HC Deb 27 September 1926 vol 199 cc254-63
The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I beg to move, That during the remainder of the Session—

  1. (1) Government Business do have precedence;
  2. (2) At the conclusion of Government Business or of Proceedings made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament requiring an Order, Rule or Regulation to be laid before the House of Commons, which shall be taken immediately after Government Business, Mr. Speaker shall propose the Question, That this House do now adjourn, and, if that Question shall not have been agreed to, Mr. Speaker shall adjourn the House, without Question put, not later than one hour after the conclusion of Government Business, if that Business has been concluded before 10.30 p.m., but, if that Business has not been so concluded, not later than 11.30 p.m."
I had intended to move that the House do meet to-morrow at eleven o'clock, as I thought it would be for the great convenience of hon. Members and the staff of the House, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition objects. That being so, it would not be in Order for me to move that Motion as I have not put it down on the Order Paper. I propose, therefore, to ask the House to consider the Motion which stands in my name. It is an annual. Motion which every Government puts forward in order to secure all the time during an Autumn Session. I gave the reasons last year for the benefit of those who were new Members, and I do not think it is necessary to say anything more now, except this, that an Autumn Session is always a continuation of the Session which began in the early part of the year, and which is necessary for the completion of business left unfinished when the House adjourned in August. If no Motion of this kind were passed the Rules of Order would be the same as those which obtain before Whitsuntide, and there would still be probably two evenings in the week devoted to private Members' time. Every Government, when they arrange the time necessary for the Autumn Session, make the calculation on the basis that die Government have all the time available. Supposing so much time were given to private Members, it merely means that the House would have to come back a week or two earlier that the time fixed when we parted in the summer. May I remind the House that under the Rules that exist from Whitsuntide until the Adjournment a private Member has, and will have if this Motion be passed, the same privileges with regard to moving the Adjournment on matters of urgent public importance, of moving an Address praying for the Amendment of such Regulations as may be made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament, and it does not interfere with his rights on the half-hour Adjournment on the rising of the House at Eleven o'Clock.


Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you will allow me to follow the Prime Minister, and make a preliminary observation on what I have to say on the Motion now before the House. The preliminary observation of the Prime Minister was that he had intended to move, in the interests of the staff of the House, that the House should meet to-morrow at Eleven o'Clock, and he intimated, quite truly, that I objected. I should like to say that my objection was not based on the grounds he suggested at all, but because I thought it may be more advantageous for the House to meet on Wednesday, and not adjourn to-morrow afternoon. It was on that ground that I objected to the proposal. With reference to the Motion before the House, of course it has now become an annual Resolution, and it is well known that any Government that is facing an Autumn Session will have to move a Motion such as this, to take all the time of the House. What I would like to say is that this is a very unusual time for moving this Motion. It is usually moved at the beginning of the Autumn Session itself, when we are close up to the public business to be transacted, and when the political landscape is more or less well defined. When we know what the Government propose to do, we are in a much better position to say what subjects we should like to have discussed —to be perfectly frank, to bargain about them. It is the usual thing, and nobody knows it better than hon. Members opposite. But here we are at the end of September, and the House is not going to meet for the Autumn Session until the 9th of November. Who can tell what is going to happen? I hope a General Election will happen, though I am afraid my expectation will not be fulfilled, for a very good reason, so far as the Government are concerned. But in any event I am not in a position to-day—I say it quite candidly—to say to the Prime Minister or to the Government, upon what subjects I would like to get a statement from them, or what I should like to discuss in the Autumn Session. It is too remote, but I think he ought to have been a little more candid with us and told us what he wants to discuss in the Autumn Session. It is not usual for the Government to get a blank cheque in this way. I was not able to take down his words exactly, but I observed—[An HON. MEMBER: "There is the Order Paper"]—I know there are plenty of things on the Order Paper, but can we have a pledge that nothing else will go on the Order Paper? I should like to have it. Will I get the pledge? I was not able to take down exactly what the Prime Minister said, but I understood him to say that ah Autumn Session was going to be held for the purpose of completing business, Government business. Does that mean that he is going to introduce no new business? Is he going to be content with completing the stages of the Bills that have begun their passage through this House, or is he really asking us to pass this Resolution now in order to enable him to introduce fresh legislation? I think the House ought to know. There is no reason, as a matter of fact, why this Resolution should be put down to-day.


I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, if it be not passed to-day, to-morrow becomes a Private Member's day.




I beg your pardon; I meant Wednesday.


Not to-morrow, but Wednesday. That is perfectly true. I know the reason perfectly well, but, as a matter of fact, it is not necessary to have this Resolution passed to-day. It is not necessary for the 9th November to have it passed to-day. It can be put down later. I am sorry to say that there is a chance of the House meeting before the 9th November again. I am very-sorry to say that the chances are, as things now are, as the outlook now is, that this House will meet at the end of October, in order to pass what it is going to pass to-morrow. Therefore, there is no need for this Resolution to-day at all. But in any event, when the Resolution is put before us, when it is seriously put before us, it is the duty a the Prime Minister to tell us what business he proposes to take when he gets the power for which he asks under this Resolution. As we have not had that to-day, and as I do not believe it is necessary to have it to-day, I shall certainly oppose the Resolution.


I am very glad that the Prime Minister has given an undertaking that we shall not meet at eleven o'clock to-morrow with a view to separation at five. In the very critical stage that the serious industrial dispute by which we are now affected has reached, it is very desirable that the House of Commons should take the whole of the circumstances under review, and I think it is time that Parliament should feel its full responsibility to the nation in this matter, as it has done many a time before in industrial disputes which were not so grave as the one with which we are now confronted. I pass away from that to the Motion of the Prime Minister. That Motion has been proposed by the Leader of the House for a great many Sessions now, and it has always been the occasion of a review of the prospects in front of us. It is the occasion which the Leader of the House of Commons always seizes to tell the House what business it has to go through —always. I have never seen it introduced in the way in which the Prime Minister introduced it to-day, without giving the slightest indication of what he proposes to do with the time of the House, which, under this Resolution, will be placed entirely at the disposal of the Government. It is the great occasion that was known as the "Massacre of the Innocents" in the old days, when the Government went through the whole of the legislative programmes and indicated what Bills were to be dropped and what Bills the Government intended to press through.

This, after all, is an emergency Session. It is called for one specific reason, which has been rendered necessary by a legislative enactment dealing with the Emergency Regulations, and I should have thought that this Resolution is one which ought to be dealt with at the beginning of the Autumn Session, when the Government could take the House of Commons into their confidence, as all Governments have done, and tell the House what the business was going to be and what Bills they proposed to press through. The Government have given us no indication at all of their intentions. For instance, there are very important matters. What legislation do the Government propose to introduce to deal with the present emergency? A National Board Bill, or the redemption of the remaining pledges they have given with regard to the Commission Report? Is there any legislation to be introduced of that character? This is the occasion upon which the Leaders of the House of Commons have always taken the House into their confidence with regard to things of that kind. The Prime Minister has given only one reason why he should use an emergency Session for dealing with something which has always taken practically three or four hours' discussion in almost every House of Commons in which I have ever been.

What is his excuse? His excuse is that, unless he does it, Wednesday will be a private Members' day, but he must know that that is really a very inadequate excuse. There are means by which he can easily take the time of the House on a private Members' day by another Resolution, if necessary, and I do ask the Leader of the House whether it is not more in accordance with precedent that he should put off this Resolution to the beginning of the Autumn Session, and, if he has to take the time of the House on Wednesday, let him put down the ordinary Resolution, which can be taken to-morrow. I do not suppose it would take very much time.

But there are many questions which we should like to ask the Government, with regard, for instance, to what has happened at Geneva. There are two or three matters of supreme importance bearing upon what has happened there, but is it desirable that we should go into all that matter when we have met for another purpose, and is it not better that the Government should confine themselves—it is as much as the Government and the House of Commons can do—to concentrating upon that other purpose to pull us through? Is it not desirable that, instead of raising all sorts of other issues, the Government should withdraw this Resolution, introduce it at the usual time, and in accordance with the usual precedent, and take the time on Wednesday, if they want it?


In answer to the right hon. Gentleman, I certainly have no recollection of such statements as he said having been made at the time that this Motion was put. I did not do it last year, and it was not done the year before, but still it may be done sometimes. Last year certainly it was not done, and the discussion did not take four hours, but about two, and I can see no reason at all for not asking the House to take this decision now. I did not give as a reason the question of private Members' time on Wednesday. I simply reminded the Leader of the Opposition—I was under a misapprehension in thinking the day was Tuesday—that that was one of the points which one contemplated would have to be provided for. However, this Resolution will provide for it, and, in addition, it will save the time of the House.

Captain BENN

The Prime Minister forgets it is only by the merest accident that he is able to take this Resolution to-day. It was never intended for an Emergency Session. It was put down for the 9th November, the Agenda for which has not anticipated any Emergency Session. It appears, therefore, that he has taken advantage of the circumstances to press forward a piece of business which is properly done at the beginning of the Autumn Session. Are we to surrender the rights under this Resolution, so that it becomes impossible for us to know whether we can get any information with

regard to any question of interest, not merely to leaders of the Opposition, but to private Members as well? I should like to know whether, for example, under this Resolution, the right hon. Gentleman intends to press forward the Merchandise Marks Bill during the Autumn Session, because, if so, he will want more than all the time of the House of Commons. I would also like to ask him whether, on this occasion, or, if not, on what occasion, the Foreign Secretary intends to explain the remarkable speech which he made when he castigated the Mandates Commission of the League for asking for the rights of minorities to be respected before the Council of the Assembly in Geneva. I would further like to know what opportunity he intends to take to explain the policy of the Government in China, where, it appears, movements are going forward which may easily lead us into a position which would certainly not be approved by many people in this country. I think those are legitimate questions such as are usually put when this Motion is moved at the beginning of the Autumn Session, and I do beg the Prime Minister, or someone on his behalf, to reply to hon. Members in this House, who, after all, have some, though rapidly diminishing, rights.

Question put, That during the remainder of the Session—

  1. (1) Government Business do have precedence;
  2. (2) At the conclusion of Government Business or of Proceedings made in pursuance of any Act of Parliament requiring any Order, Rule or Regulation to be laid before the House of Commons, which shall be taken immediately after Government Business, Mr. Speaker shall propose the Question, That this House do now adjourn, and, if that Question shall not have been agreed to. Mr. Speaker shall adjourn the House, without Question put, not later than one hour after the conclusion of Government Business, if that Business has been concluded before 10.30 p.m., but, if that Business has not been so concluded not later than 11.30."

The House divided: Ayes, 237; Noes, 122.

Division No. 435.] AYES. [3.33 p.m
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Atholl, Duchess of
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley
Albery, Irving James Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Balfour, George (Hampstead)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Barclay-Harvey, C. M.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Goff, Sir Park Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Grace, John Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Graham, Frederick F. (Cumbld., N.) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Berry, Sir George Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E) Philipson, Mabel
Betterton, Henry B. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Pilcher, G.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Grotrian, H. Brent. Pilditch, Sir Philip
Blades, Sir George Rowland Gunston, Captain D. W. Power, Sir John Cecil
Blundell, F. N. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Preston, William
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Price, Major C. W. M.
Bowater, Colonel Sir T. Vansittart Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Radford, E. A.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Raine, W.
Braithwaite, A. N. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Ramsden, E.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Hawke, John Anthony Remer, J. R.
Briggs, J. Harold Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Remnant, Sir James
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Rentoul, G. S.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rice, Sir Frederick
Buckingham, Sir H. Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by) Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Bullock, Captain M. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Ropner, Major L.
Burman, J. B. Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Rye, F. G.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Holland, Sir Arthur Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Caine, Gordon Hall Holt, Capt. H. P. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Campbell, E. T. Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Sandeman, A. Stewart
Cassels, J. D. Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Sandon, Lord
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hopkins, J. W. W. Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Shepperson, E. W.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N). Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hudson, R. S. (Cumb'l'nd, Whiteh'n) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Chapman, Sir S. Hume, Sir G. H. Smithers, Waldron
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Hume-WIlliams, Sir W. Ellis Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Christie, J. A. Hurd, Percy A. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hurst, Gerald B. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Clayton, G. C. Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. F. S. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Storry-Deans, R.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Jacob, A. E. Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Colfox, Major William Phillips James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Strickland, Sir Gerald
Cope, Major William Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Styles, Captain H. Walter
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Kindersley, Major G. M. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. King, Captain Henry Douglas Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Crooke. J. Smedley (Deritend) Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Little, Dr. E. Graham Templeton, W. P.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lowe, Sir Francis William Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Dalziel, Sir Davison Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Tinne, J. A.
Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) MacIntyre, Ian Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Macquisten, F. A. Waddington, R.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) MacRobert, Alexander M. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Dawson, Sir Phillip Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Makins, Brigadier-General E. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Malone, Major P. B. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Ellis, R. G. Meller, R. J. Watts, Dr. T.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Merriman, F. B. Wells, S. R.
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Fanshawe, Commander G. D. Moreing, Captain A. H. Winby, Colonel L. P.
Fermoy, Lord Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Fielden, E. B. Murchison, C. K. Wise, Sir Fredric
Finburgh, S. Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Withers, John James
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wolmer, Viscount
Foster, Sir Harry S. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Fraser, Captain Ian Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Frece, Sir Walter de Nuttall, Ellis Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Ganzonl, Sir John. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Gates, Percy Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John Pennefather, Sir John Commander B. Eyres Monsell and Lord Stanley.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Baker, Walter Bondfield, Margaret
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Briant, Frank
Ammon, Charles George Barr, J. Buchanan, G.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Cape, Thomas
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Clowes, S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smillie, Robert
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kelly, W. T. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Kennedy, T. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Compton, Joseph Lansbury, George Snell, Harry
Connolly, M. Lawrence, Susan Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Lawson, John James Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Dalton, Hugh Lee, F. Stamford, T. W.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Livingstone, A. M. Stephen, Campbell
Day, Colonel Harry Lowth, T. Sutton, J. E.
Dennison, R. Lunn, William Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Donnico, H. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
England, Colonel A. MacLaren Andrew Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Fenby, T. D. March, S. Thurtle, Ernest
Gardner, J. P. Montague, Frederick Tinker, John Joseph
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Morris, R. H. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Gibbins, Joseph Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Varley, Frank B.
Gillett, George M. Murnin, H. Viant, S. P.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Naylor, T. E. Wallhead, Richard C.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Owen, Major G. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Greenall, T. Palin, John Henry Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Paling, W. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Westwood, J.
Groves, T. Ponsonby, Arthur Whiteley, W.
Grundy, T. W. Potts, John S. Wiggins, William Martin
Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.) Purcell, A. A. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Hall, G H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Riley, Ben Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hardie, George D. Ritson, J. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Harris, Percy A. Rose, Frank H. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Sakiatvala, Shapurji Windsor, Walter
Hayes, John Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred Wright, W.
Hirst, G. H. Scrymgeour, E. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Scurr, John
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Sexton, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.

Question put, and agreed to.