HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc2013-4
49 and 50. Sir R. HUTCHISON

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he intends to allow the Gold and Silver Export Control Act of 1920 to lapse;

(2) whether he has any intention to amend the Currency and Bank Notes Act of 1914?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on the 26th March to the hon. Members for the Stroud Division (Sir F. Nelson) and Aberdeen, East (Mr. Boothby).


Was the expression of views quite recently given by the Secretary for War the views of the Government?


I have not seen those expressions of opinion to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I have no doubt my right hon. Friend expressed himself in a carefully guarded manner.


Before the right hon. Gentleman gives a decision on this question, shall we have an opportunity of discussing the whole question in the House?


I have several times said—and it has met with a considerable measure of acceptance—that in the view of the Government it would be to the public interest that the initiative in this matter should be left to His Majesty's Government.


In view of the fact that the employment of, perhaps, a quarter of a million of people may depend upon this decision, does the right hon. Gentleman suggest seriously that this House is not entitled to discuss it?


Certainly not. The House is entitled to discuss anything it chooses, but, in the exercise of that choice, the House, no doubt, will take into consideration very carefully whether the public interest would be advanced by such discussion, or retarded by it.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that business in this country is seriously hampered by ignorance of the fact as to whether the Government is going to allow this Act to lapse or not. Time is short. Will the right hon. Gentleman make up his mind on the subject and inform the House accordingly.


I have several times answered questions of the sort. While it is an exaggeration to say that the business of the country is being seriously affected, I am also well aware of the disadvantage of a prolonged and indefinite uncertainty.


In view of the fact that this subject is being discussed by numerous politicians and Members on the benches opposite, outside the House, how is the public interest going to suffer by a discussion inside the House?


That is the same question again.