HC Deb 09 November 1921 vol 148 cc569-70

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 18th October, proposed the Question "That this House do now adjourn."


I had intended, had time permitted, to raise the question of the advice given that Parliament should now prorogue and not adjourn. Obviously in the very few moments that remain there is no time to debate such a question; in fact, the House has already largely dispersed, and the question can no longer be adequately considered. All I can do in the circumstances is to call attention to the advice which has been given. Parliament is to be dismissed till another Session. In ordinary times the new Session starts in February, sometimes late in February of each year. Visibly, events are approaching a crisis in regard to the affairs of Ireland. One has only to read the papers to see the agitation which is now stirring the affairs of the Conference. Visibly, a crisis is approaching, and grave decisions may have to be taken. The Government foresaw the situation arising in August, and then they advised that Parliament should be adjourned. Why not adjourn now? That is not the only question which is approaching a state of great difficulty. We have endeavoured to call attention and raise a Debate on the affairs of India, surely a subject sufficiently grave to occupy the attention of this House. Such information as reaches the country shows that the affairs of India are not improving, but are going gradually worse. A crisis may quite possibly occur, before Parliament meets again, and a grave decision may have to be taken by His Majesty s Government in regard to Egypt. Why is Parliament to be got rid of? Why is Parliament to be dismissed and thrust upon one side, leaving the Government in a position of autocracy to take decisions which are irrevocable and which Parliament cannot afterwards remedy? There are other grave questions. Are we confident that we have finally solved for this winter the great problem of unemployment? Should not power be retained that Parliament might be summoned again to consider these matters before February, should occasion arise? On these grounds, which I can only state now in the briefest possible manner, I submit that the advice that Parliament should be prorogued is mistaken, and that Ministers, in giving that advice, have treated Parliament, from which they derive their power, with cynicism and, I think I may say, with contempt. They do not propose to take Parliament into their confidence in the great decisions which are visibly approaching. I cannot go further in the matter to-night, and I must content myself with making these few remarks.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)

There is only one minute left for me in which to reply. I am not complaining of my hon. and gallant Friend, because, of course, he could not raise the question earlier, but, in the circumstances, what I can say must be brief. My hon. Friend proceeds on the assumption that if Parliament be prorogued, it cannot be summoned before February. That is a false assumption. It can be summoned at any moment, and will be summoned if that be necessary. The second assumption is that it is wise that Parliament should be in continuous Session. In the case of assemblies which have declared themselves in continuous Session, I think history shows that it has generally been an unwise decision, and I cannot believe that any Member of this House really thinks that, in closing this long Session, we are showing either cynicism or disregard for the majesty and authority of Parliament.

It being Half-past Eleven of the Clock Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Order of the House of 18th October.

Adjourned at half after Eleven o'clock.