§ Notwithstanding anything in any other enactment, a magistrates' court may at any time discharge an order which it has made for the committal of any person to prison for failure to comply with a maintenance order.—[Mr. J. Silverman.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
This, of course, is the new Clause which was moved during the Committee stage of the Bill by my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Lee). The Joint Under-Secretary of State may remember that he promised to look at the matter thoroughly and with an open mind. I assume that he has done that, but we find nothing to indicate that he has accepted what we have in mind. Because we believe that this is an extremely important principle, we are bringing forward the new Clause again.
The Clause deals with committal orders made by magistrates, the position being that, once a defaulting husband is committed to prison in respect of arrears, the magistrates, having made a committal order, cannot discharge it; either the debt must be paid or the sentence must proceed inexorably, the man serving three months. In the light of the provisions of the Bill, we believe that this would be very unsatisfactory.
In Committee, the hon. and learned Gentleman objected to the wording of the new Clause, saying:Magistrates' courts do not make orders—in the words of the proposed Clause…for the committal…for failure to comply with a maintenance order'.They issue warrants of commitment to enforce payment of a sum due and unpaid under a maintenance order."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 18th February, 1958; c. 335.]That is not really the position at all. It cannot be said that orders of commitment are used to enforce payment. In fact, they have precisely the opposite effect, because once a man has served 502 his term of imprisonment he emerges from it free from any debt in respect of the arrears at all. Therefore, far from enforcing it, they ensure that payment is not made after the man has served his sentence of imprisonment. It is this particular function of the committal order as at present made which the new Clause is designed, to some extent, to mitigate or remove. It is suggested that magistrates should have the opportunity to discharge orders.
The Bill, of course, introduces certain very important new principles. There is the principle of the registration of an order in the high court or county court, or, again, from the high court or county court into the magistrates' court. Also, the principle of attachment is introduced. Both are extremely important new principles, and we suggest that the Government ought to look at the law relating to committal in the light of them. After all, we are assured—I do not doubt that it is its purpose—that the Bill is intended to prevent people being sent to prison in the first place, and, in addition, to ensure that wives and others who should benefit under orders get their money.
In short, it is a waste of public funds and not common sense to send a man to prison to purge a debt when what is required is to see that the wife gets the money for herself and the children, or that the woman who has an affiliation order gets the money. That is the object.
This Clause deals with certain practical possibilities which are likely to arise. Suppose the magistrates make a committal order. After it is made it may emerge that the man against whom the order is made is in good and regular employment and that an attachment order would be more appropriate, which would secure that the money is paid to the wife. I suppose that that is what everybody wants, instead of the man being sent to prison. Under the new Clause the committal order could be discharged and an attachment order made. That would meet everybody's convenience, and the convenience of the public.
Suppose it emerges after a committal order has been made that the man against whom it is made has a sum of money in the bank or other funds against which garnishee proceedings could be taken and 503 that the appropriate remedy would be registration in the High Court or county court, as is contemplated in Section 1. Under those circumstances, the committal order could be discharged and the necessary proceedings could be taken. There again, there would be the sensible arrangment of the man not going to prison or not completing his prison sentence and the woman or other beneficiary would get her money, which is the object. That is prevented as the law now stands.
This is a reasonable proposal to help to secure the objects of the Bill—to keep men out of prison and to see that deserted wives or other beneficiaries get their money.
We were not satisfied with the replies and explanations given by the Joint Under-Secretary in Committee. One question concerns the machinery. A warrant may have been issued which has to be executed by a policeman, say, in Cornwall in respect of an order which was made by a magistrate's court in another part. What would happen if that order were discharged? It is not outside the wits of either the courts or police forces to make the machinery suit the case. Surely it is possible, in these days of rapid communications, to ensure that a telegram is sent to the police station or police authority in Cornwall so that the warrant is withdrawn and not executed.
We are not insisting upon having this word or that word inserted in the Bill. We say that the principle in the new Clause should be adopted. We want to secure the objects of the Bill and to give it a fair chance of operating. We hope, even at this late stage, that the Minister will accept the Clause and the principle which it embodies.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall MacDermot (Lewisham, North)
I beg to second the Motion.
Perhaps I may say a few words on the question of the procedural difficulties to which the Minister referred during the Committee stage.
Since the Committee stage, I have discovered that the Debtors Act, 1878, provided that the court—it would be either the High Court or a county court—should have the power to grant or refuse any application to stay the operation of any writ, process or order for the discharge 504 from arrest or imprisonment thereunder of a person who had been committed to prison in certain circumstances under the Debtors Act, 1869. There would, therefore, appear to be a clear precedent in that Act for granting procedure to the court to discharge an order with a wide latitude and discretion to the court as to how it should exercise its power.
At the moment, the only circumstance in which an order for the committal of a man to prison can be discharged under the magistrates' courts procedure is if the debt is paid off either in full or in part. The prison sentence is remitted either in whole or in part until the debt is repaid.
I hope that the Minister will not put up procedural arguments against this new Clause. If there are objections to the wording of it, that is something which can be corrected, and we should be glad to withdraw the Clause if the Minister would undertake to introduce a more happily worded Clause in another place. It would help the general object of the Bill if there were given to the magistrates a general power to discharge committal orders.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)
It is true, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) has said, that during Committee stage I undertook to consider this point. I stressed at the time that I did so without commitment. I have considered the point very thoroughly myself and have taken advice upon it.
I have a great deal of sympathy with the merits of the Clause. It is very tempting to assimilate, as far as possible, the procedures of the High Court, county courts and magistrates' courts and to remove what appear to be anomalies. But that is not the purpose of the Bill. We have to take the existing procedures as we find them and not as we should like them to be. If we started to tinker about with the procedures to suit the immediate convenience of the Bill, we should get into great trouble. A Bill to alter the procedure of courts, even magistrates' courts, is a major operation. One day, no doubt, we shall have another magistrates' courts Bill. The last one was in 1952. When we have another Bill we shall take care, because we have already noted the point, to ensure that this point is considered.
§ Mr. Renton
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be patient for a moment.
We do not feel that it would be right to make this change for the purpose of commitment for maintenance order debts when we would be leaving still outstanding commitment for other kinds of debts by the magistrates' courts. For that reason, among others which were mentioned in Committee, and which the hon. Member for Aston briefly described again today, we are unable to accede to his request. He described his reason for submitting the Clause, which I thought was a perfectly valid one. I can summarise the position by saying that there would have to be a large number of warrants chasing about the country. He described that as a bad reason. I think that it is a good reason, but perhaps we can agree to differ upon that.
The main practical anxiety which hon. Gentlemen may well be entitled to have concerns the transitional period, and people who may have been put into prison recently and people who may be put into prison between now and the coming into operation of the Bill. May I say a word about that matter? Under Clause 19 (3) the appointed day for the coming into operation of the Bill will not be the date of the Royal Assent, but will be the date that the Home Secretary indicates by Order.
The courts will therefore get good warning of the Bill's coming into operation. For all we know, many may be assuming already that the Bill is coming into operation and have anticipated it by making suspended committal orders. That is a simple solution to any difficulty in the transitional period, and one which most probably many courts are already following. So, between the passing of the Bill and the appointed day courts will have full and formal warning, and I do not think difficulty will arise.
A suspended committal order can be replaced under the Bill by an attachment of earnings order. I should have thought that was probably a better way of handling the matter than by making a fairly fundamental change of this kind in the procedure of magistrates' courts.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
I am concerned about what the hon. and 506 learned Gentleman has said and I do not think he has answered completely the points made by my hon. Friends. During our discussion of the various Amendments tonight we shall hear a great deal on the question of imprisonment in connection with these orders. It seems to me that the hon. and learned Gentleman is resting his case on future legislation. If, as he suggests, it would be a good thing to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. J. Silverman), is not this the time to do it? When all is said and done, the 1952 Act was to a large degree a consolidation Measure. It brought in many things that had needed to be done for a long time prior to 1952. I suggest that the Home Office may find it difficult in the next few years to introduce a better Measure than the 1952 Act to take in other things.
I suggest respectfully, therefore, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks this is a good idea, this is the time to adopt it, rather than to wait until the dim and distant future for a consolidating Measure.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
I listened carefully to the reply made by the Joint Under-Secretary of State and I was waiting to hear what practical objection there was to the proposed Clause. I had a little experience of these matters some years ago, and I cannot understand what practical objection there can be to what is suggested. During the Second Reading of the Bill it was made clear in the speech of the Home Secretary that one of its objects was to ensure that people do not crowd into our prisons, that as few people as possible are committed, and that they are there for as short a time as possible. If we can achieve that object by not keeping these people in prison, we ought to make every possible effort in this Bill.
This is a simple Clause. All it means is that if we reach a state of affairs when it is not necessary for such a person to be imprisoned, we make an application to the magistrate. I cannot see where the difficulty lies in putting into effect the machinery to release that man. Something was said about warrants being chased all over the country. We do that today and there is no difficulty.
507 The only other reason put forward was that referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle), namely, that the Joint Under-Secretary said, in effect, "Yes, it is a good thing. I see that there are arguments in its favour, but we must be careful about interfering with the machinery of the court. There is so much to be done." If there is so much to be done, let us do a little now.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I am disappointed that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not been able to meet us in this matter. In Committee, I thought the Minister was impressed with the importance of trying to find a means of taking from prison a number of people who would never have been there had this Measure been in operation. I know that the Home Secretary has power to discharge——
§ Mr. Yates
Yes, that is what I meant. The Home Secretary has the power.
I would have thought that if the Minister felt there were legal difficulties, he could have regarded this as a special case. I do not think that the question of civil fines could be introduced here, because this is a Bill which applies specifically to one kind of case. I am not a legal expert, and, therefore, I find difficulty in arguing this point, but I would have thought that there was a case for endeavouring to take action in this way.
The basis of the Bill is important. We are recommending that there is something wrong in our law which compels large numbers of people to be committed to prison. Many of us support this Bill because we realise that that is not the right method of dealing with such people. I hope the Minister will try again to meet the views of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, because many strong views have been expressed from time to time about the Bill. In my view, the Government are morally bound to consider taking some action to try to release these people, provided that they can be brought within the scope of the law as it is to be amended.
508 Even if the Minister cannot accept the wording of this proposed Clause, I hope that he will consider this point again. In Committee, I thought that he was impressed by the powerful arguments put forward——
§ Mr. Yates
Yes, and he seemed to appreciate how strongly we felt about those large numbers of people in prison.
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will reconsider the matter and ascertain whether there is some legal method by which, within present legislation, the Home Secretary can recommend the release of imprisoned men on the ground that we have suggested.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)
I was not a member of the Standing Committee which considered the Bill, but I should like to join hon. Members opposite in urging my hon. and learned Friend to look at this matter again. I say that with diffidence, because usually I would not support most of the arguments used by hon. Members opposite. However, on this occasion I submit to my hon. and learned Friend that there should be a good case for putting into the Measure some power to discharge committal orders.
I appreciate what my hon. and learned Friend may say about piecemeal legislation and about the time approaching for the introduction of a new Measure to extend and develop the jurisdiction of magistrates' courts, but, having regard to this Bill, I ask my hon. and learned Friend to say that this is a matter which he could reconsider and that he would be entitled to agree to the spirit behind the proposed Clause.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
I rise not to curtail the discussion, but to bring the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary back to the arguments adduced in Committee. We complained then that although we had tried to table Amendments based on the logic of the Bill, the hon. and learned Gentleman declined to discuss the principle and confined himself to discussing machinery. The hon. and learned Gentleman argued that it would create anomalies in relation to other Measures if he conceded our point; but 509 he is creating a very great anomaly within the Bill itself.
The Bill attempts to do two things. It seeks to ensure that women obtain the payments to which they are entitled under orders. It also seeks to ensure that men are kept out of prison. So long as the hon. and learned Gentleman insists upon leaving the Bill as it is now, there is no opportunity for persons who already have a committal order against them to comply with the principles of the Bill. The one thing to ensure that they cannot comply is their inability to work, and the best way to ensure that they are not able to work is to keep them in prison.
My hon. Friends are urging that the Government should be consistent. We have the greatest sympathy with the idea of keeping men out of prison in debt cases. Some of us may not favour all the provisions in the Bill, including those in respect of attachment orders, but we make sacrifices in the general interest.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said he hoped that certain courts would now pass suspended orders. That would meet the situation in some degree. However, the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot guarantee that from now on courts will make suspended orders. At the very moment that the House is deciding upon a completely new principle, the hon. and learned Gentleman is seeking to enshrine all the worst features of the old principle. The hon. and learned Gentleman avoids arguing the issue itself and seeks some shelter behind the argument that we should be inconsistent in doing what we propose, because if he once begins to argue the principle he concedes either that the Bill is wrong or that this aspect of it cannot possibly be consistent with the other parts of it.
I note the speech of the hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson), who seeks that it cannot possibly be consistent to argue that we should now take a completely new principle for England and Wales—the attachment of earnings—to keep men out of prison if we do not give those already committed or in process of committal an opportunity to benefit from the new conception.
I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will seek to convince the House that there is in some way a rooted objection to the principles of what we are putting forward, that they are anti-social 510 and do not meet the obligations which the Government must accept, or else not only accept the principle that we have adumbrated but tell the House that, irrespective of the point about lack of consistency with other types of debt dealt with under other legislation, he will ensure that when the Bill reaches another place he will cause to be inserted an Amendment to cover the point that we have raised.
We are extremely concerned about this aspect of the Bill. There are aspects of it upon which some of my hon. Friends may not agree, but on this aspect we are extremely concerned that the Government should take some action. Time and time again the hon. and learned Gentleman has said that he would like to do it, but he has refused to tell us why he does not do it. I feel that the House cannot possibly be satisfied to leave the Bill as it is. We hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will say why he will not accept our proposal or that he will ensure that when the Bill reaches another place appropriate words are inserted.
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
On Second Reading, the Home Secretary was at great pains to impress upon the House that one of the reasons for bringing forward the Bill at this time was to reduce the prison population. He declared, as did the hon. and learned Gentleman in Committee, that there are 5,000 committals a year. If the Home Secretary and the Joint Under-Secretary are anxious to reduce the prison population, our Clause provides a way to do it.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has argued that this would be a departure into a new principle; but the whole Bill is a departure into a new principle. We are seeking to deal with a certain kind of debt in a new way in England and Wales. That being the case, ought we not to start off the new principle under the best possible circumstances? Surely the best circumstances would be to give magistrates' courts power to do what is proposed in our Clause, to give the people concerned a chance which they have never previously had, that of having an attachment of income order made against them. If the Home Secretary and the Joint Under-Secretary are anxious to give the Bill a real start, surely one of the best ways would be to make it possible for people now in prison to be 511 released and have an attachment of income order made against them and for current committal orders to be reversed.
I understand that a secondary principle under the Bill is that women who are parted from their husbands shall be relieved from the distress which is caused to them in being unable to obtain money from their husbands for their maintenance. It would be far better for these women to obtain the income under an attachment order than to know that their husbands were in prison.
I should have thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman could find a way to do what we seek. He told us in Committee that he would look at the matter again, and I believe that he has done so. However, is he now telling us that the Department is so barren of ideas in spite of all its resources that it cannot find a means of doing it?
§ Mr. Renton
With great respect, I think that hon. Members are somewhat magnifying the problem. I will, first, consider the proportion of the problem and the nature of the committals which, it is suggested, magistrates' courts should have permission to discharge. I quite concede that there are 5,000 committals every year for failure to pay maintenance orders. The periods vary and the maximum is three months, imposed by magistrates' courts and six weeks by the High Court or county court.
The Amendment can be important only in so far as there are some men in prison at the time the Bill comes into operation—and it will be only a comparatively small number. If that is not so, then, as I feared and suspected, the operation of the new Clause would be very wide and would cut across a rule that magistrates' courts have never had the freedom, that the High Court has had, of discharging their own committal orders. As the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) mentioned in an interruption, magistrates' court defaulters can be discharged only by the Secretary of State.
We should be changing that rule for a particular purpose. At present, it is the fact that a defaulter can be released only on the instructions of the Secretary of State and it is the practice of the Secretary of State to give those instructions when, for example, a woman wants to 512 forgive the husband who has been committed for failing to make the maintenance payments to her.
§ Mr. Renton
That is a very telling intervention.
I ask hon. Members to bear in mind that they will be giving this general power to magistrates' courts, a power which they have never had before, for good or bad reasons, to discharge their own committal orders for maintenance order purposes and it will still leave unresolved the question of whether they should have that power when they have committed people for civil debts.
The Bill has a limited purpose. As I have said before, and may have to say several times again—and I expect that I shall have to do so and I will not stop doing so—the Bill takes the existing magistrates' court and High Court procedures as it finds them and superimposes upon them the new remedy of the attachment of earnings and it also makes the enforcement procedures of the High Court and magistrates' courts reciprocally enforceable after registration.
To that extent, I agree, the Bill does impinge on existing procedures. Hon. Members, on this and various other points, are inviting me to be highly selective about the extent to which we should change the various procedures of the High Court and magistrates' courts. For an especially strong and overwhelming reason, and especially for a very strong practical reason, such as a need to ensure the effectiveness of the Bill, I should be prepared to go with them in tinkering about with those procedures in that way, but here the practical problem does not arise, because the courts have known for a long time that the Bill is likely to be passed.
There will be an interval between the Royal Assent and the coming into operation of the Bill and it is almost inconceivable that a court will commit to prison a man against whom there could be a suspended committal order, instead of a committal order, when he is earning good money and when it is known that if he does not pay, in the course of a not very long time, an attachment of earnings order can be made against him under the Bill.
513 7.45 p.m.
Magistrates' courts are not entirely blind to what happens in the House. As I said earlier—and meant it quite sincerely and mean it sincerely now—I would willingly try to meet hon. Members on this point if I did not think that it would not be right to alter the existing procedure in magistrates' courts in that way. I have somewhat summarised my arguments in my reply and I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) will forgive me if I do not give a dissertation on the procedures which he invited me to give. We went into this matter fairly thoroughly in Committee and I am sorry that I cannot meet the Opposition on this issue.
§ Mr. Royle
There are precedents for magistrates' courts having power of revision. For instance, there is the suspension of driving licences in motoring offences. If the magistrates decide on a suspension of a man's driving licence the defendant, after a time, can return and ask for that decision to be revised; and very often the magistrates do revise it. I suggest that that is a vastly more important matter than that which we are now discussing.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
I am still in some doubt about the real reasons for the hon. and learned Gentleman's opposition to the new Clause and I cannot believe that the real reasons have been adduced. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that we were asking for a highly selective Amendment of the powers of magistrates' courts; but, of course, this is a highly selective Bill. We cannot possibly go beyond the powers of magistrates' courts in respect of maintenance orders, and the fact that the Government have not had time to make other amendments to the powers of magistrates' courts seems no reason why we should not bring them into line with the current trend of opinion in the House on the matter which we are now considering.
He is right in saying that the purpose of the Bill is not to assimilate the procedures of the High Court and county courts and magistrates' courts. The purposes are to ensure compliance with maintenance orders and to keep men out 514 of prison. As my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. D. Jones) reminded us, the Home Secretary told us over and over again on Second Reading that the real purpose of the Bill was to keep men out of prison. As I understand the present position, the High Court and the county courts can discharge any orders which they make, while a magistrates' court, on the other hand, cannot discharge a committal order until the man in question has served a period of imprisonment, or has discharged the amount which was owing under the maintenance order.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that magistrates' courts have never had any other power. That is true, but magistrates' courts have never had power to attach a man's income. When we are making radical changes in the powers of magistrates' courts to ensure compliance with maintenance orders and other orders of that kind, the hon. and learned Gentleman is being a little obstinate in refusing to go as far as we want him to go.
If we really want to keep men out of prison, let us consider the matter in this way: if these men were not in prison they might be earning good wages, which could be attached, to the benefit of their wives. So long as they are in prison the wives receive no benefit, and the maintenance orders are not being complied with. The wives will get nothing at all until the period of imprisonment has been completed. That seems to be a wholly absurd situation.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that we were magnifying the figures, but he will remember that in Committee he said that he had been very much impressed by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates). On that occasion my hon. Friend gave statistics concerning the number of committals every year. He said:The last figures submitted by the Prison Commissioners show that in the last yearly period…2,969 persons were in prison…Out of 5,000 committals a year, rather fewer than 3,000 persons go to prison for these offences. It is difficult to magnify the difficulties caused by those 3,000 men being in prison, when many of them could be working, earning good wages and complying with the maintenance orders applying to them.
515 In Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood also said:If…we are proposing legislation to avoid putting people in prison, why can we not look at the problem of those already there, who, in my judgment, would not be there if a better method existed?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 18th February, 1958; c. 338.]In spite of a number of misgivings, my hon. Friends have decided to adopt a new method by which the sending of large numbers of people to prison will be avoided. We are asking the hon. and learned Gentleman to be more accommodating and to do something about those men in prison, so that they can be released to earn wages and comply with the maintenance orders against them.
§ Mr. Renton
Has the hon. Member appreciated that, in the case of a man who is in prison, his arrears will be wiped out when he has served his sentence, and that there will be no arrears upon which to base an attachment of earnings order? There is the further point that if
§ we include the proposal in the Bill it will operate in cases of men already in prison at the time of its coming into force, and to that minor extent it will make the Bill retrospective in its effect upon earlier decisions made by magistrates.
§ Mr. Greenwood
My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has on the Order Paper an Amendment dealing with the hon. and learned Member's first point which, if accepted, will remove the difficulty.
As for the other point, we are not greatly impressed. If the House decides to accept the proposed new Clause the hon. and learned Member will have an opportunity of making any drafting or other Amendments when the Bill goes to another place. In those circumstances, we must press the matter to a Division.
§ Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 158. Noes 155.517
|Division No. 67.]||AYES||[7.52 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Grey, C. F.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Moody, A. S.|
|Balfour, A.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Benson, Sir George||Hastings, S,||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hayman, F. H.||Mort, D. L.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Herbison, Miss M.||Moss, R.|
|Boardman, H.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Moyle, A.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Holman, P.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Holt, A. F.||Oram, A. E.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orbach, M.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, T.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hunter, A. E.||Owen, W. J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs. S.)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Parker, J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Paton, John|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Peart, T. F.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Pentland, N.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Popplewell, E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Prise, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Probert, A. R.|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montogomery)||King, Dr. H. M.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lawson, G. M.||Randall, H. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Deer, G.||Lipton, Marcus||Reeves, J.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Logan, D. G.||Reid, William|
|Diamond, John||MacColl, J. E.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dodds, N.N.||MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McGhee, H. G.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McInnes, J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Ross, William|
|Fletcher, Eric||McLeavy, Frank||Royle, C.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Short, E. W.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Silverman Sydney (Nelson)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mason, Roy||Simmons C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mayhew, C. P.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Usborne, H. C.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wade, D. W.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Steele, T.||Watkins, T. E.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Weitzman, D.||Woodburn Rt. Hon. A.|
|Stones, W. (Consett)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Woof, R. E.|
|Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Yates, V. (Lady Wood)|
|Sylvester, G. O.||West, D. G.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Taylor, John (West Lothian)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wilkins, W. A.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Mathew, R.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Neave, Airey|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Atkins, H. E.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hay, John||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Barter, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Page, R. G.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Partridge, E.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Hicks-Beach, Maj, W. W.||Peel, W. J.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Biggs-Davison, J, A.||Hornby, R. P.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M, P.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bryan, P.||Hurd, A. R.||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Po[...]t, H. P.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Carr, Robert||Iremonger, T. L.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Redmayne, M.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Kaberry, D.||Ronton, D. L. M.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Keegan, D.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Kirk, P. M.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Deedes, W. F.||Leavey, J. A.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. A. E. H.||Sharpies, R. C.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Storey, S.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Teeling, W.|
|Elliot, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||McAdden, S. J.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Finlay, Graeme||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||McKibbin, Alan||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Gammans, Lady||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Webbe, Sir H.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Glover, D.||Maddan, Martin||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Gower, H. R.||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Markham, Major Sir Frank||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Mr. Brooman-White and|
|Green, A.||Mr. Hughes-Young.|
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. This is a new situation which has arisen in the House. For the first time since the last General Election the Government have been defeated on a vote of the House and, of course, on a vote on which the Government Whips were imposed. It
§ seems to me that it is perfectly clear now that the House——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but it would be more convenient if, before he moves any Motion which he may be proposing to 519 move, I put the Question, That the Clause be added to the Bill. The Question is——
§ Question put, That the Clause be added to the Bill:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 153, Noes 153.521
|Division No. 68.]||AYES||[8.6 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Hunter, A. E.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Randall, H. E.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Redhead, E, C.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Reeves, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Price, S.)||Reid, William|
|Benson, Sir George||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Blackburn, F.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ross, William|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Royle, C.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Short, E. W.|
|Boyd, T. C.||King, Dr. H. M.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Burke, W. A.||Lawson, G, M.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Logan, D. G.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||MacColl, J. E.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Chapman, W. D.||MacDermot, Niall||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Chelwynd, G. R.||McGhee, H. G.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Clunie, J.||McInnes, J.||Steele, T.|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||McLeavy, Frank||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Cove, W. G.||Macpherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Mason, Roy||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Deer, G.||Mikardo, Ian||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Mitchison, G. R.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Diamond, John||Moody, A. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wade, D. W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mort, D. L.||Weitzman, D.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Moss, R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Moyle, A.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Oram, A. E.||West, D. G.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Orbach, M.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Oswald, T.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Owen, W. J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grey, C. F.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hastings, S.||Parker, J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Paton, John||Woof, R. E.|
|Harbison, Miss M.||Peart, T. F.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Pentland, N.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Holman, P.||Popplewell, E.|
|Holt, A. F.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Probert, A. R.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bishop, F. P.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Brooman-White, R, C.||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bryan, P.||Dance, J. C. G.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Deedes, W. F.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Campbell, Sir David||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Carr, Robert||du Cann, E. D. L.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Channon, Sir Henry||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Baldwin, A, E.||Chichester-Clark, R.||Duncan, Sir James|
|Barter, John||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Eden, J, B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bingham, R. M.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Gammans, Lady||Keegan, D.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Kirk, P. M.||Pot, H. P.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Leavey, J. A.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Glover, D.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Green, A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Redmayne, M.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McAdden, S. J.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||McKibbin, Alan||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Hay, John||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Maddan, Martin||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Storey, S.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hornby, R. P.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Teeling, W.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Mathew, R.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mawby, R. L.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)||Neave, Airey||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Oakshott, H. D.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Page, R. G.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Partridge, E.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Johnson, Erie (Blackley)||Peel, W. J.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Pike, Miss Mervyn||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kaberry, D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Mr. Edward Wakefield and|
§ The numbers being equal—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
In those circumstances, it is my duty to give a casting vote "No" so as to preserve the status quo.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
In view of the fact that the Government have been defeated once and saved only by your casting vote, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on the second occasion, would it now be in order, and, if so, would you permit me, to move, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned"?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I beg to move, That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned.
I should like to know whether the Government agree to the Motion. In view of their parlous position they may prefer to adjourn the debate in order to try to collect some supporters for their Bill. Alternatively, if they prefer to abandon the Bill altogether we shall understand the decision. There is one other course. I do not know whether the Patronage Secretary can offer us any 522 enlightenment upon it. The third course open to the Government is to resign altogether.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour and National Service (Mr. Iain Macleod)
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
On a point of order. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the Government have been defeated. On the second Division the voting was equal, and the Chair, in accordance with tradition, gave a vote to maintain the status quo. As the Government have been defeated, is it good enough for the Minister of Labour to intervene?
§ Mr. Morrison
May I ask whether—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—in the circumstances, either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House should not be sent for?
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
What I intended to do, out of courtesy to the House and because I think I am the senior Minister present on the Treasury Bench—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—was to reply to the points made by the Leader of the Opposition. I need not waste any time on his third choice; we reject it, of course. The position about the consideration of the Bill now before the House is that, after a fairly close-run race, the status quo is preserved. In that case, we suggest to the House that we continue with the consideration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It will be for the House to decide. We are on a Motion, and I am putting the point of view of the Government. We wish to continue with the consideration of the Bill, and therefore we would oppose the Motion that the Leader of the Opposition has moved.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
We are on a Motion. The reply of the Minister of Labour to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is in no way adequate. The truth is that the Government have been defeated, and the very least the Minister of Labour could have promised was that a statement would be made by the Prime Minister tomorrow about the Government's intentions and the future of the Bill. It is not in accordance with the traditions of the House of Commons that a defeat of the Government should be treated in this light manner. In any case, the Minister of Labour is not a particular authority on the Bill.
We have in charge a Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. [Interruption.] It is no good Government supporters becoming troublesome because they have been defeated. We have a Joint Under-Secretary who is not particularly bright or competent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am not withdrawing. It is true. I used to watch him when he was up there on the back benches; how he ever got down on to the Front Bench I do not know—[An HON. MEMBER: "How did the right hon. Member get up there?"] That is a perfectly fair comeback and I can enjoy the joke as well as other people. It is not good enough for this matter to be dealt with 524 by the Minister of Labour. I ask the Chief Whip to ask the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House to come down here and deal with a situation which, from the point of view of the Government and the point of view of the House, is a grave one and demands the presence of a responsible, not an irresponsible, Minister.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon. South) rose——
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
On a point of order. Would you not direct, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the Chief Whip be given a glass of water?
Major W. Hicks Beach (Cheltenham)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, could not the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) be given a glass of milk?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
As one of the hon. Members who was not present in the House when these proceedings started, I feel as well qualified as any hon. Member opposite to discuss the matter. In the last Division the two sides of the House tied with 153 votes each. That being so. it is perfectly plain that a very large number of Opposition hon. Members were also absent. I think there was a fall of no less than 32 votes between the two Divisions. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] At all events, there was certainly a fall. It is plain that hon. Members opposite were just as surprised as anyone at the outcome of the Division.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
Hon. Members are concerned with and are discussing other very important matters. Not unnaturally, some of them may have been elsewhere considering more important measures than this Bill. If I may say so, I think the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was mistaken in criticising the Minister of Labour for replying to the Leader of 525 the Opposition because, when I look at the Bill, I find that the name of my right hon. Friend is the second name on the back of the Bill. It seems that there could be no more suitable right hon. Member to reply than my right hon. Friend.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) asks, "What about the Motion?" The Motion, I believe, is known as a dilatory Motion. We are not now discussing the Bill, but whether or not we should continue discussion of the Bill. On such a question I do not think it lies well in the mouths of hon. Members opposite to suggest that I am delaying proceedings. It seemed perfectly obvious that when the Leader of the Opposition moved this Motion it was his intention to delay proceedings, so, for once in a way, I am, so to speak, supporting the purpose which the right hon. Member seems to have started.
§ Mr. Maurice Orbach (Willesden, East)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. As the hon. Member has just stated that his purpose in making his speech is to delay the proceedings of the House, he must definitely be out of order.
§ Mr. Orbach
Further to that point of order. The hon. Member stated it quite clearly in the last minute before he sat down.
Major Hicks Beach
Is it in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for an hon. Member to whom you have definitely given a Ruling to rise and criticise your Ruling?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not understand that the hon. Member did criticise my Ruling. I understood he was giving me some information. I do not think the hon. Member was out of order.
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am a little obscure—[Laughter.] If I may say so, I thought that remark would get a good laugh 526 from the other side of the House, but I am not quite clear in my mind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] As I was saying——
§ Mr. Williams
I have a point of order all right, and I am just coming to it. I was saying that I am not quite clear in my mind what is now to happen in view of the fact that there has been a draw. Do we have another Division?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I was not suggesting that my motive was in any way to delay proceedings. The point which I was making was that it is very difficult to speak on a dilatory Motion without saying something about being dilatory. If I am supporting the Leader of the Opposition in being dilatory, it is unlikely that I shall support him on any other occasion.
On the merits of the Motion, as far as there are any, it is fair to point out that the Government have replied through the obvious Minister who has supported the Bill. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South referred to the defeat of the Government. As a rule, when we have a victory—and I imagine that he suggests that the Opposition have had a victory—there is something to show for it, but on this occasion there is absolutely nothing to show for it. The result of what has occurred is precisely what the Government intended. If the result of everything which the right hon. Gentleman did was precisely as he intended, I should have even greater respect for him than I have at present.
This is in no conceivable sense of the word a Government defeat. On the contrary, it shows how accurately the Government are able to calculate these matters. We are confronted with a situation in which the Opposition, having been foiled in an attempt to inflict a defeat on the Government, are attempting to hold up a Measure which I believe has their general approval. I will not detain the House any longer, but I feel sure that there are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who wish to give their attention to this important Motion.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I feel that in this situation all of us should have some regard for the propriety of decent behaviour in the House. It seems to me intolerable that the Government have not only suffered a most humiliating defeat but are now attempting to thwart the obvious and recognised course of procedure which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has proposed, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned." Such an adjournment would enable us to have an authoritative statement from the Treasury Bench about the Government's intentions.
If we had an assurance from the Chief Whip that either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House is on his way here—and if that is the case, then either he or the Minister of Labour should say so—there might be some purpose in our continuing our discussion until we know what are the Prime Minister's intentions, but it is not treating the House with respect for the Government, having suffered this humiliating defeat, to get the Minister of Labour to invite the House to continue discussion of the Bill without hon. Members knowing what the Government's intentions are.
I feel some sympathy with the Minister of Labour, because obviously he does not know what the Government's intentions are, and consequently he cannot announce them. He is in a humiliating position because he cannot tell us whether the Government will accept this defeat and respect the wishes of the House or whether they will try to change the decision. It is intolerable that we should be asked to continue with the Bill not knowing whether the Government will respect the wishes of the House or will resign or what other course they will take. It does not make sense that, having reached a decision by a majority to add a new Clause to the Bill, the House should be invited to give further discussion to the Bill before we know the Government's intentions.
There are several precedents for this. The Government have various alternatives open to them. They are in the undignified position of not only having been humiliated in the Division Lobbies but of having no responsible spokesman on the Treasury Bench who can tell us 528 what is the Cabinet's decision. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I apologise. I did not see that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General was here. If the position is that the learned Attorney-General is now to give the House the benefit of his advice and tell us what the Government propose to do, I am sure that we shall all welcome it, though do not say that we shall accept what he says. In view of the fact that the Attorney-General, on a number of occasions, has differed from his colleagues on important matters, we should not necessarily accept his opinion as being any guide as to the Government's intention.
I am quite sure that the traditions of this House are such that, when there has been a Government defeat on an important Bill, in these circumstances it is the duty of either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House to make a statement and to tell us what the Government's intentions are. As both those right hon. Gentlemen are absent, it is the duty of the Chief Whip or the Minister of Labour or the Attorney-General to tell us whether there is some good reason for the absence of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House, whether their absence is temporary and likely to be of long duration, when they are expected back, and how long the House is to be asked to wait before being informed what the Government intend to do.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
I was very moved when listening to the tones of indignation of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) until I noticed that he had to have a copy of the Bill passed to him in order that he should realise which Bill it was that we had previously been discussing.
Having listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who moved this Motion, I should have thought that every hon. Member would have been delighted now and again to find that there seemed to have been some slight electoral reverse and some doubt about who had won which Division on some occasions when we go through the Lobbies. I should have thought that there is no reason to be alarmed, and indeed I am surprised to hear that any hon. Member is upset or disturbed because, in fact, something untoward has 529 happened in the voting arrangements which are made by hon. Members on either side. It seems to me that this Bill, which we are now asked not to discuss any further this evening, is a Measure which had the general support of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Is it not a fact that the hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) spoke in favour of this new Clause and in favour of the point of view of this side of the House, and that the Government were defeated? The hon. Gentleman is now a renegade.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) must realise that I, unlike hon. Members opposite, am moved by oratory, and though I was moved by the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, and I did in terms of due modesty try to persuade my hon. and learned Friend to accept the new Clause, the explanation which he offered thoroughly satisfied me. Therefore, I went into the appropriate Lobby. I can only suggest that it would be a great misfortune if this Motion, which has been put forward so seriously by the Leader of the Opposition, were carried, and I would therefore respectfully submit that we should go on with the discussion of the Bill.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
Unlike all the previous speakers on this Motion, I have been present throughout the whole of the proceedings and, for the first time since I have been in this House, when the hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson), who, by a freak of the constitution is supposed to represent me, was speaking, I found him for once actually representing my views. If oratory is what he calls what he heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State, I am bound to say that his own education was seriously neglected.
The new Clause was discussed quite calmly by a number of hon. Members on this side. We had the support of the hon. Member for Epsom who spoke—with a conviction that I have no doubt many of the people he has defended would have regarded as being even more powerful if it had been displayed in the courts—in favour of what we had said. The hon. and learned Gentleman then made three or four replies, as he is entitled 530 to on the Report stage of a Bill. On each occasion, the House became more hostile to him.
Then we proceeded to a Division. The declaration of the result of the Division was held up for at least three minutes while the Government Whips fetched out of the Lobby the cards on which the votes are recorded, and everybody who was here saw the two Whips and the two Clerks—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—totting up the votes, and counting them individually.
It is quite clear that the Chief Whip was caught napping——
§ Mr. Ede
No, I think that he is playing pontoon now.
With some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I have been in the House on previous occasions when Governments have been defeated. When the Leader of the Opposition has moved a Motion such as that moved tonight, I have never known it to be resisted, except on one occasion when, in similar circumstances, the Chief Whip was caught napping by my friend the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, on a Motion to secure equal pay—or rather, on a Motion to go into Committee of Supply on the Civil Estimates.
This was not a decision that was rushed by the Opposition. Nobody can say that this was a snap vote. We had enough people here to beat the Government—that is all there is in it. Where the Government supporters were when the Division was taken is not for me to say, although I can guess where some of them were——
§ Mr. Ede
My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) can be assured of this; that in spite of any promise that may have been given, there will be a Supplementary Estimate for the services to the House to pay for the telephone calls made since the Government defeat was announced. Hon. Members are coming in from the east and from the west—mainly from the west. They are coming in from the north and the south, and anywhere else where it is suspected they may be—in the heavens above—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—or else, and 531 more likely, in a place under the earth, to make quite sure that, when this Motion is put, if it is, and no responsible Member of the Government has turned up in the meantime, it will be defeated. I hope that either the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House will be here, because I cannot think that either of them, with prewar experience of the House and their knowledge of its traditions and customs, will do other than accept the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend.
Further, let the Government take warning from what has happened. It is well known that they find some reluctance on the part of their honourable supporters in going into the Lobby in their support on certain occasions. I cannot imagine why they should have had any doubt on this occasion for, after all, this is a Bill which, so far as I know, is one of the apples of the eye of the Home Secretary. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] The Under-Secretary did his best. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is here now. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Start all over again."] No, I shall not break the rule about tedious repetition; all repetition is tedious.
§ Mr. Ede
We have had enough of it from the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth). We are sorry that the right hon. Gentleman's slumbers, or his recreation, should have been disturbed, but really he has been very badly let down by his Under-Secretary of State this evening on a quite simple new Clause which was supported by voice by several Members from this side of the House and by his hon. Friend the Member for Epsom on his own side of the House.
§ Mr. Ede
No, but his speech was far more powerful than anything he could have done by vote. It was the one thing which convinced me that I was right.
After the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State had made three or four efforts to reply to the case which was put up, the House proceeded to a Division. When the Tellers for the "Ayes" came to the Table, that is to 532 say, those in favour of the new Clause[Laughter.]—I should not have thought that there was anything very funny in that—they came to the Table just a few seconds ahead of the Tellers for the "Noes."
When the four Tellers got together, we saw something which I do not think has ever occurred in the history of the House before. The four Tellers had a little conversation and then the two Government Tellers went and checked the votes which had been recorded in the "Noes" Lobby. We saw it being done immediately behind the Chair.
As one of my hon. Friends says, the Government Chief Whip was there too. After all, he wanted to be quite sure that all the votes which could be got were there. We saw them counting them one by one, applying a finger to each one, to see whether it was really a mark or not, I suppose. In the end, the Government were declared defeated by a majority of three. Mr. Deputy-Speaker then put the Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill." On that Question, there was a further Division and the numbers were equal. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in accordance with tradition, then gave his vote in favour of maintaining the status quo and said that the Clause would not be added to the Bill.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition then moved, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned." I am sure that the Leader of the House will be surprised to learn that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour indicated that that Motion should be resisted. There was no snap Division. No one, not even the Chief Whip in the highest flight of his imagination, could urge that. After all, the Chief Whip had plenty of people about, although there were not enough to keep the debate on the new Clause going while he made the telephone bells ring.
I suggest to the Leader of the House that it is in accordance with the tradition of the House, when such an event has occurred, that the Motion, "That further consideration of the Bill be now adjourned," should be accepted by the Government. I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman has to consider what he will do as a result of the Divisions tonight he will feel that the arguments put forward were so 533 cogent that he will ensure that the first vote of the House tonight is given its effect when the Bill is considered in another place.
I think that if he proposes to leave the fate of the rest of the Bill in the hands of the Joint Under-Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman should have conversation with his hon. and learned Friend about the way in which a response should be made to the evident feeling of the House as it has been expressed on both sides. I make that appeal to the right hon. Gentleman with confidence. There was a time when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of which he was the head. No more happy time have I ever had in Parliament than when I was working with the right hon. Gentleman. [Interruption.] It is only fair that I should say that while I am making this appeal. Very few of the people who are interrupting were present during that period.
I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to observe the ordinary tradition of the House and to say that further consideration of the Bill should not be proceeded with this evening, so that he will have time in which to learn what happened and what was said. I am sure, if we then come back to the consideration of the Bill, we shall be able to carry on in a way that will not be to the detriment either of the Bill or of the traditions of the House.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Grimston (Westbury)
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is a very old Member of this House. If I may say so, he is a House of Commons man. I am, therefore, rather sad that he should lay down what he has done as a tradition of this House. I will tell him why. I think that the public are inclined to view the House today as merely a rubber stamp for what is decided by the Whips or by the Government. That being so, I believe that in the public estimation the debates in this House are going down all the time and from a House of Commons point of view that is a had and, in some ways, a distressing thing.
I admit freely that I have not been here because I have been otherwise engaged in this building. What we have been discussing, however, is a Bill which, although important to a certain number of people, cannot be described as a major 534 Government Measure, and it is being discussed on the Report stage. According to the right hon. Gentleman the House of Commons has sunk so low that if it fails to act as a rubber stamp, and the Government are thereby defeated on a new Clause during the Report stage of a comparatively unimportant Bill, it is a great occasion.
That is a denigration of the House of Commons which distresses me, namely, that the House of Commons has reached the stage where the Government cannot be defeated on a comparatively minor matter without the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House being expected to come here, and the heavens almost falling down. Noting this spectacle tonight the public can only be reinforced in their opinion that debates, here, even upon the Report stage of a comparatively minor Bill, mean nothing in this House of Commons, and, as a House of Commons man, it leaves me rather sad.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. V. Yates
I am astonished that the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston), who could not be present during our discussion, should have referred to the Clause under consideration as being a minor matter. The Home Secretary knows how deeply people were feeling about the Bill, which has been very controversial. The Clause under consideration asked the Home Secretary to agree to release from prison a large number of prisoners who would not have been there had this Bill been on the Statute Book.
This is a vital matter, and to my complete surprise the Home Secretary was not present during the proceedings. For that reason, when the Question for the Second Reading of the Clause was proposed, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I asked the Joint Under-Secretary whether the Home Secretary could not be asked to exercise his power to agree to the release of those prisoners. I submit to the House that when we are discussing a vital matter——
§ Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend. East)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in order for us now to discuss something which, I understand, according to the argument of the Opposition, has already been settled by a vote?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is in order to make references to the Clause, which was the subject out of which this debate arose.
§ Mr. Yates
I am pointing out the vital principle of the Bill, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We had been discussing a Clause on which the Government were defeated, and the Home Secretary was not present. It is untenable that we should be discussing so important a proposal without the Home Secretary being here.
The hon. Member for Westbury said that this was a minor matter, that there was nothing major about it. It is a matter of whether or not we should release from prison men who would not be in prison if——
§ Sir R. Grimston
I said that it was a matter of considerable importance to a number of people, but that it was not a major Government Bill.
§ Mr. Yates
That was not the hon. Gentleman's slant as I understood it. However, let us look at it from that point of view.
What is a major Government Measure? When all is said and done, at present we have about 3,000 men in prison and we are trying, with the aid of the provisions of the Bill, to have them released from prison and to prevent other persons being sent to prison. Whether or not we do justice to those who have been sent to prison and now find this legislation being passed, is not a minor matter.
The Home Secretary knows very well that it has not been easy to get the House to accept the Bill. All credit is due to the hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson), who on Report exercised his right to suggest that the Government might consider the Opposition's proposal. The hon. Gentleman spoke after I did, and I should like to think that I helped to persuade him.
I am seeking to put a case to the Government Front Bench, but the Minister of Labour and National Service is very busy talking to the Home Secretary. The Minister of Labour knows nothing about this matter and was unable to tell the House whether the Government would reconsider it in the light of the opinion which has been expressed by the House. Why should not the Home Secretary reconsider it?
The House should adjourn to enable the Government to decide what to do about the Opposition's Clause. The proceedings on the Bill should not be 536 continued until the Government have had a chance to consider the matter. It is fantastic that we should continue to discuss the Bill now, after what has happened. In view of the importance and urgency of the matter and its human aspects, I ask the Home Secretary to agree to an adjournment and to reconsider the matter so that the House can later deal with it in a new atmosphere.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I can well understand the Opposition's elation at finding themselves in a majority in a Division—a snap Division. [Interruption.] In spite of what the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said——
§ Mr. McAdden
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in order for hon. Members opposite to say, "That is a lie"?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
I did not hear an hon. Member say that, but it would not be in order.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) is guilty of a gross inaccuracy. He cannot in any way substantiate his statement that it was a snap Division. We had a long debate before the Division was taken, but the hon. Gentleman was not present.
§ Mr. McAdden
On a point of order. May we have an answer to the point of order put by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood), or was it not a point of order?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I thought that the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) was explaining the situation.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I can well understand the elation of hon. Members opposite that, for the first time since 1951, or before that, the Opposition have achieved what we achieved on a number of occasions—a defeat of the Government on a minor issue.
537 I was about to deal with the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) who said that this was not a snap Division. It had all the semblance of being one, even if was not one. I have been in the House all day, from early morning, and I have listened to the debate and discussed the Bill with hon. Members opposite and I have asked them whether it was a controversial Measure. There was nothing controversial in any of the Clauses. It was true that a new Clause was introduced——
§ Mr. V. Yates
The hon. Gentleman has said that he was present during all the debate. In that case, I wonder why he asked me what I said when I spoke.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I was present when the hon. Member spoke, but, as usual, I could not understand what he was talking about.
Quite seriously, I can well understand the elation of hon. Members opposite in having defeated the Government on a Division—I will withdraw the expression snap Division"—which had all the semblance of being a snap Division. On second thoughts, I wonder whether it was a snap Division, because hon. Members Opposite could muster only half their party so that it was not a very successful snap Division. I concede that we have been defeated and that our Whips may have been caught napping.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who is a very old friend of mine as well as being one of the senior Members of the House, and the right hon. Member for South Shields and I have all been in the House long enough to have seen a number of incidents similar to this—only in those cases they were responsible for the conduct of business. I can remember when the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South was Leader of the House and when he had to get up when the Government were defeated, not once, but on more than one occasion, to say what the present Leader of the House will probably have to say, that Her Majesty's Government's 538 business must go on and that they intend to carry the Bill through. That is what I hope the Leader of the House will say today and that is what the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South and the right hon. Member for South Shields said on more than one occasion.
I admit that we have been caught napping.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I had to be in a Committee room upstairs.
The fact remains that we had under discussion a Bill of which I examined every Clause and in which I could find nothing controversial. The Bill has reached its Report stage without controversy and, until a new. Clause was introduced, was about to go through without Division. It is quite obvious that we did not expect the Clause to be read a Second time. Whether or not it can be called a snap Division, I never had any notice of the Clause whatever. When a proposed new Clause is introduced in connection with a Bill which has had a Second Reading and has reached the Report stage, we should have notice of it.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
I am sorry repeatedly to have to correct the hon. Member. The Clause was put on the Amendment Paper last Thursday.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
The fact remains that it is a proposed new Clause. It is nothing to do with the Bill. The Bill is non-controversial, and it is not surprising that hon. Members on this side, and quite a number of hon. Members opposite, were caught unawares and were not present when the Second Reading of the Clause was moved.
It is also obvious that some consideration should be given to such a Clause. The obvious thing for the Government to do is to ask that further consideration should be given to it in another place. I have seen that course adopted dozens of times, and the Opposition ought to be satisfied if that procedure is adopted now. The best procedure would be for my right hon. Friend to say, "We will consider the Clause in another place," and I hope that that procedure will be proposed by him.
I see no reason why the House should adjourn. The Bill has reached its 539 Report stage, and it is a non-controversial Measure, apart from the Clause with which we are concerned, which nobody knows very much about. We should go on with the debate, allowing arguments to be put by hon. Members on both sides. There is no reason for adjourning the House.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
Although one might not suppose so from some of the speeches of hon. Members opposite, this is an important matter, and the proposed new Clause is an important Clause. It was certainly not sprung upon the House. We discussed it in Committee three weeks ago, and it was tabled as an Amendment for the Report stage last Thursday.
I hope that we shall be able to proceed with our consideration of the Bill without any undue delay. I suppose that by this time the Home Secretary has been able to acquaint himself with what has been happening during his absence. I am certain that if he had been here at the time he would have realised immediately that the gracious and courteous thing to do would be to accept the decision reached upon the first Division, even if, at a later stage, it was necessary to take steps in another place. The Government have treated the House with some discourtesy in this matter.
We are delighted to have the Leader of the House with us. We assume that that means that he has now finished his port and over-ripe pheasant and that when he finds it possible to get up and speak it will mean that the Patronage Secretary has completed his telephoning and that enough of the laggards will have been brought in to give the Government a larger majority in the Division Lobby. I hope that it will be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to tap the Prime Minister's telephone and ensure that he, too, is present for our deliberations.
The Bill was the Home Secretary's Bill. The hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston), dismissed it as a minor matter, saying that it was not a major Government Bill. But if the hon. Member for Westbury had been here when the Home Secretary moved the Second Reading, he would have realised that it was one of the most important 540 Measures which has been before the House for many years. It was a major matter of penal reform, and if the hon. Gentleman had heard the throb in the Home Secretary's voice on that occasion he would have been as deeply moved as were hon. Members on this side of the House.
The Bill is one which was presented by the Home Secretary, and the right hon. Gentleman was supported by the Minister of Labour and National Service, the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, the Attorney-General and by the hon. and learned Gentleman who is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Clearly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has a good alibi for being absent from the House during the discussions on this Bill, but we had no indication that the Home Secretary would not be present.
The Minister of Labour was not present during the discussions on the new Clause and I have not seen the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance all evening. The Attorney-General did pay us a fleeting visit which, although it may have been adequate, could hardly have been regarded as discharging his responsibilities to Her Majesty's Government.
During the debate on the new Clause there were not nearly so many hon. Members opposite present as there are now. This, of course, is a Government Bill. The only hon. Gentleman opposite who took part in our discussions was the hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson), who said that he had been persuaded by the oratory of the Joint Under-Secretary to change his mind and support the Government in the Division Lobby. All of us remember the way in which the hon. Member for Epsom made passionate speeches against the death penalty during the discussions on the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), and at a later stage we had the embarrassing experience of listening to the hon. Gentleman telling us why he had changed his mind.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
I withdraw the "right hon." and stick to "hon."
If the hon. Gentleman would care to look at the record, he will see that I did not manage to speak on the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). In fact, I spoke on the Bill which became law. Before the hon. Gentleman makes such witty remarks I think that he should check his facts.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman could have been listening to what I said. I said that the hon. Gentleman supported the Measure introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne——
§ Mr. Greenwood
In that case, I withdraw. But I remember very well that when the Homicide Bill was under discussion the hon. Gentleman told us how, originally, he had been opposed to capital punishment, but was then prepared to accept the proposals——
§ Mr. Rawlinson
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but he is totally wrong. If he would care to check his facts and his references, he will see that I said I found myself when I spoke in that debate—having had some considerable experience of the matter—in some difficulty about making up my mind on it, for what I believed to be very good and sincere reasons. I came to a conclusion and I gave my reasons to the House. The hon. Gentleman has no right whatever to attribute ideas or comments to me which I never had or never made.
§ Mr. Greenwood
If I have been unjust to the hon. Member, I withdraw and apologise to him. I thought that I was paying a tribute to his flexibility of approach to these matters by pointing out that on the previous occasion he had changed his mind.
But if the hon. Gentleman was rigid on that occasion, and has been persuaded now by the oratory of the Joint Under-Secretary, it is clear that it is only the hon. and learned. Gentleman's oratory that has persuaded him; it certainly could not have been the reasons adduced by the Joint Under-Secretary, any more than it was possible to accept those reasons when 542 the Joint Under-Secretary brought them forward during the Committee stage discussions on the Bill.
The Bill is highly technical, difficult to discuss and to understand. We have heard only one Government supporter speak tonight on the merits of the new Clause and he was extremely critical of it. In the Committee we had the assistance of only four back benchers on the Government side and of them one spoke and voted against his own party. Therefore, this is a Bill about which there is a considerable clash of opinion and upon which we should have liked to have heard more from Government supporters. If we proceed with this highly technical Bill in the atmosphere which has been created it will be impossible to recapture that judicial calm in which such an important Government Measure as this should be debated, although it is not important from the party political point of view.
Tonight, we have seen another manifestation of the malaise which has affected the Government and the Conservative Party. It is an unprecedented situation that the Government should have failed to account for at least 61 of their members, and were unable to bring them into the Division Lobby, and without those hon. Members having made some arrangement for pairing with my hon. Friends on this side of the House. It shows a tremendous diminution of loyalty of Government supporters towards their Government. For a long time the Government have been discredited. It is clear that their party is now demoralised. I believe that the public knows it and that is why the Tory vote is slumping. I am sure that the electorate at Kelvin-grove tomorrow will know what to make of the conduct of the Government tonight.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)
If we look at the remarks of the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) against the background of the Bill we can easily discount the rather poor attempt at politics in which he has been indulging. It is, of course, customary on these occasions to try to capitalise an incident to the maximum of its potential capacity, but we should remember that we are considering tonight a Bill which, up to now. 543 I understood that Opposition Members regarded as a Measure of social reform. When they choose to indulge on this occasion in purely party-political tactics the country will have some idea what to think of it.
I address myself to the situation as I find it, which is that a Division called on a proposed new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Rossendale and his hon. Friends. It was discussed at length in Standing Committee, and I am fully familiar with the contents of it. The discussion can be referred to in col. 340 of the Standing Committee Report. When the matter was considered an undertaking was given—that is why I mentioned the column number—that these matters would be considered. I was fully aware of this situation.
Some play was made of the fact that I myself was not present at the debate. I was present up to about twenty minutes past seven, and then I went to have a meal, which I believe is still a normal perquisite of Cabinet Ministers. I understand that it is the fashion today that the burdens on Ministers should be in some way alleviated. I hope that this burden can be alleviated in so far as to permit them entirely to leave a Joint Under-Secretary or two to carry a normal Clause through Parliament.
The hon. Member referred to my eating ripe pheasant and drinking port. That is an old joke which was much favoured by the Daily Mirror at one time. I should like to tell the House quite frankly what I was doing this evening. I have decided that I should tell the House because the more frankness we have in public affairs the better off we shall be. I decided to accept an invitation from the London School of Economics, of which I am a Governor, to have a meal there at half-past seven and to return immediately after the meal to the debate here. I said that a debate was going on upon a Bill in which I was much interested. On arrival at the London School of Economics I informed them of this.
Before leaving for my short interval, I met the Leader of the Opposition and informed him where I was going. He seemed to think that that was a very respectable venue. Any credentials the right hon. Member has in public life are 544 derived from institutions of that sort. If the Leader of the House is temporarily in such respectable society that must be a source of great satisfaction to him and his friends. On arrival there, we had a short discussion about the Truck Acts. We considered in the short interval before having a little to eat whether this Bill in any way resembles the Truck Acts. In so far as I could understand the first learned professor with whom I talked, it appeared that the Bill was not on all fours with the Truck Acts. Therefore, I think there is all the more reason why we should continue with the Bill and make progress.
The Question before the House is, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned." That is why I considered that I ought to mention the merits of the Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Rossendale. I will not go into it in detail because the arguments about the Clause were put absolutely clearly by the Joint Under-Secretary. I entirely support every word my hon. and learned Friend said this evening. [HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Gentleman was not here."] I have had a full account of what he said. I entirely endorse the efficient way in which he conducted the debate in Committee upstairs, aided by my hon. Friend the other Joint Under-Secretary. That being the position, let us examine the Clause. The Clause says:Notwithstanding anything in any other enactment, a magistrates' court may at any time discharge an order which it has made for the committal of any person to prison for failure to comply with a maintenance order.There may be cases where that would be useful and important. At present such a man can be released only on the instructions of the Secretary of State. It is the practice to give the necessary instructions if it is established that his wife wants it and the court agrees. What hon. Members wanted was to make that part of the statute law. We have considered this—
§ Mr. J. Paton
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to have to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman after such a long interval before we got him on his feet, but is it in order, in replying to a Motion for the adjournment of the consideration of the Bill, for the right hon. Gentleman to traverse arguments on the Clause, which was defeated by vote?
§ Mr. Speaker
Yes, I think that is relevant to the question of whether the House should adjourn consideration of the Bill. The point on which the question was raised of whether the House should adjourn its discussion or not was that this Clause, apparently, met with very varied fortunes in the Division Lobby. I think the Minister is entitled to show that, in fact, this is a matter that can be discussed and finished with.
§ Mr. Paton
Further to that point of order. Is it not a fact, Mr. Speaker, that the Home Secretary is traversing arguments used in the debate and that there could be no opportunity for us on the Opposition side to discuss what he is now introducing? Is it not, therefore, quite unfair that we should have what, in effect, are after-thoughts of the right hon. Gentleman upon a Clause which I said was defeated, but which I meant was carried against the Government? Surely that is quite out of order on the Question now before the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think it is out of order. The right hon. Gentleman who was addressing the House is the hon. Member in charge of the Bill, in technical language. He is arguing why, on this score, consideration should not be adjourned. I have not heard him develop his argument yet. If I heard more of it I should be able to deal with it.
§ Mr. V. Yates
Further to that point of order. I raised this question with your predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Speaker. The Home Secretary has been supplied with reports of the speeches made by his hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State, but, apparently, he has not been supplied with reports of the speeches made from this side of the House. If he is to restate the Government's case, shall we be in order subsequently in discussing the Clause? We are asking that the House should adjourn.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am not as sure as the hon. Member seems to be of what the Leader of the House intends to say. I think the House should listen a bit more to what he intends to say.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
On a point of order. You said, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman addressing the House was the Minister in charge of the Bill. 546 That is not so. He was not in charge of the Bill at that time. I suggest, with great respect to you, that he has returned to address the House not as the Minister in charge of the Bill but as Leader of the House dealing with an Adjournment Motion. It is my submission that he is traversing the whole ground on which the Joint Under-Secretary of State replied about five times from the Box. The Joint Under-Secretary of State failed to convince the House and the Government were defeated.
I respectfully suggest that we are concerned with an Adjournment Motion moved, in effect, so that the Government should take notice of the fact that they have been rebuked by the Legislature. We have proposed that the House should adjourn because of the defeat. What is before the House is not this relatively unimportant Clause—relatively unimportant in this context—but a rebuke to the Government. I submit that in replying to the debate the right hon. Gentleman is patently out of order.
§ Mr. Speaker
I take a different view. The Question which is before the House is not, "That this House do now adjourn." It is, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned." As I understood, the right hon. Gentleman was proceeding to show why it should not be adjourned, and in a matter of that sort I think he is entitled to say what he can about the question which is disturbing the House.
§ Mr. McAdden
On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that before you returned to the Chair I raised this point of order in respect of a speech made by the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates), who was advancing arguments upon the Question which seemed to me to be relevant to the new Clause on which a vote had been taken by the House. Your predecessor took the view that it was right and proper upon the Question, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned," to consider all aspects of the matter, particularly those affected by the vote which had been taken.
§ Mr. Speaker
On these occasions, which happen infrequently in the House, discussion is apt to range over a wide variety of topics. The by-election at 547 Kelvingrove was mentioned in one speech and I cannot see what that has to do directly with maintenance orders. I must ask the House to allow me a little discretion in this matter to hear the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
Further to that point of order. Do I take it, Mr. Speaker, that you propose to allow the right hon. Gentleman to discuss the new Clause on which the Government have been defeated on the basis that he is entitled to go all over the Bill again because the Adjournment of the House has been moved?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am making no such sweeping pronouncement. I am merely saying that the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to argue against the Question, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned," and that I should like to hear his arguments.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I have certainly profited by these interventions. My reference to the Clause was solely out of courtesy. I thought that before hon. Members decided on their attitude to the Question they would like some idea of what the Government thought about the Clause. The Clause is not to be added to the Bill. A casting vote has been given to the effect that it shall not be added to the Bill. I thought that hon. Members might like to hear the attitude of the Government on this Clause. If hon. Members do not wish to hear that, or if they think it is out of order, I will restrict my remarks to the absolute minimum and add only one sentence on the subject of this Clause.
If a magistrates' court were to have the power to discharge the committal of a maintenance order defaulter, it must have the power to discharge the committal of a civil debtor. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] We do not think that this Bill would carry the discharge of a committal of a civil debtor, and we therefore think that a new Clause of this sort would have to take its place in a general magistrates' courts Bill.
It is impossible to introduce such a Bill this Session, and I can give no undertaking that such a Bill will be introduced next Session, but I am considering this matter in the rather wider canvass of a magistrates' courts Bill. That is why 548 I do not want to accept this new Clause, because in this Bill it cannot be dealt with properly. These were the main reasons for resisting the new Clause, and why it will not be added to the Bill.
To carry the matter further, it is clear that, while the House has decided that the new Clause shall not be added to the Bill in this House, it is legitimate for the matter to be discussed in another place. The Government will be quite ready to discuss it in another place and to give their view and consider the arguments. If, again, the Government decide that the arguments in favour of the new Clause, if moved in another place, are quite valid, equally I give the undertaking that I shall consider this point in dealing with the general magistrates' courts Bill, which I should like to have the opportunity of considering before I introduce it.
I give this undertaking to the House to show that, whatever the merits of the new Clause, the Government do not intend to treat it with contempt, but that we have a perfectly valid reason for not inserting it in this Bill. It is in that atmosphere, and against that background, that I ask hon. Members opposite, and the House as a whole, to realise that this is a serious Bill, a serious Measure of social reform. I do not think that, when a serious answer has been given—as was given by my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary, and as I myself have given now—the House will think that the Government are in any way trying to avoid the issue on this new Clause or any other.
§ Mr. MacDermot
Would the Home Secretary explain to the House what is the reason—because this is what we have been anxious to find out from the Under-Secretary in discussing the new Clause—why the Government now say that if this power is given to magistrates in relation to maintenance orders the same power must be given in relation to committals for civil debts?
The two jurisdictions of the magistrates are quite separate. These two jurisdictions are already distinguished in law in the Magistrates' Courts Act. If the Home Secretary will look up the Third Schedule of the Magistrates' Courts Act, he will see that there are separate powers, and separate penalties prescribed 549 for magistrates to impose in cases of civil debt and in cases of maintenance orders. We have not yet had any explanation of this categorical statement by the Government why, if the one is done, they must also do the other.
§ Mr. Butler
The reason is that we have to take the procedure as we find it, and knowing that it would create anomalies if we were not to deal with the civil debt aspect at the same time as the maintenance orders aspect, we do not think this Bill a proper vehicle for a new Clause of this kind.
I do not think that this is a proposal which should be pressed, in view of the perfectly valid arguments against it. The arguments are quite sincere, and I have told the House that there are further opportunities for considering the matter. This is not, in my opinion, a matter of very great principle, though it is a matter which should be further pursued. It is against that background that this Question, "That the further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned," should not be carried, and it is not the Government's view that it should be.
It is our view that we should make further progress, within reason—we do not want to be unreasonable—with the Bill. I trust that if I again repeat that this is a Bill that I should have thought all sides of the House would have regarded as an important Measure of reform, we could agree that this Motion could be withdrawn, and that we could make reasonable progress with the remainder of the Bill.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has made an agreeable speech, and one which, I am sure, he wished to be conciliatory. He seemed to be, if I may say so, in that good humour which discomfiture on previous occasions has often bred in him, but I wonder if, with all his desire to satisfy the House, he has really met the point at issue, which is this. We are discussing a Question, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned." We are doing so, because of the unusual happening that a Government with a majority of between 60 and 70 have been defeated.
The hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) argued, if I followed him 550 aright, that we should not make very much of that; that Government defeats should be treated almost as every-day affairs. While the present Government are in power, many of us would share that view, and would endeavour to cooperate with him in bringing about that state of affairs; but the fact is that, as we all know, we do not, in this country, conduct our affairs on that basis.
It is part of the general structure of our government that, normally, a Government with a majority of 60 or 70 can, if they really decide that they cannot make a concession, expect to get their own way. It is fair to conclude that if, even on what might be regarded as an unusual occasion, a Government with that majority are defeated, it is something out of the ordinary. It is, therefore, reasonable to say to a Government who have suffered such a defeat, "You should look at this matter again."
It is not entirely accident or coincidence that when a Government have a majority of 70, they find themselves unable to command a majority in the House on a particular issue. The hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) says that he was converted, almost at the last minute, to vote with the Government. That is very interesting because, had the Under-Secretary of State been a little more open, he would, perhaps, have converted a few more hon. Members and secured a Government victory.
What happened was that the Government were faced with an issue on which their own supporters did not feel sufficiently strongly, and on which their opponents did feel sufficiently strongly to cause, first, a defeat, and then a Division, in which the Government only scraped through with an equality of votes on both sides and the casting vote of the Chair. When that happens, is it unreasonable to say to the Government, "You really ought to look at this again, and you ought to take a little time to look at it again"?
Naturally, after a Government defeat everyone is excited. It would be an exaggeration to say that on this occasion tempers rose, but there is a general excitement, an amount of glee on one side of the House, of distress on the other, and of agitation on the part of the Chief Whip. In an atmosphere like that, the rather important question raised 551 by the new Clause cannot have the clear consideration that it should receive. If, at that moment, the Government are asked to pronounce on the merits of the Clause, that question is inevitably tied to the question of their own prestige.
All that we are asking then, is that this should be left until tomorrow. By that time, the Government will have recovered from their momentary shock; we shall, regretfully, have to accept the position that despite our victory today, the Government are still in power for a little longer, and both sides will be able to look at the merits of the Clause a little more clearly. What has happened? The Home Secretary has tried to deal with the merits of the Clause here and now, in the heat and excitement of the debate following a Government defeat. That led him to put forward an argument for the rejection of the new Clause which had not been fully advanced to the House before, an argument which certainly is puzzling to laymen and which, as we gathered from my hon. Friend the Member Lewisham, North (Mr. MacDermot) and from other lawyer Members of the House, I think, does not immediately commend itself to lawyers either.
As I as a layman understood it, it was that, if we give magistrates power A, we must automatically give them power B also; it would not be reasonable to include power B in the Bill, and, therefore, we should not give them power A or power B. Why should we assume that if we give them the power of release in the one case we must give it in the other? I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that is not a self-evident proposition. It is not a proposition which we should be asked to accept at such short notice. Is not that the kind of point on which it would be reasonable, and showing proper respect for the House, to say, "Let us leave it until tomorrow, when we shall
§ all be able to consider exactly what is at issue in the new Clause"?
§ That is really all we are asking for in the Motion—time to clear away the dust of battle in the Division Lobbies, so that both sides may weigh up the arguments a little more carefully and the House can reach a sober decision. Surely, that is not very much to ask. Indeed, the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), in the course of his speech, came very near to making that proposal. I only wish that he were here at this moment to support me in urging upon the Home Secretary that he should take this very reasonable course.
§ After all, what is lost? We do not really hold up the business of the House. If we adjourn consideration of the Bill, we proceed next, I believe, to the ordinary Adjournment debate for tonight, no doubt, to the great gratification of the hon. Member who has the Adjournment, and the particular subject chosen will be debated a little more fully than usual.
§ We could easily fit in further discussion of the Bill. I am quite sure that hon. Members on both sides would be willing, even at a little inconvenience, to spend further time on some other evening discussing this Bill rather than see a quite important new Clause, on which opinion is evenly divided in the House, hurriedly disposed of at an inappropriate moment when the House is really thinking a little more about the relative prestige of Government and Opposition than about the real merit of the new Clause.
§ I therefore plead with the Home Secretary to look at the matter again. From what he said, it appears that further legal advice would be helpful. Can not we leave it to another day?
§ Question put, That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 150, Noes 153.555
|Division No. 69.]||AYES||[9.50 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Burke, W. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Caliaghan, L. J.||Deer, G.|
|Bacon, Miss Afice||Champion, A. J.||de Freltas, Geoffrey|
|Benson, Sir George||Chelwynd, G. R.||Diamond, John|
|Blackburn, F.||Clunie, J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Coldrick, W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Boardman, H.||Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fletcher, Eric|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Cove, W. G.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Gooch, E. G.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Royle, C.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Short, E. W.|
|Grey, C. F.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mason, Roy||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mayhew, C. P.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mikardo, Ian||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mitchison, G. R.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Hastings, S.||Moody, A. S.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Steele, T.|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Mort, D. L.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Holman, P.||Moss, R.||Stonehouse, John|
|Holmes, Horace||Moyle, A.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Holt, A. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Oram, A. E.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orbach, M.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, T.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Owen, W. J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Weitzman, D.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Parker, J.||West, D. G.|
|Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Paton, John||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Peart, T. F.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pentland, N.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Prentice, R. E.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Probert, A. R,||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Proctor, W. T,||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Randall, H. E.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Redhead, E. C.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Reeves, J.||Woof, R. E.|
|MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Zilliacus, K.|
|McInnes, J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McLeavy, Frank||Ross, William||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Kirk, P. M.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Gammans, Lady||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Gibson-Watt, D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Arbuthnot, John||Glover, D.||McAdden, S. J.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Gower, H. R.||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus||McKibbin, Alan|
|Barber, Anthony||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Barter, John||Grimond, J.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hay, John||Mathew, R.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mawby, R. L.|
|Bryan, P.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Neave, Airey|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Carr, Robert||Hornby, R. P.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Page, R. G.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hurd, A. R.||Partridge, E.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Peel, W. J.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Iremonger, T. L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pott, H. P.|
|Dance, J, C. G.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Kaberry, D.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Keegan, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kimball, M.|
|Redmayne, M.||Storey, S.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Studholme, Sir Henry||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Teeling, W.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Sharples, R. C.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher||Vickers, Miss Joan||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Wade, D. W.||Mr. Finlay.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I desire to raise with you, Mr. Speaker, a point of order arising out of the decision given earlier this evening by Mr. Deputy-Speaker in exercising his casting vote. The point I desire to raise brings into question the principle on which the occupant of the Chair casts a casting vote. I should, therefore, like to refer you, Sir, to the latest edition of Erskine May, where the practice, following a number of precedents, is laid down as follows, in page 435:If the numbers in a division are equal, the Speaker, who otherwise does not vote, must give the casting vote…In the performance of his duty, he is art liberty to vote like any other Member, according to his conscience, without assigning a reason… but, in order to avoid the least imputation upon his impartiality, it is usual for him, when practicable, to vote in such a manner as not to make the decision of the House final, and to explain his reasons…Now, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in giving his casting vote, gave his reason for giving it in favour of the "Noes", that is to say, against the Question that the new Clause which had been passed by the House should be added to the Bill.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker said that the reason why he gave his casting vote in that way was to maintain the status quo, which is in accordance with principle. His reason was, as I understand it, that with a view to preserving the status quo he would vote in such a manner as not to make the decision of the House final.
Therefore, it seems to me that the exercise by Mr. Deputy-Speaker of his casting vote in that way is consistent only with the view that the House will have another opportunity of coming to a decision on whether it wishes the new Clause, to which it gave a Second Reading, to be added to the Bill or not. If the case were that that casting vote produced a final decision in this House, then it seems to me some doubt might arise as to whether the occupant of the
§ Chair was casting his vote in such a way as not to make the vote final.
§ There will be opportunities, I imagine, as a result of the decision which has been taken, to enable the House to reach a decision on whether it wants the new Clause added to the Bill. In the recent discussion on the Question whether or not we should adjourn the debate reasons were given on both sides of the House about the merits of the matter. The Leader of the House seemed to suggest that he would consider the matter and, if necessary, enable another place to decide the question. With great respect, it seems to me that that would be a result which would neither be in accordance with precedent nor be in accordance with the rights and privileges of this House.
§ I therefore ask you to rule, Mr. Speaker, that, following the unusual circumstances in which the casting vote was given in such a way as not to render the decision of the House final, we may have another opportunity—by the matter being put on the Order Paper for another date, I suppose—of discussing whether we want the new Clause added to the Bill or not.
§ Mr. Speaker
I ought to preface anything I have to say with the remark that Mr. Deputy-Speaker, when in the Chair, is in complete control of the House. He is in the same position as the Speaker. If there is any criticism of his action, it ought to be done in the proper way, by substantive Motion. However, I did not gather that that was the intent of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), and that is why I listened to him.
I think that the hon. Member, if he will excuse my saying so, is mixing up two things. It is indeed one's duty in giving a casting vote so to cast it, if possible—if possible—so that the House shall have another opportunity of considering the matter. On the other hand, at this late stage in the progress of a Bill that is not always possible, and in this case it is not possible.
557 In these circumstances, another equally valid rule, supported by precedent, for the casting vote comes into play, and that Mr. Deputy-Speaker followed, and I myself should have followed it. It is that when a Bill has emerged from Committee in a certain form which is printed and in the hands of Members, and the House does not agree to alter that form, it is the duty of the occupant of the Chair, if there be a tie, to give his vote in favour of the Bill as it has emerged from Committee, because the House has not positively agreed to change it. That, I think, is the answer to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am a little puzzled by one point which is rather different from what has ever happened previously, to my knowledge, and that is in this case the decision by Mr. Deputy-Speaker did not leave the matter as it was previously, but actually reversed a decision which the House had reached a few minutes earlier. In other words, the House had agreed to a Clause, and when Mr. Deputy-Speaker gave his casting vote he did not bring the situation back to the status quo but actually wiped out a decision to which the House had come a few minutes earlier.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Member is, if I may say so, not correct in that. The first Question was, "That the Clause be read a Second time". On that, I understand, the Government were defeated. So that left the Clause read a Second time. But the point at which the House had to decide whether the Bill was to be altered or not was on the second Question, namely, "That the Clause be added to the Bill". That was the Question on which there was a tie. To have voted "Aye" would have altered the Bill, but to vote "No" was in favour of the Bill as it had emerged and that was what Mr. Deputy-Speaker did.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
Further to that point of order. Without any reserve, we accept the Ruling which you have just given Mr. Speaker, but the point which I want to put is that the House is clearly now in a most unsatisfactory position. In the course of two hours, there have been three Divisions. In the first, the Opposition defeated the Government 558 by three votes. In the next, the votes were exactly equal and now, although two hours have elapsed and there has been great activity on the part of the Government Whips—[HON. MEMBERS: "And yours"]—the Government majority is only three.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. These may be very interesting considerations, but I do not see what they have to do with me. The House has ordered that we should proceed with the Bill and I was proceeding to do so—unless the hon. Member has a point of order which would lead me to take another course.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
Yes, Sir. I was about to come to that. I was about to ask whether it might be possible and for the convenience of the House at this stage, for the Leader of the House to move the adjournment of the discussion so that we could continue with the debate in better circumstances.