§ Mr. CLYNES
Before the Prime Minister proceeds, may I ask for a statement, for the information of the House, as to when it is intended to resume the business which has been adjourned? May I also renew the appeal I made to the Prime Minister earlier in the day? I then, indicated our willingness to take part in the discussion on the subject of the Motion on the Order Paper with respect to Iraq, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) would in that event speak on behalf of the Opposition, but I protested that this Motion was an unprecedented use of the power of the Government in coercion of the Opposition. I want therefore to repeat, that if the Prime Minister will proceed with the Debate on an ordinary Motion for the adjournment of the House, and not press his Motion on the Paper, we shall take part in the discussion; but if we are to be compelled in the way now proposed to proceed to the Division Lobby on this question of high policy, I have to say on behalf of the Opposition that we cannot do so.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I was going at the beginning of what I have to say to answer the first question which the Leader of the Opposition has put. We do not propose to take any other business to-night after this Motion in regard to Iraq is concluded, but to resume the discussion of the Lords Amendments to-morrow at Eleven o'clock, and we shall proceed until the Lords Amendments are finished.
With regard to the second question of the right hon. Gentleman, I regret that I cannot recede from the position which I took up, and for which I gave him the reasons, at Question time. I regret profoundly the step which my right hon. Friend has thought fit to take. I regret profoundly that he feels that he cannot take part in the Debate, even if he were not to take part in a division. It will be a loss to the House as a whole when a matter of such importance is being debated that the official Opposition should, for reasons which seem good to them, decline to take part in that Debate. I regret extremely that I cannot see my way to withdraw from the Order Paper 2074 a Motion which has been put down in the name of the Leader of the House and which has been on the Paper since Saturday morning, especially having regard to the fact that communication was made to this House on Friday afternoon that a Motion on this subject would be put down.
I want to say that the act, whatever the Government may think about it, was a deliberate act decided by the party.
I will ask the Prime Minister to remember this, and I would plead with him in this way. I want to speak on behalf of the Opposition because, at least, I know something about the subject. We have strong views. We believe that the Government should know the Opposition views in the negotiations with Turkey, which are all important. Our object is not only thru the Government may know our views but, at the same time, that they may save themselves from a Division. They cannot be helped by a Division. They may be injured by a Division. [HON. MEMBERS; "Why?"] Well, because the Debate will show that views may be expressed of which they can take note, but with a Division taken, it will not help them but may hamper them. We are anxious, at least, to show that in these negotiations that ought to be avoided. I would plead with my right hon. Friend to remember that the Government are not handicapped in the suggestion we have made to them. On the contrary, it will help them and help the country in the negotiations, if they accede to our request.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I regret very much that I cannot accede to my right hon. Friend's request. This afternoon, before he came down to the House, I explained that, having regard to the business of the Session, we were obliged by circumstances, within the knowledge of every Member of the House, to take this question so late. I decided to do an unusual thing, and that is, at the beginning of next Session to have the proposed Treaty laid before the House for the judgment of the House to be taken upon it. On that occasion it will be open to the House to have the fullest 2075 and freest discussion and come to a definite decision as to whether or not they will adopt it.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
On a point of Order. In reading the Orders on the Paper, when the Criminal Justice Bill was called, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury said, "To-morrow." I took it that that was a Motion by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury that these Orders should be deferred till tomorrow, and I rose to try to move that they be not deferred till to-morrow. I want to ask whether that was in Order.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Mo; there is no Motion to defer an Order. It is necessary only to name a subsequent date. I simply called for a subsequent date. No Motion is required.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
In view of the fact that the Government themselves, on the Motion of the Prime Minister, passed the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule with regard to certain questions that were down on the Order Paper, does not that show that it was the intention of the Government to pass these Orders this afternoon. Therefore when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury said "to-morrow," that must be a Motion, since nothing can be deferred or debated unless upon a Motion of this House and, consequently, that is open for discussion.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It requires only a Motion to defer when a Debate is proceeding. There is no Motion required for deferring an Order to a subsequent date.
May I appeal to the Prime Minister again to reconsider the Motion on the Order Paper. If the Government proceed as they have indicated, when we are called upon in February to discuss the Treaty the country will have already been committed. Is it not better prior to committing the whole nation to allow the nation to judge by the Debate, and to accede to our request, which leaves the Government with a majority, but the country free, rather than being committed in advance?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In reply to that, I would ask my right hon. Friend if he does not think that it would be just as well to appeal to his leaders to reconsider the decision to which they have come, not to take part in this Debate. I think it is a most unfortunate decision. 2076 I should regret profoundly that the view which I know my right hon. Friend is capable of urging with strength and with knowledge should not be put before this House. I regard it as essential, as I explained to the House, that the House to-day should give a decision on the broad general lines of the question. I repeat once more, that I regret that owing to circumstances over which we have no control we have to take this at the end of the Session; but even at the end of the Session it is of such importance that, in my opinion and in the opinion of the Government, a decision must be come to to-night.