§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
That the remainder of the Committee stage, the Report stage, and the Third Reading of he Finance Bill, and the necessary stages of any Resolutions in connection therewith, shall be proceeded with as follows:—
§ (1) Committee Stage.
§ Four allotted days shall be given to the remainder of the Committee stage of the Bill (including the necessary stages of any Resolutions in connection therewith), and the proceedings on each such allotted day shall be as shown in the second column of the first part of the Table annexed to this Order, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of the first part of that Table.924
§ (2) Report Stage.
§ Two allotted days shall be given to the Report stage of the Bill, and the proceedings on each such allotted day shall be as shown in the second column of the second part of the Table annexed to this Order; and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of the second part of that Table.
§ (3) Third Reading.
§ One allotted day shall be given to the Third Reading of the Bill, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. on that day.
§ On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without Question put.
§ After this Order comes into operation any day after the day on which this Order is passed (other than a Friday) shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order on which the Bill is put down, as the first Government Order of the Day, or on which any stage of any Resolution in connection therewith is put down as the first Government Order of the Day followed by the Bill.
§ For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day and have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under 925 this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from he Chair, and shall next proceed successively to put forthwith the Question on any Motion, Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Motion, Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules, and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and in the case of Government Amendments or of Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
§ The Chair shall have power to select the Amendments to be proposed on any allotted day, and Standing Order No. 26 shall apply as if a Motion had been carried under paragraph 3 of that Standing Order empowering the Chair to select the Amendments with respect to each Motion, Clause, or Schedule under debate on that day.
§ A Motion may be made by the Government to leave out any Clause or Schedule or consecutive Clauses or Schedules of the Bill before consideration of any Amendments to the Clause or Clauses or Schedule or Schedules in Committee, and the Question or any such Motion shall be put forthwith without Amendment or Debate.
§ Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing
|Proceedings on Committee Stage.|
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion.|
|First||…||The remainder of Clause 3 and Clause 4.||…||…||7|
|Clauses 5 to 8 and Committee stage of any Resolution in connection with the Bill||…||…||11|
|Clause 10 and Report stage of any Resolution in connection with Bill||…||…||11|
|Third||…||Clauses 11 to 14||…||…||5.30|
|Clauses 15 and 16||…||…||8|
|Fourth||…||New Clauses, Schedules, and new Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion||…||…||11|
§ Order No. 10 on an allotted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House, and shall be treated as Government Business.
§ On an allotted day no dilatory Motion on the Bill, nor Motion to recommit the Bill, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.
§ Nothing in this Order shall—
- (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
- (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, after any proceedings to be concluded under this Order on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of.
|Proceedings on Report Stage.|
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion.|
|Second||…||Clauses and Schedules of the Bill, and any other matter necessary to bring the Report stage to a conclusion||…||…||…||…||11|
§ There is one verbal change in the Motion as it appears on the Paper and which is consequential on the Motion already passed by the House this afternoon. In line 27 (paragraph 3) the Resolution, as on the Paper, reads: "After this Order comes into operation any day after the day on which this Order is passed (other than a Friday) shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order on which the Bill is put down as the first Order of the Day, or on which any stage of any Resolution in connection therewith is put down as the first Order of the Day followed by the Bill." The alteration is before "Order" ["first Order of the Day"], to insert the word "Government," so as to make it read "first Government Order of the Day." And in the next line before the word "Order," in the same way, to insert the word "Government," so as to read "put down as the first Order of the Day followed by the Bill," so that a privileged Motion may take precedence.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Motion in connection with the issue of a new writ in which the Adjournment was carried—that is the sole reason.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, it will only prevent its not being an allotted day. In making this Motion, I think it would be convenient to point out to the House in the first instance exactly how we stand in the matter of dates with regard to the business dealt with by the Finance Bill. The Financial Statement was made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Committee of Ways and Means on 4th May, and part of the evening of the 4th, and the whole of the sittings of 6th, 7th and 11th May were 928 given to the discussion in Committee of Ways and Means of that statement. In other words, three and a half days were occupied by those discussions in Committee. Upon 14th May we took the Report stage, and after the Adjournment at Whitsuntide we took the Second Reading. The Debate began on 22nd June and concluded on 25th June—four days. We then, after an interval of a week, entered on the Committee stage, and two days have already been spent in Committee—the 1st and 2nd of July. From that statement the House will see that we have already occupied ten and a half days in the various stages of this Bill. The Motion which I propose suggests that four further days should be given to the Committee stage, two to Report stage, and one to the Third Reading. That is to say, an addition of seven more days, which will make, when added to the ten and a half days which have already been consumed—seventeen and a half Parliamentary days. In considering whether as a matter of precaution and also a matter of procedure the limitation of time proposed by this Resolution is necessary and desirable, there are, I think, two main considerations which we ought to deal with. The first is that there are legal statutory obligations in this stage of the Session with regard to the time which is spent upon Finance and Supply. Under the Act for the Provisional Collection of Taxes, which was passed last year, it may be. I think, assumed that the Finance Bill, in order to regularise our procedure in the collection of taxes, must receive the Royal Assent not later than 4th August. There are further, as the House knows, under the Standing Orders, provisions which make it necessary that the twenty days which are allotted to Supply, compulsorily allotted to Supply, shall be concluded before 5th August. Of those twenty allotted days for Supply, thirteen 929 and a half have already been completed. If hon. Gentlemen look at the Parliamentary Calendar they will see, meeting as we are on 7th July, and omitting Friday, which I omit for this purpose as not a full Parliamentary day, there are before 5th August sixteen available Parliamentary days. From the statement which I have already made, it appears we are bound by the Standing Orders to devote six and a half of those sixteen days to Supply, and if, as is proposed in this Resolution, seven additional days are allocated to the purposes of the Finance Bill, thirteen and a half days out of sixteen are taken by those two necessary compulsory forms of Parliamentary procedure. Omitting Fridays, as I have said, there are only two and a half days left as a margin for all possible emergencies. Therefore it is quite necessary, it we are to comply with the requirements of the law, on the one hand in regard to the Finance Bill and, on the other, in regard to Supply, that we should take steps to see that the time is limited in some such way as this Resolution proposes. So much for the legal aspect of the case. Now as regards the particular provisions of the Bill. I have pointed out that the Bill has already been discussed in its various stages on ten and a half days. The discussion in Committee of Ways and Means and on Second Reading was of an extremely comprehensive kind, ranging pretty freely and fully over all the various topics which the Bill comprises.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The discussion in Committee of Ways and Means was on the financial Resolutions, which are the foundation of this Bill. Apart from that general discussion in the Committee stage, which has occupied two days, the House has completely disposed of two very important topics. The first is the Tea Duty, and all the questions which arise in connection therewith—a duty which has always, in my experience, formed the peg on which to hang a discussion as to the relative contributions of direct and indirect taxation to the National Revenue. The House has disposed of the Tea Duty, and also of what for the purposes of this Bill is more important and more contentious, namely, what should be the rate of Income Tax during the current financial year. As a result of the discussion the House has 930 decided to adopt as the rate of Income Tax for the year 1s. 3d., instead of 1s. 4d., as was originally suggested. In addition to that, a discussion has commenced, but not yet concluded, on what I think I am right in saying is a most important question in connection with the Super-tax. I will now ask the House to consider a very breif review of the character and scope of the provisions of the Bill which still remain for discussion. Clause 4, which is not yet entered upon, is a relief Clause in respect of earned income. I think it meets with very general acceptance, and I notice that there are very few Amendments to it on the Paper. Clause 5 is undoubtedly new, and raises debatable matter. It is a provision which, for the first time, seeks to impose Income Tax in respect of income not received in the United Kingdom. I quite agree that that is a matter which ought to be considered and discussed. Clause 6, dealing with relief of small incomes from increased tax, Clause 7, dealing with the extension of relief in respect of children, and Clause 8, dealing with relief from Income Tax to owners of agricultural land, are all Clauses not in aid of the Exchequer, but in relief of the taxpayer, and I do not imagine that upon any of them there is likely to be serious contention. That disposes of the part of the Bill dealing with Income Tax.
In Part III., which deals with Death Duties, Clause 9 proposes to amend the scale, as set out in the Schedule; Clause 10 raises the question—I admit a difficult question—of the abolition of Settlement Estate Duties; while Clause 11 and 12, which complete that part, are, like the Clauses to which I referred a moment ago, relief and protective Clauses for the taxpayer. Part IV. having disappeared, the only remaining provision in the Bill which can be described as in any sense of a contentious character is Clause 15, which deals with the amount of the Sinking Fund for the reduction of the National Debt. There are, however, on the Paper a large number of new Clauses. One of the most striking features in our Parliamentary procedure, with which I have had acquaintance on its financial side, is the multiplication, year by year, of new Clauses. We have upon the Paper a large number of proposals in the shape of new Clauses for the general amendment of the law. I am far from denying that some of those are of a serious and important character. There is the proposal of my right hon. Friend in regard to the incomes 931 of married people. That is the reason for the introduction into this Motion of the words "including the necessary stages of any Resolutions in connection therewith." That is necessary in order to enlarge the ambit of the discussion on that proposal, which requires a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means and the report of that Resolution in the House. That will be necessary for the proposal of my right hon. Friend and to enable hon. Members opposite and also hon. Members on this side to discuss comprehensively that important topic. For these new Clauses we propose, under the Motion which I am submitting, to give one and a half days in Committee and one day on Report, or, in other words, two and a half days, which I do not think ought to be regarded as in any sense a parsimonious or niggardly allowance. In fact, I venture to say, having regard, not to the merits of this particular Motion, but to the general financial procedure of the House, I am satisfied from the experience of past years that it will be impossible for any Government in future to carry its Finance Bills through the House without some form of procedure Resolution for the allocation of time. I have no doubt that these words will be cited in future in support of far more serious encroachments upon the time of Members of the House than anything I am venturing to propose tonight. When you consider that it is possible for hon. Gentlemen, without in the least degree transgressing the limits of order, to put down an indefinite number of new Clauses dealing with every aspect of our financial and fiscal system.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Yes, and on other Bills that I can conceive, a number that is absolutely without limit. When you consider that, I will not say probably, but possibly in time to come there may be a Government in power with the Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting on this Bench who undertakes—shall I say hypothetically?—the ambitious, but at the same time very comprehensive task of proposing a tariff—I hope I have not put it in too sanguine a way; I am only putting hypothetically one of the possibilities of the perhaps remote future—when you consider the conditions under which, without some allocation of time, proposals of that kind would have to be 932 advocated and engineered through the House, I am sure that there is not a Tariff Reformer on the Benches opposite who will not subscribe to my proposition that something in the nature of a compulsory allocation and limitation of time will be necessary. I do not know that I or many of us will live to see that day. If and when we do I am quite certain that the precedent of 1914 will be invoked. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you vote for it?"] I do not know that I shall be here. At any rate, those persons, whoever they may be, who represent the views with regard to fiscal policy which I now represent, will certainly have cited against them both my language and the procedure which I am asking the House to adopt.
Speaking quite seriously, without going into remote or hypothetical considerations, I do not think that anybody who seriously takes into view all the possibilities of our present procedure will deny, with regard to Finance Bills and others, that it has become necessary that the Government of the day should fix some definite allocation of time for their various stages. I have always said, and I repeat it to-day, that I think it a mistake and a misfortune in our present procedure that, given the necessity which I think will be almost universally admitted for some such compulsory allotment of time—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."]—it should always fall to the lot and become part of the duty of the Government of the day to propose that allocation of time. I think it would be far better if the task could be delegated to some more independent and more generally representative tribunal. That, however, is a matter which I have no doubt—indeed, I know—is engaging the consideration of the Committee which is discussing, and which I hope will shortly make suggestions, with regard to the amendment of our procedure. In the meantime we must proceed, as Governments before us have proceeded, and as, until some amendment in our rules takes place, our successors will also have to proceed, on our own responsibility, to make such an allotment of time as we think necessary to comply with the requirements of the law and adequate for the due discussion and deliberation of the proposals which the Government have put forward. I think I have said enough to show that, from the point of view of our statutory obligations a procedure of this kind has become necessary, and that in regard to the particular subject matter of this Bill, bearing in mind 933 the time which has already been occupied and the nature of the various topics to be considered, the proposal I am now submitting is a fair compliance with our customary and traditional procedure, and will afford hon. Members on both sides sufficient opportunity for criticising the financial policy of the Government.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
On a point of Order. May I inquire whether the question will be put with the Amendment suggested by the right hon. Gentleman or without it?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the word "this House declines to support any proposals which would curtail its legitimate opportunities for adequately discussing any measures whose effect would be to throw heavy burdens of new taxation on the people, and regards such proposals as a dangerous innovation in the well-established procedure of this House."
In spite of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which we have just listened, and which, not without intention, I think, was delivered in a tone and with the air as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world—in spite of that speech I am convinced that if hon. Members voted on the merits of this question my Amendment would have a majority of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman, as I have more than once had the opportunity of pointing out, has had an unique experience of moving Resolutions of this kind. If practice makes a task easy, no task could be easier than that which he has accomplished this afternoon. After our experience in this Parliament I did think that it was impossible that there could be any further surprise in store for us. I was mistaken. The right hon. Gentleman today has broken new ground. The change which he makes to-day is not one of degree; it is one of kind. He sets up a new precedent, and a precedent which more than any of the other Resolutions of the same kind which have been carried strikes at the root of the traditions and influence of the House of Commons. It is, I believe, the first time that there has been a Guillotine Resolution on the Finance Bill. From the beginning of its history the influence and the power of the House of 934 Commons has been connected with finance; above all with the control of taxation, with the imposition of burdens upon the subject. It seems to me that nothing could have more clearly marked the new view which is held as to the proper relationship between the Government of the day and the House of Commons than this Resolution, unless it was the perfunctory speech which the right hon. Gentleman thought was all that was necessary in making this great innovation. In what the Government are doing they are doing with full knowledge and with their eyes open.
I have here a collection of extracts from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends, and I do not think I could make any speech so effective as if I were to read the whole of them. It is not merely that the reading would be effective as showing their inconsistency: that has ceased to have any charm or novelty to any Member of the House of Commons. But the words which were used were of themselves excellent arguments against the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman has made. I shall refer to some of them, but I shall begin with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself. A few years ago he used these words—and he was referring then to my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London, who, as he told us in the earlier stage of this Parliament—or implied it—knew nothing about Closure Resolutions, for he told us they were in their infancy when he assumed control of them—speaking of my right hon. Friend, he said this:—I again emphasise the point with which I began, that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is not a mere isolated affair; it is a step in the series. It is another stage on the journey which has marked, and is marking, the degradation of the House of Commons. I speak in all seriousness, from a deliberative to a dependent body, and which, if it is allowed to go on, will transform the House into a mere automatic machine for registering the will of the Executive of the day.That is a true picture of what the House of Commons has become. The right hon. Gentleman can have the pride, if he thinks it is a matter for pride, that his, more than of anyone else, is the hand which has painted that picture! What struck me in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that he said so little about this new departure. He did not even hint to the House that this was the first time that such a proposal had been made. He dwelt a good deal upon the latitude of discussion which he is still going to give us. My objection to this proposal is not so much to the nature of the proposal as to 935 the fact that for the first time it is necessary to Closure the Finance Bill at all. Even from that point of view, the right hon. Gentleman, I think, has not made out a very good case. He spoke to us about ten and a half days, I think it was, which had already been taken up with discussion on the Finance Bill. He forgot two things. He forgot that a great part of that discussion was directed towards something which is not in this Finance Bill, but in another Bill which we may never see. He forgot, also—and it is not surprising—though I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not have forgotten—he forgot that a large part of the Debate consisted of the result of the pressure of hon. Members behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer, discussion on the result of their effort, and of the blunders and muddle which in consequence was introduced into the Budget of this year.
What justification is there? What right has the right hon. Gentleman to say that now, for the first time, it is necessary to Closure a Finance Bill! What reason is there for doing it this year more than last year? Take even the experience of every Member of this House. Those who have been for any length of time Members of it know that whatever other business was being done, that the Finance Bill was always regarded as one of the chief duties of the House of Commons, and time was always found for it. That was the experience, not only of every other Chancellor of the Exchequer, including the Prime Minister himself when he filled that office, but of even the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. He carried the Budget of 1909, which was one of the most contentious and complicated ever introduced. But at that time he was comparatively new to his office. He had still some respect for the traditions of those who had preceded him in the office; his appetite had not then grown by what it has fed upon to such an extent that he looked upon everything which interfered in his will as a musty precedent which had to be swept out of the road. The right hon. Gentleman carried that Budget without any Guillotine Resolution. What is more, he was proud of having carried it without a Guillotine Resolution. He boasted of having done so. What is there in the Budget of this year which makes it impossible to do what the right hon. Gentleman did then, and what reason is there now why the Government should, 936 without an effort, give up doing what in 1909 the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it was so well worth the time of anyone filling his office to carry out? I think there is no need for it.
Let the House remember what are the facilities still at the disposal of the Government for carrying the Finance Bill. In addition to the weapons which they have in ordinary legislation, the Finance Bill is in this position, that the eleven o'clock Rule does not apply, and that they can, therefore, if they please, if they are willing to take their trouble, and if their Friends are willing to take the trouble—and if they give such a value to finance at all, they will go to the trouble—they can use the weapon every Government has used in the ordinary way to carry through the Finance Bill. Why did not they do that? In addition to the special weapon which they have in connection with the Finance Bill, as the House knows, there is now what has become the ordinary procedure. There is the ordinary closure. There is the Closure by kangaroo. Compared with free discussion both of these are objectionable. In comparison with this proposal they represent free discussion. There is this great difference in the proposal of the Government. The Government of the day absolutely decides, not only what amount of discussion can be given to any subject; they decide what subjects the House is to be at liberty to discuss. One may be sure that this Resolution, obviously moved for the convenience, and solely for the convenience of the Government is one that they will make the most convenience out of they can. The result of this precedent which they have set will be that the Government will take care that there will be no opportunity for discussion, or, perhaps, even for a Division on any subject which will cause them any inconvenience in passing this Bill through. What is the special ground which the right hon. Gentleman gives for introducing this Closure. It is the plea, which I felt quite sure he would have used, the plea of time, the plea of necessity. I do not think I can give any better answer to that plea than a speech that was once delivered by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1905. He then said:—The fact was that the Prime Minister had got into the habit of first of all blundering into a certain position, and then calling it a Parliamentary emergency. This blunder ended in fixing upon the procedure of the House of Commons what he was afraid might become a permanent restriction upon the liberty and freedom of Parliamentary debate.937 I have got lots of quotations from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister also, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the same speech used some other words, which show at least that he had a very clear conception of his own type of character. He declared:—One of the worst types of business men was the man who was most skilful in preventing insolvency from drifting into bankruptcy. He was always fertile in resource when that stage was reached, but what puzzled anyone in contemplating a man of that kind was why this fertility of resource was not utilised to prevent him arriving at that stage.This also I should like to read if the House will pardon me:—He was establishing a precedent which would be a danger. One liberty after another in Parliament was disappearing, just to save the Ministry for a few more months.This next is a platitude, but I will read it:One high tradition after another of public life which constituted the glory of British statesmen have gone.That is the plea that we have got to comply with the law. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out, quite truly, there is the limit of the 5th of August, but why is that? The Prime Minister referred to the Collection of Taxes Act. That is the reason, of course. But will the House remember that even in connection with that Act the Government itself took every precaution in order to be sure that there would be a short time. They introduced the Finance Bill on the very last possible day but one in order to comply with the law, and they carried the Finance Bill on Second Reading two or three hours only before the time that it would have been legal for them to have carried it. Even under the Collection of Taxes Act they have taken every precaution to secure there should be no time, and then they come to the House of Commons and ask them to pass this Resolution because there is no time. But that is not all. Why is it that the Government is bound at all by this Act for the collection of taxes? Why is it necessary? It is entirely the work of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he had brought in his Budget in time, and treated them in the way in which every one of his predecessors had treated them, there would have been no Collection of Taxes Act. The truth is that the right hon. Gentleman has not only neglected, but he has despised the real work of his office, the work which every one of his predecessors—and some of them were the greatest men who ever sat in the House of Commons—regarded as work which it was well worth their while to do, and which it was an honour to them to do well. That is not the view of the right 938 hon. Gentleman. The ordinary duties of the Exchequer are just by-products to him, and he treats them like that.
Mr. Gladstone once said—I am not quoting his exact words, but I am giving the substance of them—that no Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who puts personal popularity as the first consideration or as any consideration at all in dealing with public purposes. How does the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer stand that test? From the moment he took up his office he regarded it as a means, I will not say of pressing forward his own popularity—though I do not think that was entirely absent from his mind, but of helping the exigencies of the party to which he belongs. That is his history. He has used the Exchequer to help electioneering.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
If the hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to interrupt at all, I wish he would do it in a way that one can understand him.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The right hon. Gentleman will pardon me. I only wish to point out that Mr. Gladstone in 1874 promised the repeal of the Income Tax, which was then denounced as "electioneering."
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon. Gentleman has preferred a charge against Mr. Gladstone which I do not care to make—that in offering to repeal the Income Tax he was imitating the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and aiming at popularity. A great writer once gave a description of another Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was the Finance Minister in France just before the Revolution, and of him he said,Unhappy only that so much talent and industry were necessary to secure an office, to qualify for which neither talent nor industry was left at his disposal.There is the life history of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is the reason, and the only reason, why it is necessary to introduce this Resolution; that is why the finances of this country are in the state which everyone who has thoughtfully considered them recognises with dismay they are in to-day, and that is the reason from the beginning to the end for the kind of blunder which has characterised the work of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and has thrown the whole community into confusion. I do not think there is anything more that I care 939 to say. The Prime Minister dwelt at some length upon the possible use which may be made of the precedent which he himself has set. I have no doubt the House of Commons will carry this Resolution as it would carry any other, as it did this afternoon, without a word of explanation from the Leader of the House to guide it on. What seems to me one of the most outrageous proceedings that have ever taken place in the House of Commons. The House will vote for this Resolution, I have no doubt, just as it would vote for a Resolution that had less to recommend it, but which would not deprive the House of any power it has now, and which would be a convenience to others—a Resolution to meet once a month and give our approval to what in the interval the Cabinet had done. They would vote for anything. The right hon. Gentleman is quite correct when he says that once you establish precedents of this kind there is no instance of their having been abandoned, and what strikes me as rather peculiar in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was, the light way in which he regarded that. One of the vices of politicians in democratic countries—I am not speaking of one side or the other now—is that we have to live so much from hand to mouth, that we do not think out the consequences of our action as carefully as men of ordinary business would. I venture to say the right hon. Gentleman will probably find that what he anticipates will come to pass. I have not sufficient ill-will, in fact I have no ill-will at all, but I should be very sorry if the indication he gave should prove to be true, and that he should have so short an experience of it as he seemed to indicate. But the precedent I am sure will be followed, and I should have thought that anyone with the experience of the right hon. Gentleman would know how bad such a precedent is, not only for the Opposition, but for the whole history and traditions and influence of the House of Commons, and would not have introduced it, when there was absolutely no reason for setting up such a precedent.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
With some regret, but no misgiving, I rise to repeat the protest I made many times before in the House against setting up a Guillotine Closure such as that moved by the Prime Minister to-day. I can only say—though I have not been 940 very long in the House, still I have been here since 1905, and have seen a good deal of these Guillotine Resolutions moved—that the greater my experince of them and the longer I watched the work of carrying Bills under their operation, the more convinced I am that in none of these Resolutions are to be found that form of the allocation of time which the Prime Minister sees as necessary to secure the passing of Bills. The Prime Minister has said nothing to-day to change my opinion. I cannot help feeling that he himself was not very happy in moving for the first time a Guillotine Closure in regard to Finance Bills. He proved, as the Minister in charge always does, that we have spent a good deal of time upon the Bill already, and that with the time spent, and with the time allocated, we shall have had more time than has been taken up by similar Bills in the past, or than this Bill requires. But, if I may say so, that does not carry much conviction. The time we have already spent upon the Bill may have been misspent, and we want to know if the time left to us is sufficient or is not sufficient. I do not know whether the days allocated will be enough. I have not gone into the consideration of how much time is required, or how important the Amendments are, but I suggest that no number of days are sufficient if at eleven o'clock in the evening the Speaker is going to rise in his place and say, "The Finance Bill up to a certain point is to be carried through." It should be remembered that the Finance Bill is a Bill to which the Eleven o'clock Rule does not apply. It is a special form of our business. It is business exempt from the Eleven o'clock Rule procedure. There is nothing to prevent the House going on with it any time it chooses if it seems desirable at the time, and I do think that to fetter our hands in the Finance Bill and to say that we are not to consider an Amendment which is coming on and which it might be desirable to consider because it is eleven o'clock is a very grave inroad on the liberty of the House of Commons.
If the Prime Minister would give us the four days and let us sit as long as we like on those clays—up till the meeting of the House the next day, if necessary—it would be better. Let us have all-night sittings. It is better to sit up late at night than to pass the Finance Bill with any imperfections in it or without fully discussing any grievances that may arise. It really does seem to me that we have a very strong case 941 for asking that the guillotine should not fall at a fixed hour. If there could be liberty to the House to take in an hour or two hours, if we could sit on, if necessary, in order to discuss an Amendment, it would be a very great alleviation of this Resolution which the Prime Minister has moved. After all, the Prime Minister himself admitted that he was not satisfied to have to do it, and that he would have preferred an impartial tribunal to fix the allocation of the time. If my contention has anything in it, no tribunal could really determine it beforehand. We ought not to have a time at which the Clauses ought necessarily to be put. There ought to be the possibility of the House extending the time beyond eleven o'clock, carrying on till twelve o'clock, one o'clock, two o'clock, or so on. I suppose we all recognise that we are coming to something like an allocation of time in regard to our measures. It may be so, but I am quite confident that this rough-and-ready guillotine, falling in this crude way at a given moment of the clock, is not the final solution of this question, and I am only sorry that the Prime Minister and the Government could not see their way to wait until the Procedure Committee had reported before setting up a new precedent with regard to the Finance Bill. The Prime Minister has warned us that we are forging fetters for ourselves, and that the precedent will be quoted, he says, in the near future, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite says in the distant future. Near or distant, I am confident that this precedent will be quoted, and, therefore, I can be no party to imposing it upon the House.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I heard the Prime Minister with very deep regret. He has made probably the most remarkable speech I have ever heard in this House. It was marked by extraordinary ability, and although there appeared to be nothing showy or remarkable about it, I believe it is a speech which will be not merely quoted when the Conservative party come into power, but which will be quoted as the classic example of the admission of the bankruptcy of this House. Deep as is my respect for the right hon. Gentleman, multifarious as I know his duties are, and kindly of approach as I, personally, and, I believe, every Member of the House, have always found him to be, I cannot absolve him of all personal responsibility for the unhappy and miserable position in which we are now placed. The Prime Ministers of the past have always felt it necessary to 942 keep a guiding hand upon the tiller, and especially in regard to finance. The right hon. Gentleman has found it necessary, owing to the unhappy position in which Ireland is placed, to take on the additional office of Secretary of State for War. I deplore the fact, and I deplore the reason for the fact. Irishmen have hitherto been charged with the responsibility for having brought about the downfall of regular procedure in this House, but I do not think there ever was an occasion when Ireland had such a terrible revenge upon her oppressors as upon the day when the Prime Minister of England felt himself obliged to take on the position of Secretary of State for War. When Mr. Gladstone took up dual office, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had taken up that office, and sent some lighter timber to the sentry box. Absorbed as he is with the great affairs of this Empire, I do not believe that he has been able to realise what has been going on at the Treasury. Let us take two cardinal instances in a small way of this declension. Could he rise up in his place and say that he was able to give his personal attention to that unhappy and abominable Provisional Collection of Taxes Act? A more miserable measure, a more contemptible creation, and a greater derision of Parliamentary tradition was never put before upon the Statute Book of England, and the right hon. Gentleman makes that miserable Act the excuse for saying to-day that, for the first time, the Closure shall be imposed upon the Debate of the Budget.
What was Sir William Harcourt's greatest boast? What was it for which he got the statue which we reverence as we pass into this House? His claim and boast was that difficult and complicated as was the Budget of 1894, he never once moved the Closure. Compare that Bill with its complications with this Bill. Compare the opponents of Sir William Harcourt's Bill of that day with the opponents at present ranged against the Government—I mean in point of principle. Sir William Harcourt laid down principles as to the Death Duties for the first time in that Bill of 1894 which were aimed, and properly aimed, against the tremendous Conservative forces in this House. This, as the Prime Minister has demonstrated, is comparatively a simple matter. Take the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which the Lords threw out in 1909–10. There you had a further 943 development of Harcourt finance, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed, and claimed with justice, that he did not move the Closure, or at all events, if he did, that it was only a mere incident; and certainly there was no attempt at any time limit. I put this to the House. Take up the volumes of the Statutes year after year. The volumes of the Statutes before the Closure was devised are as bulky and contain as formidable and far-reaching measures as those that have been passed since. How was it that the shoulders of statesmen of past times, not so very long past either, were able to bear all these burdens? How was it that they were able to go through all these complicated matters without resort to this terrible weapon of tyranny? Was there ever such a spectacle as was presented to the House as that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved his Instruction on this Bill? We devoted a whole night to a positive farce. There was no necessity for the Instruction. It was demonstrated again and again that the Instruction was absurd. A child would not have been caught out moving it. The right hon. Gentleman is ready and willing that we should throw away a night upon this futile and idiotic proposal. [An interruption.] I think the hon. Gentleman had better raise his voice if he is going to say that. I did not quite catch it. If he would raise his voice, I should be obliged to him. So far from the Speaker being responsible for it, he is nothing of the kind, and, if he were, I think it comports very badly with decent usage when the Government have got into a mess, have appealed to the Chair to get them out of it, and have availed themselves of the best advice they could get, to throw the whole blame of their absurdity upon the Chair.
I will now give my final reason for protesting against this proposal. We are told that we are going to get Home Rule for three-fourths of Ireland, and our representation is to be cut down to forty-two Members. We have a Chancellor who imposes taxes, not to get revenue, but in the interests of what is called the Nonconformist conscience. He dislikes whisky; it yields him no revenue, but for the sake of morality he puts a tax of 3s. 9d. upon it, because it sounds well on the platform. We know that under the Home Rule Bill he has avowed that Imperial taxation is to continue and that Imperial Budget Statutes are still to bind Ireland. 944 One of my main reasons for desiring Home Rule was to escape from this terrible burden and obligation which our connection with this great country involves. We get all the kicks, but none of the ha'pence. Ireland has been selected in this Budget as a kind of whipping boy to levy a tax upon it, bringing in no advance in the revenue, and having to confess practically that it was in the general interests of what the right hon. Gentleman was pleased to call morality. A Tea Resolution is put every year into the Budget. I wish he would put the Whisky Resolution in instead, and let us have some opportunity of debating it. At all events, we are now to be in this position: This is a sample of British Liberal statesmanship for the last five years. You have, as regards the Budget, abolished the House of Lords, you have declared that the House of Lords is not to touch a Finance Bill, and having started with that you now proceed to muzzle the House of Commons. When we were asked to support the Parliament Bill, and when appeals were made to us and to the people of England on the ground that it was the first business of the representatives of the people to vote Supply to the Sovereign, it was said that it was our special prerogative to vote Supply to the Sovereign. Did it ever enter the mind of any Liberal statesman to communicate to us that in future we must move our Budget in a straight jacket in the Home of Commons and, having destroyed criticism at the other side of the Chamber, that we must debate the Budget here in manacles?
Our liberty is to be the least when our Budgets are greatest. When Budgets were £40,000,000, £50,000,000, or £60,000,000, there was endless liberty of Debate in this House, but now when they are £200,000,000, having destroyed the House of Lords you proceed to muzzle the House of Commons. This Motion is made by the right hon. Gentleman—I will not say with levity, but with a lightness of touch which simply astonishes me. The most remarkable thing about it is the temptation which he felt it necessary to hold out to the Tory party. Of all the things ever said by a Liberal stateman, that is the one which most capsizes my equilibrium. Here you go to the constituencies, and you say that Free Trade is such an important thing that it overshadows the demand for Home Rule. You could not undertake Home Rule five or six years ago, because you were so much immersed with keeping up Free 945 Trade as a policy. Now, on the eve of a General Election, you are making your opponents a present of the greatest weapon for carrying Tariff Reform. This is held out to the House of Commons as a temptation, and the right hon. Gentleman boasts that if the Tory party have a majority of thirty, forty or fifty, it does not matter which, you can put into your Budget Bill a tax upon raw materials, a tax upon manufactured articles, and a Schedule half a mile long, and you can dispose of it by Closure in five minutes. What a recommendation for a Liberal policy; and all this springing out of the Gibson Bowles Act. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that "those who play at bowls must expect rubbers." If ever an Act had fatal consequences, I maintain that in the Statute of last year is to be found the germ of what will destroy British liberty in the British constitution.
§ Mr. A. F. WHYTE
It may be said that discretion would prompt me to leave the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. M. Healy) alone. I do not agree entirely with the propositions which have fallen from any of the speakers in this Debate, and I have all along taken a position of my own in this matter. Although my discretion suggests that I should leave the hon. and learned Member alone, I wish to ask him two questions. He has asked those sitting on the Ministerial side of the House, who have supported these Resolutions, how is it that the Statutes in the old days formed as bulky volumes as they do in modern times, and yet they were carried by free Debate? Does he suggest that the conditions of debate, twenty, thirty or fifty years ago are the conditions of to-day? Does he suggest that the benches of the Opposition were then occupied by an organised phalanx bent upon one aim, and that is the destruction of Government measures and the Government itself? He knows quite well that in the days when those measures were carried, fifty years ago, a Minister, speaking from that box, did not know that he could depend necessarily upon a majority when probably, as often as not, he found his majority in all quarters of the House. I think it is essential to remember that. As long as it was possible for a Minister in this House to know that meritorious argument would carry conviction to hon. Gentlemen, just so long was it unnecessary to invent any form of closure 946 in order to enable him to carry his Bill. But the moment you had highly organised and highly developed parties in Opposition coming here with one aim alone, namely, that of the destruction of the Government and its measures, from that day were such Resolutions as this made necessary.
Who made this inevitable? The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite will not have to go far back in his own history to find the answer to that question. He knows quite well that he and his Friends came from Ireland with the deliberate intention to destroy the Government and all legislation in this House, and because they succeeded we are suffering under these Closure Resolutions to-day. I defy the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite to get up and deny that. If you will only return to what was done in the old days we shall have no need of Closure Resolutions, but until you do that, until it is recognised by Irish Members, by Tories, Radicals and Labour representatives, that this is a place for legislation and not a place to carry on great party fights, we shall always have Closure Resolutions such as these. The hon. and learned Gentleman taunts us in a singularly ungenerous fashion with having handed over a very useful weapon to a Tariff Reform Government. I am quite prepared to fight a Tariff Reform Budget, even under Closure Resolutions, if the right hon. Gentleman who happens to be in charge will leave the House a free decision upon each point which arises. A Chancellor of the Exchequer in modern times will never be able to do that. It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to taunt us with having destroyed reality of Debate, but it is nothing of the kind. The hon. and learned Member opposite and his friends from Ireland began the story, and if they will only look back into their history they will very quickly see who continued the story. I do not wish to say anything in the least disrespectful to the memory of the great man who has just gone, but one of the most far-reaching things which Mr. Chamberlain ever did was the creation of the caucus in this country, and that moment was the beginning of Closure Resolutions such as this, because the moment you had the power handed over to the Government to use the caucus in the country to put pressure upon individual Members, at that moment you made it impossible for any individual Member in 947 this House to stand up against the body of the caucus itself. Hon. Members opposite may ask, What has that got to do with the Closure Resolution? It means that the effect of the caucus in the country is not only to close up the ranks of the Government, but it also closes up the ranks of the Opposition, and tends to make the Opposition all the more effective agents as an Opposition, and far more effective than they were before. It makes them more effective, united, and determined, and, as this takes place, the more is it necessary for the ranks of the Government supporters to close up. I am very much surprised that on a question of this kind hon. Members do not take more trouble to get at the bottom of the matter, for they would then see that the blame of Closure Resolutions such as this is shared by all parties in the House. No one can deny that it has had its origin in the action of the Irish Members and the creation of the caucus by Mr. Chamberlain. The position in which we stand to-day is due to the fact that we have regarded the House of Commons as a great arena in which the party fight is to be carried on, rather than a place where legislation should be made as perfect as possible.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Neither myself nor any Irishman has been guilty of any obstruction in this House since 1887.
§ Mr. WHYTE
I am not saying that hon. Members opposite are responsible for the whole history of obstruction in this House, but even the hon. and learned Member will not deny that he and his Friends taught the Treasury Bench the lesson of the Closure. If he and his Friends had not obstructed, and rightly obstructed, measures of coercion, does he suppose the Treasury Bench would ever have resorted to Closure as they have done? He cannot deny that he and his Friends originated the Closure by provoking the Government to adopt it.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
I understood the hon. Member to say that all parties were responsible for the introduction of Closure Resolutions. Up to the present he has shown that the Irish party is responsible—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman cannot interject an argument of that kind in the middle of the hon. Member's speech.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WHYTE
The hon. Member evidently wishes me to distribute my blame 948 equally all round. I do not know whether he wishes me to distribute blame amongst hon. Members on my own side. We are all to blame in this matter, and every Opposition is to blame, and if the Opposition will take the highest view of its duty, and in carrying legislation in this House recognise first and foremost that the decision of the country is represented by the majority in this House, if that recognition were made by every Opposition in connection with all parties, then I am perfectly certain that the work of legislation in this House would go on much more rapidly and smoothly without the constant need of resorting to Closure. There is another thing which would obviate resort to the Closure, and that is a somewhat delicate operation on the part of the Chairman of Committees. There is a Standing Order—No. 19 I think it is—which deals with repetition, and I am quite sure the whole work of the obstructor in this House, and the necessity for a Closure Resolution such as this, would disappear entirely if some courageous and original Chairman of Committees were, for a few weeks, to put into force the Standing Order which forbids the repetition of arguments, either your own or those of others. It would be a most unpopular, most ungrateful, and somewhat terrifying task for any Chairman of Committee, but I am sure any Chairman who succeeded in doing it, and in establishing it as a more or less elastic rule, will have done more than any man has ever done to remove the need for such Resolutions such as this. Short of that I am persuaded we should be driven to other measures altogether.
If we have to make the grave confession that we have reached the bankruptcy of this House as a legislative assembly, we must adopt other means for carrying measures into law, and we must look abroad, and even to parts of our procedure, for means whereby legislation may be carried into law with as great freedom of discussion as is possible. I believe that will probably be found in the future to lie in a development of the foreign system of legislation—and even financial legislation—by Commission rather than in the whole House. I do not mean to suggest it is necessary for this House to give up any of its sovereign powers over legislation, financial or otherwise, in order to deal with the excess of party spirit which has grown up, but to make it possible 949 for a Government to carry legislation and to give the critics of that legislation a very free and fair opportunity we shall have to resort to means other than those hallowed by long experience here. I am a young Member, but I know it is a grave confession to make that we have reached a stage when practically the whole procedure of this House must be recast if it is to meet modern conditions. Yet it is not so very grave a confession, for, after all, men must recognise that the procedure of this House was laid down very long ago, before legislation became either so voluminous or so complicated as it is now, and what it simply means is, after all, that in new times, new measures and new engines must be used.
§ Mr. MITCHELL - THOMSON
The speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down leaves me rather astonished at the moderation of the Prime Minister, for if the hon. Gentleman's argument were pursued to its logical conclusion the effect would really be that there is no necessity for this House to have any discussion whatever on any Bill. The hon. Gentleman rather lectured the Opposition upon the necessity of taking a higher view of its duty, and on the inadvisability of dividing on various questions solely from a party point of view. I wonder how the hon. Gentleman voted this afternoon!
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
At any rate the hon. Member succeeded in dividing his responsibilities. However, I do not propes to travel over the very wide ground on to which he has led us. Really his speech had nothing to do with the proposal of the Prime Minister. One would not have thought, listening to his speech, that the Prime Minister was actually creating any precedence; neither would one have thought that from the speech of the Prime Minister himself. I regret the right hon. Gentleman is not in his place. I think I could show that constant practice in the art of moving these Motions has made the Prime Minister a past-master at it. I began to imagine, when I was listening to him, that we were not being asked to surrender our liberties, and that we were going to do something that he was going to vindicate once for all. The right hon. Gentleman gave two explanations as 950 showing the necessity for this Motion. The first he put on the ground of time and statutory conditions, and, in the second place, he said the Motion was justified by the very nature of the discussions we had already had and were still going to have upon this Bill. That is, I think, a fair summary of what he said. Let me deal first with the question of time. The Prime Minister laid down the view that it was necessary, under the provisions of the Bowles Act, that this Bill should become law before the 5th of August. I do not see the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his place, but I assume he is going to speak, and I should like to know whether that is really the view of the Government. If it is, then it can only have been arrived at within the last few days. Indeed, it can only have been arrived at since this Motion was announced, because so lately as the 1st of July the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking in this House, said his hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras stated thatthese taxes would come to an end on the 5th of August. That is not what I am advised.I wonder who is responsible for the advice given to the right hon. Gentleman on this matter? The right hon. Gentleman continued:—I am advised that it is not the 5th of August, but the 5th September which is the date. It is a legal matter which I do not wish to pursue." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st July, 1914, col. 395.]I want to pursue it now, and I think the House will want to pursue it, because, if it is to be the 5th September and not the 5th August, then the whole of that portion of the Prime Minister's argument, which was founded on the question of time and statutory conditions, goes by the board. It is absolutely vital before we go to a Division on this question, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or one of the Law Officers of the Crown, should give us the considered opinion of the Government upon it. After all my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition really demolished the case put forward by the Prime Minister so far as the question of time goes. If there is any question, from the point of view of time, the responsibility for it does not rest with the Opposition, or with the House generally, and there is no reason why their rights to discuss this Bill should be taken away. It is all the fault of the Government. Look at the dates the Prime Minister gave us only to-day. There was the interval from 4th May to 14th May. The introduction was pushed to the extreme limit right up 951 to the last hour under the Bowles Act. Then there was the interval from 14th to the 25th June for the Second Reading—again pushed up to the very last limit. And over and above that we have had the blunders of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, to which allusion has already been made. If there is any responsibility for the condition of things in which we find ourselves to-day, it rests solely with the Government.
I now come to the other argument—the nature of the discussions we have had and are going to have. The right hon. Gentleman dealt on that point in a very perfunctory fashion. He appears to be quite satisfied with the prospect which this House has of a full and complete discussion on the remainder of the Bill. I will take two or three points only in dealing with that. I might raise very many more. There is the question of Income Tax on foreign investments—a new, a very difficult, and very controversial point. I am glad to see the Under-Secretary for India here. I understand Indian Chambers of Commerce are at this moment engaged in making the strongest representations to the Government on this question, and that they regard it with very grave apprehension, because they fear the effect of this Clause on the financial position of India, and on money invested there. It is feared by people engaged in business in India that one effect will be a withdrawal of capital from Indian investments. However it may be, it must be admitted that it is a very difficult and complex question, and yet we are to deal with that, along with other matters, including a Schedule, in four hours. Then there is the question of the new Death Duties and the extended scale of such duties; that is to be settled offhand in three hours. The Settlement Estate Duty is another point which is going to be raised, and I am sure the Solicitor-General will agree with me that it involves intricate, legal, and very difficult points, and, in addition, questions of financial morality. The whole of that is to be settled in four hours! I do not care what may be the opinion of hon. Gentlemen as to the merits or demerits of the proposals embodied in the Finance Bill, but I do not believe that one single hon. Member listening to me can honestly say that with regard to the three points that I have mentioned—and I could name a good many more—there is the slightest security you are going to have the beginning of a 952 pretence of an opportunity of discussion. The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) hit the nail on the head when he asked, "Why remove the Finance Bill from the category of exempted Bills? Why not carry it on in the ordinary way?" The real reason is that the Government know perfectly well they cannot rely on the constant support, from minute to minute, of the Members who compose their aggregate in the House, and that is the reason for all this rigmarole about the "appointed hour" and about "five o'clock," "seven o'clock," and "eight o'clock." It is in order that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite may be perfectly certain of being able to dine and of going to bed in peace.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It may be a very good thing, but it is too dear if it is only to be purchased at the extent of the financial liberties of this House. These financial liberties have been regarded in the past as of some value. The hon. Gentleman referred just now to the Parliament Act. By that Act for the first time, whatever your opinions may have been before, whether or not it was a constitutional doctrine, you settled once for all definitely that the making of Grants-in-Aid to His Majesty is the sole duty and the sole privilege of this House. That is, therefore, over and done with. I remember, and hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember, the assurance that was then given, that it was not in contemplation to remove any of the restraint which this House had over Ministers. We had the assurance given us that it was not in contemplation to treat Finance Bills as anything else but exempted business—and, indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed with pride to the achievement of the 1909 Budget, and stated that that would be the sort of discussion Finance Bills would continue to receive in this House.
But now you come down to-day and His Majesty's Ministers, who are servants of the Crown, come down to this House, which is the only barrier under the Parliament Act—the last remaining barrier—and ask it to forego its liberty of discussing and revising this Bill. I do not care how you regard it, but I say it is a complete reversal of the whole traditions and whole history of this House. It has always been said "Redress before Supply," "Redress before Grants-in-Aid," and some of the 953 greatest struggles in constitutional history have been waged around that principle. Now we are to have redress not first, but either in a Revenue Bill or between dinner and tea, and, if we are good, we may get another three hours after dinner and before bedtime. That is a very unhappy reversal of the traditions of this House. The Prime Minister said something about this being a useful precedent for later Governments. That was a very altruistic remark on his part. Whatever be the attitude of later Governments they will have an excuse which this Government has not, because it is this Motion which is going to make a precedent, and a very bad one. I said something about Resolutions of this House, and if hon. Members care to look up the history of the House in regard to this matter I can give them half a dozen Resolutions passed at different times, which I have taken from the Journals. Here is the Protestation of December, 1621, which so vexed King James in regard to the restrictions it endeavoured to impose on the power of the Crown to impose taxes that he tore the Protestation out of the Journals of this House:—
"In the handling and proceeding of such business every Member of the House hath—and of right ought to have—freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same."
That was the principle which this House used to affirm in regard to Grants and Aids to His Majesty. It was the procedure of this House to have the fullest discussion of grievances before granting the Aid. But now that is to go by the board. We have had two speeches from the Liberal side, including one from below the Gangway. I do not know whether we are going to have any speech from the Nationalist party, but I should like to draw the attention of the House to views of the Leader of that party as expressed a few years ago. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) proposed in 1901 the usual Motion, which is made every summer and which I have no doubt will be made again this summer, to take the time of the House at the end of the Session, and on that occasion the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) said:—Look at the case of the Finance Bill,"—that was the Finance Bill of 1901—it dealt with a Budget of nearly £200,000,000"—954 that is something on a par with this Budget—and it dealt with the War,"—which distinguishes it from this Budget—in connection with which the fiercest passions were aroused in different sections of the House, and it necessarily lasted a considerable time. But what was the experience of the House? By the exhibition of a little human nature in the management of business—by the exhibition of a little of the spirit of conciliation and of good temper, and of consideration for the feelings of those who were opposed to it—the Chancellor of the Exchequer piloted that Bill through the House without ever once using the Closure.He did not mean without the guillotine, or anything of that sort, but even without once using the ordinary Closure. The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that although he was one of those most bitterly opposed to the right hon. Gentleman, he congratulated him, and he finished up by saying:—I am sure he will congratulate himself that he met what, from his point of view, he may have regarded naturally enough as unreasonable opposition in certain quarters of the House, not with the brutal weapon of the Closure,"—In those days there was no guillotine and no kangaroo Closure—but with the fair exercise of toleration and good humour, which enabled him in the end to bring this Bill successfully through the House of Commons without ever using this weapon. That is, in my humble judgment, the best test of party management and the best test of party leadership.I wonder which way the hon. and learned Member for Waterford is going to vote to-day. I agree with the last speaker that you can get through a Finance Bill without using the cast-iron schedule of the guillotine at all, because it is exempted business. I believe you could do it to a much greater extent in regard to ordinary Bills if you merely used the ordinary Closure more and the process of closuring down, although that can only be done with the consent of the Chair. At all events, in regard to a Finance Bill, which is exempted business, there is and can be no reason whatever for creating a precedent of this kind, which I can only describe as the right hon. Gentleman himself described a very much milder suggestion some years ago as being—As great an outrage as has ever been offered by a nominally responsible Minister to a nominally deliberative Assembly,
§ Colonel GREIG
The speech to which we have just listened is becoming rather common on the opposite side of the House. The hon. Member said the Government put forward this Resolution, first of all, because the Government could not rely on the "aggregate"—that was the term he applied to Members on this side of the House—to support them at every moment 955 of every week of every month on every day of every year. Why? Because the methods that have been adopted by the party opposite in their party warfare are very different from those of the past.
§ Colonel GREIG
I will give a recent instance. Snap Divisions take place nowadays, and memorial services for your own friends, when all the House goes to them are taken as a rendezvous and an opportunity. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" "Quote!"] I agree not recently [Interruption, and HON. MEMBERS: "Bad taste:" "Withdraw!"] Hon. Members must not think that I am making any reference to yesterday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I will mention a case. It was the occasion of the lamented decease of the late Member for Dover (Mr. George Wyndham). When it was known that even the Nationalist Members of this House, out of their regard and affection for him, attended a memorial service in an adjoining church, the Members of the opposite side came back within a few moments of that, thinking that those Members would be away from the next Division. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nothing of the sort!"]
§ Mr. BARNSTON
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is the hon. Gentleman in order in making this very horrible charge?
§ Colonel GREIG
It is not a horrible charge, it is a true charge. [HON. MEMBERS: 'It is a lie!" and interruption.] I proceed to give another reason. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide! divide!"] Hon. Members opposite will have plenty of opportunities of answering me. I proceed to mention the second cause for this Motion, which is that everyone knows perfectly well that when any measure is brought into this House, Amendments are put down merely with a view to obstructing it. Lastly, we have to sit here and see hon. Members opposite using everything for their own party ends. [Interruption.] For that reason the "aggregate" intend to support the Government.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member will probably agree to-morrow morning that he has made a charge which is not only absolutely baseless, but altogether untrue. He persisted in it after it had 956 been contradicted by hon. Members of this House. If the hon. Member had been a little longer in the House he would have known that that is not a thing—
§ Colonel GREIG rose—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member had an opportunity of making an apology, but he did not do it.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I shall not say anything further on that head. I share with all the other hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate—which up to the last few moments had been conducted in the usual way in this House—a good deal of surprise that the Prime Minister in making this Motion should have treated it as a matter of small importance. I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) that the financial powers of this House are really at the bottom of the whole of its influence and power in the country. Everybody knows that is historically true. The whole power of the House of Commons was derived from its power over the expenditure of the country. It is perfectly certain that as soon as the House of Commons definitely and finally abandons its control over the finances of the country, then the whole of the rest of its powers must also disappear. Therefore it is a matter of very grave importance that the House has to consider this afternoon. We are really taking, I do not say a very large step, but a very definite step, downwards towards the final destruction of the powers of the House of Commons. I agree with the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones)—indeed, I have on previous occasions suggested as a modification of Closure Resolutions—although it would not be altogether satisfactory—that the Eleven o'clock Rule should be automatically suspended at the end of each compartment, and that the question of when the Closure should fall should be determined by the House itself under the same conditions as apply to the ordinary Motion for the Closure. Something of that kind would not be very difficult to draft, and it would be a great modification and improvement of this proposal.
I agree with almost everything which fell from the hon. Member opposite (Mr. A. F. Whyte). He is, if he will allow me to say so, a pessimist of the deepest dye. He perceives the evils as clearly as anybody in the House, but he has no suggestion to make, so far as I could gather, as to how those evils could be remedied or even 957 modified. He agrees that Debate has become unreal, that the House is no longer a Chamber of legislation, and that one of the causes is the increasing stringency of the operation of the party machinery. He finds this tremendous evil attributable partly to Irish Members in times past, partly to hon. Members of this party, and partly to hon. Members opposite. It has grown up. The existence of the House of Commons is really at stake. That is the foundation of the whole of our political system. Is the right hon. Gentleman content to sit down and vote for this Motion? I quite agree there is great difficulty, and the answer he has made on previous occasions has dealt with the difficulty of voting against these Motions, as they are each treated as a vote of confidence in each Ministry and involving the life of the Ministry. I quite recognise that. He naturally thinks the life of the Ministry more worth preserving than I do. Subject to that, I understand that his point of view is really that unless he and people like him—private Members—are really prepared to do something, nothing will be done by the official Members of the House. He must recognise that, and on him and other Members rests really the responsibility as to whether the House of Commons is to remain an effective part of our Constitution.
This is a step of great importance which is made by the Government, and I think the Prime Minister's reasons were of the slightest possible character. He said, in effect, that it was necessary to have this as a precautionary measure, because he had to get through the business by 4th August, and that with other business of Supply he only had a margin of two and a half days. Surely that is a most astounding confession for a Liberal Minister to make! He would actually not be able, with all his Parliament Act devices and everything that he has arranged, to carry through his financial business if the House of Lords were to exert their full powers under the Constitution. What an astounding result of the management of business! I was very much interested to observe that he said nothing at all about the Revenue Bill—what was to be done with it, or when it was to be passed. It involves a very important part of the financial consideration of the House. He gave no indication except that there were only two and a half days left, even with the guillotine, between now and 5th August on which the ordinary business of the Session could possibly be 958 transacted—two and a half days in which we are to reform the House of Lords, carry the Revenue Bill, and carry through all the stages of the oil contract! We are to do a number of other things. We are to discuss a Housing Bill, and an Education Bill, and two and a half days is all that is available for that amount of business if we are to get through it by the early days of August, which used to be regarded as the normal time for the ending of the Session. So far from being a defence for this measure, it is really an additional count in the indictment that we have against this Government, not only that they produce another alteration in our procedure which impairs further the credit and the powers of the House of Commons, but that they have done so for reasons which can only be described as the gross mismanagement of the business of the Session. Let me come for a moment to the details of the proposal. The Prime Minister very justly said that Clause 10 was an important and a contentious Clause in this Bill. I observe that Clause 10 and the Report stage of any Resolution—that is no doubt the Resolution dealing with married women—are to be taken between seven o'clock and eleven on one day. I think that is a very objectionable feature in the details of this proposal.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
That is purely a Resolution to enable the Opposition, and any hon. Members on this side who sympathise with them, to be able to discuss the Clause when they come to the new Clauses. I assume that is a formal stage in order to enable the discussion to take place.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman may be perfectly right. I have not seen the Resolution, and I do not know what it might contain. I am merely taking the words on this Paper. I will leave out the Report of the Resolution altogether. It seems to me that four hours for Clause 10 is a very small period considering that it is by far the most contentious part of the Bill that is left. Then why on earth is it necessary to include the Third Reading in this Resolution? It really is a matter on which I think the hon. Member opposite might use his influence with his own leader. Here is a stage which may be concluded the moment the Speaker is satisfied that the discussion has gone far enough. Why should you put it into this Closure Resolution? There is one other matter to which I should like to invite the 959 attention of the right hon. Gentleman. Line 52 of the Resolution says:—
"Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m., and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10 on an alloted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House."
I do not see anything which enables the House to consider any Motion for adjournment under Standing Order No. 10. It is said it shall be taken not at 8.15, but at 11, but there does not appear to be any provision that it may be taken after 11, though opposed. I am sure the Government do not intend nominally to preserve that very important, though not very frequently exercised privilege of moving the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, and yet not grant us any real means of availing our selves of that privilege.
I want to say a further word about the general character of this Resolution. I do not say it is any worse than the previous Resolutions which have preceded it, except that it deals with finance, but if we do not protect the privileges of the House, there is no one else who ever will do it. It is no use expecting that the electors will ever follow sufficiently closely the details of our procedure to make it possible that they will object to such a Motion. We have to protect our own privileges if they are to be protected at all. I am struck with the fact that the Labour Members are not here, except one of them, and he is the only one of his party who has been here during this discussion. I do not wish to make any charges against the Labour party at this moment, but it is the truth that you will not get, to use a big word, the democracy to care about these details. They cannot know enough about them. If any protection of our privileges is to be made, it must be made in this House by hon. Members themselves. What are you going to put in the place of this House if it is destroyed? At present it seems that we are going to put the Cabinet in its place, but how is the Cabinet to be chosen? We know how it is chosen now. The Prime Minister is 960 selected from among the Members of the majority, and he selects his colleagues without any control of this House. It really will amount to a plebiscite giving absolute power to the Prime Minister to do exactly as he likes until the next General Election. Is that a form of Government that really is attractive to the ordinary Englishman? I am convinced that if it comes to that, we really shall live under the despotism of a very particularly galling and offensive character. Nothing is worse, as history has shown, than the despotism of a plebiscitory despot. Unless something is done to arrest it in this House, I see no other force at present which can arrest our downward course. I admit I have not very great hope that anything will turn up in this House to do it. It may be that some great constitutional change will be found which will bring the electorate more closely into connection with the proceedings of this House and control them more effectually than they do at present. That seems to me very doubtful and very dangerous. I appeal to the House, as I have done more than once before, to say whether they will not really make a genuine effort, as the House of Commons still, though I admit that their corporate existence has been greatly impaired, to devise some escape from these growing Guillotine Resolutions, which I am perfectly satisfied are destructive of the whole life and vitality of the order to which we belong.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
May I deal first of all with one or two points of detail raised by the Noble Lord? The first is the point with regard to our taking the Resolution in Committee during the time allocated to the discussion of the Settlement Estate Duty. That is a purely formal stage. It is not a Resolution that is necessary to enable the Government to discuss any of its business. It is a Resolution which I agreed to put down in order to enable those who are interested in the question of the taxation of married women separately from their husbands to raise the whole issue without being pulled up by the Chair.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think so. I want, so far as I am concerned, to redeem the pledge which I gave, that everything would be done by the Govern- 961 ment to enable it to raise the issue which the hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to raise last year, and which he was not able to raise. I come to the second point. I understand the Noble Lord to suggest that we should run the new Clause and the Third Reading into one.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
My suggestion was that the Third Reading should not be subject to this Resolution at all, because you can always bring the discussion of the Third Reading to an end by an ordinary Closure Motion.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I did not understand that. Now I come to the more general issues raised by the Noble Lord and his predecessors in the Debate this afternoon. They object to this Motion on the ground that it is another encroachment on the ancient, liberties of Parliament. I have supported Resolutions limiting the time for discussion and I have opposed them, but I was rather interested to find that, although the Noble Lord quoted some passages from a speech I made some time ago, he was not able to quote a passage showing that I objected to Motions of this kind allocating the time of the House. I always thought they were inevitable under the present conditions of Parliamentary Procedure, and what is still more apposite, although I oppose the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment on other grounds, I think I have never opposed Motions for the allocation of time on principle and because I felt that Ministers had no right to propose the artificial termination of Debates. I think they are absolutely inevitable under present conditions. The Noble Lord spoke as if the responsibility was entirely the responsibility of the Government. It is the responsibility of the Opposition even more than that of the Government. I am not charging hon. Members with obstruction. We have had two days of debate in Committee on this Bill, and I say that, having gone through all the Amendments, I am certain that if the same time were taken in discussing matters of equal importance without a time limit we should not get this Bill through, together with the Votes in Supply, on this side of October. The Noble Lord said very properly, "You need not suspend the Eleven o'Clock Rule. It stands suspended, and you can go on to any hour of the night." I am not the only Member of this House with the experience of trying to work through the Budget of 1909. In that year we proceeded without a Guillotine 962 Resolution, and I am certain that the experience of everyone here was that it would be impossible to get through a big Budget under these conditions again. What happened? We were here almost, as a rule, until two o'clock in the morning.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We were here, but the hon. and learned Gentleman was not here. I am talking of those who were here habitually—almost every night—and I am perfectly certain that it was art experiment so disastrous to the health of a good many of us that we could not repeat it. I venture to say more—I do not think it was conducive to the best examination of the proposals of the Government. I am sure that it was not. It was purely an attempt on the part of the Government to get through by means of the ordinary procedure what you could not get through by means of the guillotine, and yet we sat until, I think, November. You could not have gone beyond that. It was necessary in order to get the finance of the year through, and it was not a question whether the proposals were good or bad. You have to consider that, apart from the question whether the proposals made by the Government or the Opposition are good or bad, the discussion may take the same time, unless there is an artificial limitation of debate. I do not think anyone is prepared to go through that process again, and I am sure of this, that, so far from conducing to helpful scrutiny of the financial proposals of the Government, it had exactly the contrary effect. I said a moment ago that I think the responsibility is even more that of the Opposition than that of the Government. The Noble Lord and those who preceded him have talked as if this protracted discussion of Budgets were part of the ancient liberties of this House. This lengthened Debate upon Budgets is quite a recent experience in this House. One hon. Gentleman speaking in the course of this Debate said that this Budget was a perfectly simple measure. That is true. That was his criticism of the proposals of the Government. There are no new taxes; there are variations of old taxes, and I agree that it is a perfectly simple measure. There is no complicated proposal like the Land Taxes or the Licensing Duties of 1909.
I am going to give a few precedents of Budgets which were land-marks in the 963 history of this country, and which took less time than we propose to give to the discussion of this Budget, which is a "perfectly simple measure." I would refer hon. Members to what took place in regard to the Budget of 1869. Here was a Budget of Mr. Lowe. The Act covers twenty-three pages of the Statutes. An hon. and learned Member said that the measures which were passed in the old days were just as bulky, or more bulky, and he asked why we were not able to do the work as it was done in those days. That is a question for the Opposition. They were able to do it in those days because the lengthy examinations of the proposals of the Government were never undertaken by the House of Commons until quite recently. Let us take the Budget of 1869. In the twenty-three pages of the Statutes which the Act covers there are thirty-nine Clauses and six Schedules. The Act repeals thirty-six separate duties. It remodels the Beer Duties, it abolishes the Stamp Duty on fire insurance, and it imposes the establishment licences in an essentially new form, which has remained unaltered until the present day. That took about two days and a half altogether. I come to a more controversial Budget, namely, the great Budget of 1860. That Budget was so controversial that it provoked a great constitutional crisis. The main feature in connection with it was that it was thrown out by the House of Lords and had to be reintroduced in 1861. What happened to that Budget? It was one of enormous magnitude, apart from the controversial character of its proposals. [Interruption.] I do hope that hon. Gentlemen will listen. I think I am arguing the matter quite fairly. I am told that we have interfered quite recently with the liberty of discussion, and I am examining the precedents of Budgets which were controversial, and which contained absolutely new proposals.
The Budget of 1860, not merely repealed the Paper Duty, a matter which provoked a good deal of controversy, but it altered many Customs Duties. It dealt with the Stamp Duty and it dealt with the subject of licences, and no more controversial subject could be raised. Including the Resolutions, the whole time occupied on that Budget was made up in this way: The Second Reading Debate, I think, lasted two days, and the Resolutions lasted eight days. The whole Budget occupied fifteen days and a half from beginning to end. We are proposing to give seventeen days to the discussion of this Bill, which does 964 not contain a new proposal controversial in its nature. It proposes purely what are extensions. I come to the Budget of 1853, which was also very controversial. The Budget of that year practically set up and dealt with Income Tax and Death Duties, and therefore to that extent it was more or less comparable to the Budget of the present year—with this difference, that it was the first time the Death Duties were applied to realty, and therefore it was regarded as very controversial. The Resolutions which dealt with these matters occupied ten days and a half, and yet it was debated at the greatest length. It was attacked very fiercely in Committee, and I may just point out that the attacks are very much in the same category as those to which I have been subjected in connection with this Budget. Here is one attack made upon Mr. Gladstone in respect of the Budget of 1853. One distinguished Member said:—The House has great reason to complain of being called upon to pass an Act drawn in so slovenly and disgraceful a manner. If this Act had been prepared by a Hindu, it would have been urged as a proof of the incapacity of the Hindu mind.The right hon. Gentleman attacked me today and said that my main object in initiating and framing these taxes was to obtain popularity and to catch votes for my party. Even that is not new. This is what a Gentleman—I am not sure whether he occupied the position of the right hon. Gentleman—said about Mr. Gladstone's Budget of 1853:—They were called upon to establish an impost that Ministers might be able to court popularity and pander to the democratic influences of the age.It is not merely the form of the criticism, but even the invective now is the same, and when these attacks are made upon me I find myself in extraordinarily good company. I know that in connection with the Budget of 1860 Mr. Disraeli made a great attack upon it on the ground that the previous great Budget of Mr. Gladstone had failed. He said:—Such, then, was the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is in consequence of that great financial success that we are asked to place confidence in the wild and improvident propositions to which our assent is now invited.7.0 P.M.
There is exactly the same criticism. I only point that out in order to show that there is no use in saying that the Budgets of to-day differ from the Budgets of those days. Exactly the same thing was said about the Budget of that day and almost in the same words as were used in the Debate this afternoon. I now come to the Budget of 1842, which I think was probably 965 the greatest Budget of all. I am now on the question of the time occupied by the House when the House had free and unfettered discussion, and when its ancient liberties were unimpinged upon a Radical Government. The Budget of 1842 was the first great Free Trade Budget of Sir Robert Peel. It founded the Income Tax, and not merely did he sweep away hundreds of duties for the first time, but he forged a weapon which enabled him to abolish the Corn Laws three or four years afterwards. The Income Tax, it is true, was reimposed, but it had first been imposed as a war tax. When Lord Liverpool tried to reimpose it in 1816 as a peace tax the House of Commons defeated the proposal, and not only that but it ordered all the documents and books dealing with Income Tax to be burned, and the Income Tax was opposed very bitterly. I just say this because the conditions are very much the same to-day. Sir Robert Peel was being pressed by the Opposition to repeal these hundreds of duties that were pressing upon trade and commerce, and when he began to do so in 1842 the only way he could do it was by imposing Income Tax. The moment he did that the very people who had been pressing him to repeal those duties began to say, "This is all right. Our only complaint is that you are not going far enough. But this is not the way in which you ought to raise the money." I think that the Opposition will agree with me that that was about as shabby a method of opposing that Budget as anybody could devise.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not care who it was. I am sorry to find the hon. Gentleman a Cobdenite in that respect. If he were to copy some of the best things of Mr. Cobden, instead of following him so slavishly in his very worst tactics, it would be very much better. That was the position. Let us see what time was taken by that Budget. It contained over 100 Clauses and four Schedules. It was opposed bitterly in both Houses of Parliament. Sir Robert Peel one night complained that the opposition was fractious. [An HON. MEMBER: "Liberal!"] Not altogether. In the main I agree, but that is sixty years ago.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It was not. I have been reading this thing up. The hon. 966 Gentleman has not; so he had better not contradict me just yet. Sir Robert Peel complained that the Opposition were obstructing. They obstructed in exactly the way in which we know of. They said that his speeches were obscure, and that it is quite impossible to understand what his proposals were. They complained that he had altered his plans. So he had, after the First Reading. These were the usual methods of dealing with these matters. But in spite of that, what time was taken by the whole of that enormous Budget, abolishing hundreds of duties, practically introducing Free Trade for the first time as the policy of this country, and setting up an Income Tax at 7d. in the £. From beginning to end it took sixteen days, some of them short days. We are giving over seventeen days, and these are the ancient liberties of Parliament. [An HON MEMBER: "They were all-night sittings!"] No; some of them were very short days, and if the Opposition were prepared to give the Government their Bill in the time occupied by the Bill introducing the Income Tax, we would be very glad to make a bargain. There were sixteen days for everything, including the Resolution. That was the condition with regard to those Budgets, and that was the time which used to be occupied by them. It is quite a new thing for Parliament to occupy such a time as has been occupied, not over Budgets which involve great changes in methods of taxation, but over Budgets which involve no new principle.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The question of £200,000,000 is a question of Supply. It is voted in Supply, and the limitation on Supply is not the limitation of the present Government. It is the limitation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. Balfour), and if £200,000,000 required five times the discussion which £40,000,000 required, that is not merely a precedent, but it is an established Rule in this House, which was instituted by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was the head. I am not going to criticise the right hon. Gentleman for that, but it is in answer to the criticisms directed against me. I agree that there ought to be a better method of examining these propositions than time limits, and I hope that this Committee to which finance is referred will be able to find some means of dealing with it. In foreign Parliaments 967 there are such methods. There they have got Budget Committees. I do not know how they work, but, at any rate, I think that there ought to be some other method of examining those propositions. I agree that the House of Commons sitting in full Committee is the very worst method of examining methods of this kind. I am quite sure of this. It is far better to be quite frank about it. The Noble Lord and my hon. Friend have been quite frank. I know exactly what happened. You will find arrangements made by an Opposition, whether it is Conservative or Liberal, that the Government are not to get beyond a certain stage on a certain night. I am not complaining of that. Every Opposition does it. They say that the Government must not be able to get all they want. Then speeches are delivered very largely for that purpose. Consuming time was the policy. From the moment that the guillotine was introduced it ceased to be a policy; it ceased even to be an art. Because when a Guillotine Resolution is introduced the Chairman and Speaker do not feel called upon to interfere in the way in which they used formerly to interfere about repetitions and things of that sort. Therefore it ceased to be an art. It is just a cool blundering way of consuming time.
The Opposition will not think that I am criticising any particular Debate. I am criticising Debates as I have seen them for the last twenty years in this House. It ceased to be a policy; it ceased to be an art; it has become a habit, just a habit of mind, and every Opposition falls into it. I can see the machine working because I am familiar with it. An hon. Member gets up and makes a speech which is on the whole revelant, so relevant that the Chair cannot possibly pull him up, and then the longer he is able to spin it out the more you can see the smile of recognition and applause passing over the faces of all his friends, which is reflected in the smile of satisfaction on his own face, the moment he sits down, and he gets a considerable amount of applause, not because he has contributed anything fresh to the Debate, but because he managed to consume twenty-five minutes, or whatever time it was, without coming under the ban of the Chair. That is the process by which Opposition has been conducted for years and years, and it is no use making speeches like that of the Noble Lord, which is rather disposed to cast the responsibility on the 968 Government. There is one statement in it with which I can profoundly agree, and that is that the responsibility is the responsibility of the House as a whole. I am sure that the House somehow ought to be taken into the confidence of the Government in a matter of the allocation of time. But to say that under present conditions you are to allow unlimited debate upon any great Government measure, is practically to deny discussion. You cease to discuss a thing, and I say—I have seen so many Debates of this kind—that the men who want to see something done, will not get up because they will say to themselves that too much time has already been occupied, and the Debate as a rule falls into the hands of men who become practised in the art of discussing, often with a view not to elucidate the points in Debate, but to consume the time of the Government so that they shall not be able to pass their proposals.
And every Opposition does the same thing. The right hon. Gentleman said something about the time of the House being so arranged as to make it impossible to discuss topics which the Government felt inconvenient. We have arranged this time-table in order that there should be discussion upon the topics which were discovered in the course of our Debate to be inconvenient, like settled estates. The National Debt is another. That is a topic upon which I have been challenged, and the time-table has been so arranged as to make it possible to discuss it. Another is the topic raised by the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras. I am not going to say even now that these are the best methods of arranging the time of the House, but I do challenge the proposition that this is something which is a departure from the ancient liberties of the House. All the great Budgets of the past which contained great novel principles, not merely Budgets which were simply an increase of existing duties, but the great Budgets like those of Sir Robert Peel or Mr. Gladstone took less time than will the Budget of the present year under the allocation proposals of the Prime Minister, and I submit that if that time was sufficient in those days for criticising the Budgets, it ought to be ample time now for criticising the present measure.
I confess I have listened to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with considerable surprise. It is in an entirely different tone 969 and it took an entirely different range of topics from those raised by the Prime Minister, and though the Prime Minister was followed by my right hon. Friend immediately afterwards the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not taken the trouble to reply to a single criticism made by my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend pointed out, among other things, that the Budget was introduced at the latest possible date, and also that after it had been introduced it had undergone edition after edition. What has the right hon. Gentleman done? He has thrown entirely on one side any defence of the Government's arrangements of business in this House, and he has gone back to the Budgets of Mr. Gladstone in the 'seventies and the 'sixties, and 'fifties, and to the Budgets of Sir Robert Peel in the 'forties, and he said that those were very great Budgets, very long and complicated Budgets which took less time than the time allotted to this simple, shall I call it simplfied measure?
No, it is my word. It is I who had the audacity to suggest that this Budget has been simplified since it was introduced, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, on careful consideration, think that I used a not too violent phrase in connection with this change in the Budget. This Government have used Closure Resolutions as they have never been used before by any Government, partly because in certain Sessions they have crammed colossal proposals down the throat of the House of Commons one after another. In this Session they appear to have been simply marking time, and have been very anxious really to find some method by which to use the time of the House and to get them through their difficulties, already sufficiently great. They felt that they had rather overdone the process, and the result is that they find themselves now, in the early days of July, with this great programme of business before them. I am perfectly unable to understand how they can get through it. I am not talking of the Bills they are going to drop; I am not anticipating the slaughter of the innocents, which will be a massacre on a large scale; I am talking of Bills which they must absolutely get. I am talking, for example, of the Bill amending the Home Rule Bill. 970 I do not know how they are to get it, and, if all stories are true, it is to come up next week. But, however that may be, the Government in bringing forward for the first time a Resolution like this ought to have given the House some further information. We have not had a word as to that. I think it is a most extraordinary way in which to treat the House of Commons upon an occasion like this. May I make one more observation? I was astonished to hear the Chancellor of the Chancellor say that he had never been a critic of the Guillotine Motion. When I was responsible for the business of this House such operations were comparatively rare—very rare; but I should be very greatly surprised if when I brought forward a Guillotining Motion the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not one of its ablest opponents.
I was surprised to hear from him that through all those years he was secretly in favour of those Motions and of that policy. Another thing he said which filled me with a certain amount of mild surprise was that he looked back to the Budget of 1909, which he had got through without the gag Resolution, the Closure having been applied a very small number of times. He said that he would never go through such a process again. It was the last time that the Government would undergo the physical endurance, or that any House would have the patience to sit up night after night until one or two o'clock in the morning. I have sat up night after night, not till one or two in the morning, but till three or four, and the process was not in every respect very agreeable. But when the Government had performed that feat, the right hon. Gentleman was far from willing to look back upon it with regret; he was triumphant over it. He said, "We have done it; that is the way to do the Budget." But now I gather from him that he looks back to that as one of the great political mistakes of his life, and that if he had to do the job over again, he would bring forward the Closure or a gag Resolution on all those great matters of Debate before they had been begun even. So we see the rapid educational progress of the right hon. Gentleman in the matter of Parliamentary liberty of speech. Let me pass over that, and say one or two words upon the broader topic to which the right hon. Gentleman devoted the greater part of his speech. This was his argument put briefly: This Budget is not more controversial, indeed, it is less controversial, 971 than many of the great Budgets of the past. I agree with him that there have been great Budgets in the past more controversial even than the amended Budget of the right hon. Gentleman. He said that the great controversial Budgets in the past had occupied only such and such a time, only the same amount of time, or something comparable to the same amount of time, that ought to be given to the Budget at present. The right hon. Gentleman said the art of obstruction has been brought to such a pitch of perfection by each Opposition in turn—he was perfectly fair in that—that now we spend much time in the mechanical repetition of arguments for no other purpose than that of preventing the Government of the day getting more than one or two Clauses, as the case may be, and in that way embarrassing the Government business.
In that respect I think there was an element of truth in what the right hon. Gentleman said, but there was a great omission. It is true, of course, that there has been now for many years more obstruction in the House than there used to be in the old days, unless on very rare occasions. We find, of course, that long before even the first Reform Bill all the arts of obstruction were used, and, broadly speaking, the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that the art of obstruction has been brought to a higher pitch of perfection since the time of the brilliant phalanx of Irish orators under Mr. Parnell. But the business of the House, and the larger amount of speaking which takes place, is due to the fact that more Members take part in the Debates. It also arises from the fact that constituencies watch more closely what their Members do. They are reported more accurately, and it tells for and against a man in his election whether or not he has taken a more active and effective part in our proceedings, or what his constituents think is an active and effective part in the Debates of this House than before. I think, therefore, the right hon. gentleman fell into a mistake which I think that every other speaker on that side of the House fell into. The Member for Perth in his interesting speech made in the earlier part of the evening seemed to think that nothing was required, and that all was right; that there was a desire on the part of the House to do public business without any admixture of party feeling whatever. Party feeling still exists, and will always 972 exist. Party feeling no doubt makes the machine work roughly and slowly—I quite grant that—but let nobody believe that the whole disease arises out of excessive party feeling, or out of drilled arrangements on this side or that side of the House, as the case may be.
It lies more deeply in the political evolution of the nation. I am not sure that it could not now be maintained that Parliamentary work was best done when the speakers in this House were very few, and when the House assisted as a jury so to speak, more or less enlightened, who were swayed and influenced, perhaps even more often than now, by speeches, but at all events they judged of speeches they did not aspire to deliver. Those days are gone for ever, and I think it is vain to wish them back. I would not wish them back if I could, because it really means that there was less keen political interest—I put it that way—in the day to day work of legislation than at the present time and I should not wish to see them restored. I think, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman has not accurately diagnosed this disease, but I admit there is a disease, and nobody ought to admit the disease more than the present Government, because since they came into office in 1906 they have used with less and less remorse and with more and more frequency the most drastic methods of Closure that either their own ingenuity or the ingenuity of their predecessors had ever devised. They have used it over and over again; it has become part of our political machinery; they have used it earlier and earlier in the progress of a Bill until now we all know that directly a big Bill has passed its Second Reading the next thing the Government draftsman has to do is to draw up a form of Closure dealing with all its remaining stages.
That is not the way the Government should have dealt with the disease if they could not have gone on as their predecessors went on. If they compare what was the average number of these Closure-by-Compartment Resolutions under the Government in the ten years before they came into office as compared with the nine years since they came into office, I think they will find, though I have not refreshed my memory on the point, that they use it four times as much—[HON. MEMBERS: "More!"]—five times as much, and I should think that even then I am understating it, and when I remember the sort of speeches they made on the occasions 973 when we did use them, and some extracts from which have been read to-day by my right hon. Friend, but which might be multiplied indefinitely from every man on the other side, then I say it was their primary duty to try and devise long ago some method of dealing with the matter. If they had gone on with the old system they might have said with some plausibility, "We are no worse than our predecessors," but they are worse, incomparably worse, than their predecessors. Therefore on them lay a peculiar obligation to see if their ingenuity could not devise some method by which the business of this House could not be better transacted than it is. They have done absolutely nothing. The Prime Minister, who, I believe, is as conscious of the evil as anybody whom I am addressing, for I do not know how many Sessions took the trouble every time on which he has proposed a gagging Resolution to indicate how much he dislikes it. He has also indicated that he thinks the time has come when the whole method of procedure should be revised, but he has never revised it. What has be done? The only thing he has done, and it was referred to to-day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to appoint a Committee last Session on which no Member of the Government is serving. Perhaps that is by the desire of the Committee. I do not know whether the Committee represents the rest of the House, but if it does represent the rest of the House, and if it expressed an earnest desire that no Member of the Government should show his face on the Committee, it shows that the rest of the House have the profoundest distrust of the Treasury Bench.
I dare say it did. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman is more disliked by his own followers or distrusted by his own followers than my hon. Friend is disliked or distrusted by the right hon. Gentlemen's followers. Doubtless we are all in the same boat. Let the Government consider this: It is all very well to have a Committee of independent Members, and for which the Government are in no sense responsible, but ultimately the Government, and only the Government of the day, can be responsible for proposals for dealing with the business of this House. It is perfectly vain, and you 974 may appoint the ablest Committee, and I doubt not but that this Committee is very able, but you may appoint the ablest Committee in the world, and they may make a very able Report, but it is only the Government of the day that can propose that Report, and in my opinion it is only the Government of the day that can invent a scheme. Suggestions they must of course take from every side, and suggestions they will get, I dare say, from the Committee, but unless they put their own brains into it, and unless they can put their own shoulder to the wheel, and unless they with their exceptional experience of the House, will set to work with this tremendous problem, you may appoint Committee after Committee, and you may exclude first one Front Bench and then another, and you may make what self-denying ordinances you like, but you will never get forward, even granting that this Committee is going to produce a report which will greatly help us, and I hope it will. The Government have been in office for nine Sessions, this is their ninth Session, and nothing have they done in all those nine Sessions until their own followers, and I have no doubt Gentlemen on this side of the House, quite as much, because they hated being driven into the Lobby as because they could not get through their business, and because both those movements were at work, asked that a Committee should be formed on which neither Front Bench should be represented. That is not a record of which the Government at any rate, ought to be proud. They have to deal with this growing evil. They know how strong is the feeling on their own side against what is deemed the tyranny of the Government Whips, they know how Gentlemen on both sides of the House, and quite as much on the opposite side as on this, feel that the independent Members' arguments fall on deaf ears, and that if they spoke with the tongues of angels it would be perfectly useless when the guillotine is going to fall punctually at half-past ten and no Minister is to be expected to understand the Bill, and no Minister is required to understand the Bill. This hard, mechanical, unyielding machine goes on making vain all the arguments, all the critics, and making useless and unnecessary all the arguments to be urged in defence. I am not one of those who believe that we should ever go back to the old days, but I think the Government which has used and misused the powers of the Closure so repeatedly and over so long a 975 period of years, has a great responsibility to the future of this House which on reflection they will see they have done nothing adequately to fulfil.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will excuse me if I do not refer to his brilliant contribution to this Debate. I desire to refer to one matter mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide," and "Agreed."] I do not propose to detain the House long, but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to precedents and mentioned three Budgets selecting those of 1860, 1853, and 1842. An hon. Gentleman opposite interrupted him and the right hon. Gentleman replied that he had been reading up the precedents and felt qualified to answer. I also happened to be reading up precedents. It will be observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer went from 1853 to 1842. There was a Budget in 1847–8, and there was a
§ Budget in 1849–50 which was introduced by Sir Charles Wood and recast four times. In those days Budgets were sometimes introduced in February, and on this occasion the Budget introduced then was not finally passed until August, and then after recasting four times. The right hon. Gentleman's arguments that in those days they disposed of the Budgets in double quick time, does not therefore hold water, and his researches are not confirmed by past history. I think that instance that I give is sufficient evidence to show that we are being hurried to-day to pass a Resolution which curtails our discussion, and that there is no precedent to confirm his argument, and that, therefore, he has made out no case for the Motion.
§ Question put, "That the word 'the' ["that the remainder of the Committee stage"] stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 246."979
|Division No. 151.]||AYES.||[7.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Clynes, John R.||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Adamson, William||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset. E.)|
|Alden, Percy||Cotton, William Francis||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hackett, John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Crooks, William||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Armitage, Robert||Crumley, Patrick||Hancock, John George|
|Arnold, Sydney||Cullinan, John||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Haslam, Lewis|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Barnes, George N.||Dawes, James Arthur||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Delany, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dillon, John||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Donelan, Captain A.||Hewart, Gordon|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Doris, William||Higham, John Sharp|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Duffy, William J.||Hinds, John|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hodge, John|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hogge, James Myles|
|Black, Arthur W.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Boland, John Pius||Esmonde, Dr. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Brace, William||Falconer, James||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick||John, Edward Thomas|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Johnson, W.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Field, William||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fitzgibbon, John||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Buxton, Noel||France, Gerald Ashburner||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Gelder, Sir W A.||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||George, Rt. Hon D. Lloyd||Joyce, Michael|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Ginnell, Laurence||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kelly, Edward|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Glanville, Harold James||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goldstone, Frank||Kilbride, Denis|
|Clough, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||King, Joseph|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Doherty, Philip||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Connell, Thomas||Sheehy, David|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||O'Dowd, John||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Leach, Charles||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||O'Malley, William||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Shee, James John||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Outhwaite, R. L.||Sutherland, John E.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Sutton, John E.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Thomas, James Henry|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Phillips, John (Longford S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|M'Laren, Hon.F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Pratt, J. W.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Manfield, Harry||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pringle, William M. R.||Wardle, George J.|
|Meagher, Michael||Radford, George Heynes||Waring, Walter|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Reddy, Michael||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Middlebrook, William||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Molloy, Machael||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Webb, H.|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrons, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Rendall, Athelstan||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Mooney, John J.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Morrell, Philip||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Morison, Hector||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Munro, R. Hon. Arthur C.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Robertson. John M. (Tyneside)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Robinson, Sidney||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Nicholson Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Rowlands, James||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Rowntree, Arnold||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Nuttall, Harry||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Gulland and Mr. William Jones.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Butcher, John George||Du Pre, W. Baring|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Campion, W. R.||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Falle, Bertram Godfrey|
|Astor, Waldorf||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Fell, Arthur|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cassel, Felix||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cator, John||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cave, George||Fleming, Valentine|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Forster, Henry William|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Barnston, Harry||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Ganzoni, Francis John C.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Chambers, James||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. E. B. (Glouc, E.)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Gilhooly, James|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Clyde, J. Avon||Goldman, C. S.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Courthope, George Loyd||Grant, J. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Gretton, John|
|Bigland, Alfred||Crean, Eugene||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Bird, Alfred||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Blair, Reginald||Croft, Henry Page||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Currie, George W.||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Bowden, G. R. Harland||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)|
|Boyton, James||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Dixon, C. H.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Bull, Sir William James||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Duke, Henry Edward||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Duncannon, Viscount||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Stanier, Beville|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Moore, William||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Mount, William Arthur||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Hills, John Waller||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Newman, John R. P.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Swift, Rigby|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Nield, Herbert||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Horne, E.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Hume-Williams, W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Tickler, T. G.|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Perkins, Walter F.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Peto, Basil Edward||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Kerry, Earl of||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Prothero, Roland Edmund||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Rees, Sir J. D.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Rolleston, Sir John||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green,S.W.)|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Royds, Edmund||Winterton, Earl|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Macmaster, Donald||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sandys, G. J.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Malcolm, Ian||Scott, Sir S. (Marlyebone, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.|
§ Sir PHILIP SASSOON
I beg to move to leave out the words "remainder of the Committee stage, the."
I do not move this Amendment because I think that the Report stage and the Third Reading should be guillotined. During the past few years we have grown accustomed to these attacks upon our Constitution, to new precedents being set up, and to old usages being torn to pieces. The Government have fallen upon our most cherished institutions like a band of house-breakers upon an old mansion, thinking only to destroy and careless of what comes after. But the act they propose to do to-day exceeds in some respects anything that has gone before. Hitherto the Government have excused their outrages with the plea of political conviction, but that cannot be urged to-day. The control of the House of Commons over finance is to be impaired, and even almost destroyed, not because the Government or a small section of the Government think that the principle of Parliamentary control is unsound, but merely because of the 980 mistakes of a prominent Member of the Government and to save that Member from the just consequences of his errors. From first to last in this Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer has blundered, cither because he could not make up his mind or because he could not persuade his colleagues to follow him. The actual causes of his discomfiture may be wrapt in the mystery of Cabinet meetings, but the results are lamentable. After considerable delay the Budget was introduced, and it was discovered that the Finance Bill was made the vehicle for a mass of ill-digested social legislation. It would have been expected after waiting so long that the proposals would have been cut and dried, that they would have been models of precision and legislative completeness. But they were nothing of the sort. Carelessness and crudity stared from every line of them. His second attempt was worse than the first, and confusion was the more confounded. The House is asked to-day to sanction the forcing through under the guillotine of a 981 third attempt, so as to save the Government from a disaster within range of which the short-sighted policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought them. We are asked to do violence to the most powerful safeguard which this House has against autocracy of any kind, and the reason is simply that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's political reputation may be safeguarded. With all respect, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's reputation is worthy of this sacrifice. This is not a case, to my mind, where in voting against this Resolution it is necessary to rely on the fact that the Finance Bill contains proposals for new taxation which, with all their consequences, are very far-reaching. If this were the simplest Finance Bill ever put before Parliament, I think it would still be the duty of hon. Members to whom liberty is more than a name and popular government more than an empty phrase, to oppose with all their strength the guillotining of a Money Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
On a point of Order. I did not intervene as long as the hon. Member was making a personal attack upon me, otherwise it would have looked as if I had risen for the purpose of stopping him. But the hon. Member now seems to me to be traversing the whole of the Resolution, and going back on the Second Reading discussion. I submit that that is not relevant to his Amendment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We must take it that the decision just taken concludes something. The Division, I take it, decides that in principle the House is prepared to consider this question. The hon. Baronet proposes an Amendment to leave out the remainder of the Committee stage. He must show reasons why it is desirable that the remainder of the Committee stage should not be covered by the Resolution, while the Report Stage and the Third Reading are. He is not entitled to make a general review of the whole Resolution.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir P. SASSOON
I obey your ruling, Sir. I was only trying to point out that as it was no longer possible to avoid having the guillotine on other of the stages, if it were possible to avoid the guillotine on the Committee stage it would be something to the good. I should like to urge as a reason for this, that in the long battle which this House has waged, century after century, against the forces of tyranny and oppression, its 982 chief weapon, almost its only weapon, has been the control of the public purse. It has remained for a Liberal Government, supported by Socialists, Radicals, and Labour Members, and even by the party that would, I suppose, profess, from their own point of view, to be fighting for the liberty of their country—it has remained for this democratic party to trench upon the most ancient prerogative of this House. The guillotine, however and whenever applied, is an unlovely instrument, but few people are so sanguine, I imagine, as to believe that it will ever be permanently banished from the practice of this House. There is no reason, however, why, within the bounds where its use is justifiable, the line of demarcation should be difficult, or that it should be found impossible to keep within it. As a method of overcoming Parliamentary obstruction it is very clearly permissible if used with discretion. On the present occasion even that excuse is wanting. It is not applied with discretion. The only political obstruction there has been is that which has arisen from Ministerial muddling. It is surely unfair when the Government have only themselves to blame for the position in which they find themselves, to hazard the liberties of the United Kingdom to save themselves from the consequences of their own folly.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I beg to second the Amendment. I put my name to it, not with a view to incurring the censure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but because I really desire to raise a point in which I am extremely interested—that is, the matter with which this House is dealing—the Committee stage of the Budget, and the Committee stage, too, of Bills of other kinds. The Prime Minister in his speech this afternoon, in reference to the Committee stage, spoke of what might happen on a future occasion. I remember some time ago talking over with Mr. Chamberlain the course of procedure that he would adopt in the circumstances referred to by the Prime Minister. Mr. Chamberlain said to me that he would have nothing whatever to do with the curtailment of discussion on similar proposals to these. As those proposals might touch every side of the business life of the community they should be fully and adequately discussed. I am extremely sorry, in view of the changes the Chancellor of the Exchequer is introducing into the taxation of the country and in view of the changes which are certainly in store for us in the 983 future, that this most useful stage of our business proceedings should be in any way curtailed. It is perfectly true that I have only been a short time in this House, but I have watched the proceedings of the House with the greatest care for a long time, and I have come to the conclusion—I do not know whether or not that it is well founded—that there is plenty of time for Committee discussion for the Bills that tome before us.
I have watched these various Bills. I have watched discussions on finance. I do not see the necessity of the Resolution of the Prime Minister. I believe that with a little fair arrangement, not even made formally, but made in Debate, we could easily cover the really important points raised at the present time. So far as I have been able to observe, the application of the guillotine to the Committee stage of Bills, it tends, not to shorten, but to prolong discussion. I think the very feeling that discussion is limited, that a time limit is imposed, tends to a waste of time upon Amendments and bits of Clauses, which as a matter of fact could easily be dealt with if the Government would come forward in a spirit of generosity and invite our co-operation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may think that is a somewhat sanguine view. I do not believe it is. I do not share in the least the criticism of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the House of Commons. I have been able to observe the House of Commons for a very long time—before I came here—and I do not believe there is any truth whatever in the Chancellor's reflections upon the character of the House of Commons at the present time. The House has grows not less but more businesslike in recent years. The number of irrelevant speeches is, on the whole, exceedingly small. I have heard many speeches running into columns which might more happily have been expressed in five hundred or a thousand words.
That is a very common experience, especially so long as the convention holds that speeches from the Front Benches must necessarily be long. If we could do away with that convention, which is an entirely false one, I believe that we could in the time that is available for Bills that come before us deal adequately with the different points raised in Committee. I should effect other improvements of procedure not by the curtailment of the Committee stage, but in the better organisa- 984 tion of it. I notice that Governments—and especially this Government—do not yet seem to have discovered the printing machine—at any rate to any great extent. Any number of points relevant to Committee stage could be elucidated, and this would greatly shorten the Debates. I venture to say that this method of introducing the guillotine is a clumsy, crude, and unintelligent device which I trust the Unionist party, if returned to power, will sweep away into the limbo of things forgotten. I feel perfectly certain that this is not the way to shorten discussion, and not the way to bring out points. I feel certain also that with that spirit of co-operation which the business instincts of the House would respond to we could cover these different points. In relation to this particular Finance Bill, it seems to me of exceptional importance that the Debate should not be curtailed and that in this business we should—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is traversing ground that has already been covered. His arguments seem more appropriate to the last Amendment than to the present.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I am sorry if I am traversing ground that has already been traversed, but what I was endeavouring to point out was that even if the Committee stage were curtailed we should not, in fact, be able to deal with the enormous number of points that arise in the Bill, and which cannot easily be dealt with in the Debates on Second or Third Reading. I will not continue these arguments if the matter has been put before the House, but I should like to add that if we are going to curtail the Committee stage of the Finance Bill we are curtailing the kind of discussion for which this House, in its financial aspect, especially exists and to continue which Members are chosen. I would conclude by urging the Chancellor to consider if it is not possible, even at this stage, to restrict the guillotine—at any rate so far as this particular part of the subject is concerned.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I must proceed on the assumption that the House has decided in favour of a time limit to the various stages of this Bill. The only question at issue now is whether the Report stage and Third Reading being restricted to a certain time, on the Committee stage there should be unlimited opportunity for discussion. As a matter of fact, restriction is far more necessary on the Com- 985 mittee stage. If hon. Members will look at the Order Paper they will see sixteen or seventeen pages of matter for Committee debate. If those Amendments are to be debated in the Committee, as I have already pointed out, we shall be here for a good many weeks before we can possibly get the finances of the country put right. It is therefore absolutely essential that the Committee stage should be as we suggest.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered in Debate the strange discrepancy between his answer the other night, when he denied that 5th August was the datum line, and said it was some date in September, and the words of the Prime Minister. That is one of the reasons why I conceive one might fairly be in favour of exempting the Committee stage from the operation of this Resolution, by concurring with the Government that they should get the advantage of the Closure on Report and Third Reading. The right hon. Gentleman stated as to the Committee stage that he had been advised—and I see the Attorney-General in his place, and imagine the Attorney-General must be the authority from whom the right hon. Gentleman received the advice—and he stated to the House the advice he had received. The Prime Minister denied in the most plain terms and absolutely contradicted the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer as Finance Minister says to the House that "he has been advised, as a matter of law, that we must get our proposals through by a certain week in September," and the Prime Minister, a lawyer of great eminence, says that is not so, we are entitled to ask what is the cause of this conflict of opinion, and who is the authority that advised the Prime Minister and who is the authority that advised the Chancellor of the Exchequer! It appears to me that that is a point which the House may fairly expect some light upon.
Apart from that point, I rose for the purpose of noticing the very conciliatory speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Bench. If the Opposition were here I would appeal to them, and say they would be well advised to close with the offer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was that if the Opposition would give him his Bill in a certain time which he mentioned, he would be prepared to abandon this Cloisure Resolution. I take 986 so strong a view of the moral effect of the Closure on the Budget, that I think the Chancellor's offer is one that might well be considered by the Opposition, and one which might well be closed with. There is not the smallest doubt that under the Resolution we are now discussing the right hon. Gentleman is setting up a precedent which will be an intolerable one so far as this House is concerned. I understood him to make an offer which if I rightly interpreted it would lead to the abandonment of this Resolution and the passage of this Bill through the House by consent. I would regard the passage of this Bill by consent as far less an evil than the passage of this Resolution. I think the offer of the right hon. Gentleman is well deserving of the best consideration.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I rise in no sense to repeat any of the arguments used upon this Amendment, but to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because of a difficulty which occurs upon an Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury. He is anxious in his Amendment to ensure a discussion on the Income Tax Clauses, but, as I understand, this Amendment now being moved, if the words "remainder of the Committee stage" stand part, it would be impossible for me, or my hon. Friend, to move the Amendment which stands in his name, and therefore I am going to say what I have to say in reference to the Amendment which my hon. Friend desires to move, and which is germane to the question whether the words "remainder of the Committee stage" shall stand part. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will, I am sure, follow me in this. The Income Tax Clauses are very important, and he himself is going in accordance with the pledge he has given to move a new Clause to deal with the question of Income Tax as between husband and wife. The Clauses in this Bill which cover Income Tax are Clauses 3 to 8. Within the ambit of Clauses 3 to 8 we are dealing with an Income Tax which is to be levied upon quite different incomes to those on which it was previously levied. We are to have a modification of relief in respect to earned incomes. Then we are to have the taxation of incomes in respect of foreign property. That is a Clause which undoubtedly needs the greatest consideration, and most careful drafting on the part of the Government if it is to obtain its object. These new Clauses are very difficult to cast in words and to be framed in a Bill. Then 987 we are to have relief of small incomes from Income Tax, and I do not need to refer to the other two Clauses, which are important but not so important as those to which I have referred. We are to deal with all this within the narrow limits provided by the Closure Resolution. I venture to say that really it cannot be done.
If you are to have these important matters considered, you cannot have sufficient and adequate discussion within the limit now proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave an illustration of it. He referred to the great Budget, or rather the Income Tax Bill of 1842, and he gave the time during which that Bill passed. That is a standing record of the imperfect way this House does its duty, and if we are to have Clauses, such as these particular Clauses, relating to foreign incomes passed, I believe when the Chancellor hears the criticisms he will come to the conclusion that although all sides of the House are agreed in the object, the Clauses are entirely imperfect and cannot affect their object without a very great deal of amendment and recasting. In these circumstances, I am anxious we should secure a greater limit of time for what I call Income Tax Clauses, and that would be secured if the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury were accepted and the word "remainder" left out. Or it could be done on an Amendment by which all the words "remainder of the Committee stage" would be left out; or if you exempt the Income Tax Clauses. Another practical suggestion would be for you to exempt Clause 5 in respect of foreign duties, and Clause 3 on Super-tax. I beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept an Amendment which will effect that object. I do not care in what form. I am quite prepared to follow the suggestion made that we have determined something this afternoon. I think it is perfectly fair for us to say that if the whole of the words "remainder of the Committee stage," without any regard to the importance of the Clauses, are left in the Resolution, and if that is all to be discussed within the time limit effect will not be given to the real object which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in mind, and that too stringent a limitation will be put upon Debate. I ask him to accept some Amendment if he will not support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. At present it may be too much to ask him 988 to accept the omission of the words "remainder of the Committee stage," and I hope for a more specific exemption, or for some exemption for the purpose of dealing with the two Clauses I specifically mentioned, and, if possible, that we should exempt the whole of the Income Tax Clauses. On this ground I beg to support the Amendment, although, for my own part, I would be content if it went very much less far, and left us sufficient freedom to do what is our real work, namely, to affect some limitation of the Income Tax law, which cannot be done in the time allowed by this Resolution to the Committee stage.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the Committee stage is obviously the one that requires less restriction, but if we are to have very stringent restriction upon the Report stage we should, at any rate, have fairer discussion on the Committee stage. I do not wish to debate this matter unnecessarily, but I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree that there is not much enthusiasm for his proposal. I think it is absurd to compare the discussion in these times to the discussion which took place upon the former Budgets to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. If we try to finish the Committee stage in four days there are bound to be certain points upon which proper discussion will not be possible. The first day we have to deal with the whole question relating to the Super-tax and the modification of relief given to earned incomes before seven o'clock, and that alone should be sufficient to prove that we cannot have a proper discussion of those very important matters. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is said to have made an offer that if we would accept a certain time for the discussion of this measure, he would take off this Motion. I certainly did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to make any such offer.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I said if we could agree upon the amount of time, then I did not care how it was divided.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
An hon. Member suggested that an offer had been made that if we would allow this Bill to go through within a certain time like that which was occupied by the Budgets of 1852, 1853, or 1860, the right hon. Gentleman was willing to withdraw this Resolution.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That was my object, but that offer would have given sixteen days instead of seventeen, which would be a day less than I am now proposing.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I did not understand that that was the offer. But however that may be, it seems to me with all these rigid restrictions on the opportunities for discussion, and more especially in view of the very heavy additional taxation which is being proposed, it would be wiser for the Government to give us a fuller opportunity than is being given under this Motion. If we could have a fuller discussion on the Committee stage there would be far less chance of invasion being practised, and various other things which this kind of pro-
§ cedure is bound to encourage. I think that in the interests of this Bill the Government would have been wiser in allowing more time for discussion.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether he can, by leave of the House, give us any sort of facilities with regard to the other Amendment?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 110.991
|Division No. 152.]||AYES.||[8.27 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Doris, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshrire)|
|Adamson, William||Duffy, William J.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Alden, Percy||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Joyce, Michael|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Kelly, Edward|
|Arnold, Sydney||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Kilbride, Denis|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Falconer, James||King, Joseph|
|Barnes, George N.||Farrell, James Patrick||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon S.Molton)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Scale, Sir William Phipson||Ffrench, Peter||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Field, William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Fitzgibbon, John||Leach, Charles|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Lundon, Thomas|
|Black, Arthur W.||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Boland, John Pius||Ginnell, Laurence||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr T. J.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Glanville, Harold James||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Brace, William||Goldstone, Frank||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||M'Curdy, Charles Albert|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Greig, Colonel James William||M'Kean, John|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Manfield, Harry|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hackett, John||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hancock, John George||Meagher, Michael|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mechan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Middlebrook, William|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Molloy, Michael|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Clough, William||Hayward, Evan||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Clynes, John R.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mooney, John J.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morison, Hector|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hewart, Gordon||Muldoon, John|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Higham, John Sharp||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hinds, John||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hodge, John||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cullinan, John||Holt, Richard Durning||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Nuttall, Harry|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||John, Edward Thomas||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Johnson, William||O'Doherty, Philip|
|De Forest, Baron||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Delany, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Dowd, John|
|Dillon, John||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Thomas, James Henry|
|O'Malley, William||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|O'Shee, James John||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Robinson, Sidney||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wardle, George J.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Rowlands, James||Webb, H.|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Rowntree, Arnold||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Pratt, J. W.||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sheehy, David||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Simon, Rt Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Radford, George Heynes||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Reddy, Michael||Sutherland, John E.||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sutton, John E.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gilhooly, James||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gilmour, Captain John||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barrie, H. T.||Greene, w. R.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bird, Alfred||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Blair, Reginald||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Royds, Edmund|
|Boyton, James||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bull, Sir William James||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Sandys, G. J.|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Stanier, Beville|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cassel, Felix||Houston, Robert Paterson||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cave, George||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Knight, Captain E. A.||Swift, Rigby|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Chambers, J.||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.,||Tickler, T. G.|
|Croft, H. P.||Macmaster, Donald||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Currie, George W.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Moore, William||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Fell, Arthur||Nield, Herbert||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Paget, Almeric Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Gardner, Ernest||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Philip Sassoon and Mr. Hewins.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Perkins, Walter Frank|
I think it would be more convenient if we took the discussion on the proposal of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) on his second Amendment to leave out the words "and the Third Reading," instead of on his first Amendment, after the word "stage" ["That the remainder of the Committee stage"], to insert the word "and."
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not mind where it comes, but I am afraid that 992 unless you insert the word "and" between the words "the Committee stage" and "the Report stage" it will not read.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
If the word "and" is put in, would it rule out of order the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) to leave out the words "the Report stage"?
That is just my difficulty. I still think we might leave out the word "and," and the Noble Lord later on move to leave out the words "and the Third Reading."
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
If my word were accepted, and the House should afterwards eliminate the words "the Report stage," I think it could easily be rearranged so as to make it read, "The Committee stage and the necessary stages of any Resolutions in connection with the Finance Bill." Unless you do insert the word "and" between "the Committee stage" and "the Report stage," I do not see how, as a matter of grammar, the thing could be made to read.
It seems to me more logical to take the Amendment to leave out the words "the Report stage" next. I do not see the verbal difficulty. It seems to me that it would still read without inserting the word "and" between the words "the Committee stage" and "the Report stage." It would read, "The remainder of the Committee stage, the Report stage of the Finance Bill, and the necessary stages of any Financial Resolutions in connection therewith shall be proceeded with."
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move to leave out the words "the Report stage."
I want to urge, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was unable to accept the previous Amendment or any Amendment relating to the Committee stage, that there is all the more reason for eliminating the words "the Report stage." I am assuming that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to get the assistance of the House in reference to the various Clauses of the Bill, and particularly Clause 5, which relates to the taxation of incomes from foreign property. I believe the right hon. Gentleman will eventually find himself in serious difficulty over that Clause. I have considered it with some care, and I think it is quite easy to get round it and through it. I do not think it is effective for the purpose for which it is designed, and when the right hon. Gentleman has had the benefit of criticism offered from both sides of the House, I think he will find that he will have to recast the Clause. We are all in favour of some measure being taken for the purpose, but it is very 994 easy to see that the Clause will not be effective. That is one instance of the importance of the words "the Report stage" being eliminated.
There are a number of new Clauses moved, and they perhaps increase year after year, for a very good reason. The more strenuously the Income Tax is imposed and the more stringently it is collected, naturally, the greater number of persons there are who seek to bring their particular hardships before the House, and to have particular Clauses to deal with their particular hardships. Therefore, the more stringently you impose the Income Tax the more it is necessary to consider the cases which lie on the borderland. Those cases are brought into the purview of the Finance Bill by means of new Clauses, and they necessarily have to be reviewed after you have done the Committee stage, and when you may desire to put in a new Clause to meet something which has not been done on the Committee stage. It is quite clear, if you are going to do really good work and have an effective Finance Bill you cannot possibly estimate the amount of time which would be required on the Report stage to pick up the stitches left on the Committee stage, and while there may be good ground for being stringent on the Committee stage there is all the more ground to be easy and generous with regard to the Report stage. In this particular Finance Bill it will be found necessary by the House to give careful consideration to the Bill on the Report stage, and for these reasons I move to eliminate the Report stage from this stringent and drastic guillotine. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is an avowed opponent of guillotine resolutions, and who, I have no doubt, when sitting on this side of the House, had some sympathy with observations such as I have just made, will extend that sympathy to us now when we are endeavouring to alter the Income Tax Clauses very greatly, and to make various other alterations in the Bill which undoubtedly need consideration—which consideration can be given more adequately and most efficiently on the Report stage.
§ Mr. PETO
I desire to reinforce what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Warwick (Mr. Pollock), particularly because I notice in the Report stage only one day is given for new Clauses. I want to call the attention of 995 the House to the fact that with regard to new Clauses we are in a peculiar position, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself put down a new Clause, which occupies some two pages of the Amendment paper, and which is of a very contentious character. It deals with the difficult question of the division of the husband's and wife's income. It is perfectly clear that on the Committee stage only a very small fraction of the new Clauses will be dealt with, and unless, therefore, we do something to eliminate the Report stage from the terms of this Resolution the effect will be that the Government will decide that the only new Clause they will have discussed in the House is the one put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I should like to call attention to the question from another point of view. The main body of taxation imposed under this Budget is in connection with the increase in the Income Tax and the Super-tax. In the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill the Prime Minister said:—At present the Income Tax law is in a ghastly confusion of chaotic provisions which even skilled lawyers find it extremely difficult to interpret, and which to the common sense ordinary man is as unintelligible as a Chinese puzzle. I am sure the time has come, and I hope we may have the aid of all parties in the State, for it is not necessary that it should he a party question, when we ought to try to put the Income Tax legislation on a scientific, as well as a simple basis."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June. 1914, col. 2053, Vol. LXIII.]That is an invitation to all parties to co-operate in taking the Income Tax law out of its present chaotic state and make it, not only a more simple and a more scientific, but a more just instrument of taxation. How, on the face of that, are we to interpret this proposal if on the Report stage, when new Clauses come first, new Clauses which are essential to do anything to make just this means of raising a huge sum in respect of Income Tax, we find but a single day is given to that stage, especially as we feel perfectly certain that not one single private Member's Clause will have been discussed on the Committee stage. It is almost laughing at the Members of the House after the Prime Minister on the Second Reading has pointed out that the main instrument dealt with in this Finance Bill is in a state of chaos, and has invited all Members of the House to cooperate in no party spirit to put it right, to say, in effect, "we shall introduce a Guillotine Resolution which will prevent any Member of the House, no matter where he may sit, from bringing grievances, such 996 as my hon. and learned Friend has referred to, to the attention of the House." Considering the quotation I have read from the Prime Minister's speech, and considering the whole circumstances of the case, I say the very least the Government can do is to leave the Report stage out entirely and give some opportunity to the House to make this Budget, as far as Income Tax is concerned, a simple and equitable method of raising taxation.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I beg pardon. I was under the impression I had replied. I should be very sorry, of course, not to answer the argument put forward by the hon. and learned Member. But, as a matter of fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman knows what would happen if this Amendment were carried. Every Amendment not discussed or reached on the Committee stage would be put down again on the Report stage. That is what always happens, and we should have on the Report stage of this Bill far more time taken than is usually taken under ordinary conditions. In that case the Report stage would be formed into a kind of Committee stage, and that is the very worst possible arrangement that could be made. As soon as the guillotine is loosened it acts as an incentive to more discussion.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Surely the right hon. Gentleman, by his observations, has proved the strength of the Amendment. It is a very strong thing to guillotine a Finance Bill like this, and the Government might see their way, with the utmost safety to themselves, to allow us to have free discussion on the Report stage. The right hon. Gentleman knows enough of the procedure of the House to be aware that the chances of obstruction on the Report stage are infinitesimal compared with those on the Committee stage. Quite apart from obstruction, the power of spending time, if only one speech can be made, is much less on the Report stage than on the Committee stage. The point made by my hon. Friend below the Gangway (Mr. Peto) is a very strong one indeed. Under this system practically no new Clause will be allowed to be discussed at all. The right hon. Gentleman knows that under the Finance Bill the only way in which one can bring forward real grievances, upon which it is desired to get a 997 definite opinion from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is by proposing new Clauses on the Report stage. Looking back on the past work of this House, it is clear that the time spent on the Report stage has never been wasted. It has always been most useful, and I make a strong appeal to the Government, assuming the necessity for guillotining the Committee stage, that they should, as they can with absolute safety, allow us on the Report stage to be free and unfettered.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has given this very careful consideration. He has considered it necessary to bring the Bill under the guillotine, but there is great difference between guillotining the Committee stage and the Report stage. A moment or two ago he did not know whether he had spoken on this Amendment, and when it was pointed out to him that he had not, he got up and uttered the very few perfunctory remarks to which he has just treated the House. It seems to me the Government have done every single thing they could to insult the House of Commons. I say that absolutely seriously, and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) may laugh as much as he likes. I am perfectly certain that were he upon this side of the House and we on that side, he would be the first to resent no distinction being made between guillotining the Committee stage and the Report stage. I should very much like to hear the remarks he would make if a Minister came down and did not know whether he had spoken to an Amendment of this sort. There are a number of new Clauses with which we especially want to deal. There is the question of married women's Income Tax, upon which I have had the privilege of bringing forward a Clause during the last eight years. It is quite possible that this year we may not be able to produce it at all, or at any rate only at a very late hour at night. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the Amendment more serious consideration. He must know that he will be giving up nothing if he allows private Members to produce new Clauses on the Report stage.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I am particularly sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not found it possible to make some concession on this very drastic procedure Resolution so far as the Report stage of the Finance Bill is concerned. He himself has drawn attention this afternoon to the fact that in 1909 he embarked upon a totally new sphere of finance in respect of matters connected with land—agricultural as well as urban. He must admit that, embarking upon this entirely new department, it has necessarily followed that his proposals have operated with a good deal of injustice, that the shoe has pinched in various places, and that it is only by means of various new Clauses which have been introduced into recent Budgets that those particular financial proposals have been made a little more practicable and a little more easy so far as those who are interested in land are concerned. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that all the most valuable alterations or modifications in the Budget of 1909–10, so far as agricultural land is concerned, have been effected on the Report stage of more recent Finance Bills. I may remind him of that relating to Death Duties upon timber, and and that relating to the use of tobacco as an insecticide or a germicide. We should never have got those admittedly desirable concessions if it had not been that we had a practically unfettered Report stage for the Finance Bill. Speaking from the agricultural standpoint, I quite despair of making these modern financial proposals at all acceptable to the agricultural community, unless we are given an opportunity of introducing some Clauses of the same kind, in order to prevent the shoe pinching in uncomfortable places as the result of the new departure embarked upon in the legislation of 1909–10. I hope that even now the Chancellor of the Exchequer may see his way, in justice to the landed interests, to make the concession for which we are asking.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 223; Noes, 109.1001
|Division No. 153.]||AYES.||[9.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Black, Arthur W.|
|Adamson, William||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Boland, John Pius|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Barnes, George N.||Booth, Frederick Handel|
|Alden, Percy||Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Bowerman, Charles W.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Beale, Sir William Phipson||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Brace, William|
|Arnold, Sydney||Bentham, George Jackson||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Hewart, Gordon||O'Shee, James John|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Higham, John Sharp||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Hinds, John||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hodge, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Holt, Richard Durning||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||John, Edward Thomas||Pratt, J. W.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Johnson, W.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Clough, William||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Reddy, Michael|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Kellaway, Frederick George||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Kelly, Edward||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cullinan, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Kilbride, Denis||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||King, Joseph||Robinson, Sidney|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Rowlands, James|
|Delany, William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Dillon, John||Leach, Charles||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Doris, William||Lundon, Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sheehy, David|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||M'Kean, John||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Falconer, James||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Sutherland, John E.|
|Farreil, James Patrick||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Sutton, John E.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Field, William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meagher, Michael||Thomas, James Henry|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Middlebrook, William||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Molloy, Michael||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wardle, George J.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Mooney, John J.||Webb, H.|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Morison, Hector||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Muldoon, John||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gulland, John William||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Murphy, Martin J.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Hackett, John||Needham, Christopher T.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Nolan, Joseph||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Hancock, John George||Nuttall, Harry||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Connor, John (Kildare. N.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Doherty, Philip||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Haslam, Lewis||O'Donnell, Thomas||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Dowd, John||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Malley, William||Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.|
|Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Blair, Reginald||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boyton, James||Clyde, J. Avon|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Campion, W. R.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Crean, Eugene|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Cassel, Felix||Croft, H. P.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Castlereagh, Viscount||Currie, George W.|
|Bird, Alfred||Cave, George||Denison-Pender, J. C.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Larmor, Sir J.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Stanier, Beville|
|Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gardner, Ernest||Macmaster, Donald||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Swift, Rigby|
|Gilhooly, James||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Magnus, Sir Philip||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Moore, William||Thomas-Stanford, Charles (Brighton)|
|Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Nield, Herbert||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||O'Brien, William (Cork, N.E.)||Tickler, T. G.|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (ches., Altrincham)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Tuilibardine, Marquess of|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Perkins, Walter F.||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Rees, Sir J. D.||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Royds, Edmund|
|Horne, E.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Sanders, Robert Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Sandys, G. J.||Mr. Pollock and Mr. Peto.|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I beg to move to leave out the words "and the Third Reading" ["That the remainder of the Committee stage, the Report stage, and the Third Reading"].
I really think this Amendment ought to be accepted, though I am afraid the Government are not very likely to accept it. The object of the whole of this Resolution is to secure that the Bill shall be passed within a reasonable time. There is no other object in it. As far as the Committee and Report stages are concerned, it may be argued very fairly that there is unlimited power of moving Amendments, particularly with reference to the new Clauses and the Report stage, and if the Bill is to be passed within a reasonable time, the only way of securing that end is to fix a definite limit within which that particular stage shall be concluded. No other form of Closure will secure that object, because each question in Committee and Report is a separate question. The Closure for each of these questions can be moved, no doubt, but it only disposes of that particular question. In the same way, though, the Kangaroo Closure does something, and closuring down to a certain point does something, it is obvious that with the ingenuity of the opponents of the Bill, it would, or might be possible, to protract the discussion indefinitely by a number of Amendments skilfully devised for that purpose. No such tactics are possible on the Third Reading. Only one question is put from the Chair, namely, "That the Bill be read the Third Time," or if any particular 1002 Amendment is moved, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question." There is no possibility at all of anything more than that one question being put from the Chair. Therefore, it is open for the Government, whenever they can satisfy the Chairman, that with due regard to the rights of the minority, the discussion has proceeded long enough, to move the Closure and bring the discussion to an end. That is always done on the Second Reading, and it can be done to the Third Reading. Therefore, if the Third Reading is left out of this Resolution the Government will have absolute power at the fitting moment, the consent of the Chair not being withheld, to move the Closure and put an end to the discussion.
The only change that is made by this Resolution is that it settles beforehand that under no circumstances, whatever may supervene, is more than one day to be given to the Third Reading. That, I submit, is really a perfectly unreasonable proposition in itself. This Bill has been changed a great deal during its progress and it may be changed a great deal more during its passage through Committee and Report. Under these circumstances, quite different considerations may easily arise when we get to the Third Reading, which we cannot foresee at present. If no changes are made and no fresh considerations may arise, the immense probability is that one day will be regarded as sufficient by the Chair and the majority of the House to discuss the Third Reading. If, on the other hand, great 1003 changes have supervened, and it is really desirable that more than one day should be given to the discussion of the Third Reading in the opinion of everyone but the Government, that cannot be done if the Third Reading is kept part of this Resolution. I know what will be said, that this is only in accordance with precedent, and I quite admit that it is, but I have never understood why the Third Reading was put into Guillotine Resolutions. There does not seem to be any reason for it whatever. It is a mere stupid piece of tyranny. There is no other word possible. I submit to the House that in this case really, without doing any injury at all to the progress of the Bill and without interfering with it in the slightest degree, some degree of liberty may be secured to Members of the House by striking out these words. I deeply regret that the Government do not see their way to grant this very small alleviation of the stringency of the Resolution, and I cannot help hoping that if the Members of the Government who are present are free to exercise a discretion in the matter, they will see that what we are asking in this case is entirely reasonable.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I beg to second the Amendment. In addition to what my Noble Friend has said as to the easy practicability of applying the ordinary Closure instead of a special Closure on the Third Reading, there are other arguments in favour of the Amendment. There have certainly been important changes made in the Bill, and others may yet be made which will bring us to the position that we do not exactly know where we are. At any rate, that being the possible position, some latitude should be given with respect to the time for the discussion of the Third Reading of the Bill. It certainly appears to me that for a Bill of this great importance one day is insufficient for the Third Reading. In view of the changes that have been made, and may yet be made, the discussion at the end will take the form of a general review of the Bill. When that kind of Debate is required I do not think that one day is really sufficient. I would like to remind the Government that, after all, the precedents which have been referred to for giving only one day to the Third Reading are very recent. It was done in regard to Bills coming under the Parliament Act, but this Bill does not come under that Act. On the contrary, it is a Bill which is making considerable in- 1004 creases in taxation, and it is one which ought to be reviewed without limit from the general point of view on the Third Reading. If a limit is needed the Government can move the Closure, and the Debate can be brought to an end if they can satisfy the Chair that it is a proper occasion to do so. That being the case, there can be really no adequate ground to include this hard and fast limit in the Resolution with respect to the time to be allowed on the Third Reading. I hope the Government will realise the force of these arguments and agree to the Amendment.
§ The SECRETARY for STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
The arguments of the Noble Lord are always plausible, but I do not think that on the present occasion he has addressed himself to the point whether one day would be an adequate amount of time to discuss the Third Reading of this Bill. I have peculiar reasons for taking special notice every day of the attendance of Members during the sitting of the House, the nature of the Debates, and the general interest taken in the discussions. On the Second Reading of this Bill the time given was four days. During nearly the whole of that discussion this House was almost empty. The Second Reading is far more important than the Third Reading, and I should have thought if it was necessary to ventilate great general principles—because it is not a case, as in Committee or on the Report stage, where you can effect an alteration of the Bill—the opportunity would have been taken in a full House, and one would have expected that the House would have shown some interest in the Debates. What would happen if more than one day was given to the Third Reading? The first day would be generally regarded as a holiday. One or two Members would come down to the House and make big speeches at the beginning of the sitting, but after five or six o'clock not more than twenty or thirty Members would be present. I speak of these things from observation. On the second day you get a better Debate at the beginning of the sitting. If you had two days given to the Third Reading you would have an effective Debate on one day. These being the facts, is it a wise distribution of the time of the House in the exceptional circumstances of this Session to give more than one day of the very limited time at the disposal of the House for the discussion of the Third Reading? It must not be overlooked that the dates to which the Prime Minister 1005 referred are statutory dates. The proceedings in regard to this Bill have got to be finished by August 4th, and consequently more time—
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think the Prime Minister said August 4th. It is a legal point as to the construction of the Act on which there has been diversity of opinion. The Prime Minister has accepted the view that it is August 4th, and he so stated in his observations to-day. In view of that limitation of time, and in view of the requirements for Supply under our Standing Orders, I submit to the House that it would be unreasonable to devote one of the remaining possible days—three and a half days for the general discussion of other topics—to an ineffective Debate on the Third Heading of the Bill. The Noble Lord based himself upon the argument that if one day was long enough it would be open to the Government, with the consent of the Chair, to move the Closure, and that the House would have an opportunity of hearing the Debate. But my case is that the House would not hear the Debate. There would be very few present to hear the Debate. It is not a pleasant task at any time, when hon. Members wish to get up and speak, to move the Closure, and I am sure it cannot be a pleasant task to the Chair to give the Closure. After a full review of the probable requirements of time for discussion we have come to the conclusion that one day is sufficient, and that we are justified in asking the House to limit the discussion on the Third Reading to a single day. I do not remember any Resolution for any Bill where more than one day was allowed to the Third Reading. I dare say there may have been occasions, but certainly no Bill of high importance which raises comparatively so few issues as this Bill has had more than one day allowed for the Third Reading. The Noble Lord regards the proposal as tyranny, but, if it is tyranny, that has been the practice of the House for twenty years and over, and it has availed itself of the opportunity of bringing discussion to an end, always after allowing adequate time to the House for full discussion.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman meant when he said he had had peculiar opportunities. I suppose he meant among Members of the Government.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That is really what I rather understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean, that he was the one Member of the Government whose duty it was frequently to attend Debates in this House, because it has been observed that Members of the Government are not as assiduous as used to be the custom in Debates, even on matters in which their own departments are particularly interested.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
We are not at this moment responsible for conducting the affairs of the country, but the hon. Member is only a little previous, judging by what happened about an hour ago. The right hon. Gentleman went on to suggest that the Debates in this House, where sufficient time was allowed, were ineffective, and he drew a very remarkable picture of empty benches, and of only people coming down who wished to make speeches. I do not know whether he realises that the amount of truth which there is in that is really a very strong comment upon the condition to which the Government have reduced this House. The House is simply here to register the decrees of the Government, and where it is known what view every hon. Member is bound to take in the Lobby it is perfectly true that under the gag Closure the Debates lose a great deal of their reality and their interest. But if the Guillotine Closure is removed, and if there is some uncertainty as to what view hon. Members may take, surely the division of only an hour or two ago ought to let the Government see that there is on their own side of the House a very strong feeling about this Closure Motion, and that ought to be taken by them as representing the wish of the House that this Motion ought not to be pressed too far, especially, as has been pointed out by my Noble Friend who moved this Amendment, that it is evident that no material time can be lost by a settlement; and if the wish of the House 1007 can be observed, and if the precedent of Closuring a Finance Bill can be to some extent mitigated, we can have a more or less drastic Closure on a Finance Bill which is now being Closured for the first time without any real loss of time whatever, because, as has been pointed out already, Debate does not come automatically to an end at 11 o'clock, and there can be no objection to another hour or two being allowed. The right hon. Gentleman used the argument that this Bill had been discussed for four days on Second Reading. He knows perfectly well that the Bill has never been discussed on Second Reading at all.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I did not say that. It was only for the purpose of reminding the House that during those four days the House was nearly empty.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I have dealt with that point. So far as Second Reading is concerned, this Bill has never been discussed at all. What was discussed in Second Reading was the part of the Bill which has been excised. That was the novel part of the Bill which occupied the attention of the House, and the important proposals contained in this Bill never had a Second Reading at all. There was a great deal of time taken up in discussing the various changes that have occurred. This is the third measure which has been introduced under the name of a Finance Bill this year, and most of the four days' discussion was devoted to getting out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's muddle. Then for the Government, as the Prime Minister did, and as the right hon. Gentleman does now, to say that we have had four days Debate of the Second Reading of this Bill, is to make a statement which will not hold water. We have never had' any Second Reading Debate on this Bill at all. Surely then we are entitled to have a free unfettered Third Reading Debate without any Closure. Therefore I strongly support the Amendment of my Noble Friend. I hope that the Government will consider this question, because what have they got to lose? Two or three hours. I suppose that the Government do not care now whether there is even the slightest semblance of free Debate in this House. I suppose that some of the Government's followers do not like to sit up after eleven o'clock. Rather than sit up for a couple of hours after eleven 1008 o'clock to discuss the Finance Bill of the year, the Government are to adhere to this absolute unnecessary Closure. I trust that they will not adopt this course, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by accepting the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman has said that my Noble Friend made a very plausible speech. I think that he did more than that. He put forward an argument which the right hon. Gentleman was unable to answer. For some particular reason, apparently it is an obligation attaching to the Home Office, to sit on that Front Bench and watch the course of events and notice how many Members are in the House, what interest they take in the Debate, and how many rise to speak, and I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman reports all that to the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Then does he go home and sleep on it, or what does he do with all the valuable information which I understood him to say it was part of the duty of the Home Secretary to accumulate? Having to do this work possibly accounts for the rather feeble way in which the duties of the Home Secretary are carried out. The argument that there are only twenty or thirty Members in the House is not conclusive. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that, while there are at the present moment, say, from fifteen to twenty hon. Members on that side, there are not at least 200 within the precincts of the House who do not care to listen to the Debate for fear they should do, as hon. Members opposite must have done an hour ago—that is, vote with the Opposition or abstain from voting. They keep out of the House in order that they may come in and support the Government and may not be influenced by the arguments contained in the speech of my Noble Friend. And to say that there is to be no Debate because the House is empty is a further illustration of the degradation in which the Radical party have placed the House of Commons. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman thoroughly understood the proposal of my Noble Friend. The proposal is to leave out "and the Third Reading." It has nothing to do with two or three days or two or three hours. The right hon. Gentleman devoted a large portion of his speech to an illustration of what might happen if my Noble Friend's Amendment were carried, namely, that on the 1009 first day the House would be empty, and that on the second day it would be empty until about ten o'clock, when the Government Whips, having gone round and brought in hon. Members opposite from the Dining Room, the Smoke Boom, and the Library, they would then come in and vote for the right hon. Gentleman.
If my Noble Friend's proposal were carried it might be possible for the right hon. Gentleman, if the Chair would give the Closure, to get the Third Reading in two or three hours. Or he might take longer for it. No special time is mentioned. I do not know whether my Noble Friend is desirous, if his Amendment is carried, that the seven days should be devoted to the Committee stage and the Report stage. I think myself that the Committee stage is the most important stage of a Bill, and after that the Report stage comes next in importance, and if we could give more time to those stages it would be a very excellent thing. The Third Reading, as a rule, is not a very important stage, but if my Noble Friend's Amendment were adopted it might be followed by an Amendment which would give the seven days to the Committee stage and the Report stage. I have never seen any particular aloofness on the part of any right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentleman opposite in moving the Closure, and I have seen them do so with smiles on their faces as if they enjoyed it. The idea that doing so is rather like extracting a tooth is rather absurd. The Third Reading of this Bill may, as my Noble Friend said, be very important, because we do not in the least know what changes may take place on Committee and Report stages. Therefore opportunity should be given to hon. Members opposite to make up their minds. If there is very little change on those stages the Closure would probably be given after very few speeches, and in four or five hours, and if there are many changes the House should have the opportunity of expressing opinions upon an extremely altered Bill. I think, under those circumstances, the Government ought to reconsider their determination. I think, too, it would be a little courteous on the part of the Attorney-General to reply to my Noble and learned Friend and point out where he thought he was wrong, and incidentally he might do the same with so very humble an individual as myself. This is a really important subject and deserves a little more attention than that given 1010 to it by the Home Secretary. An hon. Member opposite said there were not many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen present on those benches We are not in charge of the country at present. It is not our duty to be here and see the proper observance of the rules and customs of the House. It is the duty of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is what they are paid for. We are not paid beyond the £400, which we do not want. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are paid to listen to our arguments and to answer them, and, if not for that, I do not know for what. I shall support my Noble Friend in his Amendment.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The Home Secretary has sketched out for us some rather vague functions, which he attributes to himself. I think by leave of the House he might explain those functions further. As far as I could understand they are analogous to those of a grand inquisitor who has to have his eye on all Members of the House—how many attend, and what they do. That is so far as I could understand his statement, but if he can throw any further light on the matter I am sure the whole House will be obliged. I want to ask the Attorney-General how the Government has been advised in this matter of the Finance Bill, because only last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it will be sufficient if the Finance Bill becomes law by 6th September, not 4th September. He did add the obiter dictum that some people thought 6th August, but his advice was 6th September. I want to know what view the Attorney-General takes. Supposing he takes the view that it is 4th August. I would ask why it is not either 6th August or 7th September, because if the Government are advised in those contrary senses it is no wonder that they make a singular muddle of the financial proposals of the Session. As regards this special Amendment — [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—all the other observations I made were perfectly cognate and perfectly relevant, and if they had not been I know you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, well enough to be sure you would immediately have silenced me. It is said that on the Third Reading one day has been sufficient. I think hon. Members will find if they look up the Closure Resolution proposed after thirty-five days of Committee on the Education Bill of 1902, that two days were given for Third Reading. But this Third Reading is not the Third Reading of this 1011 Bill alone. It will be the only opportunity of taking a review of the general situation. The proposals of the Government comprises no less than four Bills. They comprise the Finance Bill; the Local Grants Bill, which will be omitted from the Finance Bill; the Revenue Bill, which will be the only opportunity with regard to most taxes of pleading for exemptions and the redress of grievances upon the taxation of the year; and they comprise the Valuation Bill, which we have not yet seen and which has been only faintly adumbrated. The Third Reading of this Bill will be the only opportunity of inquiring if the Revenue Bill is going to be presented; are the Local Grants Clauses going to be added, as has been suggested, on recommittal of the Revenue Bill and if the Valuation Bill is going to be produced this year or to be postponed to next year. All those Bills hang upon one
§ another, and I repeat that it is only on the Third Reading of this Finance Bill that we shall be able to review the general situation. I hope that we may have time to know how the Government stand with regard to all their proposals, though that opportunity probably will not be reached; but we do ask that the Third Reading should stand outside this Resolution, and that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the financial proposals of the Government as a whole. In the meantime, I ask the Attorney-General, on a specific point, to say whether 6th September or 4th August is the last day in which the taxation proposed by the Budget shall have effect?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 246; Noes, 147.1015
|Division No. 154.]||AYES.||[9.48 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Cowan, W. H.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Crumley, Patrick||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Adamson, William||Cullinan, John||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hewart, Gordon|
|Alden, Percy||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hinds, John|
|Allen, Rt Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Dawes, James Arthur||Hodge, John|
|Arnold, Sydney||De Forest, Baron||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Delany, William||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Dillon, John||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Donelan, Captain A.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Doris, William||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Barnes, George N.||Duffy, William J.||John, Edward Thomas|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Johnson, W.|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Falconer, James Patrick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Boland, John Pius||Ffrench, Peter||Joyce, Michael|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Field, William||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Fitzgibbon, John||Kelly, Edward|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Brace, William||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Kilbride, Denis|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Ginnell, Laurence||King, Joseph|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Glanville, Harold James||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Goldstone, Frank||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Leach, Charles|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Greig, Colonel James William||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Lundon, Thomas|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gulland, John William||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gwynne, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Macdonald, John M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hackett, John||Maclean, Donald|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hancock, John George||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Clough, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Clynes, John R.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||M'Kean, John|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haslam, Lewis||Manfield, Harry|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hayden, John Patrick||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hayward, Evan||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Meagher, Michael||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sutton, John E.|
|Middlebrook, William||Pratt, J. W.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Molloy, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Pringle, William M. R.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Mooney, John J.||Radford, G. H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Morison, Hector||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Muldoon, John||Reddy, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Webb, H.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Robinson, Sidney||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Dowd, John||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Rowlands, James||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Rowntree, Arnold||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Malley, William||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Shee, James John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Scanlan, Thomas||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Sheehy, David|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Fletcher, John Samuel||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gardner, Ernest||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gilhooly, James||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gilmour, Captain John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. E. B. (Glouc, E.)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harris, Henry Percy||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bird, Alfred||Helmsley, Viscount||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Blair, Reginald||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bowden, G. R. Harland||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Royds, Edmund|
|Boyton, James||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hoare, Samuel J. G.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hohler, G. F.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Sandys, G. J.|
|Campion, W. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Horne, Edgar||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.|
|Cassel, Felix||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Cave, George||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Starkey, John R.|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Larmor, Sir J.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Swift, Rigby|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lewisham, Viscount||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Currie, George W.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Macmaster, Donald||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Fell, Arthur||Moore, William||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Mount, William Arthur||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Nield, Herbert||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Weigall, Capt. A. G.||Wilson, Captain Lesile O. (Reading)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Wheler, Granville C. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud||Wood, John (Stalybridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)||Worthington Evans, L.||Robert Cecil and Sir H. Carlile.|
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move to leave out the word "Four" ["Four allotted days shall be given"], and to insert instead thereof the word "Eight."
The effect of this Amendment would be to allot eight days instead of four to the remainder of the Committee stage. I think that when the Government consider the matter they will come to the conclusion that four days is an altogether inadequate time for this important stage. If any argument could bring that home to the Government it would be the argument to be derived from the Division which took place earlier in the afternoon. How was it that the Government, which ought to have a majority of between eighty and ninety, found itself able to command only a majority of twenty-three on their main Proposition?
§ Mr. POLLOCK
There are many points on which I should differ from the hon. Member, but I find myself in close agreement with the observation which he has addressed to the House. May I offer my sympathy and commiseration to him personally and to those who have not received that mark of distinction which he says has been so lavishly bestowed upon a great number of hon. Members on that side of the House? If he will wait in patience, his turn will no doubt come—or perhaps I ought to say his punishment will come. At any rate, no taunt can be thrown at him at the present time, and I gratefully accept the support which he has given me.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
Is the question of the creation of baronets in order on the Amendment before the House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member was diverted by the remark of the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite).
§ Mr. POLLOCK
When interrupted by the discordant remark of a very recent baronet, I was replying to the observation of an hon. Member on that side of the House who is not yet a baronet. But apart from this question of baronetcies and knighthoods, I want to devote myself 1016 to the question of time. We have now to consider whether four days is a sufficient time to be allotted for this particular stage. I submit that it is not. We have to consider what is the work to be done. In the course of the Committee stage, the Government will find it necessary, in order to carry out their pledges, to devote a considerable portion of that time to moving Amendments, including a highly controversial new Clause which raises a great number of difficult and intricate points. Clauses 3 and 5 deal with matters in which many Members will be interested, and in regard to which, I believe, a great number of Amendments will have to be accepted by the Government. On these grounds I ask whether four days is a sufficient amount of time for this House to devote to its primary duty, namely, the financial concerns of the country. The only reason why we are limited to four days is that during a long period of the Session the Government have neglected to take in hand the financial work and, because they have left it so late, they find themselves in difficulties owing to their own Provisional Collection of Taxes Act of last year. That is the real cause of the difficulty, and they shelter themselves under the plea of the need for haste. Hon. Members ought not to be ready or content to do slipshod work because the Government has placed the House in a difficulty.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The House has already disposed of the general question whether the Committee stage should be included in this Motion, and the only point we have to consider is whether an allowance of four days is sufficient. The hon. and learned Member had many interesting things to say about the Government at large, but as to the actual distribution of time he said very little. On the first day, up to seven o'clock, it is proposed to take the remainder of the discussion on the Super-tax and the relief on earned incomes. When the House remembers that we have already had considerable discussion of the Super-tax, and that the Relief Clause presumably will not lead to much discussion, the amount of time proposed appears on the face of it quite adequate. In the evening after 1017 seven o'clock, the discussion will begin upon the proposed charge in respect of foreign investments. Clauses 6, 7, and 8, which are also included in this part of the Schedule, are all Clauses relating to relief. The first half of the second day is given up to the discussion of the succession Death Duties, a matter which can hardly be altered seeing that it is accepted in principle, and therefore the time required for discussion here cannot be very great. The second half of the day is given up to Settled Estate Duty which will accord, inasmuch as it must come on first, the opportunity which I believe a great many hon. Gentlemen opposite desire, for getting an effective vote on the subject. So that in the two days it is quite clear the great questions of taxing which the Budget raises must be brought prominently before the Committee, and an opportunity must be given for Debate and Division. On the third day the Clauses dealt with are relief Clauses. The Debate opens on Clauses 13 and 14, and up to five o'clock, therefore, the relief Clauses, the relief on succession, and the relief in respect of mortgage, will take place, following which there will be the Debate on the National Debt Clauses.
The discussion of the new Clauses will begin at eight o'clock on the third day, and will be continued upon the fourth day, upon which there will only be new Clauses and the Schedules to discuss. I think that the House will agree that under the time limit every effort is made to secure that the Committee shall have a direct opportunity to debate all the points which are really of interest; and I would submit to the House that in a distribution of time such as this, we are far more likely to get an effective Debate, with an effective Division. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, an effective Division when the real opinion of the House is expressed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I do not call it an effective Division, for instance, when hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House, or hon. Members on this side if they were sitting on the other side of the House, were to send out private telegrams in order to induce a large number of Members to be here at a particular hour. [Interruption.] Such things do occur, and have occurred on both sides. I do not call a Division an effective Division unless both sides know that the Division is coming: then you get a real expression of opinion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I 1018 congratulate hon. Members on a very successful Division. I submit to the House that sufficient time is allowed, and that the time is so distributed as to afford a real opportunity for the expression of the opinion of the House and without surprise on either side.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The right hon. Gentleman has congratulated us on the admirable Division which we got. He seems to attribute it to the fact that his side were not really ordered to be here at 7.30. So little importance did a question like this which we have been discussing seem to hon. Members opposite that they only come if they are asked to come at a certain time. Their benches may be empty whilst one of the greatest questions which ever occupied the attention of the House is being discussed. We know something about the defection on the other side. Listening to the Debate to-day, we did not hear one single Member from the Back Benches get up and support the Government in this most iniquitous proposal which they have made. We listened to speeches from the other side which denounced the Government and which told them that under no circumstances could they be parties to a project of this kind. We heard no speeches from the Back Benches in their favour. There is no doubt about it that if the vote had been taken by ballot, the Government would have been out by over 100.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
With great submission, Sir, I am perfectly aware of the point, but the right hon. Gentleman unfortunately invited me on to another point.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I bow at once to your ruling. I will not pursue the subject further except to say that I was tempted by the right hon. Gentleman to deal with that somewhat illegitimate point.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman was himself tempted to deal with the matter, but I think we might pass over that now.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
We on this side do not think that sufficient time is given to the Committee stage. We think that more days should be allotted to this stage. The main argument of the right hon. Gentleman is that because certain Clauses in this Bill actually give some relief to the taxpayer from the oppressive taxation which they have to bear now, and which they think unfair, that we need not discuss any of the Clauses which give that relief! Is it not possible that we may have very good ground for saying that still further relief should be given? Is it not possible that we may be able to persuade hon. Gentlemen opposite—and perhaps right hon. Gentlemen—that relief should be given particularly in some matters—I could specify two or three things—and that we are right, after all, in asking for still further relief? The whole time given to the Committee stage is utterly insufficient. There are very important Amendments put down and Amendments put down not altogether from this side of the House, but Amendments moved by very leading Members on the other side. We do not know that even those Amendments will have any opportunity of being discussed. We should be very sorry to shut out hon. Members opposite who to-day have been, possibly for the first time, showing a little liberty and a little freedom from the restraint of their Whips.
In Clauses 5 to 8 the time of four hours is ridiculous. Clause 5 deals with taxation in respect of income from foreign property, one of the most important, thorny, and controversial questions which it is possible to start in this House. There are many views on these questions and many legal points which have to be cleared up. The whole of this four hours could be devoted to that one subject alone. If it were, what becomes of the other Clauses? Clause 8 is one of the most important Clauses and one which we want to discuss at some considerable length, and some hon. Members opposite want to discuss it too. It probably will not be reached that day. If we take the second day we get Clause 9 up to seven o'clock. That deals with increased Death Duties. One would have thought that the Death Duties were heavy enough already. This, again, is a matter which may be discussed from very different points of view. The increase in the Death Duties is going to cripple many estates, to break up many a home on many a country- 1020 side, to turn hundreds and thousands of people out of employment. [A laugh.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh. It may be a laughing matter to them. It is not a laughing matter to those who after years of faithful service are turned adrift and have to find some other occupation. Clause 10 we have from seven till eleven. Clause 10 is one of the grossest breaches of faith I think that any Government have ever committed. We have to discuss it in four hours. There, again, I happen to know that some hon. Members opposite agree with us in this opinion, that this is not a matter of equity, or of justice, and that this matter ought never to have been included in the Bill at all. Take the third day. Clauses 11 to 14 are to be passed by 5.30. Clause 11 deals with quick succession. One of the greatest cruelties now enacted is the constant Death Duty when quick succession arises. We have only in the last few days lost a very leading Member of this House, a late Minister of Education, whose loss we all deplore, and within a few days of his death the man who succeeded to his estate was also taken away. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer may say he allows for that now, and is going to make some concession by allowing one year to elapse. We want to discuss it from a very much larger point of view, and because the right hon. Gentleman gives some relief, the House should not be limited to the discussion of this question for one or two hours. I might go through all these Clauses, but I am perfectly well aware that other Amendments are to be moved. I think I have said enough to show that four days allowed for Committee stage are altogether inadequate to deal with it, not only from the point of view of Members of both sides of the House, but from the point of view of the people of the country who are concerned with these taxes. The people have to bear the taxes, and they will not know whether we have discussed them, so quickly will the Bill be passed. I say it is disastrous that we should be crippled in this way. It would be far better to move the Closure in the ordinary way and that the Eleven o'clock Rule should not apply. That would give far more freedom of discussion than putting these matters into strictly water-tight compartments so that many Clauses will be passed without any adequate discussion at all.
§ Mr. C. T. MILLS
I should like to support the protest made by my right hon. 1021 Friend. I earnestly ask the Government whether they will not consider the advisability of making some concession upon the Amendment. We have only to study the time table to see how totally inadequate four days are to discuss the very wide problems contained in this Finance Bill. I fully recognise that as the Government have had this effective Division, and just managed to scrape through, they do not mean to make any concessions to any arguments advanced from this side. I do not think that any hon. Member who listened to the speech made by my right hon. Friend could fail to be convinced that there are many Clauses that are still to be discussed in this Bill, which are of the very greatest importance, and which cannot possibly be discussed in the very few minutes allowed. I do not want to go over the ground already covered, but there is Clause 5 which raises many points, larger than Committee points, and raise the whole question ultimately, I think, if it is carried and prosecuted to its logical conclusion of our exchange position, and banking position with regard to foreign countries. This Clause, which the Government proposes to smuggle through in something like two hours, with practically no discussion at all, must have a lasting effect upon the whole financial policy of the country. Then there is Clause 9 dealing with the Death Duties, which is so shrouded in prejudice and with the desire of taxing certain people who do not vote for the Government. We shall not get a serious discussion upon that Clause from an economic point of view. The time allotted to Clause 15 is the greatest hardship of all. This is the Clause which proposes the fourth raid this Government has perpetrated upon the Sinking Fund. There are some old-fashioned Liberals who still have what I may call a sneaking regard for the payment off of debt, and they are not deceived by the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he has tried to show that he has paid off more of the National Debt than previous Chancellors of the Exchequer.
The worst provision of all seems to be the one they have alloted to the new Clauses. I ask the Government if they cannot see their way to make a concession with regard to the time-table for the first three days, and at all events take into consideration the question of a fourth day. There are a large number of new Clauses, and I think everybody will admit that a 1022 greater proportion of them are not obstructive Amendments, but are put down with the idea of making this Budget a more efficient financial instrument. There is the new Clause put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to fulfil his pledge given to the hon. Member for St. Pancras. There is another important new Clause dealing with the question of wasting assets, and this is a question which has come up continually. That is a very large question which I am sure the Home Secretary will admit is not brought up to waste time, but is a matter of the first importance. Those are only a few of the numerous new Clauses which will be put down. There is also the new Clause dealing with insurance companies, which seeks to exempt interest earned by insurance companies from Income Tax, and which seeks to tax them on their profits instead of on their incomes. I should be out of order in discussing the merits or demerits of those Clauses. I am not saying whether they are right or wrong. But at any rate they are matters which demand discussion in this House, and it seems to me that by this procedure you are making the House of Commons almost a joke if you are going to dispose of questions of this magnitude in such a very short space of time.
The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London followed up what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on the question of obstruction. No doubt there are certain Amendments and certain speeches made with the idea of obstruction, but I think you can make out a plain case, which nobody can controvert, that if every hon. Member of the House desired to help the Government, and make this a good Bill, as it can be made if we were doing our best to help the right hon. Gentlemen, I do not think the new Clauses could possibly be discussed in the very limited time at our disposal. I think the phrase dropped by the Home Secretary gave us some clue to the Government's policy. We have had a very effective Division, and I do not suppose that the Government believe they can stand a great many more effective Divisions. If the details of this Budget were subjected to ordinary criticism and debate, I believe that Divisions might be so effective that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would cease to occupy the position which he at present occupies.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
It is rather curious, as the Debate goes on, to notice the different lines of defence the Govern- 1023 ment take upon this Closure Resolution. In moving it this afternoon the Prime Minister advocated that this Resolution had become necessary in order to comply with the provisions of the "Gibson Bowles Act," as it is commonly called. He told the House that it was necessary that the Finance Bill should be passed by 5th August. An hon. Friend of mine sitting below me pointed out afterwards that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few days ago was asked whether it was necessary that this Bill should be passed by 5th August, replied that as he was then advised it need not be passed until 5th September. I should very much like to know what grounds have induced the Law Officers of the Crown to persuade the Government that this Finance Bill must be passed by 5th August. As I read the Sub-section of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act—
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
If it is not necessary to pass the Finance Act by 5th August there is ample time, not to allocate eight days, but more than eight days, to the Committee stage. I was venturing to say that we were justified in asking for this concession, because we have been given no explanation at all whether it was really necessary for the Bill to be passed by 5th August.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would be comparatively easy to argue that it is possible to give eight days, even if it is necessary to pass it before 5th August, so that the question does not arise on this Amendment.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
With all due respect, the Prime Minister argued that there were only twenty days left, and that this Bill and the necessary days for Supply would occupy seventeen and a half days out of the twenty, so that there were only two and a half days which could be devoted to any other business. I was rather surprised that the Home Secretary did not give that excuse. I wondered he did not say that there were no more days available between now and 5th August. I can only presume that he did not because he is not convinced that this Bill must be passed by 5th August. As I read the Subsection of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, it says:—
"The period for which a Resolution shall have statutory force under this Section shall be a period expiring at the 1024 end of four months after the date on which the Resolution is expressed to take effect, or, if no such date is expressed, after the date on which the Resolution is passed by the Committee."
I am not learned in the law, but I believe the Resolution was passed by the Committee on 4th May, and I understand that four months from 4th May do not lead us to 4th August, but to 4th September, and that being so I should like to know why it is now considered necessary by the Law Officers of the Crown to pass this Bill by 5th August. If the right hon. Gentleman would cast his eye over the Order Paper he would find that there are a great many Amendments put down by Members on the Government side as well as on the Opposition side. For instance, on the first allotted day we are asked to discuss the remainder of Clause 3 and Clause 4 by seven o'clock—that is in about three hours—and Clause 3 deals with the Super-tax. An hon. Gentleman has put down a very interesting Amendment with reference to the Super-tax. He proposes to alter the rate at which the Super-tax should be raised. On page 28 of the Amendment Paper, there is a very elaborate formula full of x's and y's, an interpolation formula which says that—From the rates so found a graph shall be constructed on squared paper, and the rates shown thereon shall be the rates of duty payable under this section.I can only say that that Amendment is obviously derived from great learning in algebra, and it certainly ought to receive more than half an hour's discussion at the hands of this House. Then again, on the next page, I find an amendment by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond), dealing with the question of Super-tax on earned incomes. The right hon. Baronet proposes that the Super-tax on such incomes shall be at a lower rate than that on unearned incomes. We all know the authority the right hon. Baronet has with his party, and surely, if he proposes an amendment of that kind, it is one which should receive very careful consideration by this House. All these points, and others, have to be dealt with on the first allotted day, and I venture to say it is quite impossible for adequate discussion to be given to the Super-tax if the Debate is to be closed by seven o'clock in the evening.
Then again, between the hours of 7 and 11, the House is to be called upon to deal with such very complicated matters as questions of taxation on incomes derived 1025 from foreign investments, and also allowances in respect of children, and additional allowance under Schedule A. It is obviously quite impossible to discuss such very complicated subjects between the hours of 7 and 11 o'clock. It must be obvious to any one who has gone through the Clauses of the Finance Bill that the time allotted by this Resolution will not allow this House to exercise the power it ought to exercise over questions of taxation, and the relief of the subject to be taxed. I hope the Government will seriously reconsider their position, and if they cannot alter the number of days they will at least give us an assurance that the Debate shall not come to an end at 11 o'clock at night. I quite agree that Budget discussions carried on between the hours of eleven p.m. and four a.m. are anything but satisfactory, but I maintain even that would be more satisfactory than having no discussion at all.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
We are carrying on a very important Debate under very extraordinary circumstances. I was a Member for a good many years of a Government which was led in this House by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). On many occasions there were Motions made from that bench of a very important character, and there were on the bench invariably a great majority of the Ministers. I am not going to complain of the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Debate we have just listened to, because he was here for a very considerable time, and he only left to obtain that necessery refreshment which every human being, even a Chancellor of the Exchequer, I suppose is entitled to, and which the right hon. Gentleman must have needed. But what I desire to call attention to is this:—That, for the first time in the history of our Parliamentary procedure, at the instance of the Government, we are imposing upon our Debates in connection with finance, limitations which have never been known before. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been attacked for his share in the responsibility for the position in which we find ourselves. He has made his own defence, that is to say, he made it by dealing with suggestions which have never been made on this side of the House, by failing altogether to meet the attack which has been made upon him by Members, not of one party in the House only, and by endeavour- 1026 ing to turn the Debate into a different current altogether.
The real responsibility for the position we are in now rests not with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It may be, and I think it is true, that he has contributed in no small degree to the difficulties with which we are confronted. I have said before and I say again that it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by turning himself into a Minister administering a great Department, and spending money rather than controlling it, who has caused the trouble in which we find ourselves. After all, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, great Minister though he is, is not the supreme Minister of any Government. The supreme Minister is the Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] I agree with the view expressed by the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) earlier in the evening, that the Prime Minister is the one who ought to be here throughout the whole of this Debate, when we are transforming the practice and procedure of this House. I said a moment ago that I was a Member of three Governments of which my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) was the Leader in this House. What was the attitude of hon. Members opposite who were in the House then? They professed to speak then for what they called the Liberal party. I presume hon. Gentlemen opposite will claim to speak for the Liberal party now. We moved this particular form of Closure three times during the whole time my right hon. Friend was our Leader. What happened? If my right hon. Friend was absent from the House for five minutes, what did hon. Gentlemen opposite do, and who were the chief movers in it? The present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Home Secretary. I remember a Government Motion made on a Friday, not one half as important as this, when Fridays had been taken by the Government as part of their time at the end of the Session, and because the Leader of the House was not in his place, what did hon. Gentlemen opposite do? I have not verified my record, but I have not the smallest doubt that one of the two Ministers opposite took part in the Debate and the Adjournment of the House was moved. [HON. MEMBERS: "Move it now!"] What are they doing now?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My right hon. Friend explained to me before he went 1027 away that he had an engagement with a Foreign Ambassador, and that he could not possibly get out of it. As the House knows, the arrangement was to move this Resolution yesterday. The Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well what arrangement was made at the last moment, and that my right hon. Friend could not put off his engagement to-night. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that that was the kind of engagement the Prime Minister was bound to honour. It will be seen in the papers to-morrow that it was with the American Ambassador.
§ Mr. LONG
I have already said that he has been to the best of my belief present during the greater part of our proceedings, and only left as he was bound to do. Of course the Chancellor of the Exchequer put me and those who hold my views in a difficult position. I want to be quite frank with the House. I am an old Member of the House. I have, I believe, as strong a belief in the old traditions of this House as anyone who sits in it, and I have the utmost reverence—I am not using an exaggerated word—for the position of the Prime Minister of this country, by whomsoever that office is filled. I quite admit that the Prime Minister has duties altogether outside this House. The particular engagement to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers is one which I think the Prime Minister ought not lightly to break, but—I have never concealed my opinions in this House and I will not conceal them now—on an occasion when we are making an invasion upon what has hitherto been considered the most sacred procedure of this House, I am not prepared to admit that any engagement justifies the absence of the Prime Minister. You have had to-night from those who speak with far greater authority than I do speeches pointing to the gravity of the change which you are making. Hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite criticised us when we introduced this form of limitation of Debate in a very different way when we were responsible for the Government. You have made a change to-night which is the greatest that has ever been made in the history of the procedure of this House. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that you have made a tremendous precedent for those who are advocating a particular policy. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) pointed out 1028 that you have facilitated the passage of that particular kind of reform which you hold to be more injurious to the interests of this country than any other.
This is no mere matter of getting your legislation or of expediting the measure before the House. When my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) proposed a measure in a way that excited the Opposition of that day most it was in reference to the Education Bill. The Education Bill aroused great animosity amongst hon. Members opposite. No one fought it more vehemently than the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. No one felt more strongly than he did that it was an invasion of the rights of the people of this country. But that is a totally different thing from dealing with the finances of this country—dealing with a Bill which the right hon. Gentleman said to-night, quoting someone who had spoken from this side, was a simple measure. That seemed to me, coming from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to be begging the question altogether. This is the Finance Bill of the year, including all your measures for obtaining your finance. It does not make any fresh inroads on the taxpayers, it only extends or amplifies the existing system, and, therefore, he asks, why demand more time? I have said before on other questions, and I say it again on this question, that surely it is a most remarkable thing that, in the old days, it was the Liberal party who claimed that it was we who were invading the rights of the people of this country, that it was we who claimed the right to spend money without consulting this House or the country, and that it was we who were infringing the rights of the people of the country. Who is doing it now? What taxes are there you can propose, however repugnant to the people of the country, which you cannot carry under the system you are initiating to-night?
What is the proposal of my hon. Friend? It is to extend four days to eight? Why cannot you make a concession? I will undertake to say that, in the days to which I have referred, a concession would have been made. The Government of the time would have made a compromise probably; they would have changed four to six. You say you cannot do it. Why? Because you have postponed to the last moment the proposals you have to make. You have driven yourselves into a corner, and, therefore, you are unable to make 1029 any concession, and are obliged to force the measure through the House by your majority, which is not very great. It is not your normal majority. You have to do that, because you must either carry this Resolution or break down altogether in your administration. I venture to say that the excuse offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the absence of the Prime Minister on this particular occasion is not an adequate one. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is here to represent him, and nobody is better able to do the work than he is, but on this particular occasion he is not an independent judge. He is committed by his administration of the Exchequer to a large part of the expenditure. The difficulties with which we are confronted are largely due to himself, and therefore we ought to have had the Prime Minister present. I do not take the course that would have been taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite—that of moving the Adjournment of the Debate—because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given a reason which, at all events, I think, alters the case to this extent, that my action would be capable of misunderstanding if I were to move the Adjournment on the ground of the absence of the Prime Minister. Those who have always claimed the right of this House to control expenditure and to examine the demands made on the taxpayers are themselves responsible to-night for the greatest restriction that has ever been placed upon the House. This great change ought not to have been made by any Government with the absence throughout the Debate of the one man who is mainly responsible for the difficulties in which we find ourselves. He ought to be here to defend the proposals which, I think, are unjustifiable, and which involve the greatest innovation of the rights of the people of this country that has ever been made by any Government.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I am very much surprised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not rise to reply to the speech just delivered by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I thought when I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman that I explained the circumstances. I have nothing to add to that.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
What is the explanation? The right hon. Gentleman referred in a mysterious way to an engagement with the American Ambassador. I 1030 suppose he is dining with the American Ambassador. I am not aware of any occasion on which the Prime Minister—
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member misunderstands me. I should be very glad to dine with the American Ambassador myself. It is ludicrous—and no one is more conscious of it than the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to suggest that, because the Prime Minister is dining with anyone, however exalted, he cannot be here at ten minutes to eleven. Such an excuse is really an insult to the House of Commons. I agree with every word that fell from my right hon. Friend. I feel most strongly that this is a very important occasion for the House of Commons. This particular Amendment, dealing with the amount of time to be allotted to the Committee stage, is one of the most important Amendments Here we have not only the Prime Minister absent, but the Minister who is in charge of this Motion, and who moved it. He is the only Minister who has authority to make concessions. It is really scandalous, and unless my right hon. Friend on the Front Bench disapproves of my doing so, I certainly desire to move that the Debate be now adjourned. The Opposition, which have been extraordinarily forbearing—[Interruption]. Another right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill) has now arrived; but, as I was observing, the Opposition have been extraordinarily forbearing. They have scarcely ever made a complaint as to the absence of Ministers, but this has really passed all previous precedents. The Prime Minister, having moved a Motion, which is admittedly a grave departure from anything that has taken place for a long time, feels it necessary to fulfil his engagement with the Ambassador. That is a matter which might be left, but having fulfilled that engagement, there is no reason in the world why he should not have come back. In the circumstances, the least that the Opposition can do to mark their sense of the grave discourtesy shown to the House, is to support the Motion which I now move, "That this Debate be now adjourned."
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am sorry to see any heat introduced into the discussion. I cannot help feeling, when all the circumstances are taken into account, that this Motion is rather ungenerous. The Noble Lord knows perfectly well why this Motion is taken to-night by the Prime Minister instead of being taken last night. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not tomorrow night?] If the Opposition press the Motion we are not in a position at Five minutes to Eleven to resist it, but having regard to all the circumstances I appeal to the Noble Lord to reconsider the Motion which is now before the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The right hon. Gentleman who was speaking when I came in, however strongly he might have felt as an old Parliamentarian, realised that the conditions were such that he at any rate would not accept the responsibility which the Noble Lord is prepared to accept. If the Noble Lord persists, and if that is the view of the Opposition, then it would be idle for me, on behalf of the Government, and in the absence of the Prime Minister, to insist; but I appeal to the Noble Lord, having regard to the conditions under which the Motion is taken tonight instead of last night, and I especially appeal to the Leader of the Opposition, who knows that it is difficult to alter the position to-night, not to persist in this Motion.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman thought that the Motion made by my Noble Friend was ungenerous. I must say that never since I became a Member of this House have I heard an appeal made to me, or to the Leader of the Opposition, on grounds which were more unfair. [Interruption.] I have very little time in which to say what I wish, and I hope the House will allow me to say it. The Prime Minister, it is true, proposed that we should adjourn yesterday. I thought it was a generous proposal on his part, and if what has happened to-day had been a direct necessity of the course which he then took, I should have been the last to take advantage of it in any shape or form. Where does the excuse come in? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Prime Minister has an engagement with the American Ambassador. If it were a question of peace or war that is an excuse. But the first duty of the Prime Minister as Leader of the 1032 House is to be here, when he is making a precedent of which there has been no example in the whole history of Parliament. My right hon. Friend, when he led the House of Commons, never would have dreamed of making such a proposal, and more than that even the Leader of the Opposition and all of us have constantly to break the most important engagements because we know that our first and paramount duty is to the House of Commons. And it is not only the Prime Minister: This is a case, if ever there was a case, in which the Ministry should have been represented as a whole. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been supported by the Home Secretary, but every other Cabinet Minister has been absent practically. [An HON. MEMBER: "And you were, too!"] The truth is that this is only another example, of which the Motion itself is a proof, of the way in which the House of Commons is being treated, and the Prime Minister believes that it can be treated with an amount of contempt with which it has never been treated before. If ever there was a reason why his attendance was more necessary it would be this—a reason of the greatest importance: Has ever the Government been subjected to a humiliation—
§ It being Eleven of the clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate lapsed, without Question put.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow (Wednesday).