HC Deb 02 April 1912 vol 36 cc1132-4

Ordered, "That a Select Committee be appointed, to whom shall be referred all Petitions presented to the House, with the exception of such as relate to Private Bills; and that such Committee do classify and prepare abstracts of the same, in such form and manner as shall appear to them best suited to convey to the House all requisite information respecting their contents, and do report the same from time to time to the House; and that the Reports of the Committee do set forth, in respect of each Petition, the number of signatures which are accompanied by addresses, and which are written on sheets headed in every case by the prayer of the Petition, provided that on every separate sheet after the first the prayer may be reproduced in print or by other mechanical process; that such Committee have power to direct the printing in extenso of such Petitions, or of such parts of Petitions, as shall appear to require it; and that such Committee have power to report their opinion and observations thereupon to the House."

Ordered, "That the Committee do consist of Mr. Agar-Robartes, Lord Charles Beresford, Sir William Bull, Mr. Burt, Mr. Charles Craig, Mr. Hackett, Mr. R. L. Harmsworth, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Lees Smith, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Marshall, Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, Mr. Reddy, and Mr. Stanier."

Ordered, "That Three be the quorum." —[Mr. Gulland.]

ADJOURNMENT.—Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Gulland.]


I rather regret this. I have been shut out from my Motion. This is not the first time that this has happened to an unfortunate private Member. I have been shut out once before this Session by the action of the Government, and in a previous Session when I had been fortunate enough to draw first place, I was again shut out. Therefore, the chances of the ballot for the private Members as far as I can see are three draws and no result. I do not intend to let this occasion pass without some sort of protest. The Government might very well have taken two Orders to-day instead of to-morrow, and have let us off for our holiday a little earlier. They might also have suggested that some part of the discussion on the Adjournment which is to occupy so much of our time to-morrow should be taken today. It is too late now to make arrangements for dinner or any other diversion of that kind, so that I do not really see what is the object of this Motion for Adjournment. I appeal to the hon. Member in charge of the Government business whether he cannot withdraw the Motion.


I personally regret that the hon. Member has not had an opportunity of moving his Motion. At the same time I would remind the House that a fortnight ago, before the ballot was drawn, the Prime Minister announced that this day would be devoted to the Budget, and gave full warning that whoever was successful in the ballot could not expect his Motion to come on. No one knows better than the hon. Member that that was said, so that he has really no case against the Government for having taken this evening. It was quite impossible to forecast how the Debate would run; therefore the Government found it necessary to take the evening and to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule. The discussion might have gone on to all hours. It is one of those occasions that it is impossible to forecast, and the hon. Member cannot blame the Government for what is purely an accident.


I take it that this is what is technically known as a deal. I do not complain of it on that account, but I assume that deals are only made—


I can assure the hon. Member that there is no deal at all.


I did not think the Debate could have dried up quite so soon unless there had been a deal of some sort. The first night of the Budget is of such importance that many Members would naturally wish to speak. I do not desire to speak myself, but there are Members on this side with whom I have much in agreement who have some criticisms to offer upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposals, but who have been shut out by the arrangement that the Government have made. I only make that observation. I do not wish in the least to stop the progress of this Motion.


The hon. Member persists in speaking of what has occurred as an "arrangement." It was not an arrangement between the two Front Benches. As a matter of fact, it took me entirely by surprise, so that I unfortunately missed the speech of the Secretary to the Treasury in which he replied to the questions I had put. The hon. Member regrets this arrangement because it has shut out various friends of his from uttering criticisms upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have the deepest sympathy with him. That little spark of independence will be cherished by us, and we would do nothing to extinguish it. But anxious as the hon. Gentleman's friends were to criticise some of the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they were even more anxious to get their dinner. Accordingly, none of them were in the House to continue the Debate, which has died because nobody wished to carry it on. If any Members desired to speak, they have only themselves to blame for the early conclusion of the Debate. It certainly cannot be laid to the charge either of the Government or of this bench. Those who have had occasion to watch Budget first nights know that it is by no means an unprecedented circumstance. It is often convenient for Members to reserve their considered criticisms of the Budget statement until they have had time to read the Chancellor's speech, and think about it. Personally, as one who has had to figure on these occasions immediately after the Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken, I can only express my envy of those more happily situated Members who can defer their observations until they have had a little time to consider the statement

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly, at Eight minutes before Nine o'clock, until to-morrow (Wednesday) at noon.