HC Deb 11 April 1928 vol 162 cc1210-2
53. Sir K. WOOD

asked the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the inconvenience that may arise if the Housing Bill is circulated on the same day as the introduction of the Budget, he will endeavour to cause the same to be available to Members not later than the 13th instant?


I hope that the Bill will be in the hands of Members by to-morrow at the latest.


Have the events of last night any bearing on the date specified by-the Prime Minister for the Second Reading of the Bill?



Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Will copies of the Bill be distributed to the private meeting which is to be held upstairs to-morrow?

Mr. T. THOMSON (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Health whether it was correctly reported in the public Press that lie is to address a private meeting of the Conservative Members of the House in one of the Committee Rooms upstairs, in order to make a full statement on the Government's new housing policy, and in view of his repeated refusals to give this House further information as to what the Bill will contain, does he not consider that such a statement should be made on the Floor of the House, as members of all parties are equally interested in this vital social problem?


As the text of the Bill will be in the hands of all hon. Members by to-morrow morning at the latest, everyone in the House will have an equal opportunity of seeing what is the Government proposal. I know of no reason why a member of the Government should not discuss matters of policy with members of his own party when and where he likes.


Will the Bill be in the hands of all Members of the House before the private meeting is held?


Yes, I have said so.


I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it has not been the unbroken tradition of Parliamentary life for at least 30 or 40 years that no Minister has ever anticipated the presentation of a proposal by the Government to the House of Commons, which should be the first body to hear it, and whether it is not the case that in the lives and careers of Mr. Gladstone and other great Prime Ministers that rule has been most rigidly observed?


Is it not a fact that the Secretary for Scotland went to Edinburgh the other day and disclosed the housing proposals for Scotland, while we Scottish Members had not an opportunity of hearing them?


I have no knowledge as to the second supplementary question. As to the first supplementary question, I am of opinion that if my hon. Friend's statement is correct the precedent is a bad one, and that the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is a good one.


Is my right hon. Friend serious in stating that the precedent is a bad one which safeguards the fundamental right of the representatives of the people to have brought before them, before anyone else, any Measure that the Government intend to introduce, and is there any precedent in Parliamentary history of such a transaction as that which is contemplated by the Minister of Health to-morrow?


I think my hon. Friend is, if I may say so, stressing the wrong point. There is no question—as was explained by the Minister of Health —of anticipation. I cannot see, whether there is a precedent or not, that there is anything wrong in the Members of any party desiring to consult with a Minister in regard to a matter of this kind.


Will hon. Members on this side of the House be present?


Is this a new departure intended to avert untoward incidents like that which occurred last night?