§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order be discharged, and the Bill withdrawn."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said, that in reference to this Bill he proposed to put a question and to make an appeal to his right hon. Friend. He was quite aware that in the circumstances in which they found themselves, and under the exigencies of Public Business, it was imperative that his right hon. Friend should abandon the Bill. At the same time, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman did not feel it within his power to take the sense of the House upon the principle of the Bill; because he could not help think- 1929 ing that the opposition to the measure, whatever it might be, would not have been found to be of a very serious or complicated character. He was aware that some opposition had been manifested on the part of hon. Gentlemen who were, and always had been, the special champions of economy in the Public Service, and on the ground that they objected to any increase in the number of Government Departments, and especially at what they probably considered unnecessary cost to the State. But if he was correctly informed—and his right hon. Friend would be able to correct him if he was wrong—the scheme contemplated by the Government, so far from adding anything whatever to the public cost, would effect an absolute economy. If that was so, he could not believe that any opposition to this measure on any ground whatever Gould have been anything at all of a formidable character. He made no complaint of the course the Government had adopted on this occasion; but he wished to make an appeal to his right hon. Friend, because, undoubtedly, there had been a feeling in certain quarters that the Government were never really in earnest in introducing this measure. He should be the last person in the world to pay his right hon. Friend such an exceedingly bad compliment as to suppose for a single moment that when the Government announced their intention of dealing with this question during the present Session they were not speaking and acting in perfect good faith towards the Gentlemen interested in the subject. Now, what he had to ask was, whether, under all the circumstances of the present time, the First Lord of the Treasury was able to give to the House an assurance—a distinct and definite assurance—that the Government would re-introduce the Bill and prosecute it to a conclusion, as far as it was in their power to do so, at the earliest possible opportunity during the coming Session? If his right hon. Friend would give such an assurance he would give great satisfaction to those Members of the House who were interested in the subject as representing the agricultural interest in the country. Such an assurance would go far to remove what he believed to be a feeling of disappointment in certain constituencies; it would absolutely re- 1930 move any doubt there might be as to the intentions of the Government in the matter.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he had listened with great interest to the remarks which had fallen from his right hon. Friend, and he had no hesitation in saying that it was with great regret the Government found themselves obliged to part with this Bill for the present Session. But he thought the country and the House would not regret the opportunity of seeing the outlines of the measure which the Government thought it right to ask the House to consider, and which time alone had prevented the House considering. He had already expressed to hon. Friends behind him, and to hon. Gentlemen opposite who took an interest in agriculture, that it was the intention of the Government to find an opportunity of re-introducing the measure in the early part of next Session, and to do their best to pass it into law. It would not be fitting, under present circumstances, that he should attempt to follow his right hon. Friend as to the framework of the Bill. He believed it was a good Bill, and that it was one which would effect economy in the Public Service, and conduce to good administration.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he thought it would hardly be right to let that opportunity pass without expressing from the Opposition side of the House their complete sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin), who, they knew, took a personal interest in this question. There was, of course, only one Gentleman in the House who was at all qualified to fulfils the post which would be created by the Bill, and that Gentleman was the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin). He sincerely condoled with the right hon. Gentleman that the opportunity of getting an official position was, for the present at least, lost to him.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
desired to add his regret to that already expressed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Conybeare).
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Order discharged.
§ Bill withdrawn.