HC Deb 13 July 1927 vol 208 cc2146-8
Mr. CLYNES (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to statements made by members of the Government alleging that mistakes have been made in the certification of Bills as Money Bills; whether these statements represent the opinion of His Majesty's Government; and whether he will indicate precisely the Bills which the Ministers have in mind?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I understand that one of my colleagues has indicated that decisions have been given—not necessarily by the present Speaker—with which he personally would not have agreed; but this question only reached me late this morning, and I have not yet had an opportunity of studying the statements to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. As I stated in the Debate on the 6th July, the view of His Majesty's Government on this matter is that the present arrangement whereby the Speaker of the House of Commons is the sole arbiter between the two Houses as to what is and what is not a Financial Bill is apt to throw a most difficult and invidious task upon the holder of that office.


Is the Prime Minister aware that statements which justify the terms of this question have been made in public as well as in another place by Members of the Government; and may I also ask whether, in giving further consideration to this matter, the right hon. Gentleman will keep in mind the doctrine, so often impressed upon us by Members of the Government, of collective responsibility in matters of policy?


The answer to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's Supplementary Question is in the negative. The whole question as to any individual opinion, as to any judgment which may have been given, is really beside the question. The whole policy of the Government is based on the point to which I have alluded in the latter part of my answer, which was the ground on which the Bryce Committee and the Coalition Government came to the same conclusion as that to which we came.


Is the Prime Minister aware that the statement put forward by Lord Birkenhead was not put forward merely as an expression of personal opinion, but that he stated definitely that several obviously wrong decisions had been given; and, if that were not the case, ought not the Noble Lord to be rebuked for that erroneous statement?


I take it from the hon. and gallant Member that he has more time to study these orations than I have.


Is it not the case that the present Government have repudiated the doctrine of collective responsibility?