HC Deb 07 July 1924 vol 175 cc1922-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Kennedy.]

Viscount CURZON

I am rather surprised not to see the Home Secretary in his place, as I gave him notice that I intended to raise a subject which, though it may appear humorous to some, yet is of serious import to others. I refer to the question of supplying white overalls for certain policemen on point duty. [Laughter.] I should have thought hon. Members opposite who laugh would have some sympathy with lorry drivers. This question is of great importance to them. As the Home Secretary is not present, I suppose I must proceed, but I do not know when he will reply. Last Thursday I asked him the following question: Whether he is aware that in four county police forces and in 50 city and borough police forces white overall coats are worn, in most cases continuously, and in all cases after dark, by police employed on point duty; and, in these circumstances, will he reconsider his refusal to issue equipment with such overalls at more inadequately lighted points in the Metropolitan Police area, in view of the difficulty experienced by drivers of vehicles in certain cases in seeing the signals of the officers employed on point duty? I invited the right hon. Gentleman to extend the experiment to the Metropolitan area. The answer I received was that he had nothing to add to the answer given on 28th February. The answer of 28th February was to the effect that white overalls were not considered suitable with the conditions which prevailed in London. No explanation whatever was given as to why they were not considered suitable. I invited him the other day to say why he did not consider them suitable, and he gave me no answer at all. In view of the fact that this question is really of great importance to those who have to earn their livelihood by driving in the streets, but who cannot see the signals of the police officers on point duty, and in view of the extreme discourtesy of the Home Secretary in not being in his place—I gave him personal notice—I had better defer the question, perhaps, I had your permission, Mr. Speaker, to raise this matter, but in view of the extreme discourtesy of the Home Secretary, I propose to ask your leave to defer this question until another day on the Motion for the Adjournment, when I can make sure of the attendance of the Home Secretary to give some explanation. I therefore propose to ask your permission to elaborate my points at greater length on that occasion, and I can only thank my hon. Friends who have stayed here to support me and hope that they will do me the honour to support me on a future occasion.

Viscount WOLMER

I think the House has reason to complain that the Home Secretary is not present. The way in which Ministers are treating the House of Commons in which they pretend to believe is extraordinary. We have had a bill of £17,000,000 from the Postmaster-General, and the Postmaster-General does not bother to attend here to defend it. Now my Noble Friend sends notice to the Home Secretary that he is going to raise this question, and the Home Secretary has not the courtesy to be present to hear what is said and to reply. It is a well-known tradition of this House that, if an hon. Member send notice to a Minister that he intends to raise a question on the Adjournment, the Minister ought to be present, or, if he cannot attend he ought to ask the hon. Member to alter the date. My experience is that hon. Members are only too willing to consult the convenience of Ministers on matters of the Government. Private Members have a grievance against the Government in showing such discourtesy to any hon. Member who has exercised the only right which private Members have of discussing questions of administration, small or great, namely, on the Adjournment.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Trevelyan)

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary knew of the intention of the Noble Lord, but from my knowledge of the Home Secretary, I do not think that any discourtesy was intended. I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not here.

Viscount CURZON

I gave him personal notice.


Surely the explanation given is totally inadequate, and the right hon. Gentleman should accept the word of my Noble Friend when he assured the House that personal notice had been given. I can imagine no greater discourtesy to an hon. Member of this House than, when personal notice has been given, and no request has been made to postpone the matter, that the Minister should not be in attendance.


Cannot we divide the House?


There can be no Division after Eleven o'Clock.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Eighteen Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.