Sir GILBERT PARKER
I wish to draw attention to a matter to which we on this 1941 side attach considerable importance. I came down to-day with the intention of raising the question of the composition of the Imperial Trade Commission; but I find still on the Order Paper the blocking Motion of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. C. Roberts). The history of this matter is very brief. The names of the Members of the Commission were stated by the Colonial Secretary at the end of the discussion on the Motion for the Easter Adjournment. The names were wholly unfamiliar, and in consequence there could be no discussion of the composition of the Commission. I repeatedly asked the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary for information which we felt was necessary in order to understand what the work of the Commission was to be and what the qualifications of the Members were. Then there appeared on the Order Paper the Motion of the hon. Member for Lincoln which blocks the discussion for the remainder of the Session. I appealed to the Prime Minister in these words:—Whether the Prime Minister, in view of his repealed objection to blocking Motions, would have the goodness to use his influence with the hon. Member for Lincoln, who has put down a Motion which prevents any hon. Member of this House from raising this question?The Prime Minister said in reply:—I was not aware of that. I will look into the matter.I then asked the Prime Minister—Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence?And the Prime Minister said that he would look into it. Later, I asked the Colonial Secretary, who was answering for the Prime Minister, whether the Prime Minister had gone into the question, and whether he possessed the Prime Minister's mind regarding it. The reply of the Colonial Secretary was that he did not possess the Prime Minister's mind regarding the removal of the blocking Motion; but that an early and full opportunity would be given to this House to consider the composition of and the reference to the Commission. If there is one opportunity which this House values it is that which occurs on Motions for Adjournment, which give Members on both sides an opportunity of raising questions which they consider of gravity and importance. This was a question of very great gravity and importance, and I would like to ask the representative of the Government whether the Prime Minister did look into the matter, whether he made up his mind that the blocking Motion should not be removed from the Paper, and, if so, why. 1942 There is no one in the House who has expressed himself so strongly regarding these blocking Motions as the Prime Minister himself. I can only conceive that this blocking Motion has not been removed in order to prevent discussion upon a question which obviously the Government do not wish discussed. I consider that the action of the Government is unworthy, pusillanimous and tyrannical, and obstructive of the discussion of a subject which has never been properly discussed in this House, which, indeed, has never been discussed at all. I should like to know what the reply of the Government is, because this is a gross and unmannerly interference with the rights of Private Members which ought to be resented by everybody who respects the credit of this House. Does the Government fear a discussion of the composition of the Commission? I think it well might. At any rate, we desire to raise that question, and I think the public outside will ask why it is that the Government refuses a discussion on the Motion for Adjournment, when they wish to know what defence the Government has against any attack that we might make. I believe that in the Overseas Dominions they will be just as anxious, knowing that this discussion was coming on, to know why it was the Government has blocked it. I protest against this action of the Government in not removing this blocking Motion; and I call your attention. Sir, and the attention of the House to it, believing it to be an abuse of our rights.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member is authorised on his behalf to make any statement, I am sure the House will be glad to hear him.
Sir G. PARKER
May I ask whether the representative of the Government present (Mr. Masterman) has any reply to make?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member will see that it is impossible for the Secretary to the Treasury to reply at this stage. If he does, he loses his right to reply later, 1943 and there are other Members who wish to raise a variety of important points. The hon. Baronet must wait until the conclusion of the discussion in order to hear the reply of the Secretary to the Treasury.