HC Deb 08 November 1927 vol 210 cc38-63
34. Sir J. POWER

asked the Prime Minister if it is intended to introduce any new Bills during the Autumn Session; and, if so, what Bills will be introduced?


If new legislation is found to be necessary, notice will be given in the usual way.


When is it intended to introduce a new Franchise Bill for women on the same terms as men?


Not before Christmas.


I beg to move, That during the remainder of the Session— (1) Government Business do have precedence; (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 p.m.; (3) If the day be a Friday the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday. 4.0 p.m.

I have to introduce this Resolution in common with other right hon. Members of this House who, in their turn, have acted as Leader of the House. On previous occasions I have described it as a hardy annual. This year I have something new to say about it—I hope this hardy annual is very near its end. If the House accepts the recommendations of the Select Committee which was set up at an earlier part of the Session to deal with the question of private Members' time—if the House accepts the Report which they have presented, then it will never be necessary for the Leader of the House, in any future Autumn Session, to move this Resolution. I believe the House when they come to consider the amendment of Standing Order No. 4 will not hesitate to deprive themselves of what, I have no doubt, in past times has been an interesting discussion.

I do not think it is necessary to say anything at this period about this Resolution, beyond reminding the House that when the present Standing Orders were drawn up, a quarter of a century ago, Earl Balfour, then Mr. Arthur Balfour, who was leading the House, consented, somewhat reluctantly, to insert a limiting period, namely, the words "until Michaelmas" in the Sub-section of the Clause which dealt with private Members' time. He did that because he anticipated that the House, in the subsequent Rules of Procedure, would make such regulations as to ensure that the Autumn Session, which is, in fact, merely a continuation of the Session begun in the earlier part of the year, and is called together to meet unforeseen business, should be devoted to that business to the exclusion of private Members' business. That was never done, and we have been left in the anomalous position up to this time, that this Motion has to be made annually.

I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman, who has led this House for so many years, that this is probably the last occasion on which this Resolution will ever be moved, because the Committee of the House which has been considering the allocation of private Members' time, has recommended such alterations in the Standing Orders as will do away with the need of this Resolution in future years if the House considers fit to adopt the recommendations. It may be that the House may desire to adopt that Report. Though the Government take away Wednesday evenings and Fridays which might be available to private members under the Standing Orders if this Resolution were not passed, they retain the other privileges which belong to Members of the House, and it must be remembered that those responsible for calculating the business of the House make no allowance for private Members, so that if the House for any reason were to reject this Motion it would be necessary to sit beyond Christmas in order to conclude the essential business.

With regard to the business for this week, I might take this opportunity of stating that Friday is Armistice Day. I have thought over this matter, and I think it might be for the general convenience of the House if we met at noon on Friday, adjourning at Four o'clock as usual, and I propose to put down a Motion to that effect before Friday. There is nothing more I think I need say on this Resolution. The business for this end of the Session was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who was leading the House in my absence at the end of July. If there should be any business which was not included in the list of Bills he gave, it will be announced in due course. If, as is often the case before Christmas, some small Bill comes along which it is necessary to pass, or there is some question to be raised, in any case the House will have due notice of such business, and with such exceptions the business, as far as we can accomplish it, will be as stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of July.


The first word I say is one of agreement with the Prime Minister: I hope this will be the last time that this Resolution is before the House. Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman is going to give us an opportunity of discussing the report of the Committee before we adjourn at Christmas? Because, quite obviously, if the Government really mean to amend our Standing Orders, it will be for the convenience of everybody that it should be done without unnecessary delay. Also with regard to Friday, we associate ourselves with the suggestion that the House should meet at noon on that day and adjourn its business at four o'clock. I must say, however, regarding the statement of the business the Prime Minister proposes to take, I have in front of me the list of Bills that were mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as Measures that the Government propose to take. The usual thing on an occasion like this is for the Prime Minister to inform the House what the latest mind of the Government is as regards the business. Only once, I think, has it been tried before, and it is not enough for the Prime Minister to come and say they have got a list of Bills—the Aliens Restriction Bill, the Betting Overseas (Prohibition) Bill, the Colonial Probates (Protected States and Mandated Territories) Bill, and so on—a very long list of Bills, all announced at the end of last Session.

The Prime Minister comes and tells us to-day that the Government have not considered the matter at all. We have been asked to meet for an Autumn Session, not, apparently, to do miscellaneous business, not to do unimportant business, but to do business which is of first-rate importance. The whole theory of the Autumn Session is that. The House has never been called together for an Autumn Session for the purpose of passing second-and third-rate Bills, and I shall protest most strongly, in the name of the Opposition, against our being brought together here to discuss those Bills, when there are matters of infinitely greater importance that ought to be discussed if the House is going to sit right up to Christmas. The Bills of first-rate importance are the Unemployment Insurance Bill, the Landlord and Tenant (No. 2) Bill, the Cinematograph Films Bill and the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. Those are the Bills that could quite reasonably be put into a category of work left as incomplete in July and which ought to be dealt with in an Autumn Session. Beyond that, certainly without agreement, the Government, I think, ought not to go. With reference to the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, I should like to ask whether the Government have made up their mind as to when that Bill is going to be taken—I do not mean the date, but whether it is to be taken after Eleven o'clock? It is very important that that should not be the case this year. There are important Bills included in the Schedule of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill that ought to be discussed before Eleven o'clock, and I hope the Government will make provision for that.

When the Government make their statement, even if it be a satisfactory statement—and I must say the statement to-day has been profoundly unsatisfactory—but even when a satisfactory statement, while it is the business of the Government to get their time, it is the business of the Opposition to get a bargain. If the Prime Minister has not been quite correct, I propose to be quite correct on behalf of the Opposition. There are several questions which we ask opportunities for discussing. First of all, there is the general question of unemployment. We cannot possibly sit here for six or seven weeks and not have a debate upon the general question of unemployment. It is perfectly true that the Bill before us to-morrow and the next day, and then, subsequently, in its Committee stage, deals with unemployment, but that Bill deals with a specific aspect of unemployment, and there is the whole question raised so well by my hon. Friend in his question to-day as to what is going on, what is the general trend of the unemployment problem, how far are we being supplied week by week with pleasant, or comparatively pleasant, figures about unemployment, how far is that being possible only because the unemployed who have been on the Insurance Fund are being steadily elbowed on to the Poor Law rates? There is the question of the pro- vision for training, especially for youths from 16 to 18. There is the whole question of organising the machinery of the various sections of unemployment, certainly not omitting consideration of the very important point raised by the Noble Lady opposite, namely, the treatment of women in the unemployment scheme. Those things cannot be discussed adequately and freely under the Unemployment Insurance Bill, and this House cannot, for decency sake, possibly sit here for six or seven weeks and not have a discussion upon them.

My second point is this. We must also have a general discussion on the coal situation. The Government last year made certain forecasts, professed certain economic faiths, and made certain prophecies as to what was to happen if certain proposals they were making were to be carried out. We must remind the Government of those prophecies, not simply for the purpose of reminding them, but to get them to face the situation for which they are primarily responsible. We cannot now, of course, discuss these subjects on their merits, but, by way of reinforcing my plea as to the urgency of a discussion on this subject, I myself, in the last fortnight, have been in the mining district. I have had the advantage, the very painful advantage, of discussing the situation with the men and women who are bearing the burdens of the coal industry at this moment, and the case is getting so painful and so distressful, that, repeating the words I have said about unemployment, in decency this House cannot sit here for six or seven weeks and refrain from having a discussion.

In connection with the coal situation there is a very important matter. The Government last year put into the hands of the employers a power which we warned them would be used in such a way as to justify the description of abuse. We have seen systems of boycotting going on; we have seen systems of intimidation, systems of picking out men whose only crime was that they had been selected by their fellows as representatives on deputations and otherwise. It is important that we should be in a position as an Opposition to put strong and severe pressure upon the Government to take upon themselves the responsibility that is theirs for having given the employers that power, and that we should be able to check the abuse of that power. The whole question of the present situation in the coal industry must be kept free and open, unfettered and untrammeled, and it must be discussed in this House, as well as the business that the Government have selected for primary consideration.

An answer was given to-day by the Prime Minister regarding disarmament discussions at Geneva. I am sure that the Prime Minister was perfectly aware, when he gave that answer, that he had already pledged himself to the House that a day would be given for discussions of the Naval Armaments Conference at Geneva. But that is not enough now. The Eighth Meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations has taken place, and at that Assembly very important speeches were made and very important policies laid down. This House must have an opportunity of discussing those things. There have been certain rumours in circulation. I am not going to put them any higher than that, but nobody who has ever been in the Foreign Office will deny that sometimes a rumour, even if it is baseless, has more effect upon foreign policy than a truth. There have been certain rumours regarding such matters as a grievance between ourselves and other Powers with reference to Tangier. If there is any such policy as that being considered, this House ought to know in what direction Foreign Office policy is going. My plea is that the Prime Minister should look to his pledge. I am sure that he has not the least idea of refusing to fulfil it. The pledge should be fulfilled, the pledge that we shall have a discussion in this House on what is known as the Coolidge Conference, and that in addition we shall have an opportunity of surveying the general trend of foreign policy recently, and certain events which have taken place since we adjourned in the summer.

There is another question, of great importance, I am told, to the people in the textile districts. Perhaps a whole day would not be necessary for it, but it is an important question. I refer to the continued failure of the Government to put into operation the Washington Eight Hours Convention. Those who during the past few months have been in touch with the cotton and woollen industries all say the same thing, namely, that this question of the ratification of the Washington Convention is now becoming very important and that we must know where we stand. The Government ought to tell us quite definitely, and we want an opportunity of pressing them to tell us quite definitely, are they or are they not going to ratify the Convention? If they are going to ratify it, let them ratify it. If they are not going to ratify it, let them announce the fact to the world and settle the matter once and for all. It is uncertainty which is so bad for business. You can put burdens on business and if business understands precisely what the burdens are, it can adjust itself, but a thing that cannot be done by business is to adjust suspicions and unknown and undisclosed burdens. So far as we are concerned, we shall always be opposed to that. I put that question with the other three questions I have mentioned as calling for discussion.

There are other important questions that may arise. There are many important questions that, in relation to those mentioned, will be called small. We cannot meet here imagining ourselves to be separated from the rest of the world and the rest of the nation. I hope that the Prime Minister will give us the assurance that in arranging the business of the Autumn Session, what are knows as the "usual channels" will be used very liberally and in the most friendly way so that none of the really important questions that have cropped up can escape our attention. As the Government have not done that, and as we are asked to pass this Resolution, without knowing what the Government have in their minds beyond this very large shop window bill that was displayed to us in July—I am sorry it was in my absence, so that I have no personal recollection of it, but I have it here in front of me in black and white—I really cannot agree to a Resolution which puts the Government in absolute control over the whole of the time of the House between now and Christmas.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I must also disagree with giving the whole time of the House to the Government, because we have no evidence that they are going to use the time to the benefit of the country. The position as it dis- closes itself to me is this. We have had published in the Press a full list of the Measures that the Government are to pass, but not one of those Measures will give one day's work to an unemployed workman, with the possible exception of the Cinematograph Films Bill, which those who have made a close study of it tell me is very doubtful in its effect on employment—it is very doubtful if it will assist British trade by finding work for British workmen. Unemployment is the crucial subject to-day. Winter is coming on with its cold and hardships. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am only making a plea for the men who cannot afford new clothes or all the food they want and who are trying to exist on what is called the dole. They will suffer more in winter. Surely hon. Members will agree that their lot is very difficult, and I hope hon. Members opposite will join me in pressing the Government to do something for the unemployed. Before the House rose I made the same protest and I also protested against the length of the Recess. Now that we are reassembled, I think it is disastrous that no scheme has been formulated by the Government during the Recess to deal with unemployment. I see opposite the hon. Member for the Moseley Division (Mr. Hannon), who has a cure for unemployment. He and his friends contend that British trade will be helped and employment improved by the introduction of tariffs. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) cheers that statement, as he often does. Both those hon. Members think that tariffs should be introduced. Why do they not press that proposal on the Government? Why do they sit there acquiescent, and allow all private time to be taken by the Government when they might bring in their tariff measure?

We have here a huge Conservative majority, including gentlemen like those I have mentioned. Why do they allow the Government to take the whole time of the House when they might bring in their panaceas for distress in business? I shall resist this Motion, and we on this side will be supported by any hon. Gentlemen opposite who have any independence of spirit left after three years of close whipping by their Chief Whip. The Government are proposing to deal with a series of Bills which will not help British trade and will not in any way find work for the unemployed. That is a waste of the time of the House, and Parliament itself should be allowed to do something on its own account. I can only repeat a suggestion I have made before, that this great question of unemployment should be treated by the Government as a non-party matter. The Government should call a conference of Members of all parties to see what measure could be framed if they fail themselves to table a scheme. The Government should call upon Members of experience in other parts of the House to make suggestions, and so see whether those on the back benches and those who are out of office can help in the matter. Let us see if the House, apart from the Government Front Bench, can help in the solution of the problem. It is the gravest problem facing the people to-day. I shall resist this Motion in the only way open to me by voting against it, and I call on hon. Gentlemen opposite who think as we do on the matter to support us.


I have only a few observations to make, and I wish, first of all, to thank the Prime Minister for his courtesy in calling my attention to the new Rule which is suggested for rendering it unnecessary to introduce Motions of this kind so frequently. As to that, I make only one comment. If a Motion of that kind be incorporated in our Standing Orders, I think there should be some means by which we can review the programme of the Session or of an Autumn Session, whether by means of a Motion for Adjournment or otherwise. It is exceedingly desirable that there should be some means by which the House can review these things. One of the difficulties of Standing Orders and Rules is that very often you can discuss everything in this House except the very thing in which the country is interested. Whatever the Rule is to be, it should not be impossible for the House to have an opportunity of reviewing the business of the Session as a whole. With regard to the programme now before us, I very much regret, with the Leader of the Opposition, that the Prime Minister has not stated definitely that he means to confine the business to two or three out-standing Measures. You have a long miscellaneous programme of this kind. Nobody knows bettter than the Chief Whip that it is always rather calculated to retard—I hardly like to use the word obstruct, because it has a technical meaning—but such a programme does retard the business that the House has to complete.

Here you have nine or ten or more Bills, some of them very small or insignificant, but some of them highly contentious. I will mention one which is particularly applicable to Wales, the Welsh Church (Burial Grounds) Bill. That will encounter very serious resistance and will help to interfere with other business. Members have the knowledge that if they expedite one particular Bill, it will afford an opportunity for the Government to get more time to put through another Bill. From a long experience of the House of Commons, both in Opposition and in trying to get Bills through when sitting on the Bench opposite, I should have thought it was the height of folly to put in provocative little Bills like that, which make Members take a greater interest than they ought to take in other Bills that the Government want to get through. I very respectfully suggest to the Prime Minister and to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, who is his special adviser upon the business of the House, that it would be very much better if they were to state definitely that the Government do not propose to put through these little so-called "non-contentious" Bills, which are not very important from many points of view, but are very provocative, very irritating, and are exactly the kind of business for which a Government, if I may say so, has no right to have an Autumn Session. I do not think they have a right to put this particular Bill through at all. As I shall point out, it is a gross breach of faith, but I cannot go into the merits, now. I only want to say that it is distinctly the kind of Measure which ought not to be introduced during an Autumn Session, and I think that remark applies to two or three other Bills.

I sincerely trust the Prime Minister will give us assurances early, that if this Bill is really contentious—and I can assure him upon that subject—he does not propose to take up the time of the House with it. What makes it all the more unfair is that there is no provision here for discussing matters of real importance and gravity. I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition that there are two or three questions which the House of Commons, representing all interests in the nation, ought not to part with during an Autumn Session without thorough and searching review and examination. There is the question, for instance, of the very grave state of the coal industry. I know something of the circumstances in our part of the world, and I am sure it is equally bad in Durham and other districts. The House of Commons ought not to separate during the winter without discussing these facts. Then there is the question of the textile industry and also the very serious condition of agriculture. It is inconceivable that we should separate without having a full Debate upon the conditions of agriculture. Everybody tells me that the cultivators of the land, the farmers, have not been in a worse state, probably, since the bad winter of 1879. Is it possible for the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury to make provision for at least one day's discussion upon that subject? My plea—and I make it in sitting down—is that the Prime Minister should eliminate, either publicly or by private assurance through the usual channels, these little contentious Measures which will not merely take time to discuss in themselves, but will provide an incentive for Members of the House of Commons to take time in the discussion of other matters as well.


Neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the Opposition referred to the important question of Scotland. As a Scottish Member I feel it necessary at this time to urge that question upon the House. An hon. Member for the Scottish Universities, who is a Member of the Government party, has pointed out in very emphatic fashion that Scotland is undergoing decay, and when notice is taken of that fact from the Conservative Benches one may be sure that the condition of Scotland is exceedingly bad. We are proposing by this Motion to take up all the time of private Members and, unfortunately, the great question of Scotland's urgent needs has hitherto only been brought to the attention of the House by means of private Members' Bills, that being the only opportunity of doing so. This Session, unfortunately, we have had very little time in which to consider the situation in Scotland. I do not know whether the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Scotland was in consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland as to the statistics concerning emigration from Scotland. The situation in that respect is being intensified, and five times the number of emigrants are being forced to leave Scotland that are leaving England. Many of the questions referred to by the Leader of the Opposition should undoubtedly receive more careful attention, and drastic measures ought to be taken to grapple with the difficulties of Scotland in these various connections.

I feel it necessary to urge that this matter should be pressed by the Opposition, and particularly by that section of it which represents Scotland. If Scotland and her concerns are to get requisite attention, and if we are to have the driving power that is necessary to set Scotland in her rightful position, it is esential for every Scottish Member to join in bringing home, not only to the present Government, but to their own parties the necessity for putting these matters properly before the House on every possible occasion. This is not a question for consideration during a Debate of three quarters of an hour on a Private Member's Bill, while the Secretary of State for Scotland pays no attention to those who are bringing forward and supporting the private Member's Bill. I maintain that such treatment for Scotland is not proper, and that the present situation in that respect requires to be changed at the earliest possible moment. If there is not to be an opportunity during this concluding part of the Session for doing so, I appeal—although my appeal may fall upon very dull ears—to the Government that in the next Session, if they have no proposals of their own to make, they should afford special facilities for Scotland's interests being advanced in the way I have indicated.


This is a Motion to take the time of private Members, and I think it is rather unbecoming that, out of more than 400 private Members on the other side of the House, not one has been found to raise his voice in protest against it. It is not as if this were the first time the rights of private Members have been assailed. So long as I have been in this House, and that is for nearly three years—[Laughter.] It is not a long time, I admit, but it has enabled me to see how, one by one, the rights of private Members are being frittered away. We had an example only to-day at Question Time. A back-bench Member addressed a Question to the Under-Secretary of State for India. That Question was passed over, in order that a Front Bench Member, later on and at no snore convenient stage, might put the same Question. The same tendency is to be found in the length of time allotted to speeches. Even on this particular Motion, which involves the rights of private Members, Front Bench Members get priority and speak for a considerably longer time than private Members on the subject. All these indications show that private Members ought to take steps to secure that these little privileges are not, one by one, taken away from us. I think it was Gladstone who said—[Laughter.] Well, some of the old platitudes uttered by great Parliamentarians in days gone by lose none of their force as time goes. on, and Gladstone said he would not stay in this House for an hour if every hon. Member of it had not the same status in his representative capacity. That status is in danger of being lost, and it is not for the benefit of the country that such a tendency should exist. In my submission if the power of nominating the programme of Parliament, day by day and week by week, rests with the Executive, the interests of the country are not properly served. We have only to look at the Order Paper to-day to see that when the Executive is able to nominate the programme, we get—if I may say so without offence to the particular interests concerned—such pettifogging Measures as the Welsh Church Bill or the Local Authorities Bill, while the Prime Minister tells us that he has not got time, or has not been able to arrange, for the discussion of armaments, and there are also such great public questions as agriculture and coal. The Executive to-day is putting down on the Order Paper, not questions the discussion of which would be for the benefit of the country, but questions which will avoid embarrasment to themselves. It would be more becoming if hon. Members opposite, instead of voting for this Motion like sheep, were to utter their protest before allowing it to pass.


I wish to make two points in connection with this Motion. I think each time the Prime Minister has to move this Motion he does so with a certain sense of weariness and impatience, but in view of the circumstances of the country I had hoped he would have taken the opportunity of presenting this Motion to-day to give us some idea of what the Government hope to do during this Autumn Session. Instead of such an announcement we have only had a sort of petulant, complaining statement by the Prime Minister expressing the hope that he will not be bothered by this sort of thing in the future. Some of us like to hear the Prime Minister's voice, but I notice a tendency towards outlining the business of this assembly in the public Press rather than in the House of Commons. Instances of leakage have been mentioned to-day, but this Motion gave the Prime Minister a good opportunity of surveying the problems which the Government feel to be pressing and of saying what the Government propose to do in regard to them this Session. I hope the Prime Minister will give due attention to what has been said by the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) concerning the position of affairs in Scotland. On a previous occasion the Prime Minister made a speech with regard to the state of housing in Scotland and the dreadful circumstances prevailing there. That dreadful state of housing continues to exist in Scotland and the Government has not been able to make any great acceleration of its programme of housing in Scotland. I cannot discuss the merits of the question just now, but I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health looks incredulous at my statement I was in tenement property in Glasgow the other day. There were six tenants waiting to get away to other houses. Evidently they could not get away, and they told me they were afraid to go to bed at night in the tenement because of the rats, bugs, and beetles that had taken possession of the place. I do not think the Prime Minister would question the statement that the Scottish housing problem is still a matter of great urgency, and there are other Scottish questions which I hope we may have an opportunity of discussing. The other matter which I wish to bring before the Prime Minister is in connection with the Representation of the People Act. I put a Supplementary Question to the Prime Minister to-day, and he indicated that no Measure for giving women the vote on the same terms as men would be introduced before Christmas. I think the position is becoming a little uncertain in regard to that matter and I hope the Prime Minister, when replying on this discussion, will make plain what is now the position of the Government concerning this Measure. There are two points in connection with it on which I should like the Prime Minister to give an answer. The first is whether the Government is going to introduce a Measure giving women the vote on the same terms as men during the lifetime of this Parliament? The second is whether they are going to introduce that Measure so that the register will be made up to allow the women to vote in the next Election on the same terms as the men. These questions have been asked before, but I would like to put them once more in the hope of getting a definite reply.


This Debate has been remarkable from the fact that not a single Member from the opposite side of the House has had any opinion to express. I thought the House would excuse me for a moment if I attempted to give the Government an idea of what Members opposite are thinking if they are not saying it. That can be done by looking at their principal newspaper. They are proud of the fact that one of their principal newspapers three years ago was responsible for returning Members with such a majority, and now, three years afterwards, we find that this newspaper puts what I am sure the private Members of the Government are thinking: A glance at the mass of enactments that are to be rushed to the Statute Book with such relentless determination between now and Christmas is sufficient to convince us that while it, perhaps, embraces nothing positively harmful, it will leave the country not a whit the better off than it was before. The article goes on to say:

It is said that Satan finds work for idle hands to do. The bureaucrats find legislative work for idle Ministers to do. If the Government was single-mindedly and courageously bent on leaving the nation happier and more prosperous than it found it, and less obsessed with fear of future strife and thoughts of imminent economic embarrassments than it now is, it would find so much honest work for its hands that no Satanic department would be able successfully to exercise its whispered and serpentile wiles. I commend this particularly, because I am sure the Government will realise that those Members of the party opposite who have been in recent touch with their constituencies will know it is exactly what the rank and file of the Conservative party are thinking. The article concludes with these two sentences:

So we have a galaxy of Measures dealing with sleepy sickness, with the hours for the sale of tripe, with the dissemination of the dole, with cinemas, and the wearing of red lights on the tails of bicycles. But with the sleepy sickness of tax-bled industry, with the red light of growing international discord, with the tripe that is dressing their political windows, they are not concerned. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the paper?"] That paper is being sold in the streets; it is the 6.30 edition of the London "Evening News." I am not sure that the article did not also appear in the most important Conservative morning paper. Surely, in face of the fact that that view represents what thousands of Conservatives are saying and thinking throughout the country, we ought to have some reply from the Government as to whether they have any answer to make to this indictment. The only other point is this: It seems to me somewhat remarkable that nearly eight months ago the Government, through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with a great flourish of trumpets, announced that they were going at last to embark on an economy campaign, and that they proposed to abolish the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Mines, and the Department of Overseas Trade. To-day I put a question to the Prime Minister asking if the Government have now decided what its policy is in regard to these three Departments, but we find, eight months after it was announced, that the Minister of Mines and the Minister of Transport are carrying on as usual. The Minister of Overseas Trade has been promoted, but his Department is going on as usual. Now the Prime Minister asks me to postpone my question, and wait until a later date when he may be in a position to make a statement. In face of the uncertainty and lack of policy on the part of the Government in these matters, I think some more definite statement ought to be made. Otherwise, I think this Government is heading direct for trouble in the very near future.


In reference to the point made by the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison), he may remember that an hon. Member on his side, before the House separated for the summer, asked me if I had any statement, and in view of the fact that deputations had been to see me in regard to the future of the Transport Ministry and the Overseas Trade Department, I was asked whether I had received any deputation with regard to the Ministry of Mines. I said I had not, and I was asked whether, if any deputation wanted to come and see me, I would see them, and I replied, "Yes," I have heard nothing further, and I have no doubt that by giving that answer to the hon. Member I might bring upon myself a deputation. But I do remind him of that, and I still hold to the pledge I gave before the House rose.

One point was made by the Leader of the Opposition. I should like very much to get the Standing Order amended before Christmas, but I fear it can only be done by the consent of the House, and it would be a good thing if it were done. If not, we shall have to do it next Session. I should like to consider the point made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, which is a new point to me. The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), who is much more fond of asking questions than of reading the answers, put a question to me which had nothing to do with business, and I would refer him to pledges I gave, and to which I hold. They have been given very clearly, if he will look them up. As to the complaints made about the number of Bills which were read out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July, I agree there is a large number of them. Quite frankly, I do not expect every one of them to pass into law. All these Bills are labelled with the same words that you will find on a ticket to Calais —"Wind and weather permitting." That is how every Bill comes up in the Autumn Session. Until we can see what proress we can make, it is very difficult, and I may add a little unusual, to be more specific than I have been. The subjects that have been mentioned by the respective leaders are all subjects which do merit discussion. I cannot pledge myself at this moment to the number of days which it will be possible to spare for these discussions, but I will discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and ask him to get into touch through the usual channels, and to arrange the utmost that we can do; but I do not think the Opposition really has any cause of complaint with our conduct last year and the year before in affording time for discussion, and we will do the best we can to find time for discussion of the subjects that have been mentioned to-day. There, for the moment, we must leave it.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an answer with regard to the Deposited Prayer Book, and the discussions that will take place on it? Will it take place before Christmas, and will it be taken at a reasonable hour?


The present position is that I have given an undertaking that a full Parliamentary day will be given before Christmas.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Does the Home Secretary agree to only one day?


I think it is very probable he will speak.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Do the Home Secretary and Solicitor-General agree?


I am afraid I cannot answer that question. I think it is very unlikely that there will be general agreement on any time that is to be allotted for that particular purpose. I think I have dealt with the points that have been raised, and I hope the House will see fit to come to a decision on this, because the sooner we can get on with the business the better the opportunity of getting time for other discussions.


Will the provision made include time for the discussion of necessitous areas? It is a question that is becoming exceedingly acute.


I do think that after the speech to which we have listened, some word of protest ought to be said. The Prime Minister is going to give an opportunity, if time is available, to discuss questions which the country obviously needs us to discuss. There have been vital questions mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition—questions of unemployment, the position of the coal trade, the question of disarmament, all these questions, we are told, may be discussed if the Government can find time.


I think there is a little misunderstanding. All I meant was that I cannot say at this moment whether it would be possible to give four or five whole days to these various subjects. I have undertaken that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury shall consult the Opposition to see that ample time—it may be disputed what the word "ample" means—will be given to the different subjects which have been enumerated. Beyond that, it is impossible, to go at this moment.


The right hon. Gentleman does not understand that he puts the House in a false position. We want to discuss these questions. We ask adequate time to discuss them, and we want certainly more than one day to discuss the very contentious matter of the alteration of the Church of England Prayer Book. The right hon. Gentleman said, "You can have the time if you will not talk about other things." I have been spending my time in drafting 200 Amendments to the Films Bill. It will need some discussion. Then the right hon. Gentleman puts this pistol at our heads—"Either you are to give us our Bills without discussion, or you will not be allowed to discuss the matters you want to discuss." We shall have the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury coming round to his opposite number on this side of the House and saying, "Now look here, we will give you your days for debate on all these questions if you will only lock your Members up and prevent them from talking on other Bills." We are not going to be locked up and prevented from talking on Bills of this sort, and it is not fair to put the House in the position that they have got to swallow, without debate, legislation which is very contentious, in order to provide opportunities for discussing matters which universally desire discussion. Will the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury see that the Ministers in charge of these contentious Bills will be reasonable and open to compromise? 5.0 p.m.

Compromise is not obtainable unless those Ministers know that reasonable conduct on their part is desirable in the interests of the conduct of business. The Government have met me very fairly up to now over the Mental Deficiency Bill. There, a compromise is being proposed which, I hope, will be effective. Will the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, in order to provide us adequate discussion, press upon the Ministers concerned, particularly upon the President of the Board of Trade, the need of some compromise on a Measure which, otherwise, will take the whole time of this House up till Christmas?


I am not sure that this is the most appropriate occasion, but I am assuming that it is, to raise a protest, neither am I sure that my protest will be agreed to by everybody on this side of the House. In the speeches so far made on behalf of the Government, we have had a great deal said about finding time in order to do the work of the country, and the purpose of the Motion now before us is to deprive private Members of any further time between now and Christmas for the representation of their constituencies directly. I think it is time to make a protest against this farce of pretending to govern the country by disfranchising the country for very nearly five months out of the year. We come back here after a holiday of something like three months, and we are invited to departmentalise our time between now and Christmas, in order that certain things can be done to get the business through. If the House of Commons and its Members were in earnest about the problems which they are supposed to be here to solve, they would find business to do for every week of the year right throughout the year, without having these long holidays and then coming back and crying about lack of time.

As a private Member, I protest against the policy of taking away the best opportunity that constituencies have of direct representation. There are hundreds upon hundreds of questions which are not questions of State or questions that can be left to the Departments to deal with, but questions of great urgency that come up spontaneously from time to time, that ought to be ventilated in the House of Commons and for discussing which the House of Commons ought to have a prompt opportunity. It is not possible for that to be obtained under present circumstances, and I take this opportunity of entering my protest against this farce, this playing at politics, for that is what it is. The problems to be dealt with in this country are simply appalling—problems like those of poverty, the slums, overcrowding, unemployment, questions affecting the life and vitality and future of the whole country—yet

we go away for three months' holiday and then come back and say that we have not a minute of time in which to deal with these questions. As a private Member, I enter this protest.


Will the Government say anything about Scotland's decay, or is Scotland only worthy of being passed over, without remark?

Question put.

The House divided; Ayes, 269; Noes, 138.

Division No. 314.] AYES. [5.7 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)
Albery, Irving James Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro) Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Dalkeith, Earl of Holt, Capt. H. P.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Hopkins, J. W. W.
Astor, Viscountess Davies, Dr. Vernon Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)
Atkinson, C. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hopkinson, A.(Lancaster, Mossley)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Dawson, Sir Philip Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Dean, Arthur Wellesley Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)
Balniel, Lord Dixey, A. C. Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Drewe, C. Huntingfield, Lord
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Eden, Captain Anthony Hurd, Percy A.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Edmondson, Major A. J. Iliffe, Sir Edward M.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Elliot, Major Walter E. Jackson, Sir H.(Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Ellis, R. G. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
Berry, Sir George Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
Betterton, Henry B. Everard, W. Lindsay Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Fairfax, Captain J. G. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Falle, Sir Bertram G. King, Commodore Henry Douglas
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Knox, Sir Alfred
Blundell, F. N. Fielden, E. B. Lamb, J. Q.
Boothby, R. J. G. Ford, Sir P. J. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Bowater, Colonel Sir T. Vansittart Forrest, W. Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Foster, Sir Harry S. Loder, J. de V.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Galbraith, J. F. W. Long, Major Eric
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Ganzonl, Sir John Looker, Herbert William
Briggs, J. Harold Gates, Percy Lowe, Sir Francis William
Briscoe, Richard George Gilmour Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lumley, L. R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Glyn, Major R. G. C. MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Grace, John Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Grant, Sir J. A. Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. MacIntyre, I.
Buchan, John Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter McLean, Major A.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Greene, W. P. Crawford Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Bullock, Captain M. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Malone, Major P. B.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Campbell, E. T. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Waiter E. Margesson, Capt. D.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.) Gunston, Captain D. W. Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hacking. Captain Douglas H. Meller, R. J.
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Merriman, F. B.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N (Ladywood) Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne) Meyer, Sir Frank
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Hammersley, S. S. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Clayton, G. C. Harrison, G. J. C. Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hartington, Marquess of Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Moore, Sir Newton J.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Harvey. Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Morden, Col. W. Grant
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Haslam, Henry C. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Colman, N. C. D. Hawke, John Anthony Murchison, Sir Kenneth
Conway, Sir W. Martin Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph
Cooper, A. Duff Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle) Nelson, Sir Frank
Cope, Major William Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Couper, J. B. Henn, Sir Sydney H. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hilton, Cecil Nuttall, Ellis
O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Sanders, Sir Robert A. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Sanderson, Sir Frank Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Sandon, Lord Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Pennefather, Sir John Savory, S. S. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Penny, Frederick George Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)
Perkins, Colonel E. K. Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W) Ward, Lt.-Col.A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Perring, Sir William George Sheffield, Sir Berkeley Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Shepperson, E. W. Warrender, Sir Victor
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Pilcher, G. Skelton, A. N. Watts, Dr. T.
Pilditch, Sir Philip Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.) Wells, S. R.
Power, Sir John Cecil Smith-Carington, Neville W. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple
Pownall, Sir Assheton Smithers, Waldron Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Preston, William Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Price, Major C. W. M. Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Radford, E. A. Sprot, Sir Alexander Wilson, R R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Rawson, Sir Cooper Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F. Winby, Colonel L. P.
Remer, J. R. Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Remnant, Sir James Steel, Major Samuel Strang Withers, John James
Rentoul, G. S. Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C. Wolmer, Viscount
Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Womersley, W. J.
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chts'y) Styles, Captain H. Walter Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Ropner, Major L. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H. Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Tasker, R. Inigo. Worthington- Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Rye, F. G. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Salmon, Major I. Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell- TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Samuel. A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Tinne, J. A. Commander B. Eyres Monsell and
Sandeman, N. Stewart Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Colonel Gibbs.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hardie, George D. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Harney, E. A. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Attlee, Clement Richard Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Sitch, Charles H.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hayday, Arthur Slesser, Slr Henry H.
Baker, Walter Hayes, John Henry Smillie, Robert
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barnes, A. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Hirst, G. H. Snell, Harry
Bondfield, Margaret Hore-Belisha, Leslie Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Bowerman,Rt. Hon. Charles W Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Briant, Frank John, William (Rhondda, West) Stamford, T. W.
Broad, F. A. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Stephen, Campbell
Bromfield, William Kelly, W. T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Bromley, J. Kennedy, T. Strauss, E. A.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Sullivan, Joseph
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Kirkwood, D. Sutton, J. E.
Buchanan, G. Lawrence, Susan Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lawson, John James Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Charleton, H. C. Lee, F. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Clowes, S. Lowth, T. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Cluse, W. S. Lunn, William Thurtle, Ernest
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Tinker, John Joseph
Compton, Joseph Macklnder, W. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Connolly. M. MacLaren, Andrew Viant, S. P.
Cove, W. G. MacNeill-Weir, L. Wallhead, Richard C.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Dalton, Hugh March, S. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Maxton, James Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col D. (Rhondda)
Day, Colonel Harry Montague, Frederick Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Dennison, R. Morris, R H. Wellock, Wilfred
Dunnico, H. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Welsh, J. C.
Edge, Sir William Murnin, H. Westwood, J.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Naylor, T. E. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Fenby, T. D. Oliver, George Harold Whiteley, W.
Gardner, J. P. Paling, W. Wiggins, William Martin
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Ponsonby, Arthur Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Gosling, Harry Potts, John S. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Riley, Ben Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Ritson, J. Windsor, Walter
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Wright, W.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Rose, Frank H. Young, Robert Lancaster, Newton)
Groves, T. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Grundy, T. W. Scrymgeour, E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Sexton, James Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.

Ordered, That during the remainder of the Session— (1) Government Business do have precedence; (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 p.m.; (3) If the day be a Friday the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday.