§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move,That the following provisions shall apply to the [...]emaining Proceedings on the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Bill:—1.—(a) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is committed shall report the Bill to the House on or before the first day of May, 1958;(b) at a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any Proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the Proceedings have been brought to a conclusion;(c) no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Standing Committee shall be made in the Standing Committee except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion, if made by a Member of the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate; and(d) on the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.2. The Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in two allotted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at half-past Ten o'clock on the second of those days; and for the purpose of Standing Order No. 41 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the Proceedings on Consideration such portion of those days as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.3. The Business Committee shall report to the House their recommendations as to the Proceedings on Consideration, and as to the allocation of time between those Proceedings and the Proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the seventh day of May, 1958.4. No Motion shall be made to postpone any Clause, Schedule, new Clause, or new Schedule, but the recommendation of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are to he taken in the Standing Committee.5. On an allotted day Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) shall have effect with the substitution of references to half-past Ten of the clock for references to Ten of the clock, and Proceedings which under this Order or the Resolution of the Business Committee are to be brought to 851 a conclusion on that day shall not be interrupted under the provisions of the said Standing Order.6. If, on any allotted day, a Motion is made under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) the last foregoing paragraph of this Order shall not apply, but—
- (a) any Proceedings on the Bill exempted under paragraph (2) of that Standing Order shall be so exempted for the period mentioned in that paragraph and a further half-hour; and
- (b) the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or under the Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day after Seven o'clock shall be deferred for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings upon the said Motion under Standing Order No. 9.7. If, at Seven o'clock on an allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under the Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.8. Any Private Business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day. and shall be exempted by this paragraph from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) for a period of three hours or, if the Proceedings on the Bill are concluded before half-past Ten o'clock, for a period (from Ten o'clock) equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Proceedings; and paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking private business) shall not apply.9. Standing Order No. 12 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business) shall not apply to any allotted day.10. On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill shall be made except by a Member of the Government and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without any debate.11. For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or of the Business Committee or by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time so appointed, put forthwith the Question on 852 any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause which has been read a second time, also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill, and subject thereto shall proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Member of the Government of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules) and any Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded, and, in the case of any Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Member of the Government, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.12. The Proceedings on any Motion moved by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of the Resolution of the Business Committee shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion two hours (or, if interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), two hours together with a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on the said Motion for the Adjournment) after they have been commenced, and the last foregoing paragraph of this Order shall, so far as applicable, apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill; and if any such Motion for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of the Resolution of the Business Committee is under consideration at Seven o'clock on a day on which any Private Business has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, the Private Business shall stand over and be considered when the Proceedings on the Motion have been concluded.13. Nothing in this Order or in the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or the Business Committee shall—
- (a) prevent any proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being entered upon or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution; or
- (b) prevent any Business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day, in accordance with the Standing Orders, after the completion of the Proceedings on the Bill for that day.14. In this Order, "allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as the first Government order of the day, "the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee, "the Resolution of the Business Committee" means the Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House, and references to the Proceedings on the Consideration or the Proceedings on Third Reading include references to any Proceedings at those stages respectively for, on or in consequence of re-committal.I regret that it should be necessary to move this Motion. Very considerable 853 efforts were made by many of us to obtain voluntary agreement on a timetable for the Bill. Some of us, I think, feel that such a timetable could have been achieved by reasonable negotiation. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite discussed the matter with me—the matter has been considered at what is described as every level—but it proved impossible to find agreement on a voluntary timetable. Despite that disappointment, we are not prepared to renounce the passage of the Bill, which we intend to obtain within a reasonable time.
We have been obliged, therefore, to introduce the procedure for a timetable, to be worked out according to the terms of the Motion on the Order Paper, which follows precedent and which hands over the detailed negotiation to the Business Committee and the Business Sub-Committee, subject to the usual provision that the Bill must return from the Committee sage by 1st May.
The Bill has been followed by many of us in some detail in Committee, and it has not made the progress we should have desired. This must be considered against the background of the undoubted fact that the basic proposal contained in the Bill cannot be considered to have been, so to speak, rushed before the Committee, or to be entirely new. The principles were enunciated in a White Paper last July, and then were debated in the House.
I feel sure that Scottish Members will agree that adequate time was provided for the consideration of Scotland's particular difficulties. They are particular in this respect and the Bill is complicated. It affects the local authorities, and I should be the first to acknowledge that such matters are difficult; but the fact is that the principles have been before us for a very long time. They were embodied in the Bill now before the House, which was given a Second Reading as long ago as last December. There was then an exhaustive debate.
I fully appreciate that there are differences of opinion about the merits of the Government's proposals; I do not think that anyone would complain about that. It is a fact, however, that Parliament has, after due discussion and publication of the White Paper, approved the general principles of the Bill. It is not only the duty of the Government to see that the Bill is properly discussed, but also to see 854 that the Bill is brought on the Statute Book in reasonable time. The Government are entitled to claim that, if we proceed by the normal processes, we must be able to introduce a Bill at the beginning of a Session and get it passed on a reasonable timetable within the general programme, before the end of the Session.
That is a reasonable proposition, which has been acted on by previous Governments and on which we propose to act on this occasion. We have thought it right to let the Opposition know where they stand so that, from now on, they may make the best use of the time available, time which, in our view, is quite adequate for the proper consideration of the remaining provisions of the Bill.
It is not for me to say, in view of the relevant paragraphs in the Motion—particularly paragraph 1 (b) and paragraph 3, relating to the Sub-Committee and the Business Committee respectively—exactly how the time will be used. That is not our method; it is still left to negotiation. But supposing that about 19 Sittings become possible on the Bill in Standing Committee as a whole, that would be equal to eight whole Sittings of the House, and I should have thought that, on a Bill of this size, time equivalent to what is usually allotted to a Finance Bill would represent an adequate opportunity for proper consideration in Committee, leaving Report and Third Reading until a later stage. I mention this without prejudice to the final decision by the Sub-Committee under paragraph 1 (b) and the Business Committee under paragraph 3, because they will ultimately decide how the time is to be allotted; but I believe that there will be time for adequate opportunity to discuss the Bill.
There is a further reason why the Government regard it as important to make clear what are their intentions about the passage of the Bill and the time when it shall be passed. The Bill will affect all the Scottish local authorities.
§ Mr. Butler
Whether they want it or not, it will affect them. A good many things in life happen like that.
The Bill requires us to consult the local authority associations in the preparation of what is described as the 855 general grant order, that is to say, to determine the amount of the general grant to be payable in the period beginning 16th May, 1959. We want to get the Bill on the Statute Book, as I said, before the end of the Session, and also to meet the local authority associations as soon as the Bill is passed in order to embark on the necessary calculations which will be required before the general grant order can be prepared.
There is, therefore, a reason for our having a forecast of the time involved, so that we may make these consultations and the administration of Scotland can be carried on with that efficiency which we associate with the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who will be winding up the debate at, I hope, a comparatively early hour.
The Opposition have made it clear that they intend to oppose the Bill as rigorously as they can, as they undoubtedly have an absolute right to do. It is our privilege also to take account of the disposition of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have noticed, in their disposition, that special kind of Scottish dialectic—I will not call it obstruction or filibustering—which seems to descend from ancient fathers of thought in Scotland, and has descended so eloquently upon the shoulders of some hon. Members opposite.
Whatever that may be, coming as it does from a very ancient Scottish tradition, it seems to indicate to those of us who are of ordinary and moderate intelligence that hon. Members opposite intend to spend some time—shall we say, to linger?—over the Clauses at the beginning of the Bill and sometimes over Amendments which, if I have studied the proceedings of the Standing Committee aright, have very little prospect of success. If this procedure were to continue—and it has many merits to recommend it—
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the English Standing Committee, which has all the virtues which are denied the Scots, took 11 sittings to reach the place with the English Bill where we are now, with the Scottish Bill, after nine sittings?
§ Mr. Butler
I have studied each aspect of the matter. In the case of the English 856 Bill, which I did not wish to bring into the discussion—being half Scottish myself, I wished to keep the discussion wholly Scottish—it was possible to reach an agreement for a voluntary timetable, which, as I have said earlier, we should have preferred. If the Scottish Members had been able to reach an agreement, then it would not have been necessary to have this Motion.
The fact is that if we go on at this pace we shall be holding up this beneficent Measure. The progress made with the Bill in Committee certainly endorses and supports this view. The Government are determined, therefore, that if we are to get the Bill on the Statute Book in reasonable time we must take the necessary steps to see that this is done. The timetable itself says that the Bill must be reported back by 1st May. Then the Bill has to return to the House for Report and Third Reading, for which two days are allowed.
The Business Committee—not the SubCommittee—shall, according to paragraph 3,report to the House their recommendations as to the Proceedings on Consideration, and as to the allocation of time between those Proceedings and the Proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the seventh day of May, 1958.The object of that provision is to give the Business Committee an opportunity of seeing the extent to which the Bill is amended in Committee, to study, if possible, what Amendments are put down and then to allocate the time for the remaining stages of the Bill. The timetable, according to recent precedent, is elastic, and I hope that advantage will be taken of that elasticity and that the Sub-Committee, in framing the work for the Committee stage, and the Business Committee later, in framing the later stages, will listen to all reasonable requests of the Opposition and that this may lead to a rational consideration of the later stages of the Bill.
One or two Scottish hon. Members have, quite legitimately, said—I am putting it in rather pleasant language, but they have put it in rather forceful language; but I think we are all getting at the same thing—what a pity it is that when the Standing Committee has just been set up under the new rules we should have had to move a timetable Motion. I said that myself when dealing with the Business statement on Thursday. I 857 definitely feel that, and I am sure that that is the view of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.
However, we have to balance against that the fact that this is an exceedingly complicated Measure. It is well known to be a complicated Measure.
§ Mr. Butler
It is susceptible of an indefinite discussion, and it is clear to us that hon. Members opposite are determined to take advantage of every opportunity of discussing it. Therefore, we have to balance what we hope will be the smooth working of the new machinery for discussing Scottish affairs in the Standing Committee against the undoubted work which Scottish Members will have to do in the course of the Session. For example, this Bill was the follower-on of a Bill which took rather longer than we expected in Grand Committee, namely, the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill. That is a legitimate point for the Opposition. I am trying to deal with this matter rationally.
I do not believe these timetable Motions are such tragedies as some people think. We have to balance on the other side that the Scottish Grand Committee, under the new arrangement, will have six Supply days—some of which have already been taken—plus two days for consideration of other Motions. Thus, Scottish Members will be very fully occupied, and in looking at the time of not only Scottish Members, but of other hon. Members on all sides of the House, I think that it is legitimate that this Bill should take its normal place in the programme and not an exaggerated place. If we are to have the attention of Scottish Members to the other business to which we wish them to pay attention, it is probably better to have the timetable oulined for this Bill so that not only Scottish Members but also the House and the Government know where they are.
Therefore, in moving the timetable Motion, I believe that we are in accord with something which came out in our debate on the procedure of the House, namely, that procedure should be as efficient as possible with the maximum regard for the proper use of time; and I believe that when we reach a position like this it is wise to resort to a timetable. 858 While I do not doubt that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite may put their case with force, which is always the tradition in discussing a timetable Motion, I do not believe they need put it with bitterness, because I believe that it is possible so to work our procedure according to a timetable that proper consideration is given to the main points of a Bill and that we may, in fact, get a better balance of consideration when a Committee works on a Bill to a timetable than without one. That is why a voluntary timetable is preferable. If we cannot get a voluntary timetable, I think the one arranged by the Business Committee and the Business Sub-Committee, as set out in the Motion, is the best way to do it.
I have discussed this matter in detail with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. He asks me to affirm that it is his wish that the vital points shall be adequately discussed. Therefore, as I believe that in present circumstances this will fit in best with this particular Bill, and not only with the mood of the House but with the mood of the Committee, and will result in the efficient transaction of Government business, I commend the Motion to the House.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
The Leader of the House has once again had to come to the rescue of the Scottish Ministers to save them from their own incompetence. He did this about a year ago with a timetable Motion for the Rent Bill. It was a Motion to curtail the consideration of Scottish Clauses amending Scottish legislation which ought really to have been embodied in a Scottish Bill, and on that occasion four Scottish Members of the Opposition were unable to give adequate consideration to the Scottish Clauses. Now the right hon. Gentleman moves a timetable Motion in respect of the remainder of the Committee stage of the present Bill.
On the earlier occasion the Secretary of State was in a great hurry to get the Scottish Part of the Rent Bill through "because it was so much wanted in Scotland." Since that Bill became an Act we have had the by-election at Kelvin-grove, the constituency which was represented by probably the most respected Tory in Scotland, the late Walter Elliot; and we all know the result of that by-election. However, the Secretary of State 859 seems to be unmoved by what the people of Scotland think.
This is the first ever timetable to be imposed on a purely Scottish Committee. I hope that the Secretary of State is pleased with himself. I should have thought that he would be ashamed of having to do this at the present time. The Leader of the House has said that the Bill is a complicated Measure. Of course it is complicated. It is also a Bill of very considerable constitutional importance to Scotland.
Why are we being guillotined? Why is this timetable Motion being introduced? The Leader of the House said that Scottish Members had decided to linger over the early Clauses of the Bill. Scottish Members spent less than five sittings of the Committee on Clause 1. English Members spent nine sittings of their Committee on a comparable Clause in the English Bill. They had nine sittings on Clause 1, we had less than five. We have, therefore, done our work twice as quickly as our English colleagues and we are being guillotined.
§ Mr. Fraser
The right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), from his seated position, seems to think that we should have had the Goschen formula. eleven-eightieths of the time of our English colleagues, to consider a Bill which is just as important to Scotland as the English Bill is to England.
§ Mr. Fraser
There are a lot of things that the right hon. Gentleman does not realise.
The Secretary of State will agree that the first two Clauses of the Bill—and we are getting near to the end of Clause 2 after nine sittings, whereas the English Committee took nine sittings for Clause 1—are the most important in the Bill. It is true that they give effect to the principle of the Bill, but none the less they are capable of amendment and, indeed, Amendments have been made to them.
When the Bill went into Committee, nobody thought that we would get 860 through the first two Clauses quickly. Everybody knew that they would take a considerable time. Because we have done our work on the first two Clauses, I hope, reasonably well is no reason why we should be denied an adequate opportunity of discussing the later Clauses and, in particular, the Schedules, which are of tremendous importance to local authorities in Scotland.
We might have made even more progress on the Bill if Ministers had done their homework. They came to the Committee without being adequately briefed on the Amendments which the Committee was about to consider. They delayed the proceedings in Committee by failing to listen to the debate. They allowed debates to run on for hours at an end and then, after the debate had run for hours, spread over two sittings, Ministers agreed that there was point in the Amendment and that they would take the matter back for consideration.
If Ministers had listened to the first few speeches on the Amendment, they would have realised that we were speaking for the local authorities, they would have undertaken to have the matter looked at and we could have made progress. Instead, the Ministers wasted the time of the Scottish Committee by giving us irrelevant answers to our questions. They gave us replies which sometimes bore no relevance whatever to the speeches which had been made in putting forward the Amendments.
On one occasion, the Joint Under-Secretary offended every Scottish Member of Parliament and the whole of Scotland when he gave as his reason for refusing a reasonable Amendment to the Bill that to have done so and to have made the Amendment in question would have made the Bill different from the English Bill. When we were given the Bill to consider in Committee upstairs, we thought that we were permitted to discuss it on its merits and that we were not obliged to produce a Bill identical in every respect with the English Bill. If we are not to be allowed to discuss the Bill on its merits, and to make what Amendments the Members of the Committee see fit to make, there is no point in carrying on with the Committee stage of the Bill.
We have never appreciated that our legislation should be exactly similar to 861 legislation south of the Border. As I ventured to point out to the Joint Under-Secretary on that occasion, the only justification for the Secretary of State and the Joint Under-Secretaries is that our Scottish law is different to the English law. That is the whole justification for the office which the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretaries hold.
Then, as another example of delay, we have had the utmost discourtesy in the Committee. Last Tuesday, we had a speech from the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), his first speech in Committee on the Bill. Following that speech by the Leader of the Liberal Party, on an important Amendment put forward by the Opposition, the Minister in charge of the Bill promptly moved the Closure. He was not only gagging the Labour Members of the Committee, but he gagged the Liberal Party, also.
§ Mr. Fraser
Yes, in the same week as Torrington. Immediately we had had a speech from the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Secretary of State moved the Closure. Of course, the weary knights and baronets meekly earned their honours by supporting the Secretary of State's Motion.
The truth is that the Opposition speak for all the local authorities in Scotland on the Bill. The Leader of the House rather understated the position when he said that there were differences of opinion on the merits of the Bill. The difference of opinion is a difference between the Government and Scotland. Nobody in Scotland wants the Bill.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Member who represents Edinburgh, West (Sir I. Clark Hutchison) says that Edinburgh wants it.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Member's relative, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. M. Clark Hutchison), appears to want the Bill, too. There was one local authority in Scotland which accepted the principle of block grant, and that was Edinburgh, but Edinburgh has 862 wanted some of the Amendments which the hon. Members who represent the Edinburgh constituencies on the Government side have voted against in Committee. The Leader of the House asserted that there were differences of opinion on the merits of the Bill. The difference really is between the Government and the whole Scottish nation. Scotland does not want the Bill. This has been made painfully clear to the Secretary of State.
The Leader of the House justified the timetable with the words that we wanted to get the Bill through. He called it "this beneficent Measure". It has not been so regarded by the local authorities in Scotland. They would rather be without this beneficence, if that is how the right hon. Gentleman would like to describe it. Since they are so wholly opposed to the provisions of the Bill, it seems to us that we should have adequate time without any automatic curtailment of the discussion during the Committee stage. By gagging the Opposition, the Government are guilty of gagging the whole of Scotland. They are gagging the nation.
We on the Opposition benches have not opposed additional sittings. We have not shirked our responsibility. Not only on this Bill, but when dealing with legislation in an earlier Session, legislation which also was opposed by the local authorities in Scotland, we on this side have shown that we are prepared to devote plenty of time to doing our job We have shown our willingness to sit all night dealing with the Committee stage of Bills that greatly affect the local authorities of Scotland. The Government supporters, however, are not as willing to do their work for their constituents. They want short sittings of the Committee and not too many of them.
The Lord Privy Seal said that the Scottish Committee had a lot of work to do. We are anxious to do our work. The right hon. Gentleman should appreciate that we would not be over-anxious to spend time unnecessarily on the Bill if it were to deny to the Opposition its right to select subjects for debate on eight sittings of the Scottish Committee in any one session. That is so obvious that it hardly needs to be said. The Government cannot be expected to be so very anxious to save the time for the Opposition for these general debates.
863 The Opposition will look after that themselves. We are not going to deny ourselves the opportunity of debating in the Scottish Grand Committee matters of great importance to Scotland, unless, of course, the importance of other matters before us makes it impossible for us to get through our work in Standing Committee. However, we should be anxious to get through our work in Standing Committee to enable us to do the other work which is ours as Scottish Members.
The Committee, according to the Motion, has to report on or before 1st May—Labour Day all over the world.
§ Mr. Fraser
We have to do so whether the Bill has been adequately considered in all its details or not. The first sitting of the Committee under the Guillotine will take place tomorrow, 1st April—All Fools' Day indeed. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us tomorrow that this has been a hunt the gowk. The electors of Scotland are saying that we should hunt the Secretary of State.
They will whenever given the opportunity.
The Government do not want the Bill discussed in detail at all. They had no mandate to introduce the Bill. They have no democratic right to force it through. The Secretary of State ought by now to have learned the lessons of the Rent Act. He knows that he will never operate the Bill. The electors do not want the Bill. If they were given the opportunity to express an opinion about it both he and his Bill would go.
The only course in decency for the Secretary of State now is to persuade his right hon. Friend to withdraw the Motion and himself to withdraw the Bill. If that advice is spurned we on these benches will have no alternative but to vote against the Motion.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
It is not at all surprising that the Leader of the House has no back bench support on his side of the House for this Motion. We in the Scottish Standing Committee have become accustomed to this lack of support for the Government by their back benchers. It has become farcical to think that any debate is going on there at all. 864 On the contrary, we have had a continuous period of silence on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the Committee on the Bill which, according to the admission of the Leader of the House, is a most important Bill.
There have been only three participants from the Government back benches in the discussions in the Committee. Two of them were critical of the Government. We have had the suggestion from the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) that the Government were mere stooges and lackeys of the Treasury. He reminded the Secretary of State and the junior Ministers that they should be more than just tools of bureaucracy. I think that it was after he made that speech that the Secretary of State made his accustomed speech, "I beg to move, That the Question be now put".
The hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) intervened, I think, on two occasions. The purport of his remarks was to suggest that the Secretary of State should think again about an Amendment we had moved, whereupon the Secretary of State rose and moved, "That the Question be now put".
We have had from the Secretary of State a wonderful demonstration of the complexities of the Bill. He has spoken on six occasions in the Committee on the Bill. All his speeches take up about a column in HANSARD. There was one rejecting an Amendment, one accepting an Amendment, and the other four were all rather repetitive, "I beg to move, That the Question be now put." So we have had no enlightenment from the Secretary of State upon the complexities of the Measure. We have felt none of his powers of persuasion.
The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart)—I do not know whether he is the deputy leader of the National Liberals or not—has been the only one, apart from Ministers, who has had anything at all to say in favour of the Bill. Every other hon. Member opposite has been silent.
What is the position? We are dealing with an important Bill, which, in the words of the Joint Under-Secretary of State in the debate on the Second Reading, isinspired by the policy on which we have fought and won two General Elections and on which we shall go on winning "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1957; Vol. 580. c. 332.]865 Since then they have lost three by-elections.
The fact is that the Government have had no mandate for the Bill. They were discredited before ever they introduced it. That has been emphasised in by-election after by-election. Apart from some reservations I must make for Edinburgh, every local authority in Scotland is opposed to the Bill. The Bill is completely friendless. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Pollok remembers what he said on Second reading? He said that the Bill waswithout friends outside the House. The local authorities are against it, the teaching profession is against it, and industry is against it …He went on to say something important to the consideration of this timetable:It is up to us, perhaps more than usual because of that consensus of opinion against the Bill, to prove our case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1957, Vol. 580, c. 247–8.]What does that mean? It means that there must be full consideration in Committee of all the important matters affected by the Bill. Is anyone prepared to say, apart from the Leader of the House, who obviously does not know, that the consideration we have had in Committee so far has been anything other than reasonably adequate? We make no complaint about the position up to now.
We have had nine sittings and we have gone practically through two Clauses. We had an acknowledgment by the Joint Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson), that we did very well. When we came to the fifth sitting he said:It has been a long debate and undoubtedly it has been useful."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 13th March, 1958; c. 196.]There is no complaint about having those sittings to consider Clause 1.
What has happened about Clause 2? As I said on Thursday, the timetable is evidence of the incompetence of the Government. I would ask the leader of the House to consider particularly the debate on an Amendment which was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan). My hon. Friend had a reply from the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Craigton (Mr. J. N. Browne), in which the hon. Gentleman gave an interpretation 866 of what would happen if certain words were omitted from the Clause. After a debate so long that it occupies 30 columns of HANSARD the Solicitor-General for Scotland said that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was completely wrong. The debate was carried on another day, and the Solicitor-General for Scotland got up once again and, although he said he was very sorry that he had misplaced a word or two, in substance he said the same thing again, that the Joint Under-Secretary of State was wrong. Naturally, when we have confusing and conflicting information from the Government themselves it tends to prolong debate.
That debate was cut short by the return of the Secretary of State to move the Closure, without that matter having been properly dealt with. We have confusion because of the confusing and distorted replies by the Government, and then the gagger from Gourock, Huey Long, comes in to move the Closure. It is really not good enough, when we are dealing with a Bill which will affect every local authority in Scotland.
It covers a very wide range of affairs. Yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) said, it took the Standing Committee, on the English counter-part to our Measure, very much longer to reach that stage at which we in the Scottish Committee now are. Moreover, there is matter in the first two Clauses of the Bill which is not contained in the first two Clauses of the English Bill, the question of the Goschen formula which is now to be wiped out as a result of Clauses 1 and 2.
A mainstay of the financing of education in Scotland for generations is now to be wiped out. Consideration of that did not arise upon the English Bill. Considering this important difference between the first two Clauses of the two Bills we could justifiably have spent far more time than we have in the Scottish Standing Committee upon the first two Clauses of the Bill and longer, indeed, than Standing Committee D took over the first two Clauses of the English Bill.
I accuse the Leader of the House of being unduly flippant. He has shown a condescending complacency. I should have thought that his recent visit to Glasgow would have made him take the Scots a little more seriously. I do not 867 know whether he was impressed by the Scots. They certainly made one or two impressions on him.
We have not got into such a state with a Bill that the Government should be concerned to shorten discussion. Scotland's leading newspaper admitted the other week that we were, in fact, discussing the Goschen formula. It said that it and many people in Scotland realised that this was not such a simple, straightforward Bill as they had thought.
It is not good enough for the Leader of the House to say that the Government think that there will be reasonable time. Has he worked the thing out? The Committee has sat nine times and is due to sit twice this week. There are four more regular sittings available before 1st May, if we discount the Tuesday of Budget day, when we return. If we included Wednesday sittings that would provide three more. Therefore, there will be a total of 15, or at the most 18 sittings of the Committee, if Wednesdays, to which we rightly object, are included.
We must consider this matter in proportion to the time devoted to other Measures. The Government did not move the Closure during the Committee stage of the Slaughterhouses Bill. Will anyone suggest that the Slaughterhouses Bill is more important than this Bill? I am sure that the Leader of the House cannot say how many times the Committee on the Slaughterhouses Bill met. I will tell him. The Committee had 24 sittings. Therefore, on the basis of the time apportioned to it, that Bill appears to be much more important than the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Bill.
What will Scottish people think about that? What will they think of a Secretary of State who allows that kind of thing to happen? What about the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill? The Leader of the House gave the impression that this Bill was introduced at the beginning of the Session and, therefore, it was only right that the Government should have the Bill by the end of the Session. The Second Reading took place in the middle of December, but we started the Committee stage in the last week of February and then came the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill, which took up ten sittings of the Scottish Standing Committee.
868 That Bill involves a trivial amount of drainage in Scotland, at a cost of no more than £20,000 to the taxpayer, whereas the Bill which we are now considering deals with the whole education system, the safety and welfare of children, the fire service, police, road patrols, and so on. And we are to be given about 18 sittings of the Committee, provided that we work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and, therefore, deny ourselves the opportunity of participating in other matters in relation to the House of Commons.
Is the Leader of the House proud of this? Does he want to know why the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill occupied 10 Committee sittings? If he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee stage, he will find once again that same confusion, that same conflicting attitude to Amendments and to the meaning of the statute on the part of the Scottish Office. [An HON. MEMBER: "And read the Tory speeches."] Yes, there were speeches by the Tories, because we were dealing with a landlords' Bill. It gave another subsidy to the landlords and, therefore, we heard plenty from the property owners' representatives in the Committee.
We have been gagged. Discussions on the Bill have been stifled, and I can think of two or three real reasons for it. The Government do not want discussion because they do not want the Scottish people to know the truth about the Bill. It is only recently that people have come to realise the truth of what is happening in relation to the Goschen formula as a result of the Bill.
It was left to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Craigton to reveal the second reason, and he is not a Scotsman, anyway. He said that a certain Amendment could not be accepted because the matter had been decided by the Committee which was considering the equivalent English Bill. He said more. He implied that the Opposition could not secure acceptance of any Amendment on the whole of Clause 2 because that Clause must go through, word for word and condition for condition, for Scotland as it had been accepted for England.
Will the hon. Gentleman take the trouble to read what he said?
§ Mr. Ross
The Joint Under-Secretary said:The subject raised in these Amendments was discussed in Committee on the English Bill … it would be wise and in Scotland's interests that the calculations for the grant"—that is, the whole of Clause 2—should be made at the same time in both England and Scotland and on a comparative basis."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 11th March, 1958; c. 160.]That means that no Amendment to Clause 2 will be accepted.
We can well understand why the Government want a time table. They regard it as a waste of time to discuss a matter which has been discussed and decided already by another Committee. The Secretary of State has no desire to listen to the protests of local authorities in Scotland. He has no desire to listen to hon. Members, not even his hon. Friends, because the matter has been decided already. That is a very valid reason why the Government want to have discussion of the Bill over as quickly as possible.
Another reason for their wanting a timetable is that they want to limit their hon. Friends' embarrassment. I wonder whether my hon. Friends recollect some of the speeches made on Second Reading. The hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) said that she would be concerned that Aberdeen received its due. She has not made a speech since in Committee, not said a word. The hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) was concerned to ensure that under the formula his county council should be enabled to maintain its high traditions in education. As he saw it, there would be a considerable deficiency. That part of the Bill, of course, will be subject to the Closure and discussion will be gagged. It will come under the timetable and the hon. Member for Banff; who has sat in silence since the Committee first started to discuss the Bill, waiting to deliver that speech, will not be allowed to deliver it.
The hon. Member for Pollok spoke of the rerating of industry, a matter which struck him as being most important. That subject has not yet been reached and discussed in Committee. The Government intend to rerate industry by only 870 25 per cent. On Second Reading, the hon. Member said that industry should pay 100 per cent. rates. Will he have an opportunity of saying that in Committee and of moving an Amendment, which I am sure will be in his name and which I shall support? I cannot say that he will have the support of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby). He has been excluded from the Committee. He has been gagged already.
The hon. Gentleman has been denied the right that he has always enjoyed as a member of the Scottish Standing Committee. He is a man who has had that right longer than the rest of us, since, in fact, 1924. Until this Bill came before the Committee he had a right to go there, and he has done so on odd occasions and given us the benefit of telling us how he felt. That right was taken away from him by the Leader of the House. He, with another 23 Scottish Members, were gagged from the start. They were excluded from the Committee, and now those on it are to be gagged still further.
When the Leader of the House introduced this Motion he said it would he for the benefit of Scotland and of Scottish Members. I can remember the Secretary of State for Scotland telling us that the new procedure would make the Committee much more manageable. Yet the first Bill to be discussed after it is one in which the Government introduce a Guillotine to ensure that Scottish Members will be silenced on matters vitally affecting Scotland. The Bill is a complex one and, because of that, there should be full discussion. There is no reason why that full discussion should be fitted into a preconceived pattern of legislation, that pattern being laid down more by the bungling of the Government than by anything else.
This happens every year. The Government bungle their legislative programme, and the back bench Members from Scotland have to suffer. I have no doubt that we shall be told by the Joint Under-Secretary of State that his right hon. Friend is the best Secretary of State we have. I think that the hon. Gentleman remains in his position because he is the cheer leader for his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman told us that the previous Secretary 871 of State would go down in history. He went down, quicker than we thought. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will say the same for the present Minister.
§ Mr. Ross
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart) made far more and much more coherent speeches as a back bencher than he ever made when on the Front Bench. We have just had another one.
I suggest to the Secretary of State that he should think again and withdraw not only this Motion but also the Bill. On May Day—or Maclay Day, whatever he likes to call it—the right hon. Gentleman probably has an important engagement. He is probably going to—[An HON. MEMBER: "Torrington."] No, I call it National Libbington—to address a rally of his diminishing number of National Liberal supporters.
The right hon. Gentleman is the Leader of the National Liberal Party, and it is typical National Liberalism to stifle free discussion. I suggest that he goes away again, talks with his National Liberal friends and Scottish Members—the Knights of the Scottish Table—and decides that if National Liberalism is to mean anything at all the first thing to do is to withdraw this Motion. Secondly, he should accede to the demands of the Scottish local authorities and withdraw the Bill. Thirdly, he should accede to the wishes of the people of Kelvingrove and withdraw himself and his hon. Friends from the control of affairs in Scotland.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
It is a matter of deep regret and certainly one for the strongest of protests that the Government should have placed this Motion on the Order Paper. Not merely does it demand that the Bill must be finished in Committee by 1st May, but if hon. Members will look at the Motion they will see it goes further in that it also shows that… no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Standing Committee shall be made in the Standing Committee. …As I understand, this means that a Motion to report Progress so that the Opposition may have a further oppor- 872 tunity of at least making known their point of view on procedure will be denied to them.
First, I want to put a point to the Joint Under-Secretary and to challenge him. Has any responsible member of the Government Front Bench indicated, or protested at any time about obstruction coming from the Opposition benches? Have the Government, by as much as a sentence, indicated that time was pressing or that there was great urgency in getting the Bill through? I can speak for my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House in this matter, and I can say sincerely that there has been no organised obstruction to this Bill since the beginning of our discussions upon it. For the Leader of the House to say that, whether the local authorities or the Opposition like it or not, the Government intend to enact this Bill is foreign to his own personal attitude to our democratic affairs.
If it were to be argued that there has been obstruction in the Scottish Standing Committee that would be a reflection on its Chairman, in that it was his duty to report to the authorities of the House that obstruction was taking place. If, however, no one rises to deny that, my first point is established, namely, that there have not even been allegations of obstruction or of filibustering by the Opposition from the Government benches. What the Government are saying, in effect, is that whatever the Opposition say, however good the arguments put forward, the Government will get their Bill in any case by a certain date.
This raises an important point, whether the line is being crossed in a political democracy when discussion is stifled by moving a Motion of this character. We are on extremely dangerous ground. It means that, whatever criticisms we want to make, and even if we go into the Division Lobby, when the day is over the Government will facetiously remark to us, "You were on good ground, you had a good point. Hard luck, old fellow, but the Government must have their way."
This is no way to proceed with our business, and the Scottish people and the Scottish local authorities will pay great attention to the way in which our business is being rushed through, without proper discussion of the fundamental question of financial arrangements between the cen- 873 tral Government and the local authorities. This Motion seems to betray the Government's lack of desire to make concessions. It indicates their lack of regard for, and refusal to listen to, arguments or convictions, and it shows the lamentable intolerance of those who are saying that the Bill is conferring freedom on the local authorities. What rubbish all this is. It is sheer hypocrisy and a sham.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has said, this is the first time the Guillotine Motion has been moved in respect of the Scottish Standing Committee. Since when has it been a crime for a Committee to discuss legislation in detail? Since when has it been a crime, after the broad principles of a Bill have been decided on Second Reading, for a Committee to discuss it line by line and comma by comma, if that seems to be necessary?
The Guillotine comes as a blessed relief to the Secretary of State and his colleagues and affords them some escape from the necessity of meeting the arguments of the Opposition. It is no more than a cloak for the inconsistency and obscurity of the Government's answers. The Motion will no doubt appeal to the lazy and to the second-raters who are not prepared to make a contribution to our discussions. There are two or three very honourable exceptions among hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) supported an Opposition Amendment about the importance of district councils and asked the Secretary of State to reconsider the Government's attitude; but there was no response from the Government.
If the Committee is to be forced to meet as often as it intended, what is to become of the previous objections from the other side of the House to meeting on Wednesdays when the private affairs of hon. Members opposite interfere with the affairs of the Scottish Committee? One could refer to the number of times on which such a Motion as this has been moved. The Leader of the House himself, with a wry smile, suggested that occasions when the Labour Government had moved a similar Motion had influenced the present decision.
However, it should at least be made clear that before the Labour Party came into office, it said that it had a certain programme to carry through, and on only three occasions in six years was a 874 Guillotine Motion moved. In six years under the present Government, the Guillotine Motion has been used seven times. When the Labour Government were forced into using a Guillotine Motion, the present Secretary of State for Scotland spoke against it. He is now shamelessly backing this Motion, in spite of having spoken fervently against similar Motions in the past. The more the Government lose their authority in the country, the more they rely on measures like this to force through legislation.
Speaking on the Guillotine Motion on the Iron and Steel Bill in 1948, the present Secretary of State said that he had two excuses for speaking in the debate. One was that he was the only representative of the Liberal Party present that afternoon. [An HON. MEMBER: "National Liberal."] It is very important to get these terms clear, whether a Member is a National Liberal, or a Liberal National. or a Liberal National Conservative. That is most important, because from time to time it influences the conclusions of Members on the problems which confront them.
In 1948, the right hon. Gentleman said that he had two excuses for speaking—that was how he put it. One was that he was the Liberal representative in the House at the time. Although I read through the rest of the debate, I could not discover his second excuse. Perhaps we may have it now, even if somewhat belatedly. In that debate, referring to an hon. Member on the then Government benches who had preceded him, the right hon. Gentleman said:That might he true in the case of the Second or Third Reading … but surely the hon. Gentleman and I have come here not just to state our views for and against different proposals. We have come here to try to construct sound legislation, whether we are supporters of the Government or Members of the Opposition. For this purpose the Guillotine procedure is disastrous. If this was purely a question of expressing our views for or against there might he a lot in what the hon. Gentleman said, but we are trying to produce decent legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November. 1948: Vol. 458, c. 1484.]That is a most appropriate quotation, especially in view of the vital importance to Scotland of this legislation, bearing as it does with such emphasis on the relationships between Government and local authorities and, in turn, the services which they provide.
875 I must explain that in 1940–50 the right hon. Gentleman was then a Liberal National—in that order. Since 1950, he has been a National Liberal and Conservative, and there is a distinction. If that is wrong, the right hon. Gentleman had better correct it in "Who's Who" and other reference works, because that is how he is described. I could describe him another way, if I were not within the precincts of the House of Commons. All that shows the deterioration which can take place in people's nature and attributes. It all depends on the people with whom they mix and whom they meet.
In the debate on the Guillotine on the Transport Bill, the right hon. Gentleman made the point that in 11 sittings only five Clauses had been discussed. That is the exact opposite of his other argument. In that speech, he referred to the then Minister keeping an eye on his back benchers to keep them quiet. He expressed the view thatHeard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.The right hon. Gentleman smiles. He recognises the quotation. In music, there is a better way of putting it:The rests are as eloquent as the notes themselves.From his back benchers, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, there has been much eloquent silence.
If the Leader of the House will listen to me, I can give him one or two reasons for what he has called the delays. Some of the things which have taken place have been more responsible for the alleged delay that anything the Opposition have said or done. For instance, the Joint Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) actually apologised to the Committee on one occasion for not getting to his feet quickly enough to answer a point.
After only one speech had been made in support of an Amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said:I had hoped that we were to hear an answer to the very careful argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis),upon which the Joint Under-Secretary of State rose to say:I apologise to the Committee for not having been as quick on my feet as I should 876 have been; but I thought that there would have been other supporters of the Amendment.He was actually inviting and inciting us to speak.
I am very serious about this. The delay is due to the incompetent and very ineffective speeches from Ministers, although they were not unrehearsed. Later, the other Joint Under-Secretary said:That is dead now."—referring to subsection (3)—If hon. Members will look at page 21 of the Bill, paragraph 6 (2) of the Fourth Schedule, they will see that subsection (3) was intended to be added there. That would have been subsection (3). He will also have seen, if he looks at the Order Paper, that it is proposed to remove that from the Bill, so that it will never come into operation at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 4th March, 1958, c. 61–76.]I am untutored in the way of Government Departments, but I think that I have the ordinary common sense of the layman in understanding what words mean and what Ministers say, although I find it extremely difficult to do so in this case. The Minister actually said that subsection (3) was stillborn—which may have been an allusion to the "wretched child".
I want to mention another important matter concerning the consent of the Treasury. When one of my hon. Friends asked whether it was not right that a Treasury Minister should be present to reply to the debate the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Sir I. Clark Hutchison) said that the Treasury was represented by a junior Lord of the Treasury, namely, the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White).
I am not casting any aspersions upon the ability of the hon. Member for Rutherglen, but I say that it was inhuman and quite wrong of the hon. Member to suggest that the hon. Member for Rutherglen should assist the Government—because he has been running about half demented trying to keep a quorum for the Government. It was a result of the Government's being unable to maintain a quorum that the Chairman had to suspend the proceedings at our last sitting. That sort of conduct brings the Committee into disrepute in the eyes of the people of Scotland. It is certainly not dignified, to say the least.
877 My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock has already referred to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan), who wanted the wordsprevailing in Scotland as a whole.to be withdrawn. I shall not enter into the merits or demerits of the matter, but the Joint Under-Secretary said:We believe, and we think we are right, that we should write into the Bill that Scottish conditions should be taken into account.As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said, however, later the Solicitor-General for Scotland said:If the words 'prevailing in Scotland as a whole' were left out of this paragraph it is most unlikely that any fluctuation in England could possibly effect the provisions of the Clause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 18th March, 1958, c. 274–80.]I hope that the Leader of the House has noted those words. If that is what is to happen, how are we to proceed with our business? Why should the Opposition be saddled with the charge of having talked about this important Bill for so long?
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) told the Committee that the Secretary of State had given him an assurance—perhaps not in the Committee itself—that he would give serious consideration to the proposition which my hon. Friend put to him and would reply at the next meeting of the Committee, but we went on for half an hour, and no member of the Government even attempted to reply to the further points made, or to give any assurance about the result of that consultation or gestation, and I believe that another Closure was moved.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the Leader of the House is sorry that he introduced the Motion. I hope that there will be some heart-searchings and further inquiry behind the scenes to discover whether the Motion is necessary. The first three Clauses of the Bill are important, and if the discussion upon them could have gone on for a little longer the Government would have had no cause to complain of their treatment by the Opposition—because hon. Members on this side are more concerned about local authorities than hon. Members 878 opposite. We know the troubles which are confronting them because of the financial implications of the Bill. I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting against the Motion.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
My Scotsman tells me today that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are angry with the Government about the Guillotine Motion. I have not seen any signs of anger among them. Not one lock of the hair of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) was displaced in the course of his speech.
§ Sir J. Duncan
And as for the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross)—he was more humorous than I have heard him before in my life. The hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) was argumentative, but certainly not angry. It is plain that the Opposition now are as synthetic as the Conservative Opposition were in the days of the 1948 Parliament. This is just one of those Parliamentary performances which have to be gone through, and which are better got over fairly quickly.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock speaks often enough; he might listen to what I am saying instead of having a debate with his hon. Friend. He talked about my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) not being on the Committee, and, therefore, being gagged. I am not on the Committee, either, but I do not feel gagged. I had opportunities to speak during the Second Reading debate, and I can speak again on Report if I wish to do so. I can also make a speech in the Third Reading debate.
I do not feel in the least that I have been gagged by being put off the Scottish Standing Committee for the sake of this Bill. I do not want to go into the reasons why I got off. It took some doing. None the less I am glad to know that I am on the Committee which will consider the Agriculture Bill. Because I am one of those interested in other subjects and wish to have the chance to take an interest in a Committee on other subjects, I am glad that I shall be on that Committee and, therefore, able to speak 879 up for Scotland in another sphere; instead of being tied to the Scottish Standing Committee, which would have made it impossible for me to take an interest in the proceedings of two Committees at the same time.
§ Sir J. Duncan
No, I cannot give way. The hon. Gentleman speaks quite enough.
I understand that the Committee dealing with the English Bill, which is a bigger Bill than the Scottish Measure and deals with boundaries as well as financial provisions, has now got to Clause 54 if not beyond, while the Scottish Committee has gone only half-way through Clause 2. Admittedly, the Scottish Committee started its deliberations a little later than the Committee discussing the English Bill. But the Committee discussing the English Bill has conducted its business on a voluntary timetable.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
We had nine meetings of the Scottish Standing Committee and reached Clause 2. The Committee discussing the English Bill after nine meetings had got only to the end of Clause 1.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I am saying that the Committee discussing the English Bill, which, admittedly, started its business a little earlier than the Scottish Standing Committee, has now reached Clause 54, if not beyond. I am not contradicting what the hon. Gentleman has said; I am bringing him up to date. He is usually out-of-date.
The Committee discussing the English Bill has don[...] its business on a voluntary timetable. Why could not the Scottish Standing Committee have agreed to a voluntary timetable? I do not like this Motion any more than anybody else. I would much rather have a voluntary timetable. If the English can work to one, why cannot the Scots? Had that been the case, we should not have had to waste a day discussing this Motion. We could have got on with business which is far more important, and also conducted the business in the Scottish Standing Committee in an orderly manner. I hope that this question will be answered by someone from the opposite benches.
It would have been much better if we had reached a voluntary agreement. Given the premise that the Second Read- 880 ing had been carried and the principle of the Bill accepted by a majority decision, and assuming that the Government must have the right to get the Bill passed into law within a reasonable time, why should there not have been a voluntary timetable instead of this enormous Motion on the Order Paper?
This is a rotten system, which we ought to deplore. If hon. Members opposite would only co-operate a little more with the Government and achieve a voluntary time-table we should obviate the necessity for a debate such as this and avoid the resulting waste of time.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) explained that he could not be present at the deliberations of the Scottish Standing Committee, because of the deliberations of the Committee discussing the Slaughterhouses Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes
But the hon. Member was a member of the Committee discussing the Slaughterhouses Bill which has been much more leisurely over its proceedings than has the Scottish Standing Committee. So far as I can gather, that Committee was very dilatory in its progress with the Slaugterhouses Bill.
§ Mr. Hughes
It is finished now. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us how many times the Committee met.
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, and as I understand, a good deal of the time taken in discussing the Slaughterhouses Bill was occupied by the hon. Member for South Angus. He is the last person in the world who, not having been on the Scottish Standing Committee, should reproach us with conducting our business in an unbusiness-like manner.
§ Mr. Hughes
I represent a Scottish constituency, and what is more, my constituents have returned me as their Member for many years; much longer than have the constituents of the hon. Gentle- 881 man. So that if he has any complaint of the fact that I am not a Scotsman, he must blame my constituents who happen to be Scottish people. The hon. Member once fought an English constituency—
§ Mr. Hughes
—and is the last person who should intervene in this debate.
The Lord Privy Seal tried to picture a serious Leader of the House who had carefully gone into every one of the reports of all the nine sittings of the Committee. I do not believe a word of it. The other day, the Lord Privy Seal told us frankly that the proceedings in this House were a struggle for power. This is an incident in the struggle for power.
This is a Government on the run who are afraid that they will not get their legislation through quickly enough. They are not using the Guillotine, which is a comparatively humane instrument; they are wielding an axe. This is striking right and left at the whole democratic procedure of the Scottish Standing Committee.
It would be a good thing if the Leader of the House spent a little time visiting the various Committees which he is supposed to superintend. He would find that in the Scottish Standing Committee most of the members are not present. He would find that in the next room there are hon. Gentlemen serving on what they call "quorum duty". I heard one of them discussing the reasons why he had been put on this Committee, and why he had to do "quorum duty." His duty was not to listen to the debate, but to turn up when a quorum was necessary in order to carry the Bill.
Why are some hon. Members put on this Committee to discuss what has been called this intricate piece of Scottish legislation? The only reason is there are certain hon. Members who have been chosen for punishment. Had the Conservatives won the Torrington by-election, I wonder whether the newly elected Conservative Member would have been put on the Scottish Standing Committee next week.
There is, for example, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), who is a member of the Scottish Standing Committee. The hon. Gentleman comes occasionally to the 882 sittings of the Committee and listens, in a stupified manner, to hon. Members opposite to find out what they are really talking about. Why is the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border a member of the Scottish Standing Committee? I tried to find out and at last I discovered the reason. The hon. Member is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. They did not have sufficient power to put the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) on this Committee, so what did they do? They made a victim of the right hon. Gentleman's Parliamentary Private Secretary.
I wonder how many hon. Members representing English constituencies who have been co-opted on to this Committee understand the Goschen formula? They think that it is something to do with ancient Egypt. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) could pass an elementary intelligence test on the Goschen formula? I am certain that the majority of these hon. Members who, for disciplinary reasons, are being brought into the Committee, have not the slightest notion of what this legislation means so far as Scotland is concerned.
The Lord Privy Seal said that the Committee stage of this Bill would take as much time as an ordinary Finance Bill. There is only one Finance Bill, but the financial provisions in this Bill are meant to govern Scotland for the next quarter of a century. They are intended to govern Scotland for a decade ahead—that is, if there is a Conservative Government in office. It will be one of the difficult tasks of a Labour Government to unravel these provisions and to unscramble the egg. Hon. Gentlemen opposite think that they are legislating for the long-term financial provisions of local authorities in Scotland.
The Goschen formula, for example, goes back for many decades. Yet we are being asked to rush through a Bill which is causing much anxiety and concern to the local authorities. I could stand all the so-called arguments of the Leader of the House about the financial need for the Bill and about the Government needing to get their programme; but when the right hon. Gentleman explained that one of the reasons the Bill was needed was out of consideration for the local authorities, it was enough to make one sick.
883 The last people about whom the Government are concerned are the local authorities. The Government know quite well that the local authorities, the county councils, the town councils and the education authorities who are concerned with the Bill hate it, because they know that it is a dangerous Bill for the future of local government in Scotland. If the Motion before the House were dropped as a result of the appeal made by my hon. Friends today, nobody would be more pleased than those who have to do the hard day-to-day work of local authorities in Scotland and who are faced with intolerable financial difficulties, to which the Bill will inevitably add.
The Bill has been regarded so seriously by the Scotsman that it has devoted six long articles to it, and nearly every one of them has been critical of the Bill. Yet the Bill is to be rushed through just because the Government need to get their programme in the minimum amount of time.
The Leader of the House talked about our lingering over the Bill. My complaint of the debates so far in the Scottish Standing Committee is that we have not been able to linger enough. Take, for example, the debate on technical education. We have been told over and over again during the last three years about the importance to this country of technical education. There was one debate in which we were allowed to skirmish around the fringes of the need for local authorities in Scotland to have the necessary finance to deal with technical education.
We had a debate in which the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) argued that we needed to spend more money on technical education and on technical institutes because we were behind the Soviet Union and the United States of America in such education. I do not know where the hon. Member for Scotstoun is today. Perhaps he is already looking after the affairs of the company which he is to direct when he leaves the House of Commons.
I venture to support that argument. At one stage of the Bill I wanted to argue about the necessity of spending more money on technical education. In doing so, I referred in what I thought was an illustration, to what was being done in the U.S.S.R. I find, according to the 884 OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in the Scottish Standing Committee, that I said—or half said:I do not want this country to lag behind the Soviet Union. Moscow University is one of the most—THE CHAIRMAN: The general argument which the hon. Gentleman is putting forward"—I was not allowed to say what Moscow University was doing.
I am the last person to challenge the authority of the Chair, either in Committee or in the House, but I thought that the kind of education being provided by Moscow University was relevant because we were discussing finance for technical education. Then there were several points of order in which various of my hon. Friends came gallantly to my assistance. My hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) both came to my assistance and argued with the Chair that I should be allowed to continue. In fact, they took up more time by their points of order than I would have done in developing my argument. I then had to beat a dignified retreat, and I went on to say:My trouble is that you, Mr. MacPherson, are trying to cut my argument in advance before I have sought to explain it, but, if some are allergic to Moscow, may I turn to the University of Tiflis?The Chairman intervened again. I mention these facts to show that, apart from any dilatory lingering in the Committee, the Chairman had been urging us on: The Chairman said:The hon. Gentleman may not. The Bill is not concerned with technical education at that stage.The Chairman said that despite the fact that previous speakers had argued in that way.
Although I regard the Chairman of the Scottish Standing Committee as Enemy No. 1, I do not think that the Government can so regard him because he has done his utmost to expedite the proceedings of the Committee.
At a later stage of the debate I had some satisfaction when I was able to give a little assistance to the Chairman. I was so anxious to see the business speeded up before 1st May that I took exception to a remark made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirling-shire (Mr. Woodburn). My right hon.
885 Friend was not venturing as far as Moscow University or nearly as far as the University of Tiflis. He was giving an illustration about Eton College. I understand that Eton College is a technical school in England. I could not see why, if it was right to give an illustration from England, I was wrong in trying to give an illustration from Tiflis and Moscow. Therefore I rushed to the assistance of the Chairman.
I am not at all prejudiced against Eton. I am in favour of Eton and Slough, and I always support my hon. Friend who represents that constituency when he raises matters in the House. I have no ideological objections to Eton, and all I wanted on that occasion was to hurry forward the progress of the Bill. So I intervened on a point of order. I asked the Chairman:Can you explain, Mr. MacPherson, why Eton is in order and Moscow is not?The Chairman said:I was wondering about that myself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 20th March, 1958; c. 319–22.]I was helping the Chairman to hurry up the proceedings of the Committee which are supposed to be going at a snail's pace. I then had the satisfaction of knowing that, by implication, the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench was rebuked. Perhaps I may confine that warning—my warning—to the right hon. Gentleman.
I am sometimes suspected of obstructing legislation in the House. By whom, I do not know. I have been told that on a certain occasion I took up a whole sitting of the Scottish Grand Committee in opposing a Bill introduced by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley). It is quite true that on that occasion I made a rather lengthy speech. However, the Committee incorporated my Amendment in the Bill, and I had the satisfaction of being warmly thanked by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns for the assistance I had given him in getting the Bill passed.
I am using that as a complete reply to the Minister, who has argued that somebody was filibustering or that we were going at too slow a pace in order to delay the Bill. I gave this illustration to show that, as one of the chief culprits introducing perhaps the elaborate arguments that are necessary in order to improve 886 the Bill, I have tried my best to get this Bill hurried up, even to the extent of making a mortal enemy of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire, who had to sit down as the result of my trying to help the Chairman to carry out the business of the Committee.
I submit that there is no excuse for the accusation against the Opposition that they have been trying to delay this Bill unnecessarily. Every speech which I have heard during the course of the debates in the Committee has been a legitimate speech in order to help the Government to improve the Bill. I suggest that this Motion is not justified. Even from the point of view of handling the business, the Secretary of State for Scotland has been incompetent, because if at any time he had had his conscript quorum organised, he could have moved the Closure. He has done it once, and he could do it again. It is because I believe that, not only from the point of view of principle, but also from that of procedure, the Government have shown themselves to be incompetent that I hope that this Motion will be defeated tonight.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray (Berwick and East Lothian)
Whenever I follow the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) in debate, I am always reminded of what James Boswell wrote about the then Member for Ayrshire in his London Journal in 1773. Boswell wrote:I called on our Member and found him the same joker as formerly and nothing more. It struck me a little to think that the gentle, men of Ayrshire should be represented in Parliament by a good, honest, merry fellow indeed, but one so totally incapable of the business of legislation, and so devoid of the talents which distinguish a man in public life.Poor Ayrshire in 1773, and now, in 1958.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this was the evidence of Boswell, who was by no means a very good witness?
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
Let us leave the past to the past. In all seriousness, I wish that the people of Scotland, and particularly those for whom the Scotsman newspaper has been writing lately, could 887 have listened to every word of the hon. Member's speech, so much of which requires debunking.
Many of these illustrations are entirely irrelevant to the real business of the work of this House, and entirely irrelevant to the real business of the Scottish Standing Committee. The hon. Member himself reminded us of the occasion when there was a small Bill in charge of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) on which he spoke, if I remember rightly, for the whole of a sitting of the Committee—and in order—but surely Scottish Members of Parliament do not need the whole of two and a half hours in which to develop their arguments?
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he has, in fact, contributed one sentence of any kind at any time during the whole course of the sittings of the Committee, either in support of the Bill or against it?
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
I think it was the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) who said that—Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.If hon. Members on the Government side are trying to help the Government to get their business through, the best thing that most of them can do is not to take up an undue amount of the time of the Committee. If I may go further with this argument, and I think it is a true argument—hon. Members on all sides know that this is not a vote-catching speech, because it will not be reported in the Press, and we can be quite realistic about it—I would say that silence is sometimes worth a great deal more.
If we are to have the proposed procedure, for which there is ample precedent, it may be an encouragement to hon. Members who support the Government—as well as hon. Members opposite, whose motive is to delay; I do not say obstruct—to take up points and have a share of the debate and, in that way, have the argument better put from both sides of the Committee as a result.
I do not want to waste time in this debate, because time and again, as hon. Members will remember, these questions have been debated in this House. The 888 point of view of each party is always dictated by the side of the House on which it happens to be sitting. Government supporters are on the side of the Motion proposing the timetable, and opponents of the Government, who want to delay Government legislation, always oppose it. Therefore, one knows from the word "go" how the debate will go.
I should like to put one particular point, in closing, on the matter of the first session, as it is, of the newly constituted Scottish Standing Committee. I am one of those who would have liked—and I am sure the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) would also have been pleased to see it—an agreed timetable, one agreed by the Scottish Members in the Scottish Standing Committee instead of one imposed on the Floor of the House. I think that that was in the mind of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who would have liked it, because a timetable is necessary in order to get through the business of this House, as we well know; but, as we failed to get that agreed timetable, it was incumbent on the Government to ensure that their policy was carried out. I support them in the action they have taken.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
We have had two contributions from the Government side of the House, and, of course, we welcome them. The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan), who spoke earlier, opposed the Guillotine. I think it is not unfair to say that, at least, he made it clear that he was not supporting his Government on this occasion. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) has revealed why the Government want their back benchers to keep quiet. It is because they are not helpful, and the best assistance they give to the Government is by keeping quiet.
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
It is a question of time, and of trying to get the Bill through without delay. If Government supporters speak at great length, that always causes speeches from the other side, just as the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) is ready to speak now that I have intervened.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. and gallant Gentleman lands himself in a dilemma. Now that we are to have less time, the 889 hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he will speak more often. The more we compress the duration of these debates, the more talkative the hon. and gallant Gentleman will become, and the more unhappy the Government will become the oftener they hear the support they get from him.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) said, this is a unique occasion, because it is the first time in the history of the Scottish Standing Committee that the Guillotine has been imposed on our proceedings.
This proposal has come from a Secretary of State for Scotland who clings desperately to some of the traditions of Liberalism. Whether he is more of a Conservative or more of a Liberal is a matter of doubt. No inquiry has so far been held into that question. At least, the right hon. Gentleman hangs on to the word "Liberal" and it is he who brings in this restrictive Motion, which is in keeping with the Liberal tradition.
The very first Guillotine that was ever applied to any Scottish Bill was in 1908, by the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. He imposed it upon the Scottish Land Values Bill and on the Scottish Smallholders Bill. That Liberal tradition was begun fifty years ago and is being continued today. I hope that it will receive no more support than it formerly had from Government supporters.
I am sorry that the Leader of the House has now gone out. I wanted to quote to him what the Leader of the Tory Party said when the right hon. Henry Herbert Asquith brought in a Guillotine Motion for the Scottish Temperance Bill in 1913. The present Leader of the House of Commons always speaks with suavity. The words of Mr. Austen Chamberlain reminded me of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. They were:… the more mellifluous the language in which he commends it to the House, the greater is the outrage which he proposes to perpetrate upon our ancient privileges and liberties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1913; Vol. 54, c. 824.]That was the description given by the then Leader of the party to which the Secretary of State belongs when an earlier Guillotine Motion was introduced by the Liberals. I wonder whether the 890 Minister who is to reply to the debate is prepared to echo the words which were used in support of the Motion in 1913.
There is a feeling on this side of the House that the Leader of the House was not well-informed about the proceedings of the Scottish Standing Committee. He has been given the impression that we on this side of the House have been lingering unduly in our consideration of the Bill, and wasting time; and that, because we had wasted time, the Guillotine had to be imposed so that the Government could get their business through the House. The records of the Committee proceedings show that this is not true. In fact, we achieved a very important Amendment of the Bill.
Is it generally realised that when the Bill came before the Committee it showed that the Government proposed to restore the financial veto of the House of Lords? Because of an Amendment moved from our side of the Committee, the money order, as originally proposed in the Bill, will not now he submitted for the approval of the House of Lords. That was a most reactionary Government proposal and we had to argue on it for quite a while. Nobody in Parliament wants to restore the financial powers of the House of Lords, yet that was proposed in the Bill. It would be difficult to describe the time spent on that Amendment as in any way wasted.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) mentioned the time spent on technical education. We also spent a good deal of time on another Amendment to decide whether or not in every financial provision the words,subject to the consent of the Treasuryshould be used. That proposal was very properly resisted from our side of the Committee, and the Government put up no valid argument in favour of those words.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State, the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. J. N. Browne), speaking for his Front Bench, said that the phrase did not mean what it appeared to mean; it meantthe Lords Commissioners of the Treasury".This includes the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the three Government Whips—altogether five right hon. and hon. Members. In order to test 891 the validity of that explanation I asked a week ago last Tuesday in this House how often the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury had met to vote financial grants. The answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is a Member of the Committee, was that they had not met for that purpose in 100 years. That is the sort of thing that we are up against. The only occasions on which they had met were ceremonial occasions. Perhaps the granting of money is such an effort to the Government that when Scotland gets it that is regarded as a ceremonial occasion.
The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian asked why we had not arrived at an agreed timetable. His argument was that if we had agreed upon a timetable we would not be getting the jackboot. I do not know a great deal about this talk of an agreement. One hears things by keeping one's ears open. I am not revealing any secret when I say that I believe there was talk about an agreement, but all my hon. and right hon. Friends opposed an agreement, for this reason.
The consideration of the English Bill started on 28th January, but consideration of the Scottish Bill did not start until 27th February, a month later. Up to last Thursday there had been nine sittings of the Scottish Committee and 24 sittings of the English Committee. Before we had had five sittings of the Scottish Committee—if I am wrong, I am subject to correction—the Secretary of State had moved the Closure in debate twice. Before we had had seven sittings he was looking for a voluntary timetable. In other words, we were pressurised from the very beginning. We were pressurised by repeated applications of the Closure and then by demands for an agreed timetable, and when we tried to preserve the democratic method in the Committee the Secretary of State immediately introduced the Guillotine.
There is no justification for that attitude. Perhaps it is in keeping with the Liberal tradition, as expressed by one at least of its modern exponents. It boils down to this: we on this side of the House are free to do as we like in debate, in the Secretary of State's opinion, as long as we do what he tells us. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman has just said, 892 "That is it." That is what the Guillotine means. His views have slipped to the surface.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
§ Mr. Rankin
When he gets the least chance, out it comes.
The last time we had a Guillotine dealing with Scottish affairs was thirty years ago, in 1928. On that occasion the Bill was a United Kingdom Bill dealing with local government, just as the present Bill deals with local government, and the Guillotine Motion included not only England but also Scotland. Because both countries were concerned, one part of the Guillotine Motion was called the English Measure and the other part the Scottish Measure.
The Guillotine was then imposed by a party which had an adequate Parliamentary majority but which was losing more and more support in the country. That is exactly the position today. If the Conservative Party could tell us "We have support in the country", there might be some reason for their bringing forward the Guillotine, but they are in exactly the same position as were their predecessors thirty years ago. They have an adequate Parliamentary majority and they are not dependent on hon. Members on this side of the House, but their support is diminishing more and more rapidly in the country.
To apply the Guillotine in those circumstances is an unjustified curtailment not only of the elementary rights of this House but also of the elementary duties of a free Parliament. It is a brutal action carried out by a brutal method. It carries the stink of Fascism and not the flavour of democracy. In my view it shows the continual failure of this Parliament to deal with Scottish affairs.
Recently we denied to certain Scottish Members a customary right. We were to streamline the Scottish Standing Committee in order that it could deal more easily and more competently with Scottish affairs. For the purpose of expediting business, the rights of members of the Scottish Standing Committee were limited. Despite that, repeatedly during the procedure on the Bill the Government have failed to keep a quorum in the Committee.
§ Mr. Rankin
No doubt one or two hon. Members will be coming into the Chamber in a minute.
The Government have failed in the purpose which they eulogised when they set out to reform this Committee. They are now taking a further step; they are going beyond limitation and are denying rights absolutely. They are denying the right of free and full criticism of one of the most important post-war Measures which we have had for Scotland. Despite the tinkering that has taken place over the last year in order to pep up the Scottish Committee; to make it more competent in the eyes of the Government, and to inject into it some of that expedition which they feel it should carry, the Government have failed and now they have to apply the Guillotine. If one were to say, "Hail Maclayski", that would be an adequate description of what has been happening in the proceedings of this House.
While I know that this is possibly a little beyond the scope of our discussion, I suggest that the reason for the imposition of this piece of Fascist legislation is the enormous pressure of ordinary Government business on the work of the Scottish Committee. No matter what we do by juggling with the membership of the Committee, we shall not solve the problem along the lines on which we are now seeking to solve it. It is as clear as daylight to me, and it is becoming gradually clearer to other hon. Members on both sides of the House, that if we are to get this problem into its proper perspective and to deal with it in an adequate manner, there must be a greater measure of devolution to a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to deal with Scottish affairs.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
I have a great deal of sympathy with the last suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin), although obviously this is not the time to go into it in detail.
What shocked me in the debate was the argument, if one could so call it, of the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray), who made his speech and then left the 894 Chamber, which is what he has been doing for several weeks past in Scottish Standing Committee. Today, he attacked my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). I was very surprised that he should attack my hon. Friend of all hon. Members for a failure to understand what legislation means or how it should be conducted. If that hon. and gallant Member for Berwick is content to cite as his chief witness Boswell, the notorious gentleman who notoriously represented a very poor type of Scotsman indeed—the Scotsman who fell very much by the way or chose to fall by the way, and found his way into very dubious bypasses—I will not follow him into the fulzie and dirty alleyways of the eighteenth century.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) quoted from Boswell, who attacked the then hon. Member for South Ayrshire. I do not know what the then hon. Member for South Ayrshire was like, but I am certain that he did not pay £5 to a prostitute, get venereal disease and then ask for his money back.
§ Mr. MacMillan
That, at least, makes it pretty clear that the then hon. Member was not a member of the Labour Party. Boswell has been discredited, and we can dismiss him as a snivelling, lecherous, denaturalised sycophant, who did not belong to the Labour Party, but made his choice of friends among the many prominent Tory names of his times. Perhaps I may remind hon. Members of one authority in this House in past years, whose opinion of the legislative prowess of the Tory Party was much lower than that of Boswell or the non-Socialist Member for South Ayrshire in his time. It was Lord Randolph Churchill who said "The Conservative Party can increase taxation ad lib; it can govern and make war; but it is a schoolboy's dream to imagine that it can legislate." The hon. and gallant Gentleman is welcome to his schoolboy's dream.
The conduct of this Bill and the bring-in of this Motion is a gagging not only of the Opposition but, as is clear from the admissions of hon. Members opposite, of those who might have supported the Bill. This is the worst form of smothering democracy at work, in the only way we know of making it work—by debate in 895 this House and in Standing Committee. It is a sad day when one has to congratulate, not the Secretary of State this time, but the Lord Privy Seal upon what is, in fact, his maiden Closure on the Scottish Committee. It is not Madame Guillotine this time but Mademoiselle Guillotine. It is the first Guillotine Motion that has ever been attempted against a Scottish Committee, and it is no great credit to the Government that it should be on this particular Bill.
We have had more Government hon. Members present—and this is an illustration of how the Committee has worked throughout—on the issue of preventing discussion of the Bill than we have had in all the Sessions of the Scottish Standing Committee. I think that is something of which the Government's supporters should be a little ashamed. Throughout the Committee debates, they not only failed to praise—or to damn it—with any sort of vocal contributions, but failed to register any sort of interest in it at any point. Occasionally, they came in from the upstairs corridors. They came in, with their cups of coffee half consumed and their cigarettes stubbed out, immediately on the heels of the Secretary of State as he slithered in from time to times and coiled up in a corner awaiting his chance to move the Closure. All his contributions were the ten or eleven tinkling syllables, "I beg to move, That the Question be now put".
With the honourable exception of the Under-Secretary, the other side has not put up much support of the Bill. If the Government's case had depended on the Secretary of State, no case would have been made out at all. He has hardly defended his Bill, as he should, Clause by Clause, against any Amendment whatsoever. He has been a complete dummy in this piece—
§ Mr. Maclay
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that, of course, the case for a Bill is normally deployed in the Second Reading debate. The Standing Committee deals with the details.
§ Mr. MacMillan
If I may correct the right hon. Gentleman, the case for the principle of the Bill is, of course, discussed on Second Reading; but the case for the Bill, Clause by Clause, subsection by subsection, paragraph and line is the job of the Scottish Standing Committee. 896 It is regrettable that the Secretary of State himself has shown no good cause why the Bill in detail should be supported by the House, or why this Motion, arising from his own failure to help to amend the Bill—which is largely the reason for the so-called delays—should be accepted.
Let me turn to what has been said about the time taken on Amendments. For myself, I think that every Amendment called has been of some value. Those that were not worth calling or were out of order were, of course, discarded by the Chair. Those that seemed repetitive, or likely to be, were grouped together by the Chair, and I do not think that anybody has for one moment called into question the conduct or the competence of the Chair. I had quite a large number of Amendments down and my name to others; some were taken, and some of them were not called. If putting them down is guilt, I plead guilty, but I had no complaint against the conduct of the Chair.
We had a fair time to talk upon the Amendments. From time to time, the Closure was put in the ordinary way by the Government and, when the Chairman thought it reasonable to accept it, it was accepted. We did not, however, anticipate that, having made a habitual use of the Closure—which, at the time, we rather resented but accepted—the right hon. Gentleman would go beyond that and move for the Guillotine. As my hon. Friend the Member for Govan has pointed out, this is the first time it has happened to a Scottish Committee.
Let us look for a minute at the things that have been under discussion and what remains to be discussed in the Amendments. First of all, let me remind the House, we have been operating with a smaller Committee. That was the first restriction, limitation and cut suffered by Scottish Members in discussion of Scottish Bills. A number of Members, some of them with a life-time's experience of local government, have been excluded, therefore, from the discussions altogether, and the result has been that the quality of the discussion has necessarily suffered.
There are extremely few hon. Members left who have any local government experience at all. We therefore lost numbers and experience. To that extent, the discussions suffered, and that may be another reason why hon. Members opposite lost a good deal of interest in the Bill. 897 That, however, made it all the more necessary for those of us who were left to carry out their duties, not to a less but to a good deal greater degree than we would have had to do had the old complete Scottish Committee been in operation. The result has been that it has been left to a smaller Committee to introduce the Amendments, and for a smaller number to talk more often on them.
Nevertheless, the Government having reduced the membership of the Committee, which thereby also suffered loss of quality as well as of rights, they were still unable to keep a quorum of their own Members. The poor Scottish Whip—who does his best, and does it effectively—was running about at what is called "minding his p's and q's." He was minding his p's by making sure that he had the Parliamentary Secretary on the Front Bench and the P.P.S. handy. He had to mind his q's by first seeing that he had his quorum, and then keeping that quorum quiet. Generally he did his job perfectly well. But it is no failure of the Whips that has given rise to complaints about poor attendance. The Government must take the blame for them.
I turn, then, to the matters contained in the Amendments. The Amendment about the date of operation was far more important to the Scottish Bill than it was to the English Measure, because, in our arguments, it related directly to the effects of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act. Revaluation has already been carried out in England; but it will not have finished in Scotland for another two years. We therefore had to try to delay the operation of the Bill until that revaluation had taken place. That was one of the principal considerations in that one discussion.
Then there was the question of what we regarded as the unnecessary intervention and domination of the Treasury over the Secretary of State. We tried to prod him into claiming his own rights and sustaining the prestige of his office as the only representative of Scotland in the Cabinet. Eventually, he himself began to see the force of our argument and, at last, all the so-called wasted discussion bore some fruit. It is true that it was unexpected fruit; but there it was. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to agree that it might well be that the Treasury should not be quite so prominent in Ors sense. We then tried to urge 898 him along the rest of the way, but there we did not succeed.
Then we came to an Amendment about what we thought was the unnecessary intervention of members of another place in respect of what were predominantly money matters. The Secretary of State accepted that. I agree that that was only after a good deal of argument, but if the argument had not been put he himself would certainly not have introduced that Amendment; though it was rather important from the point of view of the House of Commons—that assertion of its rights of control over its most ancient function of Supply.
There were Amendments in respect of the rights and functions of district councils, and it cannot be denied that the discussions were worth while. Then we came to the question of the rights of areas with exceptional needs, and nobody can argue that that is not an extremely important subject. Certainly the areas with exceptional needs will never forgive the right hon. Gentleman for failing to accept our. Amendment.
Then we came to the Goschen formula; and nobody could argue that that has not been an important subject for discussion in the past and that it will not continue to be so for some years to come. Then there was technical education. Who would dismiss that as a trifle, except the Secretary of State for Scotland? There was also a number of other matters of equal or almost equal importance, and some of even greater importance. If they all fell by the wayside because of the stubbornness of the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends, that is not to say that the time was wasted or that the Amendments were not worth putting on the Notice Paper. Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot sustain the argument that the debating time was wasted on all these vitally important matters?
I am afraid the trouble is that the Secretary of State has panicked. I think that word might be familiar to him. I think he is all nerves. Perhaps it arises out of the dull and crushing cares of his office. I can understand his cares being dull in view of the company they have to keep. Perhaps he is overburdened. Whatever the cause, he has lost his nerve.
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the remaining Amendments on the 899 Paper, he will see that there are still several left on Clause 2, and I plead guilty to being one of their partisans. On Clause 3, however, there are only five Amendments altogether, two of which are his own. If he looks at Clause 4, he will find one Amendment, which seeks to leave out Clause 4, admittedly; but it is one which the Chair would have to put in any case in the ordinary course, even if it had not been on the Paper.
On Clause 5, there are three Amendments, plus the usual Motion that the Clause stand part of the Bill. On Clause 6, there is no Amendment at all. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at Clause 7, he will find two Amendments, one from this side of the House and one from his own side—a fairly even distribution—and a rather novel one in view of the gag which was applied, even before this Motion was moved today, to his hon. Friends who have been silenced by everything from loyalty to sheer ignorance.
On Clauses 8, 9 and 10, there is not a single Amendment. On Clause 11 there is one; and none again until we get to Clause 18, on which there is one Amendment, and that is fairly brief because part of the subject has been discussed already. Finally, on Clauses 19 and 20 there are no Amendments at all.
There then comes an interesting point. After a short new Clause in the names of some of my hon. Friends we come to the point where the Secretary of State becomes extremely prominent in "obstructing and delaying the Bill"—to use the language of the party opposite. When we reach the First Schedule we find the name of the Secretary of State. Similarly, on the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Schedules he constitutes practically the whole cast.
I do not think it can be said that we on these benches have overburdened the Notice Paper and unreasonably delayed the Committee with our Amendments. Certainly there are no frivolous Amendments. In any case, the Chairman would not have allowed them. Neither would he have allowed tedious repetition. I cannot understand the basis of all these complaints. If hon. Members opposite want constructively to help the course of their own legislation, they might at least take some time to speak and support it. 900 It is surely worth while for them to say what they think about their own legislation. But, even of the few Members on the benches opposite who have spoken, each has been partly critical of the Government. They have certainly praised the Bill with a paltry amount of enthusiasm.
As for the Secretary of State, he has made no attempt at all to justify his own Bill in Committee. Least of all has he any right to come to the House and incite the Lord Privy Seal, who has no knowledge of the Committee, to gag the Committee still further.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
When the Leader of the House this afternoon moved the Motion now before the House he confessed that the Bill which is being considered by the Scottish Standing Committee is of great importance and of considerable complexity. All hon. Members who are serving on that Committee will, I think, agree with those sentiments. We regard the Bill as one of considerable intricacy which vitally affects every local authority in Scotland.
The Bill involves a major alteration in the whole form and structure of Exchequer grants to local authorities. It abolishes the Education (Scotland) Fund and it proposes vital changes in the de-rating provisions of the 1929 Act. It also seeks to make permament the Secretary of State's control over borrowings by all local authorities in Scotland. Surely we should have reasonable opportunity to discuss a Bill of such complexity and which so vitally interests Scottish local authorities.
The Bill involves a sum of £36 million odd. I should have thought that the Leader of the House, when moving the Motion this afternoon, would have given us some concrete evidence of the way in which the progress on the Bill was being delayed. I should have thought that he would have given us chapter and verse by quoting some of the Amendments moved by my hon. Friends, but he made no effort to do so. He merely made the assertion in vague and general terms that the Committee had failed to make reasonable progress. He certainly did not accuse us on these benches of filibustering. Indeed, when the Leader of the House resumed his seat I thought the Secretary of State would naturally 901 move that, "The Question be now put." Fortunately, he did not fall into that error.
My hon. Friends have dealt very sensibly with what I prefer to call the incompetence of the Ministers responsible for handling the Bill. Several of my hon. Friends have indicated that the lack of progress on the Bill has been due entirely to the failure and incompetence of the Minister—incompetence that inevitably leads to delay. If the Leader of the House doubts the sincerity or accuracy of the assertions which we make with regard to Ministerial incompetence, I invite him to attend one or two sittings of the Scottish Standing Committee and see for himself where the delay takes place. I am quite satisfied, and I know that my hon. Friends will agree with me, that he will, after a single visit, come to the conclusion that there is no justification for accusing the Opposition, at least, of delaying tactics. He will realise that the whole responsibility rests upon his own colleagues in the Government for their failure competently to handle the various Amendments proposed.
I have so far failed to appreciate the real reasons behind the Motion or what has prompted it. I say that having in mind what occurred on the other Scottish Bills we have dealt with during the last two years. We all remember dealing with the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Bill, on which there were twenty-four sittings. Adequate time was given to us to propose [...]r Amendments and to take part in the discussion on all Clauses of the Bill. The Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Bill had twenty-two sittings. No attempt was made to introduce a Guillotine Motion or even to make a formal time-table arrangement. We had ample opportunity to discuss all the issues involved in that Bill. Last year, we had the Housing and Town Development (Scotland) Bill, on which there were twenty, sittings of the Committee. One of the sittings, indeed, lasted for twenty-six hours; we went all through the night. Again, no suggestion was made that we on this side of the House were filibustering or delaying the progress of the Bill.
We have before us today a Bill which, I venture to suggest, is greater in complexity and far more intricate than any of the Bills I have so far mentioned. Yet, after only nine sittings in Committee, 902 without rhyme or reason, and without any evidence produced to show that there has been an attempt to delay progress, a Guillotine Motion is introduced. Not only has no evidence so far been produced, but I venture to suggest that the Secretary of State will himself make absolutely no effort to produce any evidence of filibustering or delaying tactics on the part of hon. Members of the Opposition. I make the prediction that he will not give us any concrete evidence of tactics of the kind which the Motion seems to imply.
Quite candidly, I suspect that the real reason prompting the Motion today is the intense dislike of most hon. Members opposite of having to sit in the Scottish Standing Committee. With the notable exceptions of the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) and the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), hon. Gentlemen opposite, I suggest, intensely dislike sitting day after day, week after week, in the Scottish Standing Committee. I suppose that is not surprising because they sit there like stuffed objects in a glass case, making no contribution whatever to the debate. It is boredom to them. They have no desire to keep on attending meetings of the Committee like that. The Government, having gagged their own back benchers, now seek the opportunity to gag those hon. Members who are being creative and taking part in the discussion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) spoke of another reason for the Motion. From a local authority point of view, this is probably the most unpopular Bill which any Government have introduced in this century. It has raised among local authorities a hostility hitherto unknown throughout Scotland. Local authorities in Scotland—I regard Edinburgh not so much as a local authority, but as a local branch of the Conservative Association—are united in their opposition to the Measure in a way never known before. The Bill is unpopular not only among the local authorities, but among their associations, too. They came down here and presented a formidable deputation. They have pressed the Government to withdraw certain provisions of the Bill. Because of its unpopularity spreading from the local authorities even among the electors themselves, the Government want to stifle and sabotage legitimate discussion of it. This 903 is most unworthy. It is unworthy of the Leader of the House to come here this afternoon to move a Motion for which he knows in his heart of hearts there is absolutely no justification.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) is a little overgenerous to the majority of hon. Members opposite in thinking that one of their complaints about the Bill and one of the reasons for asking for the Motion is that they are bored by our proceedings upstairs. My hon. Friend knows only too well, surely, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are there far too little to be bored by the proceedings in Committee. At our last sitting, they were there so little that the Government could not even obtain a quorum to get their business through.
I except, as my hon. Friend did, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) and the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), though I had hoped that we might have had some sort of speech from one or other of them, preferably from both, during the discussion of this very important Motion. I was encouraged a few moments ago to see the Solicitor-General join the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok on one of the back benches. I could not make up my mind whether he was there to dissuade the hon. Gentleman from speaking or to try to persuade him to speak. Perhaps the Solicitor-General had become so disgusted at the behaviour of the Government in regard to the Motion that he had decided to retire to the back benches.
This is the first occasion on which I have sought to address the House on a timetable Motion. I have been here only four or five years, but I think that I could have been in the House a very long time and never had the opportunity to speak on a timetable Motion in relation to a Scottish Bill, because the Government are today setting an important and really quite disgraceful precedent in introducing for the first time the Guillotine on a Scottish Bill. I am well aware that, when we come to discuss timetable Motions in the House, there are always ghosts from the past lurking about, that the heat which is engendered by a timetable Motion varies a great deal 904 according to the side of the House upon which one finds oneself at various times. I have tried to find some sort of principle upon which to approach timetable Motions introduced by a Government. I do not think I can do better than take as a teacher in these matters of constitutional principle the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), a former Prime Minister, who adumbrated the principles relating to timetable Motions in a debate in the House on 3rd March, 1947. The Secretary of State will remember very well the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman was present and made a passionate speech against timetable Motions.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford said:When you are dealing with matters of great principle where one side of the House thinks this and another side of the House thinks that—then we come to a clash where no kind of parley is possible, and it can only be settled by voting. But with Bills of this kind, … these Bills which affect vast numbers of people, and vast numbers of local authorities, and small and intricate interests that have grown up throughout the country—it surely would be an advantage to the Government to have these Measures a little shaped and a little fitted to the shoulders of the public who are to obey them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 83–4.]I cannot hope to emulate the measured sentences of the right hon. Gentleman, but there is a great deal in his argument.
I do not agree with his argument in the particular context in which he was advancing it—in relation to Bills introduced by a Labour Government to nationalise transport and to nationalise land values. However, I accept his argument that there is a difference between Bills which raise great issues of Party principles on which there is no common ground, and Bills which do not necessarily produce great differences of doctrine between one side of the House and the other.
In the case of the Bills to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford was objecting, there were issues of party principle. Those were major Measures of policy put forward by my party when it was the Government, published in its election addresses and then introduced to Parliament as legislation. There was little common ground between the two sides of the House on that legislation and in those circumstances timetable Motions were fully justified.
905 However, this Bill exactly fits the definition of the right hon. Member for Woodford. This is a Bill which does not raise basic issues of party principle. It is not a distinctively Conservative Bill, as against a distinctively Socialist Bill. It is a Bill which affectsvast numbers of people, and vast numbers of local authorities, and small and intricate interests that have grown up throughout the country.It is also a Bill in whichit surely would be an advantage to the Government to have these Measures a little shaped and a little fitted to the shoulders of the public who are to obey them.It is on those grounds that I am against this timetable Motion.
Here we have a Bill which is not distinctively a party Measure as between the two sides of the House but a major Bill affecting every citizen of Scotland and every local authority in Scotland. It is an immensely complicated Bill, and the Committee work done on it, as hon. Members have found, has been of immense importance. We have already had ample evidence of that during the course of our discussions. We have had a great deal of evidence that even the Ministers themselves who have been piloting the Bill through Committee have not completely understood its complexities. We have had occasions when it has been only after prolonged discussion that the Minister has been adequately briefed by his advisers and able to give the final view of the Government.
We had a most astonishing situation in which I was involved in which there was a reference to a certain Section of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946. I went to the Library to obtain a copy of the Act to discover what this Section said so that we could decide whether the Government's proposals were wise. We discovered that there was no such Section in that Act. When we inquired a little further, we discovered that that provision was to be inserted in one of the Schedules to the Bill at a later stage, a stage which will now be subject to the Guillotine, and that then the Government had decided to change their minds after advice from the universities; and so that provision was removed and there was to be another Amendment. I do not expect that the House will have followed the intricacies of that, because it is too com- 906 plicated, but it is an indication of the immense complexities of the Bill and the need for careful consideration of its provisions in Committee.
Nor can the Government argue that our Committee proceedings have been protracted or useless. We have had a number of instances in which Amendments moved by the Opposition have been accepted, or where the Government have said that there was sufficient in them to merit their being given further consideration on Report. I even had the unusual experience of moving an Amendment and finding the Government turning it down, not because they disagreed with it, but because they thought that it did not go far enough. They told me that they intended to introduce an Amendment incorporating mine, but going a good deal further. It was an Amendment about a very important matter relating to a regular report to the people of Scotland about the Government's decision on the size of the general grant. If there had been a Guillotine at that stage, that might never have been discovered and remedied.
My hon. Friend the Member for Govan (M. Rankin) introduced an Amendment which raised a very important constitutional principle about the rights of another place to interfere with the financial provisions of a Bill like this. The Government discovered that they had made a mistake, and readily admitted it, and said that they were willing to accept the Amendment. If there had been a Guillotine at that stage of the Bill, that important constitutional question might never have been unearthed and the mistake might have been allowed to go through, so that the Bill would have been all the worse as a consequence.
This is a Bill whose complexities are such that it is a civil servant's Bill. I doubt whether even the experts in St. Andrew's House fully appreciate all its complexities. Certainly the local government experts with whom I have talked, town clerks with immense experience in these matters, have confessed themselves baffled about how certain parts of some of the Schedules will operate, Schedules which in due course will be subject to the Guillotine when this timetable Motion comes into operation.
This Motion will mean that the Government are surrendering essential rights 907 of Parliament and the House of Commons, surrendering essential rights of the Legislature as against the Executive, because a Bill which is essentially an experts' Bill, essentially an administrators' Bill, will be pushed through by a Government majority without adequate consideration and scrutiny by the legislators on both sides of the House.
In view of the special nature of the Bill, it should not be subject to a Guillotine Motion. At our last sitting, we discovered that this Bill involves the surrender of one of the basic formulæ of Scottish Governmental finance—the surrender of the Goschen formula in relation to education, which covers nine-tenths of the expenditure involved in the Bill. This came out almost by accident. It was not readily apparent in a first reading of the Bill. If that Clause of the Bill had been subject to a timetable Motion last Thursday, is it likely that this factor would have come out? Is it likely that the Opposition would have been able to do their constitutional duty and expose to the people of Scotland that the Government are surrendering this basic principle which ensures a guaranteed amount of money being spent on Scottish education? It is extremely unlikely.
I think that this Guillotine Motion will certainly mean that many matters of great importance to every local authority and every citizen of Scotland will be put through unscrutinised and unknown—unknown even to the Government, because there are many things which come out from the Opposition side in these proceedings which are useful to the Government. The Government would have been well advised to have admitted this and to have allowed the Bill to go through without a timetable Motion being applied to it.
There is only one argument for applying a timetable Motion. It is that our English colleagues—I know nothing about this personally, but I take the Minister's word for it—have been able to reach a timetable agreement on their English Bill, which is quite different in many respects, and that we in Scotland ought to have done the same thing and apparently did not. Again, I know nothing about this personally. The Government have therefore introduced the Guillotine Motion, and they are using it to chop the Scottish discussion down 908 to the size of England's. That is the only argument which the Government have advanced for introducing this Motion.
The timing of the Guillotine Motion is particularly unfair. I heard rumours towards the end of last week that the Government had it in mind, and I do not think I shall be giving away any secrets if I say that I asked one of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench whether he knew anything about it. At that time, it was not at all certain what the Government's intentions were. I think it is true to say that the first information we had that the Government definitely intended to introduce this Motion was when the announcement was made on the statement on Business on Thursday afternoon.
This meant that this immensely long and complicated timetable Motion did not appear on the Order Paper until Friday. There are many hon. Members with much more experience of these matters who can tackle these timetable motions easily, but I am not familiar with them, and it takes me some time to discover what they mean. Most Scottish Members, if they can, go to their constituencies on a Friday. This week-end the Party on this side of the House were holding an annual conference in Scotland, and many hon. Members were there. In introducing a timetable motion on Thursday and Friday without adequate notice and in bringing it into the House on Monday, the Government have not given hon. Members adequate time to deal with the matter. They are rushing us along behind the coat tails of England in order to fit us in to the English Minister's needs.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central said, the situation in Scotland is quite different from that in England. In Scotland we have this Bill as part of a general pattern of Government legislation dealing with a number of other matters, including a radical change in the rating system. It is well known that all the local authorities in Scotland, with perhaps the single exception of Edinburgh, have suggested that a reasonable Amendment would be that the operation of the Bill should be postponed until 1961 when the new valuation is introduced.
In these circumstances, it is scandalous and wrong for the Government to base their case on the statement that they must get the Bill through quickly in 909 order to have conversations with local authorities in Scotland. The position of the local authorities in Scotland is different from that in England. I do not know the case for applying a particular timetable in respect of the English Bill, but that case certainly does not apply to Scotland. The position is quite the reverse. There was ample time for the fullest possible consideration of the provisions of the Bill in the Scottish Committee without any Guillotine.
A few years ago we had the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Bill. It was a very long Bill, and I have no doubt that the Ministers found it a very heavy burden because of its length, but they did not apply the Guillotine. The Secretary of State's predecessor saw that Bill through without a Guillotine, and I think he would be the first to admit, however wryly, that the Opposition did a good Parliamentary job in amending the Bill. We are to be prevented from doing a similar job on this Bill.
Apparently, the only argument for the Government is that we should be cut to size to fit the English pattern, and the only hon. Member who has spoken from the Government back benches on this subject, the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir. J. Duncan), made that his sole point. He said that we should have co-operated with the Government and come to an arrangement with them. The hon. Member, who sits for a neighbouring constituency to my own, is well known in the House as being, at least on the other side of the House, a somewhat Coalition-minded Member. He is one of those odd Members whose position, like that of the Secretary of State, is a little incomprehensible to rather blunt political minds like ours. He is a Unionist and a Liberal or a Unionist and a National Liberal; I do not quite know which. As far as I could gather, he was suggesting that what we needed in the House was a whole lot of not merely Unionist and National Liberal Members but Members who would call themselves Unionists and National Liberal and Labour.
That is not the duty of the Opposition in the House as I see it. I think that the Opposition has done its constitutional duty in Committee on the Bill reasonably and well. It would have been in the interests of Scotland to have allowed it to go on doing that job freely without 910 cutting it short by means of the Guillotine. I think that the Government have made a major blunder here, because this is a Bill which, more than most Bills, has the whole-hearted opposition in principle of all the local authorities in Scotland. The Government here are therefore not guillotining simply the Opposition in Parliament but every single local authority in Scotland, and I think that they will live to regret this day.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
My contribution to the debate will be very short, because although this is a debating Chamber it is extremely difficult to debate when there is nobody with whom to debate. What the House has found this afternoon is an exact repetition of what has taken place upstairs. No hon. Member opposite has any contribution to make to this important Bill or to this debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) said that the Government would use their majority to push the Guillotine Motion through the House, but it ought to be remembered that, as far as Scotland is concerned, the Government have not a majority to do so. They are in a minority in Scotland. We see come true the very old Scottish story, which you, Mr. Speaker, know very well, of the meeting of Scottish anarchists who debated a motion that the minority was always right and carried it by an overwhelming majority. That is the position which we are achieving here, because the majority of the people of Scotland do not want the Bill. The majority of the Scottish Members do not want the Bill, but the Government intend to insist on it being put through. We know that there are hon. Members on the Government back benches who detest the Bill and who, if they were free, would not only say so but would vote against the Bill.
My principal reason for rising is to protest against the way in which this matter has been dealt with. In Committee last Thursday we made very good progress. It should be said for the record that we disposed of five Amendments in the course of the sitting. At the beginning of Thursday's sitting the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said that he had one intimation to make on behalf of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of 911 State. It was an intimation that it was proposed after the Easter Recess to meet on Wednesdays. He said he thought he ought to intimate that to the Standing Committee, and his Motion was agreed to willingly. No objection was raised to it because we wanted to get on with the business.
When he was making that intimation the Joint Under-Secretary had not the courage also to intimate that his right hon. Friend proposed to move a Guillotine Motion which was to be laid before the House the same afternoon. It was not until two hours later, when the Leader of the House announced the Business for the next week, that this official intimation was given. I think that the hon. Member has been less than fair to Scottish Members.
Indeed, some of the delay has been due to the sheer incompetence of the Secretary of State in handling the Bill. He of all people in the House has no right to speak in support of the Guillotine Motion. His record in these debates is one of complete opposition on every possible occasion. Unlike his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray), who said that the duty of Government back benchers is not to delay the business of the House, on each successive occasion that the right hon. Gentleman has opposed Guillotine Motions he has argued that he did so because he felt that Government back benchers had an equal right with Opposition Members to take part in the business of the House. He has argued that on every conceivable occasion, and yet he has the audacity upon the second time within twelve months to support a Guillotine Motion. I remember how he criticised the Labour Government when they introduced three Guillotine Motions in six or seven years. The right hon. Gentleman has supported a Guillotine Motion twice in twelve months. Indeed, this is the seventh Guillotine Motion since the present Government came to power.
The right hon. Gentleman is today betraying the interests of Scotland. I do not blame the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House, by many speeches in Scotland, has taught us to understand that we cannot accept what the Leader of the House says. Scotland 912 does not forget that it was the Leader of the House who came to North Berwick and made his famous speech in which he said there would be no cut in the food subsidies until we had got prices down, and that all things would be safeguarded. We know he betrayed that pledge within a month—indeed, a week, as one of my hon. Friends reminds me—of coming to office. On this occasion it is not the Leader of the House but the Secretary of State who is betraying Scotland's interests, and Scotland will not forget.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I understand that the Secretary of State is likely to catch your eye next, Mr. Speaker, when he will proceed to justify the Motion. I think most hon. Gentlemen will agree that we find it difficult to understand how he of all people can possibly justify the Motion, for he has been so little at the Committee and knows little of what has gone on. He told us, on the occasions when he came, that he had given the utmost careful consideration to proposals made by the Opposition and by some of his own colleagues, but there has been no evidence of that either in his own contributions to the Committee or in those of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State. He comes to argue the Guillotine Motion on grounds which so far have not been disclosed to the Committee.
We on this side of the House have no objection on principle to timetables for Bills. If the Conservatives including the National Liberals—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not call himself that yet—behave, when they come back to Opposition, as badly as they did on previous occasions I have not the slightest doubt that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), or somebody in his place, will be obliged to insist on timetable Motions.
We all recognise that there is a limited number of days in a Session, and that when the Government introduce a Bill they will probably insist on getting it through, and that, if the Opposition at any time indulges in obstruction to prevent the Bill from going through, the Government have a moral right to ask for a timetable Motion to be imposed upon the Committee considering the Bill. Nobody is disputing that, but in this case the Secretary of State has not that moral 913 right, for there has been absolutely no obstruction by hon. Gentlemen on this side. If the right hon. Gentleman examines HANSARD he will find that if there has been delay in the Committee it has been due to the Government spokesmen and nobody else.
The Scots are a precise people. They object to bad grammar; they object to indifferent and vague phraseology. On occasion they have pointed out mistakes in Bills, and the Government ought to have been convinced in a couple of minutes that the drafting ought to be put right. When a Scotsman meets stubborn, almost contemptuous, resistance to common-sense proposals, that irritates and aggravates him, and he, therefore, persists in his argument to see that it penetrates the Government's mind eventually.
The right hon. Gentleman has not been very much in the Committee, and he has, evidently, left such instructions with his hon. Friend that his hon. Friend is terrified at accepting any Amendments to the drafting of the Bill. It is evident from the discussions we have had in the Committee that, generally, the reason for resisting drafting Amendments is that they will make the drafting of the Bill conflict with the drafting of the English Bill. We object to that argument. The right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to discuss with his Ministerial colleagues drafting changes in his Bill to differentiate it from the English Bill.
I know comparisons are odious, but I must say that our experience of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor was that when he was convinced of a case he was prepared, on a very important matter, to go to his colleagues to make the Scottish Bill then being considered different from its English counterpart, and so give us a much better Bill.
It was the practice, until the present Secretary of State and his team came into office, for every Ministry, when they heard decent suggestions, to accept them. Every Ministry I have known did so. Every Ministry I have known were always prepared to consider Amendments to Bills. Whether the case for an Amendment was made out by the Opposition or by their own hon. Friends they were always prepared to take the matter back and reconsider it. The Home Secretary has twice recently faced debates in the House about refugees coming 914 to this country. The Home Secretary did not stubbornly resist proposals put to him. The right hon. Gentleman was convinced that the House has a certain amount of reason for pressing the matter, and he took it away to consider it.
Yet on the smallest trifles of drafting the Scottish Opposition has had no consideration at all from the Government. I have never seen, in all my experience of this House, a Government behave as this Government have behaved towards the Opposition in consideration of this Bill. When I was in office we should not have got our Bills through if we had not been reasonably willing to listen to suggestions from the other side. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to read the record and to disprove that statement if he can. He can take, for example, the Agriculture (Scotland) Bill, or the Representation of the People Bill, which I put through with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields. He will find that the most fundamental alterations were made as a result of suggestions made by hon. Members in various parts of the Chamber.
It is not fair to make allegations without backing them. I will give one or two examples of the Government's behaviour on this Bill. There is a phrase in Clause 2 (1, b) which says that, in fixing the amount of the grants for any year, the Secretary of State must consider any probable fluctuation attributableto circumstances prevailing in Scotland as a whole".Those words would make it impossible for him to consider all sorts of conditions which might arise locally, in an industrial area or in an agricultural area. For instance, let us suppose that a technical engineering school were needed in an industrial area, or an agricultural school in a rural area. Because the circumstances in either did not prevail in Scotland as a whole the Secretary of State would, by those words, debar himself from taking action really required.
The Solicitor-General for Scotland explained very carefully to the Committee, in response to a challenge which I put to him, supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) that it made no difference at all to the Secretary of State's powers, and did not involve his considering English conditions at all. It might have been supposed that the Secretary of State would have 915 accepted that. Would one not have thought so? We had to go on arguing to try to get him to see reason.
We had the same experience in arguing about the phrase "economic conditions" in Clause 2 (1, c), which would prevent the Secretary of State from giving proper consideration to entirely reasonable needs.
The Goschen formula came up for consideration at the last Sitting. When the subject was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East and I drove the point home, it was clear that the Government Front Bench did not understand the importance of what was proposed to be done in the Bill. The Opposition Amendment which was before the Committee proposed that Scotland should not receive less than was provided by the Goschen formula. That was a promise for which the Secretary of State had claimed great credit. He had actually stated in a White Paper that the Government would preserve that guarantee that Scotland in the matter of equalisation grants should receive not less than was provided by the formula. Therefore, the Goschen formula was considered to be very important when the White Paper was issued.
The Amendment proposed that in education grant, to which it had applied for a generation, Scotland should receive not less than was provided for in the Goschen formula, but because we asked for not less than the formula we were told that we should receive only what was provided by the formula. In other words, the sum provided by the Goschen formula was to be the maximum. The Secretary of State now appears to be indicating dissent, but that was the argument.
If the right hon. Gentleman does not know that, he ought to read the record. We were told that we should receive only the maximum provided by the Goschen formula. Indeed, if my memory serves me, the right hon. Gentleman himself used that very phrase. We were told that if we asked for more than was provided by the formula we should have no guarantee at all.
Is there anything in logic that would satisfy a Scotsman in that rubbish? The guarantee, therefore, goes. I am not sure that the Secretary of State understands what he has done to Scotland by 916 failing to stand with his back to the wall when he is faced with demands for economies at Scotland's expense. Greater provision for education is needed in Scotland than in almost any country in the world if Scotland is to survive. A great deal of time was spent in trying to convince the right hon. Gentleman of something which he ought to have known all along. Time has been wasted through the Government insisting on what was patently nonsense.
The right hon. Gentleman should recall the proceedings on the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) deserves credit for trying to make that Bill intelligible even to lawyers. It was lucky for the Secretary of State that my hon. Friend was not in such good form in Committee on the Bill which we are now discussing. He was suffering a little from indisposition, otherwise he would have found just as many faults in this Bill and would have put them right for the right hon. Gentleman.
In any event, there can be no charge of filibustering against my hon. and right hon. Friends. The Secretary of State has pointed out in the past how necessary it was to have proper discussion and how every hon. Member should play his part in amending a Bill, but that can be done and the House of Commons can work only if the Secretary of State and Ministers are prepared to be receptive and to listen to what is being said. We have been convinced frequently that we were not being listened to and that what we were saying was not being understood. That might have been due to difficulty about the language or to a lack of clarity in our diction, but we were convinced that there was some other reason and that the fault was not ours.
The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) asked why we could not have had a voluntary timetable. The Secretary of State tried to get a voluntary timetable and he was willing to arrange one. My hon. Friends could not agree to it because they did not know how much time the Government Front Bench would waste by adopting the tactics which it has employed so far. The hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) delievered a most damning indictment today in his recital of what has happened. Many of 917 my hon. Friends have given chapter and verse for the delay caused by the Government Front Bench. If we agreed to a voluntary timetable we should be giving carte blanche to the Government Front Bench to be as resistant as it has been up to now.
The Opposition has a duty to examine everything that comes before the House of Commons and its Committees. It has a duty to test Government legislation and to examine whether it is for the benefit of the people. The Opposition is determined to perform that duty and not to be muzzled by any action such as the proposed Guillotine Motion. So far, there has been no justification for such a Motion. If the Government had been able to control their own Front Bench and their own thinking processes there would have been no difficulty in getting the Bill through in time.
§ Sir J. Duncan
My question was not quite what the right hon. Gentleman quoted. I said, "If the English can do it, why cannot the Scots?"
§ Mr. Woodburn
I understand that English Ministers have been reasonable and willing to discuss things with the Opposition. That is the whole difference, and that is the reason.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
As he knows, the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) is someone for whom I have considerable respect. I always listen to him on the subject of his experience at the Scottish Office. But the right hon. Gentleman really has done himself very much less than justice in his fifteen-minute speech. I do not know whether he meant it, but he and, I think, some other hon. Members implied reproof because I was not more often at the Scottish Standing Committee. I assure hon. and right hon. Members that whenever I can be present at the Committee I am there. The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire knows the weight of responsibility on the Secretary of State. He has the duty to cover the ground as well as he can, and there are occasions when it is simply impossible for him to fulfil his job on behalf of Scotland and be at Standing Committees all the time.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I made no complaint about the right hon. Gentleman not being at the Committee. I recognise that he has other duties, but when he delegates a job in Committee he ought to delegate discretion to accept reasonable Amendments.
§ Mr. Maclay
That is another point, and I was coming to that.
The right hon. Member knows something of the work which goes on in a great Government Department and of what is done when Amendments are discussed. In our discussions of the Bill and in my talks with the Joint Under-Secretaries about handling it, we obviously considered that some Amendments would break the principle of the Bill and we felt we could not accept them. We probably agreed on those, but beyond that there is complete flexibility to do what is reasonable in the light of discussion and of developments in the course of the proceedings.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member forgets the third sitting of the Committee when the Government Front Bench accepted one Amendment and promised to consider two others.
§ Mr. Maclay
I accepted one Amendment and the Joint Under-Secretary dealt with the others. The fact that the one Amendment was accepted had nothing to do with my presence. One Amendment had had to be considered carefully overnight, and that was the one which I happened to accept. It was pure chance that it was so. That is full confirmation of how wrong it is to say that we on the Government Front Bench do not consider what is put forward by the Opposition. In every case where we feel it possible—and it happens that there has been only one so far, but there are other Amendments to come—we have accepted an Amendment. We promised to consider others later on, and we are doing that. The whole trouble is that the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire and some of his hon. Friends seem to think that it is the Government's duty to accept the arguments put to them by the Opposition.
919 As to the allegations of inefficiency on the part of the Joint Under-Secretaries, I cannot think of a team who are more competent, effective and argumentative—with me as well as with the Opposition.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that when one day we rose at 1 o'clock we were discussing an Amendment to leave out the words "prevailing in Scotland as a whole" and he promised me that he would consider carefully all that had been said and would let us know his decision on the Thursday morning. When we met on Thursday morning the Joint Under-Secretary promptly moved the Closure.
§ Mr. Maclay
I would like to deal with that point, because I am slightly at fault there myself. I had a talk with the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) after the debate, and later I looked at the Amendment carefully. I told him that I hoped to be at the next meeting. That proved to be impossible, and I slipped up in not asking my hon. Friend, when he told the hon. Member for Hamilton that I could not be there, to give the reasons why the Amendment could not be accepted. The debate was taking a curious turn at that time. I read the report of it afterwards, and I understand his point of view. If there is any blame, I accept it, because it was a slip on my part.
May I finish what I was saying on the point of the apparent idea of the right hon. Gentleman that because there is a strong argument put forward by the Opposition we are necessarily obstinate and stupid and hidebound if we refuse to accept it. That obviously was what most of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was about.
§ Mr. Maclay
Then I need not carry the point further. We must distinguish between the strength of arguments across the Floor of the House and the fact that because one feels something strongly and it is not accepted by the Government, it does not necessarily mean that the Government are cockeyed and wrong. The Government may very well be right. [An HON. MEMBER: "Very unlikely."] Also considerable play was made about the reasonable attitude of the Government in 1945–1950 and how often they 920 accepted Amendments and suggestions. I suggest humbly that it might have been due to some badly drafted Bills, which the Government of the day realised needed to be amended. I have a lot of statistics here, which I can produce if necessary. We were in Opposition during that period, and we were very reasonable in the way we pressed Amendments. I agree that the right hon. Gentleman got big Bills through quite quickly, but if he will cast his mind back and will look up the reports, he will find that we in opposition argued things that mattered. We did not feel that everyone must have his shot at argument. We offered effective opposition and, at the same time, enabled the right hon. Gentleman to get his big Bills through in a short time.
§ Mr. Woodburn
May I put one point on those words, "prevailing in Scotland as a whole"? The Solicitor-General agreed with us that they had a hampering effect but said that to leave them out would make no difference to the Bill. As it was agreed that our argument was a good one, the right hon. Gentleman promised to consider it. That, however, was one of the few things he agreed to consider. There were many things put forward which he did not consider. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has sometimes pointed out superfluous words in the Bill, which it is always desirable to eliminate. Yet the right hon. Gentleman will argue for nearly a whole day rather than consider them.
§ Mr. Maclay
That brings me to my next point. If a Minister believes that he will not be able to accept an Amendment at any stage, I feel it is wrong to say that he will take it back and consider it merely to get progress in a Committee. If the Minister knows that he has no hope of giving way, it is not right to try to buy peace in the Committee and perhaps store up trouble on Report or get a reputation for buying peace at any price. A much better conduct of business is to take back something on which one can give way and study it; but if one knows it is impossible to do so, it is wrong to buy peace by promising to reconsider the point.
§ Mr. Woodburn
What the right hon. Gentleman is saying is that he was not prepared to consider our arguments—that he had made up his mind.
§ Mr. Maclay
Not necessarily. One comes to a Committee knowing that there are certain basic principles to which one must adhere. There are others which, when one has heard the discussion, one worries over to see if there is any way of meeting the argument and accepting the Amendment. If one decides there is not, it is only proper not to mislead hon. Members by saying one will reconsider the matter.
I will give briefly one example of what went on between 1945 and 1950, when I claim that we in opposition were extremely constructive and reasonable in Committee. [Laughter.] I am talking of the Scottish Committee. The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill consisted of 114 Clauses and eleven Schedules. Without a Guillotine Motion it went through in twenty-one sittings. There was sensible, quiet work by the Opposition in helping the Government, not attempting to spin the proceedings out indefinitely. I am not saying anything about obstruction—
§ Mr. Maclay
I was, often. To sum up my own feelings about Guillotines and timetables, none of us likes them. No one wants this one. The only pleasure this discussion gives me is that it has given me a chance to add to my collection of what I have been called. If Robert Burns had been a Member of the Scottish Standing Committee, he would never have had to bother about seeing ourselves as others see us. I have added to my collection today the following: "Gowk", "Gourock Gagger", "Huey Long" and "Maclaisky". This debate has probably been worth while to learn what people think of me, but I was under no illusions anyway.
§ I am definitely of the opinion that, if parliamentary work is to function smoothly and effectively, we must ensure that adequate time is given in Committee for balanced discussion of Bills. I might have spoken differently some years ago had I realised what goes wrong without a timetable, voluntary, if possible, otherwise this kind. Without a timetable we get bad discussions. The first two Clauses of the Bill are important, but so is Clause 5, also one of the Schedules. We are anxious to ensure that the Bill gets proper and balanced discussion. I am not a prophet, and in this I am speaking only for myself, but I hazard the guess that if we are to make the parliamentary system work and are to get proper discussion of important Bills, we shall sooner or later reach the stage when it is recognised on both sides of the House that, in addition to the normal timetable of the Parliamentary Session, there must be proper arrangements for balanced discussion.
§ I am sorry that we did not get that voluntarily on this occasion, but in these circumstances I believe it is in the best interests of the Bill that we should agree to this Motion, and that I confidently ask the House to do.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, would he tell us the justification for this Guillotine Motion? He has said nothing about it.
§ Mr. Maclay
The justification for it is: I am convinced after eight or nine sittings that we shall not get a properly balanced discussion of the Bill unless we have this Motion.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 241.925
|Division No. 83.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. W. H.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Bryan, P.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Bidgood, J. C.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat(Tiverton)||Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Bingham, R. M.||Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Carr, Robert|
|Ashton, H.||Bishop, F. P.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Black, C. W.||Channon, Sir Henry|
|Atkins, H. E.||Body, R. F.||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Boothby, Sir Robert||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Bossom, Sir Alfred||Cole, Norman|
|Barlow, Sir John||Boyd-Carpenter Rt. Hon. J. A.||Conant, Major Sir Roger|
|Barter, John||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cooke, Robert|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Braine, B. R.||Cooper, A. E.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col J. K.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Howard, John (Test)||Peel, W. J.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crowder, Petre (Rulslip—Northwood)||Hurt, A. R.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Dance, J. C. C.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Deedes, W. F.||Iremonger, T. L.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Prior-Palmer, Brig, O. L.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Redmayne, M.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Keegan, D.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne,N.)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Rippon, A. C. F.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Robertson, Sir David|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kershaw, J. A.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Kimball, M.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Kirk, P. M.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lagden, G. W.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lambton, Viscount||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Forrest, G.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Leather, E. H. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'ombe & Lonsdale)||Leavey, J. A.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Freeth, Denzil||Leburn, W. G.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Gammans, Lady||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Speir, R. M.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, w.)|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Glover, D,||Llewellyn, D. T.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Godber, J. B.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Storey, S.|
|Cower, H. R.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||McAdden, S. J.||Summers, Sir Spenser|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Green, A.||McKibbin, Alan||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Teeling, W.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Temple, John M.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Gurden, Harold||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maddan, Martin||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Mathew, R.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Hay, John||Mawby, R. L.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St M'lebone)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wall, Patrick|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Neave, Airey||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholls, Harmar||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholson, Sir Codfrey (Farnham)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E.&Chr'ch)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hope, Lord John||Nugent, C. R. H.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hornby, R. P.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Osborne, C.||Mr. Brooman-White|
|Page, R. G.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Hannan, W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Albu, A. H.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hastings, S.||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Hayman, F. H.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crowe)||Healey, Denis||Parker, J.|
|Anderson, Frank||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Paton, John|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Pearson, A.|
|Baird, J.||Holman, P.||Peart, T. F.|
|Balfour, A.||Holt, A. F.||Pentland, N.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Houghton, Douglas||Prentice, R. E.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Benson, Sir George||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Beswick, Frank||Hoy, J. H.||Probert, A. R.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hubbard, T. F.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Randall, H. E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rankin, John|
|Boardman, H.||Hunter, A. E.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reeves, J.|
|Bowden H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Reid, William|
|Bowles, F. G.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Rhodes, H.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Janner, B.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.pncs.S.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Ross, William|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Royle, C.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Carmichael, J.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Champion, A. J.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Clunie, J.||King, Dr. H. M.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Coldrick, W.||Lawson, G. M.||Snow, J. W.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Ledger, R. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gollins, V.J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Cove, W. G||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Steele, T.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lewis, Arthur||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Cronin, J. D,||Lindgren, C. S.||Stonehouse, John|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lipton, Marcus||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||McCann, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||MacColl, J. E.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McGhee, H. G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McGovern, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Deer, G.||McInnes, J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||McLeavy, Frank||Thornton, E.|
|Diamond, John||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Timmons, J|
|Dodds, N. N.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Tomney, F.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Mahon, Simon||Usborne, H. C.|
|Dye, S.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Wade, D. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Watkins, T. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mason, Roy||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mayhew, C. P.||wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mellish, R. J.||West, D. G.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Messer, Sir F.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mikardo, Ian||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wigg, George|
|Fletcher, Erie||Monslow, W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Foot, D. M.||Moody, A. S.||Willey, Frederick|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mort, D. L.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)||Moss, R.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moyle, A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Woof, R. E.|
|Grey, C. F.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oram, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Owen, W. J.||Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Short|
|Grimond, J.||Padley, W. E.|
|Hale, Leslie||Paget, R. T.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|