HC Deb 06 August 1924 vol 176 cc2998-3000

Lords Amendment:

In page 5, leave out Clause 6.


I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


The right hon. Gentleman said, quite truly, that Clause 6 was a more vital Amendment than those that we have just discussed, and I rise only for the sake of making the position of myself and my friends as clear as I can in regard to it. The general agreement at which we arrived was one that included this Clause 6, and, therefore from our point of view, if the right hon. Gentleman attaches importance to the Clause, I certainly shall not feel at liberty to support the Amendment made in another place to leave it out. At the same time, I will take the liberty to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the view of this Clause held by the spokesman of the Government in another place, and I cannot help thinking it is a little bit unfortunate that the spokesman of the Government should speak with a different voice in another place. There, Lord Parmoor said he had heard this Clause described by Lord Banbury as the most important Clause in this Bill, and he said: In my view, it is an unimportant Clause, and I am not prepared to press it if the House takes the view that it should be deleted. As the result of that, I think, only two speeches were made on it altogether, one by the mover of the rejection of the Clause, and a very short one by Lord Parmoor, after which the Clause was deleted. As a result of that deletion, I notice that at a later stage in the Debate in another place another noble Lord, I think Lord Strachie, who had had a further Amendment on the Paper, said he should not move it in view of the exceedingly generous way in which the Government had met Lord Banbury upon this question of Clause 6. Now we are invited to disagree with the Lords Amendment. We shall, therefore, send back the Bill with that Clause in, and it will, I am afraid, create an inevitable sense of injustice and irritation in another place, owing to the apparently unauthorised statement made there by the spokesman of the Government. That, however, is a matter that the Government will have to settle for themselves. As I said earlier, if the right hon. Gentleman really attaches importance to it, I cannot divide against him in view of the arrangement that we made, but I would ask him, if his mind is not closed, whether, in view of what was said in another place, he will not reconsider the question.


I should not like the House to think that we regarded this Clause as unimportant. There may have been some misunderstanding as to the views held when the matter was discussed in another place, but we do regard this as a most essential part of the agreement come to, and, on the merits of the thing, we think it of very high value that there should be a formal, constitutional method of raising the point. I think my right hon. Friend will agree that it would be of great value in the case of some glaring anomaly which might easily occur as between two counties. It is true that the central authority will have no power to compel a rate, as was stated by a Noble Lord, formerly well known in this House, in another place. There is no such power of dictation given, I agree, but, while valuable, that this is not a dangerous proposal from the more conservative point of view is proved by the fact that the National Farmers' Union is not at all opposed to the insertion in the Bill of this proposal. I am afraid we cannot think of departing from it, and I hope it will be realised in another place that we should regard with great regret its exclusion from the Bill.


I can only express the hope that there may be some closer co-operation between the representatives of the Government here and the representatives of the Government when the Bill is further considered in another place. The right hon. Gentleman called attention to the remarks of Lord Parmoor in another place, but he will see from the OFFICIAL REPORT there that before he said this was an unimportant Clause, he stated specifically that he did not care to press the Clause, and he said: "We do not attach any great weight to the Clause." I do not know what position the Government will be in in another place if they insist upon a Clause which their spokesman there said was unimportant, and one to which they attached no great weight. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman is insisting on Clause 6, in spite of the disparity between the words used hero and those used in another place. I think it is very important that, not only if there is an anomaly, but if there is a difference between one county and another, the Minister should have the power to ask for a reconsideration. It does not go as far as we should like, but it is a valuable power, which, I think, the Minister will perhaps have occasion to exercise.