HC Deb 30 July 1924 vol 176 cc2204-7

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords Amendments be considered forthwith."—[Mr. Shaw.]


Before we proceed to consider this Bill. I wish to draw attention to the fact that there are no copies of the Lords Amendments circulated amongst the Members of this House, and there are no copies in the Vote Office. I understand that the reason for requiring the Bill to go through to-night is because of the large number of unemployed people who will, otherwise, lose benefit. I am not intending to object to the Bill going through to-night, but I hope neither this Government nor any other Government will look upon this as a precedent in the discussion of such an important Measure and the consideration of Lords Amendments to it, without having copies of those Amendments before the House.


This is not the first time that this has occurred. If hon. Members carry back their minds for some years they will remember that more than once this kind of thing has happened. In this case the Amendments are of very great importance. I do not think it is right, however much we desire to get the main part of the Bill, that we should pretend to discuss Amendments of very great importance without having those Amendments before us. Every effort ought to have been made to secure that we should have the Amendments before us, and I think we ought to have a statement from the Government as to the whole position in regard to these very important Amendments.


Some of those who pretend to be the most revolutionary Members of this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] I am not going to mention names; but we ought to have an opportunity of discussing what right the House of Lords have to amend anything.

Viscount CURZON

On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to make these reflections upon another place at this time a night?


The question that hon. Members are putting as to the printing of Amendments has been raised before, and dealt with. The Question before the House now is, "That the Lords Amendment be considered forthwith."


I think I have a right to say what I am, because the Amendments to this Bill have not been seen by us in detail, although we have heard them discussed and read of their discussion. The Amendments are practically to put the workers back to where they were before this Bill was passed, and to take from them certain advantages that they will possess under the Bill. That means that so far as I am concerned as a worker—


The Question before the House is, "That the Lords Amendment be considered forthwith."


But surely we can have some idea of what these Amendments are? We have read about them in the newspapers. It is very difficult to discuss Amendments which have been passed, but which are not in front of us. I protest against it.


Whilst, of course, it may be that we have not the Amendments, I take it that every Member of this House has had the opportunity of obtaining a copy of the Debate in the other House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] These Amendments were discussed and voted upon in another place yesterday, and the Report is available.


I only want to make one remark. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] It is a very great disadvantage that we should not have Amendments before us which affect the masses of this country—that they are not printed so that every one of us may see and understand them. We are in the position of having to deal with manuscript Amendments, and if it were not for the urgency of getting this Bill through to-night, I should certainly have thought that the consideration of these Amendments might have been postponed until to-morrow. I protest most strongly against the way we are being treated in this matter. As a matter of fact the mismanagement of business in this House does not give the requisite time for the other House to deal with Measures of this kind adequately, with the result that we are hustled, and in some cases we are quite ignorant of what we are being asked to do. I wish to protest against the way business is being done.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. Clynes)

I think it will be sufficient if I say that this Government has not established any precedent in this matter, and we are in a position which has been very common in the past. The House will very soon be shown that the Amendments with which we have to deal are very few, straightforward and simple, and it will involve very little embarrassment when the House has heard the statements which will be made. I can assure hon. Members that, with respect to future Amendments, we will see that they are put upon the Paper, and that they are obtainable by hon. Members.


Am I to understand that the Lords Amendments are Amendments of principle? I would also like to ask whether this is a Money Bill or not, and whether the Lords have any right to move Amendments of this character?


It will be my duty to deal with that matter on each Amendment.

Lords Amendments considered accordingly.

  1. CLAUSE 1.—(Rights of insured persons to unemployment benefit.) 56 words
  2. cc2207-8
  3. CLAUSE 4.—(Amendments as to disqualifications for receipt of unemployment benefit.) 86 words
  4. c2208
  5. CLAUSE 8.—(Abolition of power to make special schemes.) 21 words
  6. c2208
  7. CLAUSE 9.—(Amendment as to refunds of contributions.) 148 words
  8. cc2208-9
  9. CLAUSE 17.—(Short title, repeal, decision of questions, application and commencement.) 84 words