HC Deb 24 October 1911 vol 30 cc9-57

I beg to move: That, for the remainder of the Session, Government Business be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed, and have precedence at every Sitting; that, at the conclusion of Government Business each day, Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put; that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday; and that no Motion, except by the Government, be made to bring in Bills under Standing Order No. 11. The Motion standing in my name is in strict accordance with precedent, and is one which, I think, has been made for many years past at this or the corresponding stage of the Session. It asks the House to assent to two propositions. The first is to suspend during the remainder of the Session the rule which compulsorily brings our Sittings to a close at Eleven o'clock; and the other is to give precedence during the whole time of the House to Government business, or to other work approved by the Government. With regard to the first part of the Motion, I will only say that there is no intention on our part of asking the House to accede to anything that would involve the prolonged strain of late sittings on hon. Members. The Motion which I shall propose to-morrow with regard to the principal measure before us, namely, the Insurance Bill, is one which will, I hope, give a very ample and generous allocation of time for the consideration of that measure, and provide that its various stages shall not be subject to the operation of this relaxation of the ordinary rule. As regards the rest of the procedure of the House, it is only for the purpose of meeting the general convenience and not with the object of imposing any tax on the strength of Members, that we are taking the precautions which have always been taken by Government in days gone by.

The more important part of my Motion is that which asks for precedence for Government business and the exclusion from the consideration of the House of business which has not been initiated or approved by the Government. With regard to that, again, we are acting in strict accordance with precedent. I may further point out that, although we were obliged in the early part of this Session to make considerable encroachments upon the time usually appropriated by private Members, the number of private Members' Bills placed on the Statute Book this year has already equalled, or more than equalled, the number passed in 1909 and 1910 respectively. Eight public general Acts were credited to private Members in 1909, and seven last year, whereas eight have already reached the Statute Book this year. I would add that if there is any private Members' Bill which has made substantial progress now and which meets with a general measure of acceptance from all quarters, the Government will certainly be disposed to give it the same facilities as have been given to similar Bills in like condition in former Sessions.




I do not know of any Bill which at present satisfies that condition.


Does that apply to the Scottish Police Bill, which is generally approved on all sides of the House?


If it satisfies the condition, certainly.


The Feeding of Children Bill?


Again I say, if it satisfies the condition, certainly. As regards the Government Bills themselves, the situation is this. The following Government Bills have passed through Committee. I will give the amount of time which has been expended upon them in Committee:—

These, the House will recognise, are exclusive of the Insurance Bill, which we propose to deal with by itself. Finally, there is the

Finance Bill still awaiting its Committee stage. As far as I know, that Bill does not contain any, at any rate acutely, controversial matter. ["Oh!"] I said "does not contain," though such matter might no doubt be imported into it.

These are the measures we hope to complete. There are certain small departmental Bills about which I will not make any statement to-day. My right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary will consult the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Balcarres) and others to see whether or not it will be possible to make progress with those measures. Substantially that is the legislative programme upon which the Government invites the House to embark, and to which the operation of the Motion I am now proposing is in effect confined.


Aliens (Prevention of Crime) Bill?


That is not through Committee. The Bills which I have named have all passed through Committee, and although no doubt presenting a great deal of matter, they are all measures as to the policy of which there is general agreement. Upon two of them, at any rate—the Coal Mines Bill and the Shops Bill—a very large amount of time and labour has already been expended, and it would be an almost scandalous waste of that time and labour if, supposing reasonable time can be allotted to them, we did not endeavour to secure their passage through the further necessary stages in this House. The programme which I have thus outlined, apart from the Insurance Bill itself, is one that I think the House will agree is of comparatively modest dimensions. The demand we make on the House is one which does not in any degree fall beyond the precedents adopted by ourselves and our predecessors in recent years.


How many days do you propose to give to the Insurance Bill?


That is a perfectly reasonable request to make. It is proposed, subject to discussion to-morrow, to allot to the Insurance Bill eighteen Parliamentary days.


For all its stages?


It is not convenient to anticipate to-day the discussion which will take place to-morrow on the proposal for dealing with that particular Bill, but broadly it will be fourteen additional days for Committee, and four days for Report and Third Reading. Altogether it comes to eighteen—or possibly nineteen—Parliamentary days. The residue of the Session, it seems to us, might not be unreasonably appropriated to the consideration of the Report and Third Reading stages of the six Bills I enumerated a few minutes ago. None of these measures, I think, are in themselves of a party or a controversial character. All of them have, I think, received in principle the assent of the House, in some cases without a division on the Second Reading. Many of them have already been exhaustively discussed in Committee, and we think a profitable employment of that part of the sittings which remain after full and ample consideration of the Insurance Bill should be devoted to the elaboration and perfection of these remaining measures.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of the time proposed to be allotted to the Finance Bill? That is not one of the six measures; it is a seventh?


That is a matter which is quite open to argument or suggestion, but we think that two days for the Committee stage should be sufficient.


The right hon. Gentleman forgets that it is our privilege to move new Clauses, and we have been denied that privilege for the last few years.


I am speaking of the Bill as it stands. If that goes on we might take the whole of the Autumn Session discussing the measure.


Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to drop the House Letting (Scotland) Bill?


That has not passed the Committee I am sorry to say.


Does that mean that it is not to be taken in the Autumn Session? It was fixed for Committee this day week.


I cannot give any pledge with regard to it, but if we find that our more sanguine expectations are realised—and I do not see any obvious signs of encouragement—I shall be glad—as a Scotch Member, and one ardently in support of the principles of the Bill—to do everything in my power to facilitate its progress. But I cannot hold out any present expectation of further progress being made. I will answer any other questions.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Scottish Land Bill will be dealt with?


My hon. Friend cannot have observed that I mentioned that Bill.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take the Public Health (Acquisition of Water) Bill. [Laughter.] It is a Departmental Bill, and has been waiting for thirty years at the Local Government Board. The water is required for other purposes than those suggested by the laughter of hon. Members.


I am strongly in favour of taking any practical measures for the acquisition of water, particularly in the circumstances of the present year; but I am afraid that we must pass that Bill over.


The right hon. Gentleman, who has just moved his Resolution, was perfectly correct when he said that it was usual for the House, when they had an Autumn Session, to give the Government command of any time, or of such time, as might remain till the end of the year for the Parliamentary work. I do not rise to complain of the request of the right hon. Gentleman. I do rise to complain of the policy which has rendered that request necessary. It is quite clear that if we were to be called together to carry out legislative work at this time of the year, after labours of the magnitude which we have gone through in these recent months and years, that we cannot allow private Members to have their ordinary privileges, and that the Government must be given exceptional rights over our time. But those rights must not be abused. I think the Government—as I shall show before I sit down—are grossly abusing their right in having an Autumn Session at all. Putting that to one side, I think that the programme the Government are suggesting is altogether extravagant and impossible. What is it we are called upon to discuss? I do not mean to refer to the Insurance Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman quite accurately interpreted the purport of my interruption just now as meaning, not that I intended to discuss the allocation of the time to the Insurance Bill which comes on to-morrow, and upon which I probably shall have a great deal to say, but really to know how much time—what block of time—he proposes to give to that Bill in order to be able to estimate the allocation of the residue among the numerous projects of legislation which he has just laid before us. He told us that nineteen days in all are to be occupied by the Insurance Bill, and he calls that a generous and ample measure of time. I call it the most preposterously narrow and restricted measure of time that was ever submitted to the House of Commons. But, leaving that until we debate the Resolution to-morrow, I ask how much time are the Government giving us before we separate for the Christmas holidays? The right hon. Gentleman made no estimate of that time, but I have done my best to make an estimate, and I gather that if we sit till the very latest day possible which would enable us to rise before Christmas there will be a little over twenty days of Parliamentary time for all the Bills the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. What are those Bills? They are the Finance Bill, the Mines Bill, the Shops Bill, the Small Land Holders (Scotland) Bill, the Naval Prize Bill—I do not know whether he mentioned the Peace Conference Bill




And the Borough Police (Scotland) Bill. The Finance Bill has got to be dealt with in Committee, all the others have to be dealt with on Report; and beside that no doubt time must be given for the discussion of the Lords Amendments. Can anybody seriously say we can squeeze into twenty Parliamentary days, which the Government are going to leave us after the Insurance Bill has been forced through, a proper discussion of these measures. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Finance Bill is in itself a non-controversial Bill, and that any controversy it may arouse is controversy superfluously added by the Opposition. He must know quite well there are great financial projects and schemes which must be discussed and must be criticised. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would be the first to admit that certain taxes in his Budget of 1909 have now got to a stage when we can estimate the work of the Department upon them; whether they are succeeding; the convenience or inconvenience they are causing to the public; the amount of revenue they are bringing in; and every man will admit, whatever his views may be upon the 1909 Budget, now that we have got to the end of 1911, it is not too early to discuss, not the theoretical basis of those proposals, but their working in practice, and, as I understand, the right hon. Gentleman thinks two days enough. Really, if he will allow me to say so, that is a most amazing suggestion, and one which I venture to suggest, unless he misuses his powers in a way they have never yet been misused in regard to the Finance Bill, it would be perfectly impossible to carry out the scheme which he has suggested. The fact that the discussions of the other Bills have gone oh in Grand Committee has prevented me being acquainted personally with the course of argument adopted or the magnitude of the changes effected upstairs away from this House and very imperfectly reported in the Press. But I understand that one of the two Bills he mentioned—the Mines Bill—has taken twenty-four days in Committee and the other the Shops Billy sixteen days, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think—he did not say so, but I rather gathered that he seemed to suppose so—that the very magnitude of the discussions that took place in Grand Committee absolves this House from any further discussion. Surely the true inference is absolutely the other way. What has happened I am given to understand in the case of both these Bills is that they have been recast and rehashed by the Grand Committees from the first Clause to the last, that they have been profoundly modified, that the schemes prepared by the Ministers with the help of their advisers, and sent up for discussion are not the schemes of which this House approved on Second Reading, not the schemes of which the Ministers originally approved, but entirely new forms which these measures have taken under the pressure of discussion in Grand Committee. If that is so these measures come down to us as new measures, or relatively new measures. The decisions in the Committees upstairs when they reach this magnitude, when they amount to reconstruction of the whole Bill, must come under review in this House as a whole and I earnestly hope the right hon Gentleman will not ask the House to accept without further discussion schemes which have not been submitted to the House on the Second Reading, upon which Members of this House, other than Members of the Grand Committees, are most imperfectly informed, and upon which the Ministers in charge ought to make a general statement before they ask us to proceed with the further consideration of these measures. I do not dwell upon the Naval Prize Bill—it is certainly controversial—the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill is certainly complicated. How on earth are we to get all these measures into the residue of time the Government are going to leave after they force through the Insurance Bill.

And please remember that this House when it is called together for legislation cannot ignore its other duty, namely, the criticism of the Executive. Is no time to be left for that? When I say criticism I do not necessarily mean, or, indeed, desire to suggest, criticism of a party nature. Great and important events have happened since the House separated. Are we to hear nothing of them from Ministers? Are they not to be debated. There were lamentable strikes.


Why lamentable?


I think them lamentable. I am not arguing the point. The hon. Gentleman may rejoice in them, but I think them lamentable. These strikes took place in August; they never were discussed in this House; there was some Debate upon them which the Government very properly cut short, because they thought the time was not ripe for discussion, but they never were discussed. I was not in the House, but I think I am right in saying they never were discussed. I think I am right in saying there was an appeal made by the Government not to discuss these matters.


It was not responded to.


It was certainly responded to by hon. Gentlemen upon the Opposition side. There were, I understand, some Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite who continued the Debate, but so far as the Opposition was concerned, the appeal was fully responded to. But putting the British strikes on one side, there was the Irish strike; that occurred since the House rose, and it seems to me altogether absurd to suppose that we either can or ought to allow the Autumn Session to come to a close without interchange of views on all these affairs, and learning what the House thinks of the course which the Executive upon their responsibility took. The Government must thoroughly understand that I do not approach their action in any critical spirit. I only say these are matters of administration which this House must discuss, and there must be found an opportunity in the course of this Session for that discussion. With regard to foreign affairs I do not know that I am prepared to press for a Debate, but I must say that I think some statement should be made by the Foreign Secretary upon the subject. Absolutely the only statement that I know has been made has not been made by the Foreign Secretary but by the Postmaster-General, and that statement has not been made in this House, but in the Chamber of Commerce in Paris. On the whole, I think this is a better theatre of operations for a discussion of the foreign affairs of the British Empire than that which by accident was given to the Postmaster-General a few days ago—the day before yesterday.


made a remark which was inaudible in the Press Gallery.


I made no criticism on the day I discussed the Minister and the place, and neither the Minister nor the place appear to me to be appropriate for an exposition of our foreign affairs. I hope the Prime Minister will take some occasion to speak to his distinguished colleague and find time for a statement which may possibly extend to a Debate. That must be found in the course of these few days before Christmas. Altogether, any hon. Gentleman who impartially considers the survey I have ventured to make of what the Government intend to do—and what the Government must do whether they intend it or not if they accept the whole scheme of operations suggested by the Prime Minister—will see that it is one which cannot possibly be carried into-effect.

Before sitting down, I hope the House will allow me for one instant to go a little further and raise a protest against the whole plan of requiring the House to meet at this date, after the labours we have already gone through, to deal with these questions. May I remind the House of the policy of the Government in regard to these matters. There was an Autumn Session in 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, and 1911. In 1906 we sat in every month but two; in 1907 in every month but five; in 1908 in every month but two; in 1909 in every month but one; in 1910 in every month but four; and in 1911 in every month but two. I hear two industrious and honourable Gentlemen applauding.


My expression was not one of approval, but of protest.


I am very glad of that. I thought the hon. Gentleman was expressing approval of the policy of the Government. I venture to say that no one with long experience in this House can approve of it. It is not a question of our convenience, but of our efficiency, and a question of the Members you can get to serve in this House. I say you are ruining the House of Commons if you require them to sit for ten months out of every twelve. I do not know that it is worth debating at this time, but I could quote authorities. I have heard Mr. Gladstone himself speak in the strongest language about the injury and the evil done to this Assembly by throwing on it burdens which no other Assembly in the world in point of duration is ever asked to bear. It cannot be done without great injury to the Assembly itself. But the injury does not stop with the Assembly, for it extends to the Departments, to Ministers and to legislation. How can the Departments do their work properly if they are never allowed any repose from the particular kind of labour thrown upon them by the Debates in this House? It is an inevitable incident of our form of Parliamentary Government that whenever the House is sitting the Departments are, from their point of view, plagued and tormented by questions, always made as difficult as they can be made by the questioner—that is in the nature of things—and in this way the whole steady course of public business and the time given to quiet thought on important public matters is made impossible. They cannot do it. They cannot work. You do not get the best out of the brains of the eminent men you have as your permanent Civil servants. If anything were required to throw additional burdens on the Departments, the Government, quite casually, throw upon them the additional task of tuition, by giving them a new Minister to educate every year or every six months. Whether it is that a Minister finds the office intolerable or the office finds the Minister intolerable, I am sure I do not know. Clearly the result must be that offices already burdened afresh every year by the natural automatic growth of public business, and also by the fact that this House is perpetually in Session, have to take the double burden, made a treble burden by the fact that they have to initiate into the mysteries of the Department a new Minister every six months.

Sir, I do really think we can see the effect of this system upon our legislation. We pressed through the Eight Hours Miners Bill in an Autumn Session. I am told it has already produced one strike, and that it is going to produce other strikes. The difficulties of that piece of social legislation have hardly begun. I have already referred to the treatment which the Shops Bill and the Miners Bill have received at the hands of the Grand Committee. I say nothing about the Insurance Bill, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer will readily agree with me that that is not because there is not a great deal to be said. At all events, confining our attention to the other two Bills for the moment, is it not clear that if there had been more opportunities for considering those Bills before they were brought up to the House—I do not say this as an attack upon Ministers or the Departments—it probably would have been found possible to have passed them through Grand Committee without entirely reconstituting them. There you have objective proof of the extraordinary difficulty of carrying on social legislation—the most difficult of all legislation—under the amazing and unexampled pressure which the Government of the day put upon the House of Commons and the Departments, and not least upon themselves. What Minister coming down every day to answer questions, fighting for his life in this House, has the time absolutely necessary for dealing with those broader questions of policy which are more and more coming to the front as our views on social legislation grow and progress.

The truth is the Government are trying to do two things at the same time, which cannot be done. They will carry out their revolutionary Radical legislation and that they do in the earlier half of the year, and they squeeze their social legislation into a corner. It cannot be done. It is bad on general principles, and I think I should not have been doing my duty on this occasion if I had not taken the opportunity of protesting to the best of my ability, not in the interests of any particular party, or in the interests of any particular kind of legislation, but in the interests of the whole House and of the Departments. An Autumn Session, of course, is an occasional necessity. Nobody denies it, but under this Government there has only been one year in which there has not been an Autumn Session. That is a state of things which this House ought to look to. Our own liberty, our own powers of discussion, and the excellence and stability of the measures we pass absolutely depend upon our having adequate time to deal with the details of the legislation the Government choose to lay before us. Why is all this pressure and hurry? Why does the Prime Minister, whom I am confident is as fully aware as I am of the magnitude of the evils I have ventured to lay before the House, give in? Why, it is because each one of his colleagues wants to have a Christmas-box to present to the constituencies. Each one wants to be able to go to the public platform and say, "Look what a fine piece of social legislation which I have been the author of!"


Social humbug!


It is a laudable ambition, but it is not an ambition which the Prime Minister ought to allow to be exercised at the cost of all the best traditions of this House, and of those public departments which are the servants of this House.


I am perfectly certain that the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech will find an echo in the hearts of Members on all sides of the House. It is perfectly true this House is conducting its business at the present time under conditions that are almost impossible. I think we all agree with that, but, when we consider the question of Autumn Sessions, I think it must be part of the much larger consideration of the whole of the arrangements of this House, and a debate on that subject in connection with a Motion such as that just proposed by the Prime Minister would not be profitably pursued. The Prime Minister, as Leader of this House, on such occasions always produces this Resolution, and it is not the duty of those of us who desire to see something done, those of us who desire to present that very desirable and not at all reprehensible thing, a Christmas-box to our constituents—I wish there were more Ministers desired it—to raise those questions in connection with this Resolution. I should like to deal with two Bills in particular. The first is the Scottish House Letting Bill. Hon. Members who took an interest in this Bill before the Summer Recess will remember that certain pledges were definitely given with regard to it. One of those pledges was that the Bill should go upstairs next week, and expectations were held out that, if the Bill got through Committee upstairs, and came down here at a reasonable time, some sort of facilities would be given for its passage. I hope the Prime Minister will not close his heart to the appeals made on behalf of this Bill. The Bill has gone through this House before. It was sent to another place, and it was only mangled and executed there. So that, as a matter of fact, this House has discussed this Bill, and the proceedings that are now to take place upon it are not much more than formal proceedings. I will therefore put in an appeal to the Prime Minister that this Bill should receive very favourable consideration during this Session. I hope we shall also be able to persuade the Prime Minister to give the Child Feeding Bill which received a First Reading with so much good-hearted unanimity in this House, consideration. I believe it will be supported by influential Members on all sides of the House. I hope we will be able to open up negotiations on that point, which will persuade the Prime Minister that it will be desirable to give that Bill some facilities.

I desire to join again with the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in appealing to the Government to give us an opportunity of criticising the Executive. It is certainly true, as he said, that certain events were taking place when we adjourned and matured after we adjourned, which it is the desire of Members of this House and which it is the duty of the House as a whole to discuss here. I refer to the railway difficulty, and I refer to the general labour unrest, but I refer to something more. There have been coroners' inquests held since we were here, and I think the evidence which was produced at those inquests contradicts to a very considerable extent statements made in this House when we did discuss that matter. I know the Opposition waived its right to enter into a general discussion of the question. We did not. We did not think it our duty to do so, but I am bound to admit that the information then at our disposal was imperfect, and now it can be supplemented by evidence given before coroners' inquests I think this House ought to insist upon those matters being brought up so as to correct the impression left by certain speeches made on the Government Bench. There is, therefore, not only the specific railway difficulties, but the steps taken by the Government to meet those difficulties which ought to be the subjects of discussion in this House during the Autumn Session. I will therefore put in a plea, and press the plea, that the Government before it sends us into the Division Lobby on this Resolution should tell us what it is going to do, not merely about legislation, but about the facilities to be given to Members on all sides of the House to discuss certain acts of the Executive.

I do not propose to say anything more at the present time. We all admit the Government must have the time of the House, but I think the Government ought to have the time of the House on a condition, and the condition ought to be that the Opposition, the Regular Opposition, and the minorities who act more with the Government than with the Opposition, minorities, like ourselves, who believe on the whole the Iunsurance Bill will be passed—[Laughter.] We are not political fools. We do not put ourselves into the hands of the Opposition merely because the Opposition laugh at us. I say minorities that have been acting during the last Session or two on the Parliament Bill and on the Insurance Bill, more with the Government than with the Opposition, but who will act with the Opposition whenever we think it suits the principles and convenience of our party to do so—I think it is necessary that we should all, whilst candidly and honestly admitting the Government is entitled to ask for sufficient time to enable it to carry out its programme, see we to have an opportunity of advancing our own particular programmes and of criticising the Government when we desire to do so.

4.0 P.M.


The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition seemed to entirely agree to the acquisition of the time of private Members. But, as the House will remember, he is a partially interested witness, for although he may not be a Member of the Government, he is a possible Member of a future Government, and is therefore interested in breaking into the rights and privileges of private Members. I propose to make an appeal, from a private Member's point of view, against these constant inroads upon our privileges. Although I am not going to vote against this Motion, silent acquiescence in what is proposed does not satisfy me. The House of Commons is, I submit, one thing; the Government is another; and what I complain of is that by this policy the Government are absorbing not only the time but the energy, independence, and initiative of the House of Commons. We are brought here at an unwonted time of the year by a very peremptory Whip, and we are brought here only to register the decrees of the Government. The fact is that private Members' functions have become atrophied. In the view of the Government that may be a good thing, because they regard the private Member only as a nuisance. They merely want a man who will occasionally support them in Debate and who will always vote for them. When I came to this House twenty years ago the Government had two days a week only—Mondays and Thursdays. Now all the time of the House is taken by the Government almost as a matter of course. May I mention another result of the present policy, and that is that the brightest debaters, the men who offer the most effective and damaging criticism, are drawn, into the Government. I do not wonder at it, because there is no career for them outside. They seem to be remarkably versatile men, as, judging from the bewildering list of changes announced to us this morning, they are quite capable apparently of fitting either round holes or square ones. May I point out that the effect of this is that our attack is weakened and their defence is strengthened.

But what must be the effect on new Members? We have seen new Members admitted to-day. I suppose, and I hope, they have come in with the idea that a detached examination of the Government proposals by an independent and not unfriendly mind is one of the most useful functions of Parliament. I would even say it is a primary elemental condition of House of Commons life. But it has fallen into desuetude. It is not encouraged; indeed, it is discouraged, and on a frown from a Minister or a friendly hint from a Whip that he should hold his tongue—to the least pressure indeed that can be applied, the new Member quickly yields. His ambitions are damped, the hours that he has spent in preparing his speech in addition to those devoted to the task of catching the Speaker's eye are wasted, and this proves so discouraging that he quickly abandons his efforts and puts into his pocket the notes of his undelivered speech. After a Session or two he retires into the position of what I may call a smoke-room critic. There his criticisms are loud enough, but those criticisms, in my judgment, would be far better made on the floor of the House. The rights of the House, indeed, are being gradually destroyed. Of course, we want passed the Government Bills, a list of which has been read out, and nothing else would induce me to acquiesce in this proposal. But the evil remains unabated, it is indeed growing. We are reduced to mere voting machines to the end of this Session, and the one hundred and one questions which interest the country cannot be raised. We have heard some of these questions named by the Leader of the Opposition. Many of us want to elicit information about foreign affairs which are strangely and mysteriously hidden from the knowledge of the representatives of the people. We may want also to condemn the doings of the late occupant of the Home Office—who is apt to do daring and unconventional things. We may want to criticise the policy of the Local Government Board or of the Board of Education. But if this Motion is passed we shall have no opportunity of doing so, and, at the same time, we shall be establishing a precedent or rather strengthening a precedent which will be bettered by succeeding Governments. But if I do not oppose this Motion in the Division Lobby it may be said, and truly said, that this protest of mine is a blank cartridge. I would ask the House gravely to consider the dangerous inroads on the Parliamentary liberties of private Members which are made by these repeated Motions, and I would also ask the Government seriously to consider their effect with regard to the independence of the House of Commons. The fact is they are extinguishing the private Member as well as the independence of the House of Commons, while at the same time they aggrandise the Executive and the official hierarchy. Whether that be a good thing or a bad thing each Member must judge for himself. I think it is a bad thing.


I beg to move as an Amendment to omit the words: "be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed, and"

I think it is evident to everyone that if we are to have an Autumn Session in that Autumn Session only the business of the Government should be considered. Therefore the only question which appears to me to arise is as to the form in which the Motion is drawn. There is in this Motion a provision to which I object, and to which I propose to move this Amendment. It is the provision regarding the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule. The Prime Minister has told us that to-morrow he will make an announcement with regard to the time which is to be allocated to the Insurance Bill. He also informed us—and I thank him for it—that there will be a special provision in the Motion which will prevent the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule so far as the Insurance Bill is concerned. We are told with respect to the eighteen or nineteen days which are to be given before Christmas to the Insurance Bill that those days are to be exempted from the operation of the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule. The Prime Minister further told us, and again I am obliged to him for the information, that Members are not to be put to any strain by this suspension. It therefore comes to this—that for nineteen days we shall sit here to discuss the Insurance Bill, and the Debates will terminate at eleven o'clock so that we may go to bed fairly early. I would suggest, in the interests of the Government, that the same provision should also apply to other Bills, otherwise there may be small measures brought forward to which some Members attach importance, and they may be called on after eleven o'clock, when we shall be left without the safeguarding presence of the Prime Minister, and some minor official may, be in charge who will not have the courage to get up and move the Adjournment of the House against one of his own party. It is for these reasons that I move this Amendment. I would remind the House that it was this Government, and it was hon. Members below the Gangway who instituted the Eleven o'clock Rule in the Session of 1906, and from that date we have hardly had a single Session or day in which it has not been suspended. If it is a good thing, why should hon. Members below the Gangway continually seek to alter it? I am not quite certain whether the effect of my Amendment, if it is carried, will be not only to preserve the Eleven o'clock Rule, but also to preserve the opportunities of Members to move the Adjournment of the House on matters of public importance. I am not quite certain if that is so, but if it is, then it constitutes an additional argument in favour of accepting my Motion. Cases might easily arise of urgent public importance, and it might be absolutely necessary for some Member to move the Adjournment of the House in order that that question should be discussed. I think my Amendment would include that.


I beg to second the Amendment. There is one point to which my hon. Friend has not referred, and that is that we have all received in the course of the last month numerous requests from our Constituents to be in our places during this part of the Session to watch various Amendments in which they are interested, and asking us to give the closest attention to them and to be prepared to vote upon them. That will entail the closest attendance upon all Members of the House during the Autumn Session, and it will involve a far greater strain, upon us than the ordinary Session before the adjournment, when there were many occasions, such as those of Votes of Supply, when the personal attendance of Members was not required. Now we shall have to be here from day to day and every day, and that is a far greater strain. The Prime Minister has not yet told us whether he intends any Committee to sit during the Autumn Session. If there is, as has been rumoured, to be one of the big Committees sitting and considering a portion of the Insurance Bill, this would put a greater strain upon Members, for they will have to sit from 11.30 in the morning and be here until 11.0 at night. That will tax the strength of any man, and it will not be fair to ask any body of men to do it. For that reason I second the Amendment.


The hon. Baronet well knows that the Motion in the form in which it stands is the Motion in the form in which it has been invariably proposed and adopted by the House in years gone by. The proposal to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule with regard to Government business is not a new one. I think—although I speak with some diffidence—the hon. Baronet has not correctly apprehended the effect of the Motion as it stands. He seems to apprehend that the Motion affects the power of Members to move the Adjournment of the House on any matter of urgent public importance. The terms of the Motion do not in any way affect that power. Of course, there have been cases under Guillotine Resolutions when that power has been taken away, but that is no part of this Resolution, and that important right of private Members is in no way infringed upon. The hon. Baronet seems to think that if the Motion passes it would be possible for a private Member's Bill to be taken after eleven o'clock. That is quite impossible.


I never said that.


Then what is the suggestion?


My suggestion is that we should go to bed at eleven o'clock.


I am quite with the hon. Baronet on that, but what is the danger against which he wishes us to guard?


It is this. The right hon. Gentleman is only going to take a certain number of Government Bills, a list of which he has given to the House, and he has already had two Members asking that two other Bills should be taken, and he has quite rightly refused. What I am afraid of is that if one Government Bill is finished at ten minutes past eleven, some other Government Bill might be pressed for, and taken if the right hon. Gentleman is not in his place.


I think the hon. Baronet is modifying his statement. I understood him to say that he was afraid that a Bill which we call a "starred" Bill might be adopted by the Government. That is not the intention. I am speaking now on behalf of the Government and as Leader of the House, and I say that that is not the purpose to which this Motion is intended to be applied. We intend to guard a discussion which is approaching its conclusion, which may very often reach its conclusion in a quarter of an hour or half an hour—I am not binding myself, otherwise there may be charges of breaches of faith—but I will say within reasonable elasticity, a phrase capable of a great many interpretations. That is the kind of case we have in view. The only other case I can think of would be one where there was an agreement to take a Bill, although a Government Bill, a Bill of a departmental or a non-controversial character. With this explanation I think the hon. Baronet will see his apprehensions are ill-founded. Assuming that you are going to give the Government control over the time of the House, I say we are only asking for the reasonable elasticity we and all our predecessors have asked the House to let them enjoy.


The Prime Minister is well aware that we have had one or two cases of very serious misconception as to what the expressed intentions of the Government in relations to matters of this kind did really mean when they came to be put into practice. If I rightly understand the right hon. Gentleman he does preclude himself from doing certain things. He proposes to have the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule solely in order not to prevent the conclusion of a discussion which would, with reasonable elasticity, quickly come to an end. I take that to mean that a new discussion would not be commenced.


Unless there was general agreement to take a new Bill.


I leave on one side the agreed cases, as to which I raise no question. If there is general agreement in all quarters of the House I have no objection to a Bill being proceeded with on these conditions.


After eleven o'clock?


Yes, after eleven o'clock. I want to get as exactly as I can what will be done. If I go beyond what the right hon. Gentleman has undertaken, I beg him to correct me now and not leave me to find out my error after the Motion has been carried. I am as anxious as he to avoid anything in the nature of charges of breach of faith in matters of this kind between the two sides of the House, and it is for that reason I venture to press him now, rather than to leave things vague now, and perhaps have a very disagreeable scene in the House later. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to preclude himself from beginning a new Bill after eleven o'clock without the general assent of the House. I understand that if we were discussing the Insurance Bill up to eleven o'clock, it would not be open to the Government to submit any new Bill after eleven o'clock, and it would not be compatible with the understanding that they should bring to a sudden close a Bill just before eleven o'clock in order to get another Bill under discussion at eleven o'clock and get it carried on after eleven, and that if we were discussing a Bill and they thought it right to ask the House to sit later in order to finish the discussion of a particular Clause, it would not be right or in accordance with the intentions declared by the Government to begin a new Clause when the Clause under discussion was finished. If in any degree I have misunderstood the Prime Minister, I beg that he will not allow me to rest under that misunderstanding, or the House to rest under it.


I do not think the tone the right hon. Gentleman has adopted is one very conducive to the friendly settlement of these matters. I offered what I considered to be a very

large concession in the statement I made. The right hon. Gentleman now cross-examines me in, if he will forgive the expression, a rather pettifogging way as to the precise meaning of what I stated.


If the right hon. Gentleman accuses me of pettifogging cross-examination, I am bound to remind him that he gave what everybody on this side of the House considered a pledge, which was broken in his absence by one of his colleagues, and I want to prevent that recurring.


That, again, is not conducive to a reasonable and temperate discussion. I am not contesting the accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman's words. I am dealing with the present situation, and I do not see why we should go back. I have made a perfectly explicit statement. My statement was this, that the intention of this provision is to enable discussion in progress on a Bill to continue after eleven o'clock with what I call reasonable elasticity, or a reasonable probability of its being brought to an end. I do not think it is fair to engraft upon that what the right hon. Gentleman sought to do, a pledge that if a particular clause was under discussion we should be precluded from entering upon another clause. There may be two or three clauses, unimportant in themselves, which there was a general desire to discuss, and which might very well be discussed after eleven o'clock. I am not speaking of a Bill on a new subject. I do not in any way preclude myself or my colleagues from moving the Closure if the circumstances are such that the Closure is reasonable and proper just before eleven in order to enter upon a new subject or a new Bill. It would be a monstrous thing to ask any Minister to enter into any such undertaking, and I shall certainly not give such an undertaking, but subject to that I do say that without consent we should not propose to enter upon a new Bill.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 281; Noes, 158.

Division No. 341.] AVES. [4.30 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Alden, Percy Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)
Acland, Francis Dyke Anderson, Andrew Macbeth Barnes, G. N.
Adamson, William Armitage, Robert Beauchamp, Sir Edward
Addison, Dr. C. Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Beck, Arthur Cecil
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Bentham, G. J.
Ainsworth, John Stirling Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Bethell, Sir J. H.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Heyward, Evan O'Grady, James
Black, Arthur W. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Boland, John Plus Henry, Sir Charles O'Malley, William
Booth, Frederick Handel Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Bowerman, C. W. Higham, John Sharp O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hinds, John O'Shee, James John
Brace, William Hodge, John O'Sullivan, Timothy
Brady, Patrick Joseph Holt, Richard Durning Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Brunner, John F. L. Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Parker, James (Halifax)
Bryce, J. Annan Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Burke, E. Haviland- Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hudson, Walter Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Philips, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Cameron, Robert Jardine, Sir John (Roxburgh) Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Johnson, W. Pirie, Duncan Vernon
Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Pointer, Joseph
Chancellor, Henry George Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Pollard, Sir George H.
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe Power, Patrick Joseph
Clancy, John Joseph Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Clough, William Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney) Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)
Clynes, John R. Joyce, Michael Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Keating, M. Raffan, Peter Wilson
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Kellaway, Frederick George Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Kelly, Edward Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Condon, Thomas Joseph King, Joseph (Somerset, North) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lamb, Ernest Henry Reddy, Michael
Cowan, W. H. Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Crooks, William Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Randall, Athelstan
Crumley, Patrick Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Leach, Charles Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Levy, Sir Maurice Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lewis, John Herbert Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Dawes, James Arthur Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Delany, William Lundon, Thomas Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lyell, Charles Henry Rose, Sir Charles Day
Devlin, Joseph Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Rowlands, James
Dillon, John Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Rowntree, Arnold
Donelan, Captain A. Maclean, Donald Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Doris, William Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Macpherson, James Ian Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) MacVeagh, Jeremiah Scanlan, Thomas
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) M'Curdy, Charles Albert Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) M'Laren, H. D. (Leicester) Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Sheehy, David
Esslemont, George Birnie M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe) Shortt, Edward
Falconer, James M'Micking, Major Gilbert Simon, Sir John Allsbrook
Farrell, James Patrick Marshall, Arthur Harold Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Martin, Joseph Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Ffrench, Peter Mason, David M. (Coventry) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Field, William Masterman, C. F. G. Spicer, Sir Albert
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Meagher, Michael Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Summers, James Woolley
France, Gerald Ashburner Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Middlebrook, William Tennant, Harold John
Gill, A. H. Millar, James Duncan Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Gladstone, W. G. C. Molteno, Percy Alport Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Glanville, Harold James Money, L. G. Chiozza Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Montagu, Hon. E. S. Toulmin, Sir George
Goldstone, Frank Mooney, John J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Morgan, George Hay Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Morrell, Philip Verney, Sir Harry
Greig, Colonel James William Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wadsworth, J.
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Muldoon, John Walters, John Tudor
Griffith, Ellis James Munro, Robert Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C. Wardle, George J.
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nannetti, Joseph P. Waring, Walter
Hall, Frederick (Normanton) Needham, Christopher T. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Hancock, J. G. Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Nolan, Joseph Watt, Henry A.
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Norman, Sir Henry Webb, H.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Norton, Captain Cecil W. Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.) Nugent, Sir Walter Richard White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Nuttall, Harry White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Whitehouse, John Howard
Harwood, George O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Dowd, John Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Ogden, Fred Wiles, Thomas
Wilkie, Alexander Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Williams, John (Glamorgan) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough) Young, William (Perthshire, E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Amery, L. C. M. S. Goldman, C. S. Norton-Griffiths, J.
Archer-Shee, Major M. Goldsmith, Frank O'Brien, William (Cork)
Baird, J. L. Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Grant, James Augustus Paget, Almeric Hugh
Balcarres, Lord Gretton, John Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Guiney, Patrick Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Barlow, Montague (Salford, S.) Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)
Barnston, Harry Haddock, George Bahr Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.) Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hamersley, Alfred St. George Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) Quilter, W. E. C.
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Rawson, Col. Richard H.
Bigland, Alfred Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East) Remnant, James Farquharson
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Helmsley, Viscount Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Hill, Sir Clement L. Rolleston, Sir J.
Boyton, James Hills, John Waller Ronaldshay Earl of
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Hill-Wood, Samuel Rothschild, Lionel de
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Bull, Sir William James Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Sanders, Robert Arthur
Burn, Col. C. R. Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford) Sanderson, Lancelot
Butcher, John George Horner, Andrew Long Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Houston, Robert Paterson Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Campion, W. R. Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Snowden, Philip
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Ingleby, Holcombe Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Cassel, Felix Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Cator, John Jowett, Frederick William Stewart, Gershom
Cave, George Joynson-Hicks, William Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.) Kimber, Sir Henry Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Talbot, Lord Edmund
Chambers, J. Kirkwood, John H. M. Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Knight, Capt. E. A. Thorne, William (West Ham)
Clyde, James Avon Lansbury, George Tobin, Alfred Aspinall
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Larmor, Sir J. Touche, George Alexander
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Lloyd, George Ambrose Tryon, Captain George Clement
Courthope, George Loyd Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Valentia, Viscount
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.) Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Welgall, Captain A. G.
Craik, Sir Henry Mackinder, Halford J. Wheler, Granville G. H.
Crean, Eugene Macmaster, Donald White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred M'Mordie, Robert Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine) Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)
Dixon, Charles Harvey Magnus Sir Philip Winterton, Earl
Doughty, Sir George Malcolm, Ian Wolmer, viscount
Duke, Henry Edward Mallaby-Deeley, Harry Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Worthington-Evans, L.
Falle, Bertram Godfray Mildmay, Francis Bingham Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Yate, Col. C. E.
Fleming, Valentine Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Younger, Sir George
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Forster, Henry William Newman, John R. P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir
Gardner, Ernest Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) F. Banbury and Mr. A. Fell.
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Nield, Herbert

I beg to move to omit the words "without question put," and to insert instead thereof the words "put the Question that the House do now adjourn."

The object of the Amendment is to give to private Members a greater opportunity than they would otherwise have of criticising the Executive of the day or asking them questions about which they may be interested. I think it has been agreed already on both sides of the House, including the Leader of the Labour party, that under the Motion as it stands, and under the allocation of time foreshadowed by the Prime Minister, there are not going to be many opportunities of fulfilling that part of the functions of the House which consist of criticising the Executive. There are not many opportunities at any time of criticising the Executive of the House. To my mind the old Rule about being able to adjourn the House has been largely spoilt by the fact that the adjourned Debate takes place at nine o'clock, and also by the fact that it is so very stringent in its application that it very often cannot be applied, although the matter may be of importance. It is a relief to some of us, I am sure, to learn that in this Motion the right of moving the Adjournment of the House still remains. That is better than has been the case sometimes with previous Motions of this character. Still, I do not think it is worth very much, because in the first place it has to be a matter of urgent and definite public importance, and, moreover, it has to be ruled that no other opportunity of discussing it could possibly arise, and, as a matter of fact, I think the number of occasions on which that rule has been utilised during the last year or two should be sufficient evidence, at all events, that it is not really of very much value to private Members of this House. But as the Rules of this House have been altered of late years by the Closure, and such like operations as the guillotine, Members find new ways of their own of providing opportunities of criticising the Government or of asking them questions in addition to the ordinary ones, and one of these opportunities, which Members have valued very much of late, has been afforded by the occasion when Mr. Speaker puts the Question, at the end of the sitting, that the House do now adjourn. Of course it is not a very satisfactory opportunity, because it does not enable you to divide upon your question, no matter how much interest you may have in it, but at all events it gives the private Member an opportunity of forcing an answer from a Cabinet Minister on any particular matter that he may have at heart, and I therefore think it is of very great value in that respect. Under all these Motions which, as the Prime Minister tells us, have been frequently moved before, that right has been taken away from the private Member, and he is not able to ask such questions as he may desire to put to a Minister at that time. By this simple Amendment—and I do not think it will affect the Government's programme of time, and therefore they need not oppose it on that account—private Members will be given this opportunity, which I think they will very much value, and moreover the House will be taking upon itself the burden of deciding whether it should adjourn, which is a primary thing it should decide, rather than have it dictated by the Government of the day at the very beginning of the Session. For these reasons I hope the Government will see their way to accept the Amendment, and will not say they cannot do so merelv because it has an old form of words which has been adopted before. From the point of view of many Members of the House this form of words would be an improvement.


I beg to second the Amendment. I only desire to emphasise the fact that, at the outside, all the time that could be taken up in one day, if this Amendment is carried, cannot be more than half an hour. In any case the Debate on the Adjournment cannot go on after half past eleven o'clock, and the number of times in which it will be used is extremely few. This Session up to now it has only been used some three or four times. I venture to put to the Prime Minister that it is a most valuable right possessed by private Members. As it happens the opportunity of moving the Adjournment of the House has become much rarer during the last five or six years, and in place of that private Members have exercised the right of calling attention to matters when the question is put, "That this House do now adjourn." We have had valuable debates on such occasions. There was one some time ago in which the Home Secretary took part, and which disclosed some very important facts. It is a most valuable safety valve to be able to bring up matters of urgent importance before the House adjourns. It does no harm to the Government. It does not take up Government time. I think the Amendment proposed by my Noble Friend is a most important one, and if it were accepted, private Members would retain some slight vestige of the right to make their voices heard in the House.


I quite agree with the Noble Lord (Viscount Helmsley) that this is a very important privilege which, if possible, private Members ought to possess. So far as I can see, when this Motion has been adopted, as on several occasions it has been adopted, there is scarcely any possibility at all for any private Member to raise matters of great importance. I understand that the Prime Minister has indicated that we shall have the right in future of moving the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of calling attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance. Therefore that safety valve will still be left under the Motion. But the Motion is really drafted on lines with which we are familiar, though in view of what the Prime Minister has stated, we still have the right of moving the Adjournment of the House. It is, therefore, not correct to say that all opportunities for private Members moving the adjournment have gone. If it were possible under the scheme of the Government, which is after all to get business through, including the Insurance Bill, I think it would be of great advantage to Members of the House, and also for the convenience of the Government, if the opportunity were given of raising questions before the House adjourned each night. I do think that when bringing Members from all parts of the country—I do not think anyone has come with any great enthusiasm for an Autumn Session—some little consideration might be given to the existence of private Members.

I will not go into the larger question whether we should have an Autumn Session at all. I must say, speaking frankly, that I think the Prime Minister is rather lenient to some of his more ambitious colleagues in the first Session of a new Parliament. I am not sure that the Prime Minister does not sympathise with that statement. I think the Government in the first Session of a new Parliament have attempted far too much, consistent with the easy working of the House, and even the ability and usefulness of the House. Having all these Committees going on upstairs, and great measures of far-reaching importance proposed touching almost every section of the community at one time, I do not regard as even an electioneering factor, or for the advantage of the House itself. We are in an Autumn Session, and we have to get to the consideration of a measure for which the Government have made themselves responsible. For my own part, I shall do nothing to interfere with the progress of that measure. At the same time, I think the Government might show a little consideration to private Members, who are rapidly losing all opportunity for raising any question in this House. It would conduce to the good working of business to allow such opportunity. As to the position of the measure which the right hon. Gentleman referred to in his opening speech, namely, the House-Letting (Scotland) Bill


The hon. Gentleman would not be in order in referring to that Bill now. He will have an opportunity of raising it on the main question.


I was rather afraid that I was getting on to narrow ground, and I am glad to have your assurance that it can be referred to later. If the Prime Minister will give a sympathetic assurance that he will regard with favour our desire that the Scottish House Letting Bill shall be passed into law this Session, we will support the Government with regard to the Amendment proposed by the Noble Lord.


My hon. Friend has opened up rather a wide field, and I do not think it would be in order if I were to attempt to follow him. He rebuked the Government for bringing forward an unnecessarily ambitious programme, and then he promised to vote with the Government on the Amendment of the Noble Lord opposite if the Government would add another measure to that programme. I am very anxious to see the House Letting (Scotland) Bill carried through, and I hope that something like general consent will be obtained. With regard to the Amendment of the Noble Lord, I would say that, so far from being hostile, as I am sometimes supposed to be, to opportunities being given to private Members for raising questions of public importance, I am myself in sympathy on the whole with the feeling that there is an undue curtailment of those opportunities through the operation of causes which no one party or another is exclusively responsible for, but which limit the field of opportunity. It is quite true that on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House any question may be raised under the ordinary rule, and that then the discussion must come to an end at half-past eleven. But under this Amendment, when we suspend the Eleven o'clock rule, there will be no corresponding limitation of any discussion that might take place on the Adjournment, and the result would be that we might, on a Motion for the Adjournment, have a discussion unlimited in point of time, and absolutely unlimited as to the number of topics. It might last during the whole of the night, so far as the rule of the House is concerned. I do not think that would be for the general convenience of the House. On the contrary, I believe it would be a means of imposing a great additional burden on the burden which these autumn sittings impose on hon. Members. It is possible that it might take up an enormous amount of time, and you would have to keep enough people in the House—at least 100—in order to carry the Closure. I really think it would not be for the general interest of the House. On the other hand, hon. Members have the opportunity, under the ordinary rule, of moving the Adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance. I hope, therefore, the Noble Lord will not persist in his Amendment.


I can only speak with the indulgence of the House. If the only objection is that stated by the Prime Minister I should be glad to modify the Amendment to meet his views, especially as he said that he regarded it with favour. I propose that the Amendment should read "and thereupon within half-an-hour of the conclusion of Government business the House shall so adjourn."


May I remind the Prime Minister that the rule to which my Noble Friend refers has been found of practical convenience to the Government themselves. For instance, the Government might be anxious to make a statement to the House of great public interest under the rule which enables hon. Members to raise a question before the House adjourns. They might very easily make a statement in regard to matters arising in the labour world, or in connection with foreign affairs. Under the Motion proposed by the Prime Minister it would not be possible to make such a statement because the ordinary rule would be abolished.


I agree with the Noble Lord, I am not indisposed to accept the Amendment if it is properly safe-guarded, and I think the words now proposed will supply an adequate safeguard. Will he read the words again?


I beg to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdraw.

Question amended, by leaving out the words "do adjourn the House without Question put," and inserting the words "propose the Question that this House do now adjourn, and thereupon, not later than half-an-half after the conclusion of Government Business, the House shall so adjourn."—[Viscount Helmsley.]

5.0 P.M.


I need hardly say that I do not rise to offer any opposition to the general Motion. My object in addressing the House for a few minutes is to endeavour to prevail on my right hon. Friend to give a little consideration to a most important subject which circumstances have brought to a critical condition during the Recess. I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether the Resolution will give us an opportunity of discussing the Brussels Sugar Convention during the Autumn Session. As my right hon. Friend knows, I have been very much interested in this matter for many years. I believe that he sympathises largely with what I am about to say with regard to this, but this would not be sufficient reason for obtruding it on your notice at the present time. I do so because circumstances have arisen which give the matter extraordinary importance just now. Practically there is a famine in one of the most important articles of food in this country. It has been caused to a large extent by the very dry weather which prevailed in the summer. But the famine did not prevail everywhere. In some places there was great abundance, and in other places great scarcity. Owing to the peculiar circumstances of this Convention, we shall not be able to avail ourselves of the great abundance which exists in Russia unless something is done to mitigate the position.

Action has been taken in our interests. An extraordinary Session of the Convention has been summoned for Thursday with the single object as it were of opening our gates to this most important article of food, which is the basis of many of our great manufactures. In these circumstances I do appeal to my right hon. Friend as to whether he will absolutely muzzle us in this House with regard to a matter which is causing the greatest suffering in the country. The price of that article of food has risen to an extent that lays a burden of eight millions a year on the backs of the people. Thousands of workmen are being thrown out of employment owing to the great scarcity of this article. In other countries this scarcity of food has been the cause of very considerable riots during the Recess. Martial law has been proclaimed, and Parliament has been called together to abolish the duties and to take instant steps to give relief to the people. We have the very same circumstances to complain of here, owing to the action of the Government, unintentionally—because I need not remind my right hon. Friend that three years ago a change was made by the Government in the situation with regard to this matter, when they thought that the change would be effective, though it is not effective—at this present moment our gates are closed, and there is great scarcity. In these circumstances, without entering too much into the details of the question now, I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he will not promise to give us at least a day or half a day to discuss this most important matter, which is being felt most severely by great numbers of manufacturers?

I believe that the late Census shows that this question affects the greatest series of manufactures of all others in this country, and at the present time it is laying a heavy burden on the food of the people. If my right hon. Friend will allow us to discuss this matter it would give a great deal of satisfaction to many of his own supporters. My right hon. Friend should not be too much reassured by the support which the Opposition extended to this Motion. I was greatly struck by the fact that the Leader of the Opposition did not oppose it. We have heard no criticism of it from the other side of the House. The reason is that my right hon. Friend is adopting the methods that were invented by the Leader of the Opposition and Gentlemen on the opposite side, when they were in power, in bringing forward this Motion, which is a curtailment of the rights of the House and the liberties of the people of this country. Great events may happen any day while this House is in Session. Are we to be precluded from making any allusion to them or having any discussion about them, however gravely they may affect our own domestic affairs? Without any feeling of unfriendliness to the great objects which the Government have in view, I venture to call my right hon. Friend's attention to this matter and to ask him if he could see his way to promise that if a satisfactory conclusion is not arrived at, as I believe it will not be, on Thursday, with regard to the Sugar Convention, he will certainly give this House an opportunity of having a debate upon this most important matter.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if I am right in assuming that this Resolution in no way interferes with the assurance given to us in the summer that we should have a day for the discussion of the question of the appointment of magistrates?


I have been asked by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to repeat a question which he put earlier in the day. My right hon. Friend having spoken on the original Motion, is precluded from speaking again. He asked the Prime Minister what arrangement the Government proposed to make for giving the House an opportunity of discussing such matters as the English railway strike or the subsequent and independent Irish railway strike, or, again, of receiving from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a statement about foreign affairs, and of having a discussion thereon if the statement should be of a character to call for such discussion? The Prime Minister has not said anything about that. My Noble Friend below the Gangway also suggests the Railway Commission Report. The right hon. Gentleman has not spoken since my right hon. Friend, except on particular matters, and he has not dealt with those matters, and my right hon. Friend was anxious that we should have a statement from the right hon. Gentleman as to what were the intentions of the Government with regard to them. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that though, as he said, this Motion strictly follows precedent, the course of business during the early part of the Session did not follow precedent.

I suppose that the Eleven o'clock Rule has been suspended far more often in this Session, and over a far longer space of time, than in any previous Session of Parliament since it was introduced. Day after day, without taking any general powers, our business began with the Motion to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule for the day, and then in addition there was a Motion giving the Government a long time in the very early part of the Session. But that was not the only respect in which the Session was peculiar. The Prime Minister may remember that he took the whole of private Members' time before Easter and half their time after Easter. He has already made considerable inroads on the time which is free for Members to bring subjects of interest to themselves and their constituencies or of general interest to the country before the House on their own initiative. The whole programme of business has been to an extent which I believe is unparalleled in the hands of the Government, and the subjects of discussion have been regulated and controlled by them to an extent that I think never before has taken place. This is certainly the first time since the new Rules which govern private Members' business were framed that any attempt of this character has been made upon the time allotted to them. I submit to the House that this is an additional reason why, in making this Motion, the Government should show itself generous in regard to allocating time to subjects which are of very widespread interest alike in, the House and in the country.


Before the Debate closes I do think we ought to know exactly where the House-Letting (Scotland) Bill stands. Unless we have an undertaking on the subject the House-Letting Bill is dead. That is practically the position. The Committee is called for one day next week. Is it the intention of the Government that the Committee shall go on considering the House-Letting Bill, and if the Committee considers it will the Government find time for it when it comes back to this House? As the Prime Minister is aware, the leaders on the opposite side repudiate with indignation any suggestion that they were against this Bill last Session, and their public speeches during the Recess declare their absolute adherence to the measure. What we ask is that they should be given an opportunity for proving that statement. I anticipate that in a very few hours the right hon. Gentleman's colleague on the left (Mr. Gulland) would be able, from his inquiries, to assure him that with all the circumstances of the Parliamentary position taken into consideration, it would give great satisfaction to all sections among the Scottish supporters of the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill should be passed if possible during the present Session.

Captain CRAIG

I would like to make an appeal to the Prime Minister with regard to one special matter. That is a humble Address to His Majesty in reference to statutes laid on the Table of the House. As the House is aware, statutes under a great many of our Acts have to be laid on the Table for forty days, and before the expiration of those forty days it is open to this House to present an humble Address to His Majesty to have the statute altered if any error crops up. I do not wish to discuss the particular case which I have in view, but I may mention that a Statute has been presented by the new Irish University in Dublin to which grave exception has been taken, and if the forty days were not run out, in the ordinary course this House would have an opportunity of discussing the matter, and it would be the fault of the hon. Member concerned if he did not draw attention to it.


The forty days have run out.

Captain CRAIG

No, they have not. I have taken the precaution to see that the forty days have not yet expired, but I was making inquiries at the Table, and I understand that this Motion of the Prime Minister will prevent the opportunity from arising of presenting an Address to His Majesty, no matter how grievous the wrong that may be done by the Statute. I do not suppose that there are very many cases in question. In fact, I do not suppose that there is any other except the one to which I am drawing attention. I had intended moving an Amendment to the Prime Minister's Motion in order to safeguard these Addresses, but if the Prime Minister would say that he would put down this particular Motion which I am handing in at the Table, before the last Government order of the day, which would come on in the ordinary course, as it would come on if it were not for this Motion, then I shall not put down any Amendment to the Prime Minister's Motion. I think, in the exceptional circumstances, and with the very short time that remains for disposing of this case, which happens to be a grave scandal, that the Prime Minister should allow this matter to be discussed without the necessity of putting an Amendment on the Paper. I appeal to his sense of fairness. A great many of us feel we have been unjustly treated, and that this Statute embodies an unfair and wasteful manner of dealing with public money, and therefore I hope that he will give us the privilege of being able to raise this question.


There is a very strong feeling in Scotland with regard to the House Letting Bill, and I hope, therefore, that some arrangement will be made by which that Bill may be passed during this Session. I rose more particularly to say how much I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Wisbech Division (Mr. Neil Primrose) in pressing upon the attention of the Government the question of the appointment of justices. We had the promise of the Prime Minister, made some months back, in regard to the matter, and feeling is very strong in the country as to these appointments or non-appointments. My own constituents have strongly impressed upon me the necessity of stating their case to this House. I think they have been very hardly treated and I hope, therefore, that an opportunity will be afforded to discuss the subject in this House.


The Prime Minister gave us a long list of legislation to be carried before the end of the year, but I would venture to suggest that, if there be any addition made to it, it should be the House Letting Bill. That measure might be sent up to the Scottish Grand Committee and passed through that stage along with other Scottish legislation before the end of the year. I believe that it would be possible in that way to pass the House Letting Bill at the same time as other Scottish legislation. It is only in this House that the people of Scotland can look for any attention being paid to this matter. They have waited a great many years, and at the present time I think there is less opposition to the proposal than there was formerly. It is generally recognised that this practice of long lets for houses in Scotland is so intolerable in certain industrial districts that the remedy proposed by the Bill is most urgently needed. I do hope that it will be sent to the Scottish Grand Committee, and put along with other Scottish legislation, so that it may have a chance of being carried this Session.


We have been told that eighteen or nineteen days are to be given to the Insurance Bill. I wish to ask whether these will be consecutive days, or whether the consideration of the Insurance Bill will be interrupted in order to take the Finance Bill. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us the order in which the business will be taken.


It seems to me that the House-Letting Bill for Scotland is to be dropped, because it does not come within the definition of the Bills to be proceeded with. I want to have an assurance that it will not be dropped. This Bill is already long in arrears. It was introduced years ago. It has been before the people over and over again, and it deals with one of the most clamant questions in Scotland. The demand for the measure is urgent, and indignation is felt among the Scottish people that the Bill has not already been passed this Session. If the choice were between the House-Letting Bill and other Bills upon the programme I have not the slightest doubt the verdict of the electors of Scotland would be in favour of the passing of the House-Letting Bill, and the dropping of some other measure. The electors, almost independent of party, demand this Bill. The Shops Bill is a very important measure and a very complex one, but, taking my own Constituency as an example, the Shops Bill only affects a limited number of people, though it affects them in an important respect, but when you come to the House-Letting Bill it is regarded in some respects as more important than the Shops Bill. If the choice were between the Shops Bill and the House-Letting Bill I should unhesitatingly give my support to the House-Letting Bill. We have suffered from neglect in Scottish affairs in the past—neglect which is a subject of very severe comment in Scotland, comment which will be increased if this Bill be dropped. I for one do not profess to speak for any of my colleagues, but I will say this, that I am not prepared by my vote to give the Government unfettered control for the rest of the Session without an assurance from them on this subject. Unless an assurance be given, I shall vote against the Resolution now before us.


I confess I am surprised that no Member of the Labour party has risen in support of the application of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for an opportunity to discuss labour troubles. It is said that we on this side of the House do not represent the working classes, and that it is in a peculiar sense the privilege of the Labour party. There is nothing so much in the minds of the working classes at the present moment as the labour troubles of the past two months and the Report of the Royal Commission. The working classes regard those questions as of greater importance than some of the minor Bills referred to. The Leader of the Labour party said it was quite right to support the Opposition against the Government when it was convenient to the Labour party, but as soon as it was not convenient then he and his friends would help the Government. In the meantime the Labour party, until they are elected by Labour votes, and not only by Liberal votes, will have to do in this House as they are told. I think it is the duty of the House of Commons to discuss what the Commons of England are interested in. It may be against the public interests to have foreign affairs discussed, but it is certainly in the public interests that we should have a proper discussion of these labour questions. On this side of the House we believe that the Government have incurred very grave moral responsibility for the reckless language which they used on an earlier occasion, I and it is proper that they should be I brought to book for it. The Royal Commission Report is a matter of the highest interest to the working classes of this country. It has just been published: it raises very important points, and an opportunity should be given for some discussion of that Report in order that it may be properly elucidated to the public mind.


My object in rising is to make an appeal to the Prime Minister, and to point out that the desire to discuss the Report of the Royal Commission is not peculiar to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Some of us on these benches are anxious for a discussion, but I believe we have been silent because the Prime Minister said that some opportunity would be afforded for discussing the Report.


I desire to support those Scottish Members who have asked the Prime Minister for some assurance that the House-Letting Bill shall be passed this Session, and placed upon the Statute Book.


I also desire to join with my colleagues in the appeal to the Prime Minister and to the Government to push forward this measure with regard to House Letting in Scotland. As has been pointed out, this Bill has been anxiously wanted in Scotland for twenty-five years. It is practically a non-party measure, because it is favoured by those Scottish Members who belong to the Opposition. No candidate for any county or burgh in Scotland would have any chance of success if he dared to say a word against this Bill. I would point out to the Prime Minister that unless the Bill be passed in this Session it will not be possible to pass it three times through the House of Commons before it is finally dealt with by the House of Lords. In the past the other House has not been sympathetic to this measure; indeed, they have treated it in such a way that it has had to be dropped. The probability is that it will be treated in the same way by the other House next Session and the Session after, and if it is not passed in this Session through the House of Commons, then we will not be able to pass it the three times which are necessary. Therefore, it is very essential that the measure should pass in this Session.

Colonel GREIG

I want to join in the appeal to the Prime Minister with regard to the House Letting Bill. I do not go so far as to agree with all that has been said by my hon. colleagues below the Gangway, but, representing a large constituency, I do urge that there should be an amendment of the law, and it would be a very great step if we could put this Bill on the Statute Book. I would ask the Prime Minister to remember that the Scottish Members are in town in full numbers, and, as this is a matter which would fall on their shoulders if it were sent to the Grand Committee—of course, I cannot speak for Scottish Members opposite—they would devote all their time and energy to getting the Bill through in time to be put on the Statute Book. I hope, with that assurance, the Prime Minister will see his way to allow the Bill to go to Grand Committee.


Scotland has been monopolising the attention of the House for some time, and I desire now to call attention to a matter which has relation to Ireland, where there has been a timber strike, or a railway strike, arising out of a timber trade dispute. It was a strike of a very disgraceful character. No strike has ever been begun in a more unjustifiable way than was the strike to which I refer, and a great many of us in Ireland feel that no strike has ever been so miserably handled by the Government of the day. We asked ourselves in Ireland during the progress of that strike where was the Chief Secretary all the time. It was the Chief Secretary's province to deal with that strike, yet, so far as we were aware, he was absent from Ireland, though he was in this country the whole of the time. From the very day the strike started, or the day after, I understand he was not in Ireland at all. If you contrast that with the action of the Government with regard to the railway strike in this country the House will at once observe that a totally different state of affairs existed in Ireland to what existed in this country, and that the railway strike, though it does not matter whether it was a railway strike or any other kind of strike, was handled by the representatives of the Government in an entirely different way. I need not say, because that strike figured largely in the English Press, that the very gravest dissatisfaction was felt in commercial and all communities in Ireland as to the way in which the Government neglected their duties with regard to that strike. My object in rising is to point out to the Prime Minister that this is essentially a matter for which the Government ought to give time for discussion. So far as I can see no occasion will arise under the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman in which we would be able to raise this question. The consequence will be that months will intervene between now and next Session without this question having been brought before the House. I do say that so grave was the situation at the time as to the questions involved in this matter that we ought to have an assurance from the Prime Minister that some occasion, either on the report of the Railway Commission when it is discussed or some other occasion, should be provided for the discussion of this matter before the House adjourns prior to Christmas.

The PRIME MINISTER (who was indistinctly heard)

The constituencies of the West of Scotland may congratulate themselves when they read their papers tomorrow morning on the assiduity of their representatives in forwarding their interests. It is possible for me as a Scottish Member, though my own Constituency is not very largely affected by the particular evils which arise in the West of Scotland, to say that I am heartily in sympathy with the House Letting Bill, as I think I have on more than one occasion shown. I need not say that the Bill has not been dropped as some hon. Members seem to understand. The six Bills which I read out have all passed through the Committee stage; the House-Letting Bill has not yet been through Standing Committee upstairs. It is going, I understand, to the Standing Committee next week I think, and I have no doubt it will emerge from it very rapidly. I hope and believe, and with that unanimity of opinion of the Scottish representatives I should be very sanguine, that it may fall within the category of Bills which will be passed before the close of the Session; and which the Government are anxious to promote. With regard to the question of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Craig) I understand that he wants an opportunity to discuss some Statute that has been made by the Irish University Commission. I have not heard of the matter, and I do not know what particular circumstances there may have been, but there is no difficulty technically, provided the opportunity can be afforded. If I find on investigating the facts that the hon. Gentleman is not speaking merely for himself, but represents a considerable body of opinion, then I assure him I should do my best to provide him with the opportunity.

Captain CRAIG

If the right hon. Gentleman investigates the facts I am afraid hon. Members below the Gangway will prevent it coming forward.


I do not mean by investigating the facts forming an opinion on the merits. I want to find out what the Statutes are, how many days they still have to run before they operate, and so forth. The hon. Gentleman may rely on it I will endeavour to do him justice. With regard to the larger question which has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman on the bench opposite as to opportunities for discussing the administrative policy of the Government, I have to say this. As regards foreign affairs, I think it is not only natural and legitimate but most desirable that in the course of our Sittings a full statement should be made by the Foreign Secretary both as regards Morocco and, possibly, as regards other matters which may then be ripe for public exposition and discussion. I hope and believe that that statement when it is made will be of such a nature as not to lead to anything in the shape of acrimonious or even controversial discussion. That it should be made here, and that it should be made at the earliest convenient opportunity in the public interest, I entirely agree. Obviously, it is impossible to anticipate precisely the date on which my right hon. Friend will be prepared to make his statement, but it certainly will not be later than the date to which, in the public interest, it is necessary to postpone it. I should not like to say precisely, but I hope that it will be in the course of a fortnight or three weeks. As regards the administrative action of the Government at home in relation to the labour troubles, either here or in Ireland, I am most anxious that the House should have the opportunity, if it so desires, of venturing on those matters. It is very difficult to promise a specific time for discussion when you have no notice as to what form it is to take or in what manner it is to be initiated A mere discussion in the air is of a very unsatisfactory nature, but if those who are interested would give notice to the Government of the form in which they desire to bring it forward I can assure them there will be no disposition on our part to avoid it.

The Noble Lord the Member for the University of Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) assumed the rôle of champion of the labouring classes in this country, and spoke of the silence of the Labour party as to a discussion of the Report of the Railway Commission. I understood the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), when he was speaking to ask for an opportunity for discussion, and it was therefore not necessary to repeat that request. I do not know whether there is a general desire that that Report should be discussed. I think myself it would be in the interests of everybody, of all parties concerned, that before such a discussion is initiated full time should be given for the consideration of that Report in all its bearings. It is not, so far as I understand it, and I am only speaking very superficially, because I have not had myself time to give proper attention to the matter—it is not a matter either of legislation or administration. It is not a matter, therefore, with which the Government, as a Government, are primarily concerned. It is a series of recommendations made by an authoritative, impartial, and representative body to the different interests—the railway companies on the one side and the railway workers on the other. Primarily it is a matter for those interested and concerned how far the recommendations are acceptable, and to what extent. I am not at all sure whether a Parliamentary discussion at this stage, and in this phase, would tend to any useful purpose, but if on reflection and consideration there is a general desire and disposition in various quarters of the House to have the matter discussed, then it will be extremely difficult for the Government to refuse to give that opportunity, but I venture, with all respect, to draw that preliminary caution, because I am not at all sure that Parliamentary discussion at this stage is desirable. I think that exhausts the questions.


There is my question as to the precedence of Bills?


The idea is to proceed with the Committee stage of the Insurance Bill first, and then to interpose a delay, in which probably the Finance Bill or other measures will be taken. With regard to the Magistracy, I gave an undertaking before the House adjourned which, in the time at our disposal, we were unable to carry out, but if hon. Members who are moving in this matter are still desirous of the opportunity—


I certainly am.


I should like to measure the amount of support behind my hon. Friend before I make any rash promises on the subject. With regard to the Sugar Convention, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough) is a past master in the matter, and some of the things he has stated to-day are entirely new to me, but I am sure, coming from him, they are entitled to consideration. I will promise him I will see how far it merits the allocation of some of the very scanty Parliamentary time which, after all the undertakings I have given, remains at our disposal. I think that exhausts the catalogue of questions, and I trust the House will now agree to the Motion.


The right hon. Gentleman has given an answer to certain claims made on him, and I think, perhaps, if we were to pretermit our rights at this stage we might be accused hereafter of not having availed of this discussion to mention a particular subject. I am referring to the Report of the Secret Committee or Commission on the subject of Irish Finance. That Committee has been sitting for, I think, very nearly eight or nine months, and the subject which the Committee had to consider was by no means as intricate or difficult as that which the Railway Commission managed to dispatch in the course of four or five weeks. Being as we are on the eve of a promised measure of self-government for Ireland, and as I attach more importance to the question of finance in regard to that measure than I do to any other matter which it is supposed to contain, I think we are entitled to know first when the Commission is likely to report, and, secondly, whether any opportunity will be given in the course of this Autumn Session to enable a discussion to take place. The Government have taken the unusual course of placing upon that Commission a most respected Bishop of the Catholic Church, and, although, in regard to the general opinion of the Bishops of Ireland on the Insurance Bill they have entirely rejected the opinion of the Irish Hierarchy, in connection with that measure, I understand they do attach enormous importance to the opinion of a single ecclesiastic. That being so, and this measure being one which goes to the root of the entire Irish difficulty it is not now too much to ask at this stage after these incubations, when the report is likely to be made, and what opportunity if any will be given for the discussion of the report.


As I have said before, it was a purely confidential inquiry, undertaken at the request of the Government for their information, the report of the Committee to be submitted to the Government. That report is a confidential document for the information of the Government, with a view to legislation, and it would be entirely contrary to precedent at this stage to make it the subject of Parliamentary discussion.


Why, if this was a purely confidential inquiry, was it first publicly mentioned by the Chief Secretary for Ireland as an important part of his Irish policy? And why were the names of the gentlemen forming this purely confidential tribunal disclosed to the House and to the country? If it was necessary to tell the House and the country that much about their proceedings, on what principle does the Prime Minister conceal from the House the more important facts in reference to the Committee, namely, the conclusions they have come to?


I am not concealing anything. We are now in possession of a confidential document, and the ton. Member's request is not, it seems to me, a very reasonable one. We gave the names of the Commissioners at his express request. He was full of all kinds of suspicion and doubt as to the gentlemen to whom this confidential inquiry was to be entrusted, and to allay those suspicions, and to satisfy those doubts, we gave the names of the Commissioners.


The names of the Commissioners only increased our doubts.


In connection with the railway troubles and the general unrest, have the Government forgotten that when the House adjourned in August there was a generally expressed opinion that the food supply of the country must

be kept open, and such a thing as a general strike on the railways obviated, and that if this could not be done by the companies and the men concerned Parliament ought to take measures to deal with the matter? Is the Prime Minister aware that the men have practically unanimously rejected the findings of the Commission, and that up and down the country appeals are being made calling upon the leaders to make arrangements for another general strike? I ask the House whether we ought not to tackle that question now rather than after the event, when we may have the Executive put to the more or less painful necessity of again shooting down unarmed citizens in the streets. Instead of devoting so much time to the imposition of a poll tax on the great mass of the workers, might we not devote our time to considering how to improve the lot of the 100,000 railwaymen who earn less than £1 per week? Speaking for myself, I consider that there is no question of anything like so great importance as the fact that large masses of our working people live in conditions of destitution and poverty every day of their lives. For me, at any rate, there is no question—neither Welsh Disestablishment nor Home Rule, nor any other of the questions about which we hear so much—of anything like so great importance as the condition of the people question. I would press on the Prime Minister the absolute necessity before another strike takes place of this House doing its duty by at least attempting to redress the grievances of the men with whom all of us professed so much sympathy before we went for our holidays a month or two ago.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided: Ayes, 273; Noes, 145.

Division No. 342.] AYES. [5.53 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Bethell, Sir John Henry Chapple, Dr, William Allen
Acland, Francis Dyke Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Clancy, John Joseph
Adamson, William Black, Arthur W. Clough, William
Addison, Dr. C. Boland, John Plus Clynes, John R.
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Booth, Frederick Handel Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Bowerman, C. W. Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Anderson, Andrew Macbeth Brace, William Condon, Thomas Joseph
Armitage, Robert Brady, Patrick Joseph Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Brunner, John F. L. Cowan, W. H.
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Bryce, J. Annan Crawshay-Williams, Eliot
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Burke, E. Haviland- Crooks, William
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Burns, Rt. Hon. John Crumley, Patrick
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)
Barnes, G. N. Byles, Sir William Pollard Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Cameron, Robert Dawes, James Arthur
Beck, Arthur Cecil Carr-Gomm, H. W. Delany, William
Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Denman, Hon. R. D.
Bentham, G. J. Chancellor, Henry George Devlin, Joseph
Dillon, John Kellaway, Frederick George Pirie, Duncan V.
Donelan, Captain A. Kelly, Edward Pointer, Joseph
Doris, William King, Joseph (Somerset, North) Pollard, Sir George H.
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Lamb, Ernest Henry Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Power, Patrick Joseph
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Leach, Charles Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Levy, Sir Maurice Raffan, peter Wilson
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of Lewis, John Herbert Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary) Logan, John William Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Esslemont, George Birnie Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Reddy, Michael
Falconer, James Lundon, Thomaa Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Farrell, James Patrick Lyell, C. H. Redmond, William (Clare)
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Rendall, Athelstan
Ffrench, Peter Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Field, William Maclean, Donald Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Macpherson, James Ian Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
France, Gerald Ashburner MacVeagh, Jeremiah Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Gelder, Sir William Alfred M'Curdy, Charles Albert Rose, Sir Charles Day
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rowlands, James
Gill, Alfred Henry M'Laren, H. D. (Leicester) Rowntree, Arnold
Gladstone, W. G. C. M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Glanville, Harold James M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford M'Micking, Major Gilbert Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Goldstone, Frank Marshall, Arthur Harold Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Martin, Joseph Scanlan, Thomas
Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Mason, David M. (Coventry) Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Greig, Colonel James William Masterman, C. F. G. Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Griffith, Ellis Jones Meagher, Michael Sheehy, David
Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.) Sherwell, Arthur James
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Millar, James Duncan Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Hall, Frederick (Normanton) Molteno, Percy Alport Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Hancock, John George Mond, Sir Alfred M. Spicer, Sir Albert
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Money, L. G. Chiozza Summers, James Woolley
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Montagu, Hon. E. S. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Mooney, John J. Tennant, Harold John
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.) Morgan, George Hay Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Morrell, Philip Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) Muldoon, John Toulmin, Sir George
Harwood, George Munro, Robert Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Verney, Sir Harry
Hayward, Evan Nannetti, Joseph P. Wadsworth, J.
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Needham, Christopher T. Walters, John Tudor
Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Henry, Sir Charles S. Nolan, Joseph Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor Norton, Captain Cecil W. Wardle, George J.
Higham, John Sharp Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Waring, Walter
Hinds, John Nuttall, Harry Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Hodge, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Hoit, Richard Durning O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Webb, H.
Hope, John Deans (Haddington) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich) O'Dowd, John White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Ogden, Fred White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Hudson, Walter O'Grady, James Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Hughes, Spencer Leigh O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus O'Malley, William Wilkie, Alexander
Jardine, Sir John (Roxburgh) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
John, Edward Thomas O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Johnson, William O'Shee, James John Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) O'Sullivan, Timothy Wilson', Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Palmer, Godfrey Mark Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Parker, James (Halifax) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Young, William (Perth, East)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Joyce, Michael Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Keating, Matthew Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Amery, L. C. M. S. Bathurst, Charles (Wilts., Wilton) Bridgeman, William Clive
Archer-Shee, Major M. Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Bull, Sir William James
Baird, John Lawrence Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Burn, Col. C. R.
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Bennett-Goldney, Francis Butcher, John George
Balcarres, Lord Bigland, Alfred Campion, W. R.
Baldwin, Stanley Boles, Lieut.-Col Dennis Fortescue Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred
Banner, John S. Harmood- Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Cassel, Felix
Barnston, Harry Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Cator, John
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.) Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Cautley, Henry Strother
Cave, George Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildlord) Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Horner, Andrew Long Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Houston, Robert Paterson Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Chambers, James Hunt, Rowland Rolleston, Sir John
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Ronaldshay, Earl of
Clyde, James Avon Ingleby, Holcombe Rothschild, Lionel de
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Courthope, George Loyd Jowett, Frederick William Sanders, Robert Arthur
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Joynson-Hicks, William Sanderson, Lancelot
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Kimber, Sir Henry Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (Liverp'l, Walton)
Crean, Eugene Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Smith, Harord (Warrington)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Larmor, Sir J. Snowden, Philip
Dixon, Charles Harvey Lloyd, George Ambrose Stanier, Beville
Doughty, Sir George Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Starkey, John Ralph
Duke, Henry Edward Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Stewart, Gershom
Falle, Bertram Godfray MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Fell, Arthur Mackinder, Halford J. Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes M'Mordie, Robert Talbot, Lord Edmund
Fleming, Valentine McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine) Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Magnus, Sir Philip Touche, George Alexander
Gardner, Ernest Malcolm, Ian Tryon, Captain George Clement
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Valentia, Viscount
Goldman, Charles Sydney Mildmay, Francis Bingham Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Goldsmith, Frank Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton) Weigall, Captain A. G.
Gretton, John Neville, Reginald J. N. Wheler, Granville C. H.
Guiney, Patrick Newman, John R. P. White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Haddock, George Bahr Nield, Herbert Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Hamersley, Alfred St. George Norton-Griffiths, J. Wolmer, Viscount
Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) O'Brien, William (Cork) Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Worthington-Evans, L.
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Yate, Col. C. E.
Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge) Younger, Sir George
Hills, J. W. Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)
Hill-Wood, Samuel Pole-Carew, Sir R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Pollock, Ernest Murray Mr. Lansbury and Mr. W. Thorne.
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, That, for the remainder of the Session, Government Business be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed, and have precedence at every Sitting; that, at the conclusion of Government Business each day, Mr. Speaker propose the Question, That this House do now adjourn, and thereupon, not later than half-an-hour after the conclusion of Government Business, the House shall so adjourn; that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday; and that no Motion, except by the Government, be made to bring in Bills under Standing Order No. 11.