HC Deb 13 April 1921 vol 140 cc1117-8

May I ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government, or do they think it expedient, to proceed with the first Order on the Paper—[Reserve Forces: Motion for an Address]—to-day?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)

I am not sure how far the newspaper information has carried the House as to the stage of the proceedings. Last night my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House of Commons of the unfortunate refusal of the Miners' Federation to carry on negotiations upon the basis of the proposals made by the Government. Since then I have received a letter from the National Union of Railwaymen. I am not quite sure whether it appears in the papers. If not, I can read it to the House: Unity House, London. DEAR PRIME MINISTER, We are instructed to convey to you the decision unanimously arrived at by the National Union of Railway men and National Transport Workers' Federation to call out their members at 10 p.m. on Friday This decision was arrived at after a full report of the Miners' Federation Executive, who explained in detail the result of their negotiations and their failure to arrive at any basis of settlement. The Government deeply deplore this decision. There is no doubt that the situation thus created is one of great and increasing gravity, but I hope that wiser counsels may yet prevail. Meanwhile the Government are concerting all necessary measures to meet the emergency.

With regard to the question put by my right hon. Friend, the Government are entirely in the hands of the House in this respect. But our object is identical—that is to promote the cause of peace, and I should be very doubtful myself as to the wisdom of a discussion this afternoon. Speaking in all sincerity, I am very doubtful whether it would advance the object we all have in mind. If the House thinks otherwise, we are entirely in their hands, but I think it is right that I should express emphatically the opinion of the Government.


May I be allowed to say I share the view which is expressed by the Prime Minister? Between now and Friday, no one can possibly say other counsels may not prevail and other steps may be taken. In the hope that they may be taken, and that a state of peace and settlement may be reached, I share the view that it is inadvisable for the House of Commons to proceed immediately with the discussion of the first Order on the Paper.


May I be allowed to say that I take the same view?