary democracy. You can call it what you like, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but it is not examination, by the representatives of the people, of the facets of this Bill which affects the lives of the people.
I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite: Why all this hurry? The hon. Member raised the question of the Parliament Act. He knows that as far as this Session is concerned that does not come into it at all. Here we are on 3rd March. I quite agree the Minister has said in the Committee—and therefore it is in all our minds—that he wants the Bill to go to another place as early as possible. But surely, the fact of keeping Parliament—either House—sitting towards the autumn, or even sitting in the autumn, does not really go into the balance at all as against the considerations which I have ad- 122 vanced? I cannot see why, if we extended the time of the Committee stage till Whitsuntide—which is about the end of May this year—we should be in any real difficulty in getting the Bill through all its stages in a reasonable time, either by sitting a bit later into August, or, if necessary, having an autumn Session. But giving that as a reason for putting forward the kind of consideration which must happen if the course that is suggested to us today is followed, is beyond my comprehension.
I want to say only a few words about the Report stage, because again I think hon. and right hon. Gentlemen should realise the implication of doing away with Standing Order 8. It means that, not only is any necessary Private Business prevented, but, as I understand it, any Adjournment of the House such as—I will not say nearly took place, but was discussed early today on a very important matter. That is a very important incision into the few remaining powers that the Private Member still has. I again ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to consider the Report stage from the wider angle. In the course of the 11 Sittings that we have had, we have already had about six points—I did not actually check it, but I got someone to compare his impression with mine—on which the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary has said: "We will consider this matter, and it may be it will be possible to do something on Report stage." That is a matter of Parliamentary practice. It means that the point is generally raisable, and is raised, at the Report stage. It means there is another chance of raising the point again.
Apart from that there is the point mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, namely, Mr. Speaker's own view as to the wider powers which he thought should be exercised for raising points on Report stage when the Bill has been upstairs. I believe the remaining 600 hon. Members of this House who have not been on the Standing Committee would be very anxious, and would desire, to see that all these matters, touching the lives of their constituents very nearly, should be raised, at any rate in some of their facets, on the Floor of the House before the House parts with the Bill. That also is to be denied us at the present time. I have put forward the same alternative as 123 my right hon. Friend, namely, that this Committee stage should go on to Whitsuntide.
I want to say only one more thing, and that is about what the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) said in regard to the Opposition refusing a Time Table in the Committee. During the discussions in the Committee, speaking for the Opposition, I said I was not prepared to agree to any agreed allocation of time which brought us to the same position, of 20 minutes or half an hour a clause. I cannot agree to that, and I never shall agree. Nor have I the slightest regret or feeling that I have done wrong in not agreeing. That was the suggestion which was put to me—that I should agree a Time-Table on that basis, originally for finishing the Bill towards the end of March, and afterwards getting an extra few days. I say that it was not right, and we could not agree to it. But we are now faced, at this stage of this Session, with the broad question whether we are to allow discussion as a House—and that means whether the Government will allow discussion or criticism—or whether the Government will say: "We are so sure of our remedy that we do not care whether it is discussed or not."
Now I cannot avoid saying—and I suggest to the hon. Member for King's Norton that, if he applies to that aspect the same clarity and frankness which he has applied to many other aspects of this matter he cannot escape it either—that that is the beginning of something we have not hitherto seen. It is the beginning of the refusal to recognise the Opposition, or those who disagree as having the right to express views which you do not like. We are asked to take the first step on that disastrous course. I implore His Majesty's Government, and I implore the House not to take that step. But if they do take that step, if we once get into the attitude of mind which thinks that Oppositions are only there to be dragooned out of the way as hateful things which stand in the path, then the fair face of democracy, which we have done so much to create, will receive the greatest blow she has suffered up to this time.
§ 8.20. p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
We have had a long and interesting Debate on this pro- 124 posal, and those who, like myself, have sat at one time or another on one side of the House and the other, know that it has followed certain familiar paths. After all, this is not as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) said in his peroration, the first step that has been taken of this kind. I have never myself taken part in a Debate on the Guillotine before for this reason: that in my early days in this House I was asked to "devil" for an hon. Gentleman who was going to speak on it and I read through the whole of the Debates which had taken place in the House since the first introduction of the Closure; and the astonishing thing I discovered was, that the speech an hon. or right hon. Gentleman made depended on which side of the House he sat. It was interesting to find how a speech that had been made by one hon. Gentleman who sat on the Opposition side, was answered by himself when he sat on the Government side, in the same terms as were used by the Member of the Government who replied to him when he was in Opposition.
During the time when the Irish Members prevented the House from getting on with any Business at all, until the Speaker of the day, without any authority at all, announced he was going to put the Question, there was unlimited discussion in this House. Members could speak, provided they could keep within the bounds of Order, on a particular subject at any length, and without the Government of the day being able to bring the discussion effectively to a conclusion. The extraordinary thing is that in the Debate that followed the Speaker's Ruling on that occasion, and the charge that the curtailment of Debate was not British democracy, the word used in describing the proceedings was not the English word "closure" but the French word "clôture," and it was printed throughout the Report in italics to indicate it was a foreign word. Since that time there have been, one after another, other effective steps taken by Governments of varying complexions to ensure getting the Business that they required; and successive Governments, Conservative, Liberal and Labour, have used the various methods which have been employed by their predecessors, and have also, from time to time, introduced new 125 methods to deal with this particular problem.
The proposal in front of us today varies from all the previous proposals in this, that it does originate from the recommendation of a Select Committee appointed by the House, and is not an emanation from the Government themselves submitted to the House. That, of course, does not of itself justify its application to a particular instance, but it does differentiate it from the previous measures that have been taken to curtail Debate in the House in order that the Government may get their Business.
My experience of the House has been that under no Government of modern times has legislation been too swift. The danger to Parliamentary democracy in this country is not from the speed but the slowness of the forms that were used when this country was less populous than it is, and when the range of Government activities was far less than it is today, and when the franchise itself was very limited, and confined to a miserable minority of the population. These forms are not adequate for the times in which we live. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Acocks Green (Mr. Usborne) put the point very well indeed, when he said that, if we are to have the necessary power to deal with the urgent problems which confront us at this particular stage, it is essential that these two Bills, and certain other Bills, shall be placed on the Statute Book with reasonable speed. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that the proposals of His Majesty's Government submitted to the House today would give 22 days to Committee, and that there would be three days on Report stage.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Twenty-two sessions of two and a half hours. We shall be dealing them. I did not expand this point, but I would mention it—we shall be dealing with them at 22 sessions, one session in the morning and one in the afternoon, while the House is sitting.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sorry. I was not trying to state the case too highly. I ought to have used the word "sessions." There will be 22 separate sessions of some two and a half hours each. This Motion before us today differs from the normal Guillotine Motion in this also, that the normal Guillotine Motion related to the discussion on the Floor of the House—and 126 to the National Insurance Bill, as was mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) —usually says that so much shall be done on the first day, so much on the second, and so on. This Guillotine Motion leaves the allocation of the time to the Committee, which will have a business subcommittee, who will consider this matter, and will consist of Members of the Government and Members of the Opposition. It will be their duty to see that the important parts of the Bill that are to be discussed shall be so taken as to ensure that they come before the Committee before the Guillotine falls. When the ordinary Guillotine Motion is before the House, allocating, let us say, Clauses 9 to 13 on the third day, some Member, perhaps on the Opposition side, points out, possibly, that Clause 13 does contain important questions that they would desire to discuss; and an Amendment is, therefore, moved—and I have known it on occasion accepted by the Government—that that particular day's work shall be Clauses 9 to 12, so that Clause 13 shall be the first Clause to be considered on the next day, so ensuring that it shall be discussed.
The Government, having watched the progress of these two Bills through Committee, have come to the conclusion that it is necessary that the procedure, which was envisaged when the Select Committee made their Report, shall be applied to these particular Bills. I am told that this is absolutely without precedent. I am not at all sure that I was sent here by my electors to be nicely concerned about a particular precedent when it came to dealing with matters which are of the utmost urgency.
§ Mr. Ede
I should have thought that one or two of the speeches from this side had indicated that. I do not know how the reconstruction of this country is to be carried out effectively unless we very speedily get the Town and Country Planning Bill, without which it is quite impossible to deal with the blitzed areas or with the blighted areas, or to arrange for the proper distribution of industry.
§ Mr. Ede
I was coming to that, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me. I 127 have tried to be very fair to hon. Members opposite who have spoken, and have. listened to all they have had to say. With regard to the Transport Bill, I think it is becoming more and more apparent that we cannot have the chaos and uncertainty which exists with regard to the transport arrangements of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where is the chaos?"] I should have thought that some of the questions that have been raised during the last few weeks were an indication of the urgent need for having a settled policy on which all people who have to operate in this particular industry could know that their affairs were going to be regulated for some reasonable time ahead. I had intended to deal with the Transport Bill second, because I regarded that as the more urgent of the two Measures, having regard to the practical affairs of our time.
My hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) asked two questions to which I propose to give some answer. He suggested that the speed of the legislative programme ought to be adapted to the capacity of the administrative machine. May I say that I entirely agree? [Interruption.]Yes, I entirely agree. I have spent the greater part of my life, not in legislation but in administration, and I know how true is that aspect of the matter. I do not believe that up to the moment we have speeded the legislative programme beyond the capacity of the administrative machine. A great deal of play has been made in interruptions today with the Coal Nationalisation Act; I merely use it as an illustration. I do not believe we should have got 4,000,000 tons of coal in a week had that particular Measure not been passed.
§ Captain Crookshank
I think the right hon. Gentleman is under a misunderstanding. There was not a working arrangement with regard to the Coal Bill. All that happened was that my hon. and right hon. Friends and I knew the sort of date by which the Minister hoped to get it through Committee, and that was all. There was no kind of working arrangement at all with regard to it, but, of course, the Minister of Fuel and Power is a very conciliatory man.
§ Captain Crookshank
In fairness to my hon. Friends and myself who were on that Committee, we cannot have our attitude misunderstood. There was no kind of arrangement at all, but the Bill got through, no doubt owing to the conciliatory attitude of the Minister concerned, which I understand is very different from the attitude of the Ministers in charge of these Bills.
§ Mr. Ede
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is not now saying quite what he said before. He said he knew the date by which the Minister wanted the Bill and, by some peculiar coincidence which was not an arrangement, that was the date by which the Minister did get the Bill.
I regret that—I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not conceal it—while an attempt was made to get a working arrangement, not subject to a formal Guillotine Motion, with regard to the Transport Bill, the right hon. and learned Gentleman, for good and sufficient reasons of his own, felt that he could not enter into the arrangement for which he was asked. I had a little experience in the last Parliament of helping to get one big Measure through—the Education Act—which was not subject to the Guillotine. [HON. MEMBERS: "It was taken in Committee of the Whole House."] We had a meeting at which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) was present, and other Members, and we there discussed the way in which the time could be laid out.
§ Mr. Clement Davies
I agree but it was taken on the Floor of the House and not in Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. Ede
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will examine his Division record during that Bill, he will find that his agreement was very often expressed in the wrong Division Lobby. It was an example of a working arrangement on a matter which had a good many points of pretty acute controversy. On this occasion, when we tried to work an arrangement, the Opposition refused for reasons of their own.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss rose—
§ Mr. Strauss
It is really a vitally important point. The only possibility of making a working agreement on the Town and Country Planning Bill was to agree that certain Clauses should not be discussed at all. Does the right hon. Gentleman think it would be a moral agreement for both sides to agree to a timetable which involved non-discussion of vital Clauses?
§ Mr. Ede
If the right hon. Gentleman had allowed me to conclude, I think I might have been able to answer the question he put. We have not allocated the time as between sessions upstairs and days on the Report stage, or hours on the Report stage, to the various Clauses and Schedules. Hon. Members who have had experience of working the Guillotine, know it is possible, by a different arrange- 130 ment of the Clauses for the Report stage, and even by fixing hours in the day during the day on Report stage, to arrange that certain Clauses which have not been discussed upstairs, owing to the operation of the Guillotine, shall be sure of discussion on the Report stage. That, after all, is one of the arrangements which is entered into through the usual channels, in order to secure that so far as the Guillotine allows flexibility, it shall be used to the advantage of the House.
I wish now to return to the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). He rightly said that the Education Bill was taken on the Floor of the House and this Bill is being taken upstairs. Actually it must have been within the knowledge of the House, when it authorised this procedure to be followed upstairs, that on some occasion or other, it would be used. It is no use coming along now, and suggesting that the House is faced with this as a matter of extreme surprise, that it has never discussed it before. The Select Committee gave their consideration to it, and recommended that this procedure should be available to the Government of the day if the House, at the time, thought it should be granted—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
But the right hon. Gentleman will remember that they also made the proviso that it should not be applied to Bills of fundamental or constitutional importance.
§ Mr. Ede
I know that the hon. Gentleman, at the time this Bill was introduced, argued that it was of constitutional importance. That may be the view of other hon. Members, but I do not think it is the view of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the country?"] Frankly, I do not think that the country interests itself in nice constitutional points. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is my opinion. The country, as a whole, is not interested in nice constitutional points. Members opposite, and some of my hon. Friends behind me, may differ, but I am expressing my own personal point of view on this matter, as I am entitled to do. But when we get down to the fundamentals of this 131 matter this is the fact: Members opposite do not like this Bill. They are determined by every means in their power to—
§ Mr. Eden
Because of the interjection which has just been made about obstruction, I want to remind the right hon. Gentleman that earlier today I asked the two Ministers in charge of these Bills whether they charged us with obstruction or not. They declined to answer. I ask the right hon. Gentleman now to tell us whether the Standing Committees are charged with obstruction, because we should know?
§ Mr. Ede
I have not said that there has been obstruction by a Committee upstairs. Occasionally, there is greater frankness where there is greater freedom of expression. It is clear from the discussion we have had today that the Opposition intend to do everything they can to prevent this Bill reaching the Statute Book.
§ Mr. Strauss rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I am now proposing to call the first Amendment on the Order Paper standing in the names of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) and the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson). I think that it would be as 132 well to explain to the House that I propose to take, with this Amendment, the fifth Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow—to leave out paragraph (2)—the sixth Amendment in the hon. and gallant Member's name, to leave out "three," and to insert "five," and the seventh Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe to leave out "one," and to insert "two."
§ Captain Crookshank
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I ask, as you are about to call the first Amendment, whether, after the Amendment has been disposed of, it will be open to us to return to the main Question, as several of the questions which have been put earlier to the Government have not been answered? If we are not to be able to go back to the main Question, I respectfully submit that you should not yet call this Amendment.
§ Captain Crookshank
That is not my point. When all the Amendments have been disposed of, will it be open for us to return to the main Question, to try to elicit from the Government, who appear to be reluctant to give the answers to the questions which have been addressed to them? If there is not to be an opportunity to return to the main Question, may I respectfully submit that you should postpone calling any of the Amendments, and allow the general Debate to continue a little longer?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I note the submission, and provided that we get through expeditiously, and with fewer interruptions, there may be time available, after the Amendments have been disposed of, to continue the general discussion.
§ Captain Crookshank
Then I take it, that depends on the time. The Rule has been suspended for two hours, and there may be time, if you are disposed, to allow the Debate to be resumed?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That will be a matter to be determined by Mr. Speaker, or whoever occupies the Chair at the time, after all the other Amendments have been dealt with.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out "Report stage and Third Reading."
This is an Amendment which I hope will save hon. Members in all parts of the House from a good deal of embarrassment. Before the Secretary of State for the Home Department leaves, I would say that it is a great pity that he is not in Australia to keep the runs down there, as he has so ably done here. The Lord Privy Seal has bowled so many loose balls that it will be easy for us to continue to hit the Government for six for many months to come. I believe that all Members of the House are honestly and gravely concerned about this issue. It is for this reason that my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Hutchison) and I have put down this Amendment, which, I believe, if accepted—and I hope that the Government will consider it seriously—may save the Labour Party from a good deal of electoral embarrassment in the future. If the Government go against the Amendment I personally intend to use it as an instance of a deliberate attempt by Socialists to suppress the free right of Members of this House to express their views in the Chamber, and in Committee, if the Government do not accept our Amendment.
First, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer this question: When the Report stage and the Third Reading have not even been reached; when the Committee has not reported; when Ministers in charge of these two Bills have already made a considerable number of promises; when the Opposition assert their right to ask for points to be reconsidered on Report, and when Members of the National Liberal Party and the Liberal Party, and hon. Members on the back benches of the Socialist Party have asked for points to be reconsidered—how, at this stage, can the right hon. Gentleman assess the number of hours required for the Report stage? Will the Lord Privy Seal answer that now? [HON. MEMBERS: "He cannot."] Of course he cannot. If the Socialists are to be planners, they must know the facts. Otherwise they can not draw the necessary deductions and plan properly the time of the process and affairs of the country. How dare the right hon. Gentleman come to the House without knowing the factors involved?
§ Mr. Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
The hon. gallant Gentleman talks as if he were on the barrack square.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
The hon. Member always interrupts. I am not ashamed of having been a soldier; but I am not a Guardsman, and I never have been. I have served in the Royal Scots Greys and I am proud of it. I happen to have a loud voice, as the hon. Member has, but I do not interrupt so much. If he wishes to interrupt me, I shall speak for a very long time. How can any Government assess the number of hours that may be required for the Report stage? The Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill are very technical Measures. It may well be that the Minister may not get as much time as he wants on the Committee stage under the guillotine and therefore, he may want to use far more time on Report for putting forward many Government Amendments. How many hours does the right hon. Gentleman hope to have on Report stage? He has given only three days. His right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has said that he does not complain about the quality of the debates which have taken place, but of the quantity of the Bill that has been passed by the Committee.
There are many important factors and points which have to be considered by the House between now and July. I and my hon. Friends are deeply concerned over Palestine, India, the economic situation, the Town and Country Planning Bill, the Cotton Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Polish Resettlement Bill, the Electricity Bill, and foreign affairs, and we may well have important points affecting the welfare of the 60 million of people in the Colonies. If we are to hurry too much and set ourselves a time limit of 1st August, I believe we shall be accepting £1,000 a year on totally false pretences. I have never before known a situation where that could be said. I was horrified when the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division (Mrs. Braddock) made an interjection, which I took up, perhaps rather discourteously, in which case. I apologise. Surely, she is as interested as we on this side are in the effect of the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill on our constituents.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
I am delighted to hear that. Surely, there is a very serious 135 question of time involved. My right hon. and learned friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) has produced some figures. I know it is easy to juggle with figures, but I have been trying to study how this time table on Report would work out. There are 127 Clauses and 13 Schedules in the Transport Bill, which means there are about 140 major points at issue. If the House sits from 3.30 p.m. until 2.30 a.m., it will spend eleven hours a day on Business, apart from Questions. In addition, hon. Members will have a great deal of correspondence and other duties to carry out. How will this work out? I believe that on Report stage it will limit discussion on each Clause or Schedule to about 12 minutes. I am prepared to accept any argument that my arithmetic is wrong, but certainly it will mean not more than 15 minutes. That will mean, if each Front Bench takes up about five minutes, that any other Member will be lucky if he gets in for five minutes. It may be that one Member will get in for two minutes and another for three minutes.
This is really a serious point. It is not a party point. The odds are one hundred to one against a Member getting in on a particular Clause. Those of us who are serving on the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill have naturally been inundated with letters from everybody, from druggists, from the agricultural industry, and from many people whom some of us have only recently discovered, pointing out the difficult technical problems which affect their trade and individual interests. It is no use writing back and saying, "We will do our best," when we know that the odds are one hundred to one against being to speak in the Report stage. We should have to write back and say, "The odds are one hundred to one against my getting in, but I have 50 friends, and if I remember to speak to each one of them, you have a two-to-one chance against your point being raised." I am not in any way accepting the Guillotine for the Committee stage. I think the Motion is disastrous and misplaced. I have used strong language already and I will not repeat it. I ask private Members to bring their influence to bear on the Government in their own interests. They will look very small in front of their constituents in a year or two if they let this 136 Motion go through, and I have given them the opportunity of speaking on this particular point.
This matter can be looked at in another way. There are 137 pages in the Transport Bill, which means that this procedure allows only about 15 minutes to a page. It does not seem to me to be a reasonable proposition. Now that the Committee stage has just started and the Government now propose to limit discussion on the Report stage to three days. If that is the correct thing to do surely the time has come for the acting Leader of the House, whom we regard outside this Chamber with the greatest respect, to tell us what our hours of work really are. Surely it cannot be seriously suggested that we should go on holiday on 1st August until December. If that so the right hon. Gentleman would be the most popular commanding officer I have ever heard of; but he would not be employed for long. Why should we have four months off in the year and draw £1,000 as salary? Let us work in shifts if need be; let us work in August and in September, but do not put on the Guillotine because the Prime Minister wants to go to Australia and thus curtail debate. The conclusion I am beginning to reach is that a deliberate and unexplained plot has been hatched.
This is a very important point in regard to both of these Bills which has not yet been considered. My hon. Friends on this side of the House and I have endeavoured to raise it. It is a point on which all Members and particularly trade union members are genuinely interested. It is the question of manpower under these Bills. This is a vital fact for it is one which affects the whole survival of the nation. We are being asked in these Bills at present before Standing Committees to give a blank cheque in particular to the Transport Commission. I have never seen a situation like that before. I have never seen a situation when a Commission should decide what its own staff, employees and what the number of overheads should be. Surely this is a matter which might occupy a whole night in the House of Commons on the Report stage.
I hope that hon. Members opposite will join in the Debate on this Amendment. It is not put forward as a party issue. I know the Liberal Whip is with me on the point. He has spoken most eloquently on 137 points affecting small self-employed persons, which some of us, with less skill, have tried to put. I know it is really vital that to the welfare of Parliamentary democracy. I am terrified that hon. Members opposite will throw away this right of Private Members—that is to say, the right of the 590 Private Members to discuss the very, very important issue of these two Bills, which affect not only individuals, but in the case of the Town and Country Planning Bill local authorities as well. I regard that with the most grave suspicion and fear. I am sorry that the Government have put forward this proposition, and I trust that this Amendment will give them a chance to escape, and that many private Members will, in their own interests and the interests of democracy, support me.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness)
I beg to second the Amendment.
Although you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have indicated that the discussion can range over other Amendments, I propose to confine myself almost entirely to the one on the Paper which deals with the Report stage and Third Reading. May I begin by re-echoing something which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hythe has just said, namely, that in tabling this Amendment we are in no sense consenting to the guillotining of the Committee stage. What we are endeavouring to do is to prevent a further injustice taking place when we reach the later stages on the Bill. I am sure that if the acting Leader of the House were to search his heart he would tell us that the reason for this Guillotine is a perfectly simple one of which he is fully aware, and, indeed, of which all of us are fully aware. Hon Members in whatever part of the House they may sit know that it is because the Sessional programme is hopelessly over-weighted and these Bills are hopelessly over-weighted. That is the primary reason for this Guillotine procedure at such an early stage.
A little earlier, on the main Question, the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) pointed out the difficulty in which the House finds itself in this Session in that nearly all of us are serving on one Standing Committee or another. When there are five major Bills all moving along together and when 138 a Member is pegged down on one of them and is receiving correspondence about the other four; when he is endeavouring to keep abreast of the progress of these Bills and answer all the necessary correspondence what an intolerable situation is being placed upon the House. I want, in supporting this Amendment, to refer to a Bill with which I am not concerned in Standing Committee and which has not been referred to so much in this Debate—the Town and Country Planning Bill. In this Debate there has been concentration on the Transport Bill, and I happen to be a Member of Standing Committee B dealing with the Transport Bill. I have, however, in my constituency a non-county borough gravely concerned over the Town and Country Planning Bill, and a large agricultural area which bombards me with correspondence about the Agriculture Bill. That is the kind of situation in which hon. Members find themselves and I do submit to the right hon. Gentleman the acting Leader of the House—and I am sorry that none of the Ministers concerned are with us at the moment—that it is really important that hon. Members who do not have an opportunity of putting constituency points on Committee, because of the splitting of the House into five teams, really must have the opportunity on the Report stage of putting forward their arguments.
It is really too early to say what time will be required for the Report stages of either of these great Measures. Neither of them have got very far yet in the Committee stage. The Minister of Transport—I wish he were here to hear me say it—has been most courteous and conciliatory in listening to the Opposition's points and has promised that quite a few will be examined between now and the Report stage—enough so far to occupy one day and we have only got to Clause 5. How does the right hon. Gentleman the acting Leader of the House know that, when these long 121 Clauses have been gone through, three days is going to be sufficient on the Report stage? The more drastic the Guillotine procedure—and it is very drastic for these Bills—the more the necessity for ample time on the Report stage. There may be a vast number of matters to consider. The Home Secretary, who has now left us, said that the Government thought the Transport Bill a good one and that is why they were pushing it through. But that is exactly 139 what the Government do not think it is. They have put down 75 Amendments already and they are about to delete two Clauses. I do not think that I will call that a good Bill. It is every sign of the haste in which it was born, and there will be many more. No one has yet mentioned the real reason for this haste. There are various hints—anxiety to clear the decks before a General Election—
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
—or the Government being unwilling to face another and worse winter. I do not think that those are the reasons at all. I think the hon. Gentleman who just interrupted me from the back benches opposite is correct—the sweets of office are far too attractive to be deserted just yet, especially the increased sweets to be found on the back Benches. The reason is, as even the tame, nationalised Governors of the Bank of England have told the Chancellor of the Exchequer—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I do not see what the Bank of England has to do with the Amendment now before the House.
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
I was engaged in deploying my argument that the rushing of the Report stage and the limiting of the Committee stage were due to the fact that the Bank of England advisers and experts had told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the time has come to put an end to his cheap money policy. That is the reason, and the reason for the urgency of the Transport Bill is to plunder the railways and pillage the road hauliers while the going is good. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I say that across the Floor of the House with the greatest possible sincerity. There can be no other reason for the Committee stage being concluded as early as Easter and allowing us only three days for the Report stage. While there was some hilarity behind the Government, I noticed that nobody on the Front Bench denied that allegation, or the truth of what I was saying. I am making the statement in public, and even the tame Governors of the Bank of England have advised it.
I seriously suggest to the Government, whatever may be said about the Commit- 140 tee stage—and we oppose the Guillotine being put on it—that it is really much too early to decide what time should be allocated to the Report stage if the Guillotine procedure in Committee is to be as it is drawn up today. Why not wait and see how the Committee stage goes and what is likely to be the state of the Order Paper when we reach the Report stage? The difficulty into which the Government are running day by day is that they are legislating all the time for the year 1967 and are ignoring the problems of 1947. The Minister of Transport calls his Bill a longterm Measure, so does the Minister of Town and Country Planning, but there are really far more important Measures. [HON. MEMBERS: "Such as?"] Well, what about some coal?
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
The hon. Member suggests that I should go and get it. My output of coal is precisely the same as that of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade. It is no use throwing that kind of remark across the Floor of the House. Again, it is about time our housewives had something to eat.
§ Mr. Follick
On a point of Order. Is not the hon. and gallant Member supposed to address the Chair?
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
I was careful to preface my remarks by looking in the direction from which the trouble came, which I think is perfectly Parliamentary, and should be capable of understanding even by an expert in simplified English.
In conclusion, one of my hon. Friends said this afternoon that this was a dangerous precedent, that one day hon. Members might find themselves sitting on this side of the House and being confronted with something of the same kind. I am confident that those who lead my party will retaliate in no such fashion, that when the time comes to reoccupy the seats of office—
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
Laughter, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, frequently conceals the gravest disquiet. When that 141 time comes, we shall content ourselves with sending upstairs only minor Bills and then, without the Guillotine, major Bills will be taken here on the Floor of the House in the proper manner, and we shall restore the proper procedure to this House which is being taken away from it tonight. You and I, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and many another hon. Member who was in the last Parliament, remember the dramatic occasion when Mr. Speaker switched on again the lantern which shines over Big Ben, after six years of fighting and struggle for government by consent and Parliamentary democracy. I appeal to the House tonight not to throw the Socialist blanket over that lantern, so that it may continue to shine forth to other lands.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
I support the Amendment moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson). In doing so, I would suggest to the Government that they would do well not to embarrass themselves, on a future stage of this Bill, because it may be, at any rate as far as the Minister of Transport is concerned on this Bill, that he will require a great deal of the time of the House. For the benefit of those hon. Members who have not had the opportunity of studying in any detail the proceedings of Standing Committee "B," let me say that the Minister has given a large number of undertakings to reconsider the Bill as it now stands; indeed, one of his undertakings covers the whole questions of the ports and harbours and port facilities of this country. It may be that when we come to the Report stage, he will have given further undertakings. His undertakings so far cover only six Clauses; by the time he has finished over 100 Clauses, there may be many more, and it may be that at least one of the three days to be allotted to the Report stage and Third reading of he Transport Bill will be taken up with the Minister's own work.
I would follow the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) to this extent. It has become a commonplace in our national life that hon. Members of this House have so much work to do that it is impossible for them to do much of it properly. If I may take a cue from the Minister of Health, when he was speaking of the quality as compared with the quantity of houses, may I say that future generations will test 142 the performance of this House not so much by the quantity of its legislation, as by its quality. If, as has been pointed out, the quality of, say, the Transport Bill is such that the Minister after Second Reading has to put down no less than 75 Amendments, surely it would be wiser to leave some flexibility for further improvement at the Minister's suggestion, or at the suggestion of hon. Members on either side, than to limit ourselves as apparently is intended in the Motion before the House. For those reasons I have pleasure in supporting this Amendment.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)
Very briefly, I support this Amendment as a Member of the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill. I should be out of Order if I discussed the proceedings on that Bill, but I think I shall be in Order when I say that although one could not bind the Minister to admitting that there has been no obstruction, he has never suggested that there has been any, and yet we have got through only six Clauses out of 127. It means, therefore, that 120 Clauses will have to be got through in something like 50 hours of Committee work, and that is impossible. Hon. Members who have been in this House for some time will. realise that many major issues of the Bill will receive no consideration and no argument. It is really a very grave situation. The compensation Clauses, the vast range of problems affecting not only "C" licence holders who are engaged in the industry, but also those hordes of other people who have no immediate connection with it, and also the public indirectly, are all involved. I understood some hon. Members opposite to say that this Bill was their principal piece of legislation. If so, cannot we have an adequate period in which to consider it? Instead of that, when this Bill goes to another place and is discussed there, if they say that this Bill never received adequate consideration in the House of Commons they will be speaking the plain truth. It means that whereas we, the elected representatives of the people, should really have given it proper consideration, it may be necessary for another place to devote considerably more time to it than they would otherwise have done.
The right hon. Gentleman who introduced this Motion put up a pretty poor 143 show. If I had been impartial, and had held no beliefs of my own, I would not have been influenced by the argument he put up. He did not attempt to show that there had been any obstruction in the Committee, he did not for a moment show that he had received a mandate for this guillotining of the Report stage and the Third Reading; all he suggested was that it was absolutely necessary to pump this legislation through in the quickest time possible. I honestly and seriously suggest that it is better to have a few well considered legislative Measures, even though my side of the House do not agree with them, than it is to get a lot of hasty legislation pumped through which may be extremely disastrous, and may work in a way entirely opposite from what the Bill was originally intended to produce. I honestly think that whoever is behind the scenes, forcing the hands of the Government, may very well be doing the Government an ill turn. I have been invited to go up to my constituency—which hon. Members opposite seem to resent—and I will tell them exactly what I shall say. I shall say that I have had no adequate opportunity of putting forward the opinions of my constituents on this Bill.
§ Mr. Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
Did not the hon. arid gallant Gentleman miss the first eight Sittings of the Committee?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Dower
I am glad the hon. Gentleman has raised that because, as he knows, under doctor's orders I was prevented from attending the Committee. That has nothing to do with the fact that, now I am back, I have every desire and every wish to attend the Committee, but instead of giving me an opportunity to do so, the Government intend to guillotine the Bill. In guillotining not only the Committee stage, but the Report stage, and Third Reading procedure, this House is passing one of the most grave measures this Parliament has so far introduced. I believe that in' their heart of hearts hon. Members opposite, or, at any rate some of them, are genuinely concerned at seeing the House divest itself of one of its principal functions. In agreeing to this guillotining Motion, hon. Members opposite may think it a matter of small importance. I wonder if they really wish to get rid 144 of the authority of this House over legislative matters as they are doing. If this Motion is carried, and the House of Commons loses a considerable amount of control over the Committee and Report stages of a Bill, is that going to be the end, or are we to see more suggestions put forward that the House should divest itself of even more of its legislative functions? How do hon. Members opposite know? We may have another Measure brought forward which will put more and more power into the hands of the Executive, and take more and more power away from the representatives of the people. Hon. Members would do well to consider this point impartially. In my humble opinion when the Motion is passed and when the people understand it they will take a very grave view of it. I should not be in the least surprised if this were the first milestone on the Government's way towards destruction.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
I have some personal interest in this matter because, being a Member of Standing Committee C, I am not a Member of either of the Committees with which the Motion is concerned. I, therefore, have all the stronger reason for taking part in the Debates on these Bills when they come back from Committee, and in ensuring that an adequate amount of discussion is given to them. I think it necessary to remind the House again, of the attitude taken by the acting Leader of the House when the matter was discussed last Thursday. This is very important, because it shows the attitude in which this matter has been approached by the Government. When it was pointed out that this was an unprecedented course for the Government to take, the acting Leader of the House said:I must remind the House that this is not unprecedented—He was then interrupted by cries of "Yes it is," and went on to say:The Guillotine upstairs is not unprecedented. I have suffered from it myself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February,:947; Vol. 433, C, 2288.]He then went on to describe an entire imaginary experience of the operation of the Guillotine upstairs on a previous occasion. That was an entire figment of his own imagination. The important point is that there was a 145 Government spokesman approaching this matter as though it was an unimportant thing, which had happened before, and, without any realisation of the importance of the step he was taking by introducing this entirely new principle of gagging discussion in this House. It is important to consider for a moment the historical aspect, because it helps one to understand the purpose of Parliament. I cannot help thinking that the Government in advocating this procedure have entirely forgotten the purpose of Parliament.
The system under which we operate now, by which Bills are presented by Government servants, and indeed, by a vast array of Government servants, is a comparatively modern introduction. The original function of Parliament was for Members to foregather in the Palace of Westminster, where either individuals or groups of individuals brought forward Bills of their own, which they had drafted themselves, and which they threw out for discussion by other Members. That is the function of Parliament. We are living now under quite a different system by which the Bills are not prepared or initiated by Members, but are initiated by civil servants, who are not elected representatives of the people. They are full-time experts who are merely briefed to draft the Bills on certain lines, but they are not the people whose business it is to see that the Bills are in final shape. It is the business of this House to see that, when the Bill is finished, it is as Parliament would wish it to be. We are having the frequent experience of Bills coming before the House and dozens and dozens of Amendments having to be moved by the Government themselves, because even their own experts have not been able to draft the Bills as the Government wanted them to be. The more we cut down the time in which we may discuss these matters, the more we shall pass over the power of legislation to non-elected civil servants and deprive ourselves, the elected representatives, of a hand in the legislation.
I want to be constructive, because there is a remedy for this matter. We could be given ample time, as this Amendment requires, on the Report stage by using up some of the autumn time. The right hon. Gentleman the acting Leader of the House, who, I am bound to say, made one of the worst speeches I have ever heard in the House, did not seek to justify 146 the course he was taking or make any attempt to argue, and when it was pointed out to him that the difficulty could be overcome by sitting later in the year, his only answer was that the Government had to take this course to avoid an Autumn Session. This must be the first time in the history of England that a Socialist Government have said that we have to make sure that Parliament rises in time to get grouse shooting. Is the right hon. Gentleman not prepared to earn £5,000 a year, and other hon. Members £1,000 a year, by doing a job of work? Does he ask the country to go on night shifts and put up with all the inconveniences they have at the moment, but say that Parliament will go off on holiday in August, September, October and November? To do so would deprive hon. Members of their opportunity of discussing these Measures.
I solemnly warn hon. Members opposite about this matter. I do not know how many of them realise that they are signing away our inherent right of discussion, the very thing for which we were sent here. I have no doubt that all hon. Members have received hundreds of letters on the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill; letters are pouring in requiring us to take a certain course. Do hon. Members opposite intend to go back to their constituencies and say, "I did not put your case because I voted away the time I was given in which to do it"? That is what hon. Members will do if they allow this Motion to go through. Far be it from me to regret that. I have heard hon. Members on this side tell hon. Members opposite that they will- be doing themselves an ill service, and sometimes I thought that was said by hon. Members on this side with crocodile tears.
Let me say at once that if I thought that hon. Gentlemen on the Benches opposite liked to do themselves an ill service, nobody would be more pleased than I should be. I should be glad to see them wreck their Parliamentary opportunities. I would be perfectly frank about it. That is what they are here to do and they should do it with their eyes open. They can go back to their constituencies in due course and when they are asked, "You remember that letter I sent you when I asked you to take up that point in the Transport Committee. Did you do so?" If they answer honestly they will have to say, "No, I preferred to vote away the 147 time and thus prevented myself from doing so." That is a course upon which hon. Members opposite have embarked. I have no concern with their personal status in the matter; the sooner they are gone from this place the better I shall be satisfied. What troubles me is that they are doing a great damage to our Constitution. They are infringing the democratic rights which have taken so long to build up, and they are starting down a path which, once the slide begins, may lead to catastrophe.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) a few moments ago regretted that no Member of the Standing Committee on the Town and Country Planning Bill had, as yet, addressed the House today. I am happy to repair that omission, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Town and Country Planning has returned to the Chamber. I would like to follow for a moment the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) in regard to the extraordinary nature of the approach of the Lord Privy Seal to this question when he announced it on Thursday of last week. The Lord Privy Seal, in announcing the intention to apply the Guillotine, showed almost at once that, by some incomprehensible mental manoeuvre, he had confused the Guillotine with the "Kangaroo Procedure." Far be it from me even to attempt to probe the full depth of the vexed uncertainties of the right hon. Gentleman's mind; but it is, at least, disquieting that the acting Leader of the House announces on a Thursday that he proposes to Guillotine two Measures of importance the following Monday, under the apparent assumption that what he is doing is to apply the "Kangaroo Procedure."
If I might make some small modest effort to clear up some of the doubts in the right hon. Gentleman's mind, my understanding of the matter is that the procedure on Standing Order 26, subparagraph (3) was originally known as the "Kangaroo Closure Procedure." This however fell into disuse and was largely replaced by the milder provisions of Standing Order 28, which is now popu- 148 larly known as the "Kangaroo Procedure," for the selection of Amendments. That is a procedure which, I think, commends itself to hon. Members in all parts of the House as saving time and facilitating the discussion of the most important Amendments without prejudice to the rights of minority parties. The reason why the right hon. Gentleman preferred the Guillotine to the "Kangaroo Procedure" is, I think, implicit in the remark made by the learned editor of the 14th Edition of Erskine May, when he says:Another provision for limiting debate—the selection of Amendments—which is very effective in saving time is applied by the Chair in entire independence of Government initiative.Quite clearly, the last thing that right hon. Gentlemen opposite want is independence of Government initiative in these matters. Hence, the right hon. Gentleman's preference for the Guillotine procedure even when, in what may or may not have been a momentary confusion, he referred to it as the "Kangaroo procedure." It is within the knowledge of hon. Members on all sides of the House that the Guillotine procedure owes its origin to the entirely unusual circumstances of the Irish obstruction tactics in the 1880s. I think it has been generally agreed that it is a procedure that should be most sparingly applied in anything like normal circumstances. I think hon. Members on all sides of the House would agree that a Measure which is guillotined has less chance of being effectively debated than one which is not guillotined; and I would like to pray in aid the case of the National Insurance Bill, 1911, which was peculiar in this respect. Of the two parts of that Bill, dealing respectively with unemployment and with health, one was retained on the Floor of the House, and therefore subject to the Guillotine, and the other part was sent upstairs, and therefore, under the procedure which has applied until now, was not subject to the Guillotine. I would like to quote to the House what was said in evidence by Mr. F. W. Jowett, and I think the name will evoke affectionate recollections on the part of hon. Members opposite, because he was a most distinguished Member of the Independent Labour Party. What he said was this:I do not believe that a single issue of importance escaped from that Committee"—149 that is, the one that was not Guillotined—without being considered, and, if necessary, voted upon. That cannot be said of the procedure of the whole House"—which were guillotined—A very large number of serious points, about which differences of opinion were legitimately held, were passed through without any decision being taken upon them or any opportunity for argument which might have removed some of the objections which some hon. Members might have had.I think that a Measure which is guillotined cannot hope to have as effective scrutiny as one which has been subjected to that procedure. We have been trying today to discover the reasons put forward by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in justification of this procedure, and it seems to me that there can only be two. They may say that the discussions are proceeding normally, but, in spite of that, it is necessary to apply the Guillotine procedure in order to fulfil the Government's legislative programme; or they may say that the Guillotine is necessary because there has been obstruction by the Opposition. If they say the first of those two things, it is an implicit admission of the case we have made from these benches so often and for so long, that this Government has overtaxed the capacity of Parliament to fulfil its proper function. If, on the other hand, they allege obstruction, then they must prove it; and we have yet to see whether they allege obstruction or not. I should be interested to see the Minister of Town and Country Planning take up the challenge issued to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) as to whether or not there has been obstruction in the discussions on the Town and Country Planning Bill; because I do not think he can come to this House and suggest such a thing. I cannot see that, in the case of the Town and Country Planning Bill, there can be any shadow of justification for such a suggestion.
It is within the knowledge of hon. Members on all sides of the House that this is a most complex and varied Bill, with at least five main principles in it, comparatively independent of each other, any one of which might be the chief principle of any normal Bill. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman, in fairness, will assent to that description of the Bill. This was a Bill which had only two days' Debate on its Second Reading in this House, and, in that two days' Debate, a 150 very large proportion of the time was taken up by the opening speech of the Minister of Town and Country Planning. The advantage of that two days' Debate was, in any case, severely limited by the short time which this House was given between the introduction of the Bill and the Second Reading Debate. The result of this was that local authorities and other interested parties have only since the Second Reading had time to put forward their points of view to hon. Members. Now that the proceedings are to be Guillotined, those representations will not be brought to bear upon the mind of the Government, and perhaps it is that reason that lies behind this arbitrary procedure. We are told that this is all part of an effort to stream-line Parliamentary procedure, in keeping with the needs of this Socialistic age. But we are not streamlining Parliamentary procedure in this way; we are refining it away; we are making it a mere Belsen ghost of what used to be the robust body of Parliamentary democracy.
I want to conclude—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I was going to jettison in the interests of brevity some of the points which I had intended to make, but, urged on by kind hon. Friends behind me and challenged to continue by hon. Members opposite, I will continue for a little longer, though my natural modesty would tend to make me do otherwise if I had not been pressed or challenged in that way. I would like to give the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Town and Country Planning one piece of advice. I know it is dangerous to give advice unasked, and it is not my normal practice to do so; but, at least in this case, I do so with the greater confidence because I gave him some about the new towns some little time ago. I told him 12 months ago that he could not expect successfully to build new towns amid the tares of injustice. In the first intoxication of power, he paid no heed to that advice, but it may be that, in the last few weeks, the advice which I gave him then has acquired a point which he did not see at the time. I repeat that advice now in regard to his Town and Country Planning Bill. It will not flourish—
§ Major Cecil Poole
On a point of Order. Is what the hon. Member is saying in Order on a discussion of the Amendment before the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and gallant Member has risen rather prematurely. I was listening carefully to what was being said, and I did not choose to intervene at that juncture.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am very grateful, Mr. Speaker, for your Ruling. I was going to say that the Town and Country Planning Bill, when it becomes the law, will flourish the less vigorously and successfully if it is planted in the same soil of injustice, and if its growth is not stimulated by the fresh air of Parliamentary criticism.
There is one thing I wish to say in conclusion, and to which I would have come a few minutes ago but for hon. Members opposite. We are here discussing the Guillotine. According to history, the guillotine was a highly efficient instrument. The trouble about it was the use to which it was put. Before 1789, the guillotine was the occasional instrument of swift justice, but, after that date, its use degenerated in the hands of the people who were able to use it. We should ask ourselves whether the proposed application of the Guillotine in this case has not a historical parallel. It certainly is not a very fantastic parallel. I can visualise many right hon. Gentlemen opposite fitting quite well into the personalities of the leaders of the French Revolution in the late 18th century, and, even among the rank and file of the party opposite, it requires no vivid imagination to depict the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) knitting at the foot of the Guillotine, while the heads of Tories, whom she hates so passionately—
§ Mr. Speaker
I must remind the hon. Members that we are not debating the falling heads of Tories; we are debating are Amendment relating to the Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I was developing that historical parallel to show that I was not opposed in all cases to the use of the Guillotine. There is a proper use for the Guillotine in a Parliamentary sense just as there was in 1789; but the use proposed to-day is not its proper use. This is the sort of abuse of the guillotine which brought such discredit upon the French Revolutionary leaders of those days. I will say one final word, because I feel this may appeal to right hon. Gentlemen 152 opposite perhaps rather more than appeals to the prestige and purpose of Parliament. The first people to abuse the use of the guillotine in the French Revolution were the Girondin leaders, but they had not gone very far before—
§ Mr. Speaker
I would again remind the hon. Member that we are discussing an Amendment relating to the Report and Third Reading.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I was trying to show, by historical parallel, that those who abuse procedures such as the guillotine, and those who impose such ruthless and abitrary measures as the guillotining of these two great Measures, and the denying to them the full benefits of Parliamentary discussion and scrutiny, will find that, in the long run, it is not to their own political and Parliamentary advantage. That I believe to be the least important of the consequences of their conduct, but after 18 months in this House I am driven to the reluctant belief that it may be the consideration which will weigh most with them.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Medlicott (Norfolk, Eastern)
I would like to say a few words in support of this Amendment, and also to speak from the point of view of those who serve on the Standing Committee concerned with the Town and Country Planning Bill. As has been said before, this is a major Bill. It deals with a subject which is not free from controversy, to put the position very mildly. Indeed, having regard to the number of efforts in the past which have met with disaster in the approach to the general problem of dealing with the land, one would have thought that there was an overwhelming case for the greatest deliberation in examining this 1947 endeavour. I am sure the Minister of Town and Country Planning will not dissent when I suggest that the proceedings before the Standing Committee have not resulted in any obstruction, but that there has been careful and measured discussion of each of the points raised, and that we have made as much progress as is reasonable and possible in the time at our disposal. I especially want to say a word on behalf of those Members who are also members of county councils and county borough councils. In these present circumstances, it is impracticable for those Members to have proper consultation with the other 153 assemblies to which they also belong, especially in view of the conditions created by the crisis of recent weeks, when the local authorities have had other things to occupy them, and when it has been impossible for the local authorities to give proper thought and attention to the very detailed provisions in these Bills and to instruct their representatives here now best to make constructive contributions.
If I may say a word as a practising lawyer, I view with alarm the enormous spate of ill-digested legislation which is resulting from the policy of the present Government. I had always thought that one of the objectives of hon. Members opposite was to help to make the law plainer and more easily understood by the common man, but, at the rate at which these Bills are being brought forward, a full understanding of the implications of the law is being placed further and further out of the reach of the ordinary man and woman in the street.
Those of us who also represent agricultural constituencies are finding it impossible to deal not only with the difficulties of the Town and Country Planning Bill and the Transport Bill, but also to give proper attention to the considerations contained in the Agriculture Bill. It has often been said by hon. Members opposite that they are confident of a long period of office. But I wonder whether this tremendous rush to place Socialist legislation upon the Statute Book is not perhaps actuated by the fear that this Parliament will be their last.
It is said that in an earlier, and perhaps happier day, Mr. Speaker, Queen Elizabeth said to one of your illustrious predecessors in the Chair: "And what has Parliament passed during the Session which has just come to an end?" Whereupon Mr. Speaker of that day replied: "An' it please Your Majesty, we have passed two and a half months." Perhaps we might serve the interests of the nation better if we could be a little nearer to that condition than we are in passing this great spate of ill prepared legislation in such a hurry as is now taking place.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
A good deal of what has been said in this discussion was said rather better by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I think it is clear from the tone and temper of the speeches of hon. Mem- 154 bers opposite, that this Motion was absolutely necessary. They have disclosed their minds. Let me here say, my hon. Friends set a good example of manners when the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington was speaking, and accorded him a better hearing than was accorded to me by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. I want to make clear again what I tried to make clear this afternoon. We have a new procedure, which has been accepted twice by the House of Commons—
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is no good hon. Members saying that. On 15th November Orders were passed and accepted by the House, without any kind of amending Motion, which did settle the authority of this House to adopt a new procedure. That Order, which is a very long one—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] Hon. Members opposite are only wasting their own time; and I would much prefer to make my own speech in my own way. At the beginning of the Session last year the same Sessional Order was again passed by the House. That Order authorises this House, if it so chooses, to pass such a Motion as that which is before the House today. That argument has never been answered. What are we faced with now? The assertion that we have this day started a constitutional revolution. What nonsense. Why have we proceeded to do this thing? We proceeded under powers granted to us by the House of Commons in two consecutive Sessions, because in our view—and I think we are entitled to a view; we are the majority in this House, anyway—adequate progress is not being made on certain Measures now in Standing Committee. I am bound to say I am not in the least moved by the argument about the terrible amount of correspondence that Members have on that side of the House. I have had some myself. If it should be that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think from their correspondence that, in these two Bills, we are running the country into ruin and revolution, why do they not let us have our heads and hang ourselves?
§ Mr. Greenwood
They do not want that. They dare not face the implications of their own argument today. Suppose they were to come back, what is the 155 answer? The answer is, that if they took the job over there would be stagnation, there would be a "slow motion" picture of snail's pace legislation. The burden of the arguments that have been used tonight on the other side is, "Less legislation," and from their point of view, "Better legislation "from their point of view, I am not saying from ours. Less legislation, fewer Bills. Let me say to the House that "time marches on." We did not invent this Guillotine. We have suffered harsh gruelling. Hon. Members opposite seem unable to accept a little gruelling when they have been a little unfortunate. I was one of 46 Socialists in the House of Commons. We were a small minority. I am bound to say that I do not think that we were treated with the respect and dignity accorded to the Liberal Party today. We really must recognise the fact which I tried to put earlier, and which I will put again. Our policies are divergent. If you are intelligent enough to understand our policy—
§ Mr. Greenwood
I beg your pardon, Sir. I was referring to hon. Members opposite and this is nothing to what they said about me this afternoon. We really must now go forward with this, not out of any disrespect to the House, but because there are divergent Views. If hon. Members have studied our policy they know why. I have a shrewd suspicion they do not like much of our legislation.
§ Mr. Greenwood
Many of us on this side of the House and in the Labour Party have suffered from being in a minority position in the House. We have not liked certain legislation, but we had to bow to it; and I think that, in this case, we must proceed according to our views. But I am bound to say, I have thought about this—and I thought about it, particularly, whilst the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington was speaking. I am not being influenced by some of what I regard as the irrelevant arguments that have been used tonight 156 but I think that a case has been made out for extending the Report stage to four days. I think we must stick to one day for the Third Reading, because that is common enough on Bills of this kind, but I am trying to meet the point. If hon. Members opposite wish to challenge a Division on the Amendment before the House, we will accept the challenge.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
Before the right hon. Gentleman concludes, will he answer this question: why should this Amendment be refused in order to avoid an autumn Session?
§ Mr. Greenwood
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman—and I emphasise that, and shall always do so—will now put his question again, I will repeat my reply in the proper form in which I should address him.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
I asked the right hon. Gentleman why he refused to accept this Amendment in order to avoid an autumn Session at the injunction of the Chief Whip.
§ Mr. Greenwood
In reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he will look at HANSARD, he will see that it was not on that basis. I said that we had intended, if it were possible—I put it no higher than that, and HANSARD will bear me out—to avoid an autumn Session, and I thought that would be to the advantage of the House. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must not threaten us with an autumn Session; one never knows what may happen.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden
I think I must make an observation on what the right hon. Gentleman said just now, which no doubt was intended as an offer, that he would give us a fourth day on the Report stage. I know that he will not be surprised when I tell him that that does not in any way meet 157 our case, because, if the right hon. Gentleman will do me the honour once again to look at what was said when these Orders were first discussed, he will see, although he keeps saying that there was agreement on all sides of the House, that we entered a very deliberate caveat which was certainly accepted by the Lord President at the time. Our caveat was that if these major Bills went upstairs to Committee, when they came down here on Report they should not be subject to the Guillotine but, on the contrary, would be given more time on Report than they would otherwise have been given. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the HANSARD which I quoted earlier today, he will see that the Lord President returned what "The Times," in their leading article this morning, called "A sympathetic reply." I submit that what the right hon. Gentleman has offered, though I understand the spirit in which he has offered it in no way meets the case. What we want is not a Report stage limited to three, four or five days, but a normal Report stage where Amendments are treated at the discretion of the Chair. That is what we want and what we ask for, and I am afraid that nothing else and nothing less will meet the case.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend—may I call him my right hon. Friend?—and may I remind him that more often than not, and generally speaking, Guillotine Motions in
§ the House have applied to the Report stage and Third Reading, and we are not making any departure whatever from the practice of the House.
§ Mr. Eden
I am sorry to press this, but—not when the Guillotine is used in Committee upstairs. It seems impossible for me to make the right hon. Gentleman and the Government realise that this is the first time a major Bill has been subjected to a Guillotine upstairs, and when we agreed, as we did agree in principle, to try this new procedure, it was with the express reservation that, if a major Bill went upstairs, we should have more time on the Report stage. If I may repeat what I said before, you, Mr. Speaker, in your evidence, yourself indicated that you thought the Report stage should he given a fair run, because the existing powers over the Report stage are very stong. So I repeat that what we ask, if the right hon. Gentleman makes any concession, is that we shall be given the normal Parliamentary procedure in respect of Report.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)
rose in his place, and claimed to move That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 320; Noes, 159.161
|Division No. 96.]||AYES.||10.5 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Blenkinsop, A.||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Blyton, W. R.||Cook, T. F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Boardman, H.||Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bottomley, A. G.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Cove, W. G.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Crawley, A.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bramall, Major E. A.||Crossman, R. H. S|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Daggar, G.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Daines, P.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brown, George (Belper)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Buchanan, G.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Baird, J.||Burden, T. W.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Balfour, A.||Burke, W. A.||Deer, G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Butler, H. W (Hackney, S.)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Callaghan, James||Diamond, J.|
|Barton, C.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Battley, J. R||Chamberlain, R. A.||Donovan, T.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Champion, A. J.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Clitherow, Dr. R.||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Benson, G.||Cobb, F. A.||Dye, S.|
|Berry, H.||Cocks, F. S.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Beswick, F.||Collick, P.||Edelman, M.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Collindridge, F.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)|
|Binns, J.||Collins, V. J.||Edwards, N (Caerphilly)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Longden, F.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lyne, A. W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Ewart, R.||McEntee, V. La T.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Mack, J. D.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Farthing, W. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McLeavy, F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Follick, M.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Solley, L. J.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Marquand, H. A.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mathers, G.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mayhew, C. P.||Stamford, W.|
|Gilzean, A.||Mellish, R. J.||Steele, T.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Messer, F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gooch. E. G.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Mikardo, Ian.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Stobbs, A. E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mitchison, G. R.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Monslow, W.||Swingler, S.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Moody, A. S.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Grey, C. F.||Morgan, Dr H. B.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Grierson, E.||Morley, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield. C.)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Moyle, A.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Gunter, R. J.||Murray, J. D||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Guy, W. H.||Nally, W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Naylor, T. E.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hale, Leslie||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Thurtle, E.|
|Hall, W. G.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Tiffany, S.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Timmons, J.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hardman, D. R.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Tolley, L.|
|Hardy, E. A.||O'Brien, T.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Harrison, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oliver, G. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Haworth, J.||Orbach, M.||Usborne, Henry|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paget, R. T.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Viant, S. P.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Walkden, E.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hicks, G.||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Holman, P.||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|House, G.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Pearson, A.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||West, D. G.|
|Irving, W. J.||Price, M. Philips||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pritt, D. N.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras S.E.)||Randall, H. E.||Wilkes, L.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Ranger, J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rankin, J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Reeves, J.||Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Keenan, W.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Kenyon, C.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williamson, T.|
|Key, C. W.||Robens, A.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|King, E. M.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wilson, J. H.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Kinley, J.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Woodburn, A.|
|Kirby, B. V.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Woods, G. S.|
|Lang, G.||Royle, C.||Wyatt, W.|
|Lavers, S.||Sargood, R.||Yates, V. F.|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Scollan, T.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Lever, N. H.||Sagal, Dr. S.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Levy, B. W.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Zilliacus, K|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Sharp, Granville|
|Lewis, T (Southampton)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Shurmer, P.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Baldwin, A. E.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Baxter, A. B.||Boothby, R.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Beechman, N. A.||Bossom, A. C|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Birch, Nigel||Bower, N|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Howard, Hon. A.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Pcole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J||Prescott, Stanley|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hurd, A.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Keeling, E. H.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Byers, Frank||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S C. (Hillhead)|
|Carson, E||Lambert, Hon. G.||Renton, D.|
|Channon, H.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Linstead, H. N.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Digby, S. W.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond.)||MacLeod, J.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Eccles, D. M.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Studholme, H. G|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Marlowe, A. A. H||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Marples, A. E.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Teeling, William|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Maude, J. C.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Medlicott, F.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Gage, C.||Mellor, Sir J.||Wadsworth, G.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Molson, A. H. E.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Ward, Hon. G R.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Nicholson, G.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harris, H. Wilson||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Nutting, Anthony||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Herbert, Sir A. P.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Osborne, C.||York, C.|
|Hogg, Hon. Q.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Pickthorn, K.||Sir Arthur Young and|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."162
§ The House divided: Ayes, 321; Noes, 159.165
|Division No. 97.]||AYES.||10.16 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bing, G. H. C.||Clitherow, Dr. R|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Binns, J.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Blackburn, A. R||Cocks, F. S.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Blenkinsop, A||Collick, P|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blyton, W. R.||Collindridge, F|
|Alpass, J. H||Boardman, H||Collins, V. J.|
|Anderson, A (Motherwell)||Bottomley, A. G.||Colman, Miss G. M.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Attewell, H C.||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Cook, T. F.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Bramall, Major E. A.||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cove, W. G|
|Baird, J||Brown, George (Belper)||Crawley, A.|
|Balfour, A.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Crossman, R. H. S|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Daggar, G|
|Barstow, P. G.||Buchanan, G.||Daines, P.|
|Barton, C||Burden, T W||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Battley, J. R.||Burke, W. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Butler, H. W (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Belcher, J. W.||Callaghan, James||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Castle, Mrs B. A.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Benson, G.||Chamberlain, R. A.||Deer, G.|
|Berry, H.||Champion. A, J.||Delargy, H. J|
|Beswick, F.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Diamond. J|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lavers, S.||Sharp, Granville|
|Donovan, T.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lever, N. H.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Levy, B. W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Dye, S.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Longden, F.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lyne, A. W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McAdam, W.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McEntee, V. La T.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Mack, J. D.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Ewart, R.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Fairhurst, F.||McLeavy, F.||Solley, L. J.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Follick, M.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stamford, W.|
|Foot, M. M.||Marquand, H. A.||Steele, T.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mathers, G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Mayhew, C. P.||Stress, Dr. B.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Mellish, R. J.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Gibbins, J.||Messer, F,||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mikardo, Ian.||Swingler, S.|
|Gilzean, A.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mitchison, G. R.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Monslow, W||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Moody, A. S.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Morley. R.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Grey, C. F.||Moyle, A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Grierson, E.||Murray, J. D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Nally, W.||Tiffany, S.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Naylor, T. E.||Timmons, J.|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Tolley, L.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Guy, W. H.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Hale, Leslie||O'Brien, T.||Usborne, Henry|
|Hall, W. G.||Oldfield, W. H.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Hamilton, Lieut. -Col. R.||Oliver, G. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Orbach, M.||Walkden, E.|
|Hardman, D. R.||Paget, R. T.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Harrison, J||Palmer, A. M. F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Pargiter, G. A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Haworth, J.||Parker, J.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Parkin, B. T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushc[...]liffe)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pearson, A.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Peart, Capt. T. F.||West, D. G.|
|Hicks, G.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Holman, P.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|House, G.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Price, M. Philips||Wilkes, L.|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Pritt, D. N.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Irving, W. J.||Proctor, W. T.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Janner, B.||Randall, H. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Ranger, J.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Rankin, J.||Williamson, T.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Reeves, J.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wilson, J. H.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Rhodes, H.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Woodburn, A.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Robens, A.||Woods, G. S.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wyatt, W.|
|Keenan, W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Yates, V. F.|
|Kenyon, C.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Key, C. W.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|King, E. M.||Royle, C.||Zilliacous, K.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Sargood, R.|
|Kinley, J.||Scollan, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kirby, B. V.||Segal, Dr. S.||Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.|
|Lang, G.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Harris, H. Wilson||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Herbert, Sir A. P.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hollis, M. C.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Birch, Nigel||Howard, Hon. A.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Boothby, R.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Renton, D.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hurd, A.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bower, N.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Keeling, E. H.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Lambert, Hon. G.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bullock-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Langford-Holt, J.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Byers, Frank||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Carson, E.||Linstead, H. N.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Channon, H.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Clifton-Brawn, Lt.-Col. G.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||MacLeod, J.||Taylor, Vice-Ad m. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Teeling, William|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Digby, S. W.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Marples, A. E.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lend.)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maude, J. C.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Medlicott, F.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Mellor, Sir J.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Molson, A. H. E.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||York, C.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nicholson, G.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||Nutting, Anthony||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Grimston, R. V.||Osborne, C||Major Ramsay.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)|
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Poole (Oswestry)
I beg to move, in line 8, at the end, to insert:Provided that the Standing Committee shall not sit at any time when the House or a Committee of the whole House are sitting.The Minister of Transport in Standing Committee B, before this Motion was put on the Order Paper, moved a Resolution asking the Committee to sit three afternoons a week. After listening to the Debate this afternoon and in particular to the remarks of the acting Leader of the House it appears obvious that the ground is being prepared for the two Standing Committees dealing with these two major Bills to sit two and possibly three afternoons each week. The object of this 166 Amendment is to register our protest against this very extreme move.
It is obvious that in the limited time available to the Committees concerned for these two Measures, we want to consider them as much as possible. If the Committees sit two or three afternoons a week, it is only right that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen should know exactly what it is proposed to impose on Members of the Committee not only on this side of the House but on the Government side, too. First, in the near future we are going to debate some very important matters. There is the Economic White Paper, and this week two days are to be devoted to India. Is it intended that Members of these two Committees are to be debarred 167 from taking part in those Debates? It is not the slightest good saying, as the Minister of Transport said in Standing Committee B, that the Committees will not sit on afternoons when important Measures are being discussed. The fact is that important Measures are discussed practically every day. Therefore, it is clear if we are to sit in the afternoons, Members of these two Committees will be debarred from taking part in those Debates. It is not enough for Members of this House to come and listen to the opening speeches on the Government and Opposition sides. If hon. Members are to take an intelligent part in the Debates they must study the Motions on the Paper beforehand, and they must listen to the Debates. It is no good thinking they can go in for half an hour or so, and then go upstairs and spend two hours in Committee, and come back. That is not fair on the Members, and it is making an absolute farce of Parliamentary procedure if you have two days doing that, and five Committees altogether, some of which may sit in the afternoon.
Take the case of the Members of Committees themselves. They have great responsibilities to this House. They are selected representatives of this House, considering the particular Measure which is being discussed by the Committee on which they are sitting. In the case of the Transport Bill—and this also applies to the Town and Country Planning Bill—there are many interests involved and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has admitted in the Committee that one of the great difficulties is the fears there are in the country about the Measure. Many of them are unjustified fears, but it is essential that Members of these Committees should have time to consider and discuss these matters with representatives of the various industries and organisations concerned, and then raise these matters in committee. I have done that myself, and obtained reassuring answers from the Minister to allay those fears. I am sure both the right hon. Gentlemen concerned will admit that unless they have the good will and co-operation of the people neither of these Measures can work. It is fantastic thinking that legislation can be forced through this House against the will of the people. It is essential to have the good will of the people who will have to operate them. Many of the people who will have to 168 operate these Measures are opposed to them and feel that their cases have not been put forward. How can Members have time to consider these great matters, if they are sitting morning and afternoon three times a week?
We have been sitting on Standing Committee B three mornings a week to date, and it has been extremely difficult to meet the various interests concerned, and to consider how far we have gone and what we have done. It must be remembered that most of the Amendments are tabled by the Opposition, who have no Civil Service behind them to prepare their proposals. These have to be prepared by the Members themselves, and it is impossible to do this, if we have to sit three mornings a week. What will happen if we have to sit in the afternoon as well, is beyond my comprehension. We have a large number of Amendments to put down, and, even if we have this very severe Guillotine, it is obvious that these Amendments have to be tabled in order that consideration can be given to them to find out which are to be discussed in the very limited time available.
I should like to say how very much I resent the suggestion which has been made by the acting Leader of the House, of the obstruction in Standing Committees. I can only say, that as far as Standing Committee B is concerned, we have gone through the Amendments carefully. I have myself taken steps to see that Amendments were put down in adequate time, and on occasions where it has not been possible, owing to our sitting three times a week, to put Amendments clown in time, I have given the right hon. Gentlemen advance copies of Amendments. The only thanks we get is that the acting Leader of the House accuses us of obstruction. There is another point in connection with these Amendments. It is esesntial that we should put them down in time for the two Members concerned to consider them. I do not know how long it takes, but it must be a matter of days, and if the Committee is sitting two or three days a week and in the afternoon as well, it is impossible to get Amendments down in time to have them fully considered.
There are two further matters which I wish to bring to the notice of the House. Great scorn has been poured by the acting Leader of the House on the 169 suggestion made about the mail that Members get. I am bound to admit that many Members may exaggerate the amount of mail they receive. I am for tunate, in that my constituents seem to trust me so much that they do not write to me as much as do the constituents of other Members But, whatever may be the case, the fact is that Members of Parliament have two great responsibilities. The first is to deal with the correspondence which comes in from their constituents, and the second is to attend to matters concerning their constituencies, not only in this House, but also elsewhere. I ask hon. Members, how can a Member of Parliament attend to either of these two things, if he is called upon to sit on a Standing Committee on two or perhaps three afternoons a week? This work absolutely reduces the opportunity of a Member of a Committee, of keeping in touch with his constituents, and right hon. and hon. Members opposite must realise the effect of this. Further these Committees each consist of about fifty people, and about eighteen are Opposition Members. What, in effect, this Motion means—and it must surely be quite clear to both sides of the House—is that many of these Members will be unable to attend these sittings, or at least, to attend all of them. There will be, possibly, eight or nine hon. Members of the Opposition present at the sittings to consider these very important matters.
There is a further point, which has not so far been raised during this Debate. I am prepared to admit that it is not so important as many of the points which have been raised, particularly the important matters put by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). It is this. It has, for a long time, been a tradition in this House—and it is still considered by many people in this country to be a good thing—that, at least, some hon. Members of this House ought not to be whole-time politicians, and should have an occupation outside, in which they earn their living. Thus, one gets a number of people not committed to Parliamentary life, who are more or less expert on some particular subject. I am, for better or for worse, one who has to earn my living outside this House. This 170 arrangement means that it is impossible to attend to one's business properly, if one is sitting on a Committee in the morning and the afternoon. It is hard work. Hon. Members opposite, who laugh and jeer, should realise that to be a politician, and to endeavour to work outside as well, is very hard work indeed. If it is the intention of the Government to work Committees in this way, then it will be impossible for hon. Members to have employment outside this House, with not only disadvantages, but disastrous results. I hope right hon. and hon. Members opposite will give consideration to these points, because it affects them as much as it affects us on this side of the House.
§ 10.39 p.m.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think that the House will accept this Amendment because it is in keeping with the efficiency and dignity of the House that it should be accepted. If it is not accepted then it strikes me that this House will become something like a circus I saw when I was a boy—a circus with three shows going on at the same time. I do not think that, from 2.30 p.m. onwards, there should be sittings in this Chamber with alternative shows going on in other part of the building. There may well be many Committees, and this seems to be no reason why the Leader of the House should not order Committees to sit from 9.30 p.m. to 12.30 a.m., buses being supplied for the benefit of hon. Members who are kept late. I do not see why that position should not arise.
I deplore the whole tendency of this Debate. I do not think there has ever been a House of Commons which has been composed of men and women with such gifts of exposition and understanding and knowledge. Yet the whole trend of this Motion is towards the restriction of this great flood of genius and talent. On this side of the House, with your indulgence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, we are given a fair share in the business of Debate; but I am frequently disappointed when Debates are led off from the Government Front Bench and perhaps only one other speaker from that side is permitted. The motion before the House will further restrict that flood of talent and genius in which the House is at present almost submerged. Hon. Members were sent here for no other 171 gifts than their ability to expound and talk, and this Chamber is now apparently to be one of the most silent places in the United Kingdom—two, three or four speakers, and then it is all over, and the only speaking there is to take place is on the way to the Lobby. Surely that is not what we were sent here for. Nor does it seem to tally with the ancient history of this deliberative assembly, where the amount of legislation was never the criterion of efficiency. Deliberation was more important than legislation. It was the former custom of this Chamber, as an hon. Member has reminded us, that we met and talked; we did not do particularly much, but we met.
That may well have been a more fortunate and happy time, because the greatness of this country has not been associated with the House of Commons in the multitude of Bills that issued from it, but with the efficiency and competence, and administrative skill of the Government. We should have, in this House, abundant opportunities for rumination and deliberation and mastication. Legislation should literally be chewed over, because it is not acceptable to the body politic unless the body politic feels that all types of mind have been applied to its character and quality. If it is the view of the Government that they have what indeed they might regard as excellent legislation, which will be accepted by the people at large, they are unwise in pressing this over-rapid assimilation and passing of Bills upon the House. The public will be more ready to accept legislation which they feel has been talked over, and pulled about, and examined in infinite detail.
I think this is an untimely proposal to make when the Press is curtailed because of the needs of the Board of Trade. When, as we have learned with profound regret, organs of opinion ranging from the "Spectator" to the "Tribune" are being suppressed, it seems untimely that this Motion should be brought forward. We do not want less discussion; surely, we want more discussion. The great Dr. Johnson said that the business of the community was to learn to appreciate the solace of talk. It was by talking, he said, that we learned to love one another. I do not agree with that fundamentally, but sentimentally. I notice that the learned Attorney remembers the passage, and I take it therefore that he 172 will be with me in support of this very modest Amendment. What right does it give to Parliament? It gives us the right to talk—to talk ad nauseam, if you like; to talk endlessly, to talk continuously, to talk exhaustively; to review, and examine, and discover what is meritorious or without merit in the Measures before the House. That is the business of this great talking shop, this big legislative Assembly. Those who would bend it to another purpose, those who would make it a kind of cash register ringing up nothing more than 1s. 11d., registering petty and trivial legislation, those who would make it such an institution are, as you well know, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, debasing this great institution, this great free speaking Assembly. I am surprised, amazed and astonished that from a Socialist Administration comes this desire to throttle, curtail, choke, restrict and restrain human ideas and human speech—because, in essence, that is what this Motion seeks to do. By it we are putting a limiting bond, a restriction upon free speech and the free expression of political ideas—and doing it in the name of a Socialist State. That, to me, is profoundly deplorable. I can imagine it is with great confusion, some reluctance—indeed, we noticed it—and some hesitation that the Lord Privy Seal comes before us today and puts forward this Motion.
On those benches opposite—not only on the Front Bench, where sit the learned Attorney-General and other right hon. Gentlemen, but on the back benches—there sit hon. Gentlemen who do not like this business; hon. Gentlemen who know they can talk, and talk well, and who do not want to have their one little gift denied them; they want to have the opportunity of doing what I am doing; of showing to a critical, discriminating and sometimes appreciative audience, this true jewel of all their talents. This restriction which is placed before us tonight will deny them the one satisfaction which remains to them. I am struck by the confusion which this Motion will impose upon the House. I am reminded of a distinguished Edinburgh citizen who was placed in the same dilemma that hon. Members will be placed in if this Amendment is not accepted. He was placed in the dilemma of having to be in two places at one time in order to do his duty. He was a member of St. Giles Parish Church, and he was also a member of Morningside Parish Church, 173 paying for sittings in both churches. When he was found not to be at Morningside Parish Church, Dr. MacAdam Muir would say to himself, "I have no doubt he is with Dr. Cameron Lees in St. Giles Parish Church." But at St. Giles Dr. Cameron Lees would say to himself, "I have no doubt he is with Dr. MacAdam Muir in Morningside." As a matter of fact, he was in neither: he was in bed. If this Amendment is not accepted what will happen is that hon. and less hon. Members will be expected by you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to be in two places. For example, if you look for me here, and do not find me in this Chamber, you will expect me to be in the Committee upstairs—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
If the hon. Member is present there will be no need to look for him.
§ Sir W. Darling
I am glad to be obtrusive, and never to escape your notice, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is highly gratifying, and I hope to be able to preserve that happy state of affairs, and to remain thus in your affection and esteem. This, then, is the dilemma which will face the House, and especially the Whips, if there is this alternative—and I use that word with no disrespect—of sitting either in the Chamber here, or in an ordered Committee upstairs. It may well be the Whips will say: "If he is not in the Chamber he will be upstairs." But he may have escaped them, and be in neither place. This will not add to the efficiency of the House. There is one place for the deliberations of His Majesty's Business, and that is in this Chamber from 2.30 p.m. until the end of the time to which the Rule is suspended and we can go home. There should be no alternative attractions; and I venture to think His Majesty's Government are unwise in presenting alternative attractions to their supporters.
I follow my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith), who made a reference to the guillotine. The guillotine, as he reminded the House, was invented in Switzerland and adopted by the lovers of liberty in France. It is a tragic fact—and history bears this out—that although the guillotine was used originally for the execution of the tyrants, in due course it was turned, not on the tyrants but on the lovers of liberty themselves, and it was their heads which ultimately rolled into the basket. That is a lesson which will not be lost upon the 174 students of history, on both this side of the House and the other—and I will give them another before I sit down. The whole desire behind this Motion is to give the Government more time. Napoleon once said, "Ask anything from me but time." He said that on the eve of his downfall. I venture to say that this may well be the eve of the downfall of His Majesty's Government in their search for time.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)
I shall merely emphasise the extraordinary nature of the problem which is to be presented to the Business Sub-Committees. We have listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. O. Poole) and to the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling); and he would be a very rash man who would attempt to follow the hon. Member for South Edinburgh into the realms which he entered. There is one point, however, put by him, and by the hon. Member for Oswestry, which I wish to follow. The hon. Member has pointed out that one of the results of the Motion will be, that hon. Members who have other occupations will have great difficulty in fulfilling their duties in the House or out of it. I have sometimes felt that the Debates in this House are somewhat overshadowed by the members of the legal profession, but in Standing Committee I have learned very well indeed how invaluable those hon. Members can be who are learned in the law. I do ask how it can be possible, if the Committees are to sit in the afternoons, for hon. Members engaged in practice at the Bar to continue their careers with any possibility of success, and, at the same time, give their services to the Committees. I urge the Government most strongly to remember that point. Another point that could be developed is that of hon. Members keeping in touch with outside affairs, but I think the case on that has already been clearly made.
It is quite clear that the Business Sub-Committees will have to consider this question of two or even three afternoon sittings a week. I still cannot understand how they can, in the next few days, as I suppose they will have to do, draw up time tables, because they do not yet know what Amendments will be put down, right to the end of the Bill's consideration. The point has been touched upon 175 and I repeat it, because I feel very strongly that the Standing Committees, if they are to finish their proceedings by the date proposed in the Motion, will have to sit three afternoons a week. It surely would have been better procedure if, before the Government put a date in the Motion for reporting the Bills to the House from the Standing Committees, the Business Sub-Committees had had an opportunity of really careful consideration of the amount of time that must be given to the different Clauses; and if the Government had then come to the House with a Motion. It may prove that, with the utmost sincerity on the part of Members of the Business Sub-Committees, it will be impossible to fix a date. It may not be practicable. But they are absolutely bound by the terms of the Motion. Surely, the Government would be prepared to consider that, and, at least, withdraw the Motion in order to amend the date, or wait until the Business Sub-Committees have had an opportunity to see if the proposal is practicable.
As to the remarks of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh about the silence of hon. Members opposite, I think it is a very grave disservice to this House that hon. Members of the Opposition should be prevented by this Motion from giving their full, detailed attention to the Bills that they would like to give. But it is really going to have disastrous effects on the Members on the back benches on the Government side who are on Standing Committees. It would be unseemly for me to dilate on the merits of the Opposition Members of the Committees, and I shall not attempt to do so. But I would point out to the House the very high quality of the Government back benchers, among whom, in the Committee on which I serve, we have one who has been a former president of the National Union of Railwaymen. He is also Lord Mayor of York. We have a very great authority on the system of public boards, who has written a book recently on it. We have an ex-regional port director for the whole of Scotland. We have an hon. Member who has been a member of Glasgow Corporation since 1928, which is surely a very important qualification. We have hardly heard from them. I do not think hon. Members on the Opposition side of the Committee could have cut their remarks one minute shorter than they 176 have, but I sometimes see, as I sit opposite to him, a strange look coming into the eye of the Minister of Transport. He turns, and his eye wanders slowly along his back benches, and I cannot help feeling that he is remembering those admirable lines:Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.There is a strange silence on the part of his back benchers. The trouble about this Amendment is that if it is accepted it presents an even more impossible problem, but if it is not accepted, and we have these Sittings in the afternoons, the Bills will not be improved. Hon. Members will not be able to make their contributions, and I believe that that is a great pity, when we have such eminent people among them. Finally, I think they will all, if I may risk another quotation from the same source, qualify for being described as "yet unravish'd brides of quietness."
§ 10.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I cannot follow the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Manley) in that rich strain of poetry which we are well accustomed to hear flow from the Liberal side, but I do wish to say that I support this Amendment, with one regret in my mind. It is that, owing to the form of the substantive Motion, it is not possible to ensure that this will in future apply to any but the two Standing Committees to which we are referring. Even that, however, will make a great deal of difference. My hon. Friends on this side have argued principally from the point of view of the Standing Committee, but there is also the point of view of the House to be considered. If we have the important Debates which are looming before us, even during the next fortnight—and it is perfectly certain that in the succeeding periods of time the Debates will be just as important to our constituents, or at any rate to certain specific elements of our constituents—if we have those Debates without at the same time having the advantage of the presence in the House of those Members who are serving on Standing Committees, it will very seriously emasculate the whole procedure of the House. There are something like three or six Standing Committees at the present time, and if we eliminate some 300 177 Members who are attending these Committees from participating in Debates on the Floor of the House, it is going to mean that the Business of the House will be less well digested and well turned out than it is today. It is neither right nor reasonable that, in circumstances such as these, the House should be deprived of the attendance of Ministers who are required to be on the Standing Committees; they cannot be in two places at once. The Law Officers of the Crown would be required to be in four or five places at the same time. Their attendance on the Standing Committees is more and more essential, as the tempo of the work is more and more increasing. The complications of the Bills which are before the Standing Committees require their attendance day by day. It is lamentable that we do not see more of them, but it may not always be possible for them to be present, because they, no more than anyone else, can divide themselves and appear in more than one place at the same time.
A point has been raised as to the importance of the work of Standing Committees, in rendering as perfect as may be the provisions which these Bills contain. I do not think there is one of these Bills which has not been claimed by the Government a charter for the particular industry to which it applies, but the more the Bills are examined, whether in Standing Committee or outside, the more evident it becomes that as charters they are singularly lacking both as regards intelligibility and, above all, as regards interpretation, which is so essential if they are to provide the basis and philosophy for the industries to which they refer. It is only by intense and exhaustive examination of Bills in Standing Committees, by putting them through the sieve of debate and argument, that they can be made into really comprehensive and comprehensible Statutes, which will not require the individuals affected to appeal to the courts for interpretation of their provisions. I beg the Government, in the interests of the people whom these Bills are intended to assist, to realise that they are only delaying the effectiveness of their own measures by seeking to curtail their examination. I hope that the right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of this Motion will, at any rate, see fit to assent to that view sufficiently to accept this amendment.
§ 11.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
The range of this Amendment is somewhat narrow, and I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) and others into the rediscussion of points in which they indulged. This Amendment asks that the Standing Committee shall not sit at any time if the House or a Committee of the whole House is sitting. It is to that point that I propose to address my remarks. It is no novelty for a Committee upstairs to sit at a time when the House is sitting as a House or as a Committee of the whole House. There is nothing novel in this proposal. I agree that, normally, it is desirable that Committees upstairs should not be sitting at a time when the House is sitting. I have, both when I was on the Government side of the House, and on the Opposition side, been in Committee upstairs while the House has been sitting, not only in the afternoon but also in the evening, and I know the inconvenience that is caused by such an arrangement. We hope that Sittings of these Committees upstairs can be avoided on days when important business is being taken on the Floor of the House. We will undertake to guide the Standing Committee as to the occasions when important business is likely to be under consideration on the Floor of the House, so that the Business Committee, the Business Sub-Committee and the Committee itself can decide whether they will sit on any particular afternoon.
§ Mr. Maclay rose—
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No hon. (Member has a right to speak when another hon. Member has the Floor of the House, unless that hon. Member gives way.
§ Mr. Maclay
There is no point in what the right hon. Gentleman has said, if he means that the Business Committee is to be advised by the Government as to when it ought to advise the Committee not to sit. That implies either that the Committee will lose a sitting before 2nd April if that date is maintained or that afternoon sittings will have to be switched from one day to another. Neither of them is desirable or practicable.
§ Mr. Maclay
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I put a perfectly serious point to the right hon. Gentleman, and he is now accusing me of obstruction.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that it would be much better if the Home Secretary were allowed to continue.
§ Mr. Ede
I did not accuse the hon. Member of obstruction. The point I was making was that these arrangements for the sittings of the Committee up to 2nd April are within the control of the different Committees. This House cannot dictate when they should sit, what days they are to sit, the hour of sitting or such matters as that. Those are matters entirely within the power of the Committees themselves.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan rose—
§ Mr. Ede
I am now merely making a statement of fact which cannot be disputed. If, when I get to the deduction, I propose to draw from the fact, the hon. and gallant Member or any hon. Members opposite feel that I am not being fair to them, I will endeavour to meet them as far as is possible. What I have said is 180 that we will take steps to see that the Business Sub-Committees are informed what the business of the House is likely to be. It will then be for them to decide whether they think that on a certain afternoon or evening it is undesirable that the Committee shall sit, but right hon. and hon. Gentlemen know that when we get away from the rather heated atmosphere that always prevails when the Guillotine Motion is going through, people become as reasonable as usual afterwards.
§ Mr. Ede
I am disappointed at the bluntness of the right hon. Gentleman. We shall endeavour to see that the Business Sub-Committee is informed in sufficient time to enable any later arrangements that may be necessary in the sittings of the Committee, to be brought to the notice of the Committee, so that the general convenience can be served. I hope that the House will agree that that is the appropriate way in which the matter should be handled. The only effect of passing this Amendment would be that the possible number of sittings of the Committee would be reduced from 22, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) earlier anticipated might be available, to some smaller number.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
I am sorry. I was only saying "Hear, hear" to my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Eden
I want to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the scheme that is outlined is utterly and entirely unworkable, and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. First, let me tell him that it is quite impossible for him, or I suggest for a majority on a Committee, to decide what business of this House is important. Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that what we are discussing this week is important or unimportant? Let him look at next week's business. What parts are important? There is to be a Debate on India this week. Is that important or unimportant? To-morrow we are to deal with the Summer Time Bill. Is that important or not? It is immensely important to those who repre- 181 sent agricultural areas, though perhaps not as important to those who represent urban areas. Frankly, I say that it is almost impossible for anyone to assess what is important business or not. I doubt whether you yourself, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, could give a fair judgment as to what is or what is not "important business" for discussion in this House. If the Government who have control of the time of the House, waste it in discussing unimportant matters that is their fault.
If that is the plan for running this Committee I cannot conceive how this business is to be carried through. What is to be the procedure? In the first place, this House does not know next week's business until Thursday, and the Committee does not meet on Fridays. Yet, according to this procedure, the Business Committees are to settle the arrangements
§ for business. How in the world are they to do that when they do not know what the business is going to be. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest they should keep meeting at intervals, when they get information as to what the business in the House is going to be, to discuss among themselves on which days they are to sit. They will spend their time doing nothing else. The position is chaotic and ludicrous, and unless the right hon. Gentleman can produce a better plan than that, it is going to become worse than it was before.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 303, Noes, 153.185
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[11.16 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Collick, P.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Collindridge, F.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Collins, V. J.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Colman, Miss G. M.||Grey, C. F.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Comyns, Dr. L.||Grierson, E.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cook, T. F.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Attewell, H. C.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Gunter, R. J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Corvedale, Viscount||Guy, W. H.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Crossman, R. H. S||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Daggar, G.||Hale, Leslie|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Daines, P.||Hall, W. G.|
|Baird, J.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hamilton, Lieut. -Col. R.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hardman, D. R.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Barton, C.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Harrison, J.|
|Battley, J. R.||Deer, G.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Bechervaise, A. E,||Delargy, H. J.||Haworth, J.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Diamond, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Dodds, N. N.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Benson, G.||Donovan, T.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Berry, H.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hewitson, Capt. M|
|Beswick, F.||Dugdale, J. (W Bromwich)||Holman, P|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dumpleton, C. W.||House, G.|
|Binns, J.||Dye, S.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Blackburn, A. R||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Edelman, M||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Boardman, H,||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Irving, W. J.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Janner, B.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Braddock. T. (Mitcham)||Ewart, R.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Fairhurst, F.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Farthing, W. J||Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)|
|Brooks, T J. (Rothwell)||Field, Capt. W. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Brown, T. J (Ince)||Follick, M.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Foot, M. M.||Keenan, W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Kenyon, C.|
|Burke, W A.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Key, C. W.|
|Butler, H W (Hackney, S.)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||King, E. M.|
|Callaghan, James||Gibbins, J.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Kinley, J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Gilzean, A.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Lang, G.|
|Clitherow, Dr. R.||Gooch, E. G.||Lavers, S.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Goodrich, H. E.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Lever, N. H.|
|Levy, B. W.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Lewis, T (Southampton)||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Lindgren, G S.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Longden, F.||Price, M Philips||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Pritt, D. N.||Thurtle, E.|
|McAdam, W||Proctor, W. T.||Tiffany, S.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Timmons, J.|
|Mack, J. D||Randall, H. E.||Titterington, M F.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Ranger, J.||Tolley, L|
|Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N W)||Rankin, J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|McLeavy, F.||Reeves, J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Macpherson, T (Romford)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Rhodes, H.||Usborne, Henry|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Robens, A||Walkden, E.|
|Marquand, H. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Marshall, F (Brightside)||Robertson, J J. (Berwick)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Mathers, G.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Royle, C.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Messer, F.||Sargood, R.||Weitzman, D.|
|Mikardo, Ian.||Scollan, T.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Mitchison, G R.||Sharp, Granville||West, D. G.|
|Monslow, W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Moody, A. S.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B||Shurmer, P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Morley, R.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Morris, P (Swansea, W.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Moyle, A.||Simmons, C. J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Murray, J. D||Skeffington, A. M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Nally, W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Skinnard, F. W||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Smith, S. H (Hull, S.W.)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Solley, L. J.||Williamson, T.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Sorensen, R. W.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|O'Brien, T.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Oldfield, W. H||Sparks, J. A.||Wise, Major F. J|
|Oliver, G. H.||Stamford, W.||Woodburn, A.|
|Orbach, M.||Steele, T.||Woods, G. S.|
|Paget, R. T.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Wyatt, W.|
|Palmer, A. M. F||Stross, Dr. B.||Yates, V. F.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Stubbs, A. E.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Parker, J.||Swingler, S.||Zilliacus. K|
|Parkin, B. T.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Mr. Pearson and Captain Snow.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Digby, S. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Amory, D Heathcoat||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V G (Penrith)||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Duthie, W. S||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Eccles, D. M.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Beechman, N. A||Erroll, F. J.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Fox, Sir G.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Boothby, R.||Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bossom, A. C||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Low, Brig. A. R. W|
|Bower, N.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Lucas, Major Sir J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Gage, C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Gammans, L. D.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. G.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Glossop, C. W. H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Glyn, Sir R.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G||MacLeod, J.|
|Butcher, H W||Grimston. R. V.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bramley)|
|Byers, Frank||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)|
|Carson, E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Channon, H.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Manningham-Buller, R. E|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Herbert, Sir A. P.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Hogg, Hon Q||Marples, A. E.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hollis, M. C.||Marsden, Capt. A.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Howard, Hon. A.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. G||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)||Maude, J. C|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr N. J||Medlicott. F.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Hurd, A.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Renton, D.||Teeling, William|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thcmas, J. P L. (Hereford)|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Nicholson, G.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Ropner, Col. L.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Nutting, Anthony||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Sanderson, Sir F.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Osborne, C||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Smithers, Sir W.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Pickthorn, K.||Snadden, W. M.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Pitman, I. J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Prescott, Stanley||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||York, C.|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Studholme, H. G.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Rayner, Brig. R,||Sutcliffe, H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Lieut.-Colonel Thorp and|
|Reid, Rt. Hon. J S. C (Hillhead)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||Major Ramsay.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."186
§ The house divided: Ayes, 154; Noes, 302.189
|Division No. 99.i||AYES||[11.28 p.m|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Herbert, Sir A. P.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hollis, M. C||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Prescott, Stanley|
|Baxter, A. B.||Howard, Hon. A||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Brechman, N. A||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hurd, A.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Boothby, R.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Bower, N.||Keeling, E. H.||Renton, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Maj. P G. (Ecclesall)|
|Braithwaite, Lt. -Comdr. J. G.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Langford-Holt, J.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bullock, Capt M.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Butcher, H. W||Lindsay, M (Solihull)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Byers, Frank||Linstead, H. N.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Carson, E.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Channon, H.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O E.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y||MacLeod, J.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Digby, S. W.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Teeling, William|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thomas, J. P L. (Hercford)|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A V G (Penrith)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Marples, A. E.||Vane, W. M. F|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Maude, J. C.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Medlicott, F.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Mellor, Sir J.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fraser, Maj H. C. P. (Stone)||Molson, A. H. E.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Nicholson, G.||York, C.|
|Glossop, C. W. H||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Patrick)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||O'Neill Rt. Hon. Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Commander Agnew and|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Osborne, C.||Major Conant.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Attewell, H. C.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Alpass, J. H.||Awbery, S. S.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Ayles, W. H.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Baird, J.||Gooch, E. G.||Moyle, A.|
|Balfour, A.||Goodrich, H. E.||Murray, J. D.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Nally, W.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Barton, C.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Battley, J. R.||Grenfell, D. R.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Grey, C. F.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Belcher, J. W.||Grierson, E.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Griffiths, D. (Rothar Valley)||O'Brien, T.|
|Benson, G.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Beswick, F.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Oliver, G. H.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Gunter, R. J.||Orbach, M.|
|Binns, J.||Guy, W. H.||Paget, R. T.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hale, Leslie||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hall, W. G.||Parker, J.|
|Boardman, H.||Hamilton, Lieut. -Col. R.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Peart, Capt. T. F.|
|Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W.||Hardman, D. R.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hardy, E. A.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Harrison, J.||Popplewell, E.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Haworth, J.||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Price, M. Philips|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Herbison, Miss M.||Prootor, W. T.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Holman, P.||Randall, H. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||House, G.||Ranger, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Rankin, J.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Callaghan, James||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Rhodes, H|
|Champion, A. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Irving, W. J.||Robens, A.|
|Clitherow, Dr. R.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Janner, B.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jay, D. P. T.||Rogers, G. H. R,|
|Collick, P.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Collindridge, F.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Royle, C.|
|Collins. V. J.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Sargood, R.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Scollan, T.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Cook, T. F.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Sharp, Granville|
|Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||Keenan, W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Kenyon, C.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Key, C. W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Grossman, R. H. S||King, E. M.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Daggar, G.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Daines, P.||Kinley, J.||Simmons, C. J|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Kirby, B. V.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Lang, G.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lavers, S.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lever, N. H.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Deer, G.||Levy, B. W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Diamond, J.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Donovan, T.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Stamford, W.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Longden, F.||Steele, T.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lyne, A. W.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||McAdam, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dye, S.||McEntee, V. La T.||Stress, Dr. B.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mack, J. D.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Edelman, M.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Swingler, S.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Symonds, A. L.|
|Edwards N. (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Ewart, R.||Marquand, H. A.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Farthing, W. J.||Mathers, G.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Mayhew, G. P.||Thurtle, E.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Hellish, R. J.||Tiffany, S.|
|Follick, M.||Messer, F.||Timmons, J.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Tolley, L.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Mitchison, G. R.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Monslow, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gibbins, J.||Moody, A. S.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Usborne, Henry|
|Gilzean, A.||Morley, R.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Walkden, E.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)||Wigg, Col. G. E.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Warbey, W. N.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.||Woodburn, A.|
|Watkins, T. E.||Wilkes, L.||Woods, G. S.|
|Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Wilkins, W. A.||Wyatt, W.|
|Weitzman, D.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Yates, V. F.|
|Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)||Zilliacus, K.|
|West, D. G.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)||Williamson, T.||Mr. Pearson and Captain Snow.|
§ 11.39 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
On a point of Order. Is there not a manuscript Amendment to be moved by the Government?
§ Captain Crookshank
May I ask what has happened to it? I understood from the Home Secretary's speech that he was proposing that there should be four days for the Report stage, and unless a manuscript Amendment is moved at this stage, it will not be possible for him to carry out that intention.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is completely misinformed. It was I who made that offer, and it was not accepted.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
On a point of Order. We were told earlier this afternoon, when the Government were challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), that the Minister of Town and Country Planning would be replying We have been waiting to hear that reply. Personally I am not unsympathetic to the Bill, but I am very anxious to know what is going to happen. We were promised a definite reply.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Further to that point of Order, may I say we were told that there would be a chance for the general Debate to be resumed.
§ Mr. Speaker
I never said that. I do not know who said it, but if it was said it was said without authority.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
On a point of Order. There were Amendments down in my name and the name of one of my hon. 190 and gallant Friends, which I have withdrawn. I am a little surprised at the Government having taken no steps, in view of the statement from the Front Bench that they were going to introduce an Amendment.
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I beg to move, in line 30, at the beginning, to insert "if."
In leading up to this Amendment I would like to say how great is the difficulty in which I am placed in having such a very short time to deal with this matter. I realise, as the Deputy-Leader of the House said earlier, that we are entering upon a new experiment, or was it a new procedure? If I might have the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, I would like to say that I fully realise that this is a new precedent, and I may be asking him something else on that matter later, but he failed to state, on the main Amendment, the real reason why the Government are introducing this new procedure. It is that they realise they have to get these Bills through quickly because, as the writing on the wall points out, when this year is over they will have to spend the rest of their time amending the Bills they have already passed. That is the real reason for the time table today. If I may refer to the speech of the Home Secretary earlier in the day, he said that we should have 22 days at the outside. That means rather over 50 hours, and that is all that is to be given to these Bills affecting the welfare of the whole of the people of this country. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that a Measure with which he was connected, which was nothing like as controversial as this, was taken in Committee of the Whole House and was given very nearly 100 hours on Committee stage alone. Yet for these very much bigger Bills only 50 hours is to be allowed upstairs, with a very much smaller Committee, and a curtailed Report stage later.
191 The purpose of the Amendment which I am moving, and the following Amendment, is this. Under the Motion as it stands, if there is any Private Business coming on at 7.30 you then automatically put that Private Business back to 9.30. That is a very awkward proceeding from many points of view. The deputy Leader of the House tells us that this is a new procedure, but this part of the Motion has been largely copied from previous Motions. I am equally well aware that not very often has it been put into practical effect, and for these reasons: When a private Resolution is coming on at 7.30 p.m., it as almost invariably been put down by the Chairman of Ways and Means, who is in the closest consultation with the Government. There is reason to suppose he does it on such a day as appears suitable in connection with other Business, and he is not likely to put it down on a day which would upset Government Business. The fact remains that these Bills, in almost every case, are highly controversial, and in almost every case exercise a good deal of public feeling. If the Leader of the House were present, he would be able to help me in my difficulty. He would remember a certain Bill dealing with the London County Council in which he was involved. It is only highly controversial matters of that kind which cut right across party politics, and I appeal to the Government to see that they give a reasonable time of the day to them. I do not wish to go into detail, but there is also the other point to which my hon. Friend will be referring in seconding this Amendment. I ask the acting Leader of the House, if he wants a change, to let him remove what clearly, has been a blemish on previous Orders.
§ 11.49 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)
I beg to second the Amendment.
This is a last effort to save some fragment from the wreck of our democratic institution, which has been so rudely torpedoed by the Motion before the House today. The Amendment, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has pointed out, does not concern so much the amount of time which will be available for discussion of Bills, as the amount of time which will be available for other purposes, and in particular for the purposes of the Adjournment of 192 the House under Standing Order 8. We have had an example of that procedure being called in aid, though not successfully, this very day. I think it is relevant to refer to the passage from Erskine May which says:Motions for the Adjournment under Standing Order No. 8. These items of Business represent the only method which the Standing Orders provide whereby room may be found in the pre-arranged programme of the Sitting for debating a matter of sudden emergency.It is the only method by which Private Members can raise matters of emergency before this House. If this Motion goes forward in its present form, it will mean that it will be impossible to obtain permission to adjourn the House until after the whole of the business of the day has been disposed of; in other words, until after 10 o'clock at night. You, Mr. Speaker, ruled earlier today that you would not accept such a Motion, but it is conceivable that a Private Member may seek to adjourn the House in order to discuss a matter of life and death—a matter, for instance, in which it was desirable to draw the attention of the House and the country to the possible execution of a man at midnight of that day. As matters stood this afternoon, such a matter could have been brought up and discussed at 7 o'clock, and it might well be that the life of that man, or, perhaps, of a number of men could be saved in that way. This form of Motion, as the House is well aware, can only be brought forward on a matter of the greatest possible urgency—a Motion, which you, Mr. Speaker, are prepared to agree presents a really urgent matter to be discussed forthwith; and now the Government are seeking to take away that one small possibility for the Private Member, and to postpone it until after ten o'clock at night; to postpone it to a late hour, when many hon. Members may have gone home, and when it may be that the emergency, by the advancement of a further three hours, has grown to be even more threatening, and the necessary steps cannot be taken.
I ask the Government to reconsider this matter. Here, at any rate, we are not seeking any more time for the discussion of these two Bills, which the Government wish to get through in such a hurry; we are merely asking that some small right should be left to Private Members to raise matters of great public moment. That is 193 all we ask. It is possible that the Lord Privy Seal, or whoever replies for the Government, will say that these words, or similar words, have appeared in previous Motions which have been moved. If that is so, there will be more excuse for having done it in years gone by. It is well known that there was a time when there were many opportunities to Private Members to raise matters in different ways. These opportunities have been steadily whittled away, and there is no remaining possibility of a Private Member catching the ear of this House, except by means of the Adjournment. If it is a matter of great urgency, he can only do it by seeking to adjourn the House under Standing Order No. 8. In these circumstances, I ask the Government to reconsider the matter, to see whether they cannot allow this Amendment, even at this late hour
§ 11.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
As the Hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. Williams) said, and his seconder repeated, the words in the Motion are in the common form, in which all Guillotine Motions which have been submitted to the House. When we have departed from precedent, we have been chided: now that we are following precedent, we are again in trouble. We think that the precedents established in the past are worth following on this occasion. The powers of the House are only postponed and not to be eliminated. For these reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ 11.56 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I should like to know whether I will be able to revert to the statement made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department who said after he had finished we would have the opportunity of asking questions. In the matter of business, the Business Sub-Committee would decide what was a matter of importance and what was not.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are still on the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to be going outside the Amendment which has been proposed and seconded.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.194
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
In connection with this Business Committee deciding what is or what is not important business, might I ask the Home Secretary a question in regard to the Transport Committee—on which there are one or two Scottish Members. Although I understand that in the view of some hon. Members Scottish business is of no importance whatever, it is likely that something which Scottish Members might consider to be important would come up for discussion on the Floor of the House, and in that event will the Committee adjourn in order that the Scottish Members may participate in or listen to the Debate in the House? This is a very important question for Scotland. It may not be a very important question for anyone else, but it is important for Scottish Members, and it does bring vividly before the House the difficulty of deciding what is or what is not important. I should like an assurance from the Home Secretary that when a question of importance to Scotland is raised on the Floor of the House the Committees will give way in order that Scottish Members might get to the House.
§ 11.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss rose—
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I will yield, of course, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to answer.
I do not believe that a constitutional revolution such as this Motion proposes has ever been supported by such feeble arguments as have been advanced from the Government Benches tonight. The Minister of Town and Country Planning at an early stage of the proceedings, when challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) to say whether any obstruction had taken place, gave a definite promise that he would reply. That is a promise that he has broken. I will yield at once if he wishes to give the slightest explanation. The fact is, of course, that he knows and the whole House knows that the Government have adopted Hitler's advice that if a lie has got to be told it should be a great lie. I am not accusing any Member of the House in this regard, 195 but that is why the "Daily Herald" said this morning that there had been obstruction. That has not been repeated by any Minister and it cannot be sustained. The Home Secretary, whom I congratulate on making the best of a very bad job in contrast to the acting Leader of the House, in the course of his speech said that there was precedent for this procedure in the decision of this House. What he omitted to observe was than an integral part of the Resolution was the date, 2nd April. That is the really important part of this Resolution. It has been proved in the case submitted by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) in regard to the Transport Bill and can be proved in the case of the Town and Country Planning Bill that—
§ It being Twelve midnight, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the Business.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House proceeded to a Division.196
§ Sir G. Fox
(seated and covered): Was not the junior Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) speaking at 12 o'clock, Mr. Speaker, when you moved the Motion?
§ Mr. Speaker
It was moved at the moment of the interruption of Business, and that is the correct time to move it.
§ Mr. Speaker
It was at twelve o'clock when I rose to my feet to say that the Debate was over, and that was the time when the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal was entitled to get up and move the Closure. That is the moment of interruption. Actually there was a great deal of noise, and it was difficult for him to make himself heard, but he got up, at the moment of interruption, which was correct.
§ Mr. COLLINDRIDGE and MT. SIMMONS were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Members being willing to act as Tellers for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Main Question put accordingly.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 289; Noes, 150.199
|Division No, 100.]||AYES.||[12.1 a.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Daines, P.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bramall, Major E. A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Brown, George (Belper)||Deer, G.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Diamond, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Buchanan, G.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Donovan, T.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Callaghan, James||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Chamberlain, R. A.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Baird, J.||Champion, A. J.||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Dye, S.|
|Barton, C.||Clitherow, Dr. R||Ede, Rt. Hon. J C|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Cobb, F. A.||Edelman, M.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Cocks, F. S.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Collick, P.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Benson, G.||Collins, V. J.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Beswick, F.||Colman, Miss G. M||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Bing, G. H. C||Comyns, Dr. L.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Binns, J.||Cook, T. F.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Blackburn, A. R||Cooper, Wing-Cmdr. G.||Ewart, R.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Fairhurst, F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Boardman, H.||Crawley, A.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Crossman, R. H. S||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Daggar, G||Follick, M.|
|Foot, M. M.||McEntee, V. La T.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mack, J. D.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W)||Skinnard, F. W|
|Gibbins, J.||McLeavy, F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Smith, S. H (Hull, S.W.)|
|Gilzean, A.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Solley, L. J.|
|Goodrich, H E.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Marquand, H. A.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Mathers, G.||Stamford, W|
|Grey, C. F.||Mayhew, C. P||Steele, T.|
|Grierson, E||Mellish, R, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Messer, F.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mikardo, Ian.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Millington, Wing-Comdr E R||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Gunter, R. J||Mitchison, G. R||Swingler, S.|
|Guy, W. H.||Monslow, W.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Morgan, Dr. H. B||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Hale, Leslie||Morley, R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hall, W. G||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Moyle, A.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Murray, J. D||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hardman, D. R.||Nally, W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Neal, H (Claycross)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Harrison, J.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Thurtle, E.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Tiffany, S.|
|Haworth, J.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Timmons, J|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Titterington, M. F.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||O'Brien, T.||Tolley, L.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Oldfield, W. H||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Oliver, G. H.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Holman, P.||Orbach, M||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|House, G||Paget, R. T||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Palmer, A, M F||Walkden, E.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pargiter, G. A||Wallace, G. D. (Chistehurst)|
|Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton. W.)||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, Mrs. F (Rushcliffe)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Irving, W. J.||Pearson, A.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Janner, B.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Popplewell, E.||West, D. G.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||White, C F (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Price, M. Philips||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Pritt, D. N.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Keenan, W.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Wilkes, L|
|Kenyon, C||Randall, H. E||Wilkins W. A.|
|Key, C. W.||Ranger, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|King, E. M.||Rankin, J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Reeves, J.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Kinley, J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Kirby, B V||Rhodes, H.||Williamson, T|
|Lang, G.||Robens, A.||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Lavers, S.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wilson, J. H|
|Robertson, J J. (Berwick)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Woodburn, A|
|Lever, N. H.||Royle, C.||Woods, G. S|
|Levy, B. W.||Sargood, R||Wyatt, W.|
|Lewis, A W. J. (Upton)||Scollan, T.||Yates, V. F|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Lindgren, G, S.||Sharp, Granville||Zilliacus, K.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Longden, F.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Lyne, A. W||Shurmer, P.||Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Simmons|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Darling, Sir W. Y.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Digby, S. W.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Butcher, H. W.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Byers, Frank||Duthie, W. S.|
|Baxter, A B.||Carson, E.||Eccles, D. M|
|Beechman, N. A||Channon, H.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Birch, Nigel||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Erroll, F. J|
|Boothby, R.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)|
|Bossom, A. C||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U (Ludlow)||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)|
|Bower, N.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Fox, Sir G.|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||MacLeod, J.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Gage, C.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Gammans, L. D||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Marples, A. E.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Marsden, Capt. A,||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Stanley, Rt. Hon O.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Maude, J. C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Medlicott, F.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Herbert, Sir A. P.||Mellor, Sir J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Hogg, Hon Q.||Molson, A. H. E.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Howard, Hon A.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Teeling, William|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J||Nicholson, G.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hurd, A.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Nutting, Anthony||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Osborne, C.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Peake, Rt Hon. O.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G,||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Pickthorn, K.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Pitman, I. J.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Linstead, H. N.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Prescott, Stanley||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Low, Brig. A. R. W||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Ramsay, Maj. S.||York, C.|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (f. of Wight)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Reid, Rt. Hon. J S. C (Hillhead)||Mr. Studholme and|
|Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Renton, D.||Major Conant.|
That the proceedings on the Committee stage, Report stage and Third Reading of each of the following Bills, that is to say, the Transport Bill and Town and Country Planning Bill, shall be proceeded with as follows:—
§ (1) Committee Stage.
- (a)The Standing Committee to which the Bill is referred shall report the Bill to the House on or before the second day of April next, and the general provisions set out in paragraph (3) of this Order shall apply so far as applicable.
- (b)At a sitting at which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the Sittings of the Committee until the proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.
- (c)At a sitting at which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under such a Resolution no Motion relating to the sittings of the Committee, no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Committee, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on any such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate.
- (d)On the conclusion of the Committee Stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without question put.
§ (2) Report Stage and Third Reading.
- (a)Three allotted days shall be given to the Report Stage and one allotted day shall be given to the Third Reading.
- (b)The proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 9.30 p.m., on the last of the days allotted in the case of the Report Stage, and on the day allotted in the case of the Third Reading, and the general provisions set out in paragraph (3) of this Order shall apply.
- (c)Any day other than a Friday on which the Bill is put down as the First Order of the Day shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order.
- (d)Any Private Business which has been set down for consideration at 7 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 8 on an allotted day shall on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
- (e)On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order those proceedings shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
- (f)On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or under this Order, nor Motion to re-commit the Bill, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ (3) General
- (a)For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee or by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time so appointed, put forthwith, the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause which has been read a second time, also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill, and shall next proceed to put forthwith the questions on any Amendments, new Clauses or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses or Schedules), and any Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Government Amendments or Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Questions that the Amendments be made or that the Clauses or Schedules be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
- (b)Nothing in this Order or in such a Resolution shall—
- (1) prevent any proceedings which there. under are to be concluded on any particular day or at any particular sitting being concluded on an earlier day or at any earlier sitting, or necessitate any particular day or sitting or part of a particular day or sitting being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
- (ii) prevent any other business being proceeded with on a particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, if any proceedings to be concluded on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of."