HC Deb 28 June 1928 vol 219 cc725-89
The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I beg to move,

"That the Committee stage, the Report stage, and the Third Heading of the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Bill shall be proceeded with as follows:

(1) Committee Stage.

Three allotted days shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill, and the proceedings in Committee on each allotted day shall be as shown in the second column of the following Table, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of that Table.

TABLE I.—(Committee Stage.)
Allotted Day. Proceedings. Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.
First Clause 2 7.30
Clauses 3 and 4
Second Clauses 3 and 4 7.30
Clauses 5 to 8
Third Clauses 5 to 8 7.30
Clauses 9 and 10, New Clauses, Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion 10.30

(2) Report Stage and Third Reading.

Two allotted days shall be given to the Report stage and Third Reading, and the proceedings on each of those allotted days shall be those shown in the second column of the following Table; and those proceedings, if not previously brought to a conclusion, shall be brought to a conclusion at the times shown in the third column of that Table.

TABLE II.—(Report Stage and Third Reading.)
Allotted Day. Proceedings. Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.
First New Clauses and Clauses 1 and 2 7.30
Clauses 3 and 4 10.30
Second Rest of Bill and any other matter necessary to bring the Report stage to a conclusion 7.30
Third Reading 11.0

On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without Question put.

After this Order comes into operation, any day other than a Friday after the day on which this Order is passed shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order on which the Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day, and the Bill may be put down as the first Order of the Day on any Thursday notwithstanding anything in any Standing Orders of the House relating to the Business of Supply.

For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and shall next proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules; and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Government Amendments or of Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clauses or Schedules be added to the Bill, as the case may be.

Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 7.30 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10 on an allotted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Orders relating to the Sittings of the House.

On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order proceedings for that purpose shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.

On an allotted day no dilatory Motion on the Bill, for Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, nor Motion to re-commit the Bill, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.

Nothing in this Order shall—

  1. (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those 727 proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
  2. (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, after any proceedings to be concluded under this Order on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of."

I will first give the reasons which impelled me to put down this Motion, and I propose to fortify them by some examples of the use made of similar Motions on other occasions. The House will remember that when we first met in February, I told it that it was the intention of the Government to prorogue either at the end of July or at the beginning of August, and that a new Session would begin in the autumn. I believed that that would be of most general convenience to the House, partly because I think the House will be ready for some rest from its labours after six months; and, secondly, there is a desire, not confined to one party more than to another, to spend as much as possible of the Parliamentary holiday with their own families at the customary holiday time. Without passing this Motion to-day, it is quite clear that it would be impossible to prorogue at an early date in August. Besides this Bill, there is still a certain amount of business outstanding which must be secured before we separate, and it might be for the convenience of the House if I stated what we still have before us.

Taking the chief items of the outstanding business, we have still to get through seven allotted Supply days;

All stages of the Appropriation Bill;

The remaining stages of the Agricultural Credits Bill:

The Companies Bill;

The Finance Bill; and

The Re-organisation of Offices (Scotland) Bill.

There are a few minor Measures to which I shall allude in a moment, and there are routine Bills not yet introduced, such as the Isle of Man (Customs), the Public Works Loans and the Telegraph (Money).

There are certain contingencies of which I have not been made aware, for which time may be demanded by the Chairman of Ways and Means for the contentious Private Bills, and, of course, any Lords Amendments to Bills that may come down to us from another place.

Then of Bills not of the first importance, but which we hope to secure, there are a certain number still waiting either their Second Reading altogether, or their Second Reading partially, to be considered. There are the

Administration of Justice Bill;

The Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill;

The False Oaths (Scotland) Bill;

The Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill;

The Police Districts (Scotland) Bill;

The Reservoirs (Safety Provisions) Bill;

The Straits Settlements and Johore Territorial Waters (Agreement) Bill; and

The Superannuation (Diplomatic Service) Bill.

Then, awaiting Report and Third Reading, there are the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Bill, and an old and intimate friend of all of us, the Rabbits Bill.

Then the Money Resolution, Committee and Report have to be taken on the Administration of Justice Bill and the Naval Prize Bill.

I think now it is agreed that we shall not need a Financial Resolution for the Administration of Justice Bill, of which we propose to drop the very controversial portion in the hope that we may be able to get the rest of it, which is rather important. Then there is the Report stage of the Money Resolution on Mr. Speaker's Retirement Bill, the Lords Amendments to the Petroleum Bill, and, as I said, any other Bills to which they may think fit to make Amendments, and we are expecting to have from another place the Indian High Courts Bill and the Food and Drugs Adulteration (Consolidation) Bill. With regard to the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Bill, the Committee has considered and dealt with Clause 1. That took nearly two whole sitting days, and there are remaining nine Clauses and two Schedules, and there are a number of Amendments put down. It is quite evident, therefore, that without some form of restriction, the Debates might well last such a time as would take us certainly in to the middle of August, and, it might be, later. Therefore, the time table that we have put down provides for three further sittings in Committee, a day and a half on Report, and half a day or Third Reading, and taking into account the time already occupied on Second Reading and in Committee for this Bill, there will have been given no less than nine full sittings for all stages of the Bill.

I have always noticed—and I have had some experience of these Motions—that they are Motions as to which the House always expresses a certain reluctance before accepting, and it is always extremely pleased when the Motion has gone through, because two consequences result. One is that, knowing the time is limited, the House in its wisdom settles down to such Amendments as are of importance, and the Debates, in consequence, generally are much improved; and, secondly, the House gets to bed in reasonable time, having learnt by experience that it has a brighter intellect and clearer tongue at six o'clock in the evening than at six o'clock in the morning.

I have only one or two more observations to make, and I say these as one who has sat in the House, not as long as many who are here, but, still, during the greater time of the great Liberal administration before the War. This engine, if it might be so called, was perfected and utilised during that time in a way that it had not been used before or has been used since, and I think it was a favourite child of that great Parliamentarian Mr. Asquith, because he said on one occasion: Legislation on a large scale in regard to grave and complicated questions is impossible unless you resort to some sort of time-table and some allocation of time. He went on to say: I repudiate in the strongest possible terms and with the utmost depths of conviction that in the proposition I now lay be-fore the House we are endeavouring in any way to curtail the fullest and freest liberty of discussion and of criticism of this Measure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911; col. 121, Vol. 30.] He also said on a later occasion—and I must trouble the House with one more quotation, because I think it is so admirably expressed, and he was a man of meticulous care in the use of words— I have said over and over again, in the years when I was responsible for the conduct of the business of the House, that we should not be able to carry on the complicated Parliamentary machine unless we adopted in some form or other the timetable system.… I am strongly of opinion that the Closure and Guillotine are necessary instruments of Parliamentary procedure if this House is to be a really efficient legislative body."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 472, Vol. 144.] The Leader of the Labour party in 1921 (Mr. Cynes) thought these Motions might be justifiable in order to secure the passing of a very important Measure which the country was demanding.

The two reasons which make me think that the country approves of this Measure are (1) the very little criticism which has come so far from the country; and (2) that, although both parties as parties speak very loudly against our proposals in this House, at the same time individual Members of both parties come to the Chancellor frequently, begging that our proposals might be introduced at a much earlier, date.

I have kept my best to the last. I am sure the House will welcome back the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) after his holiday in the country. We are the more pleased to see him because we thought hat he would have reserved his entry undil he came bringing his sheaves with him. The right hon. Gentleman was a Member of that great Liberal Government which, during the whole time from 1906 to 1914, averaged three of these Motions a year. If this Motion goes through, this Government will have averaged 75 per year. The Coalition Government from 1918 to 1922 used it five times in four years. That is 1.25 Motions a year. The right hon. Gentleman has frequently expressed—it may be very often tacitly in those days—his appreciation of this method; he is, as one would expect from a man of his mental and physical agility, a kangaroo. He said: I trust that this House will never go back upon the principle of the kangaroo. He made this observation, which I commend to his followers, in July, 1921, either during or immediately after the passage of a much debated Bill which I had the honour of piloting through the House on his behalf—the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. This is what he said: The thing that will destroy Parliament is eternal repetition of the same arguments, the same propositions, the same reasons, and the same objections."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 510, Vol. 144.] He used those words in 1921, and, believe me, they are as true to-day as they were then. I think I have given sufficient reasons for this Motion to-day.


I beg to move to leave out from the word "that," in line 1, to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words: this House declines to assent to any limitation of debate, other than that provided by Standing Orders, in respect of a Bill which deals with difficult questions affecting the assessment of property prior to the granting of relief from rates and is calculated to lead to many anomalies and injustices unless properly examined and discussed with a view to amendment. I must apologise for the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, who had hoped to move this Amendment. With a good deal that the Prime Minister has said, I generally agree. I am not opposed to the use of the guillotine, and I am not sure that I cannot re-echo the words used by the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), but the arguments used by the Prime Minister were general arguments in defence of the guillotine and the kangaroo. That is not, however, the question now before the House. The question is not whether the House approves of the use of the guillotine, but whether the Government are entitled to use it on this particular occasion. On that, the Prime Minister said very little. His speech was one which I remember having heard before when a guillotine Motion was before the House. The guillotine is a perfectly proper method to protect the Government against frivolous obstruction, and I think that my recollection is right when I say that the use of this expedient by the Liberal Government before the War was due to the frivolous obstruction and opposition of the Conservative party. There must be some drastic method of opposing frivolous obstruction. But nobody can argue that on the proceedings on this Bill until now one single word of obstruction has been uttered. It is not that the progress on this Bill has been too slow. Its progress so far has been too rapid, having regard to the implications involved in the Measure. Therefore, the cry of frivolous obstruction and meaningless repetition does not apply to the Measure chat is now before us.

Secondly an appeal is made to Members under threat of the loss of their holidays. I can understand a Government, acting under the pressure of time, desiring to get an important Measure on the Statute Book before the end of the Session, but there is no such pressure of time as regards this particular Measure. It may be true that there are so many days still to be devoted to Supply, so many Bills to come before the House for final consideration, but that is no argument why there should on this particular Bill be such a hurry that it must be forced through by the end of July. Indeed, it would have been much more convenient to Members of the House and to the public if the Measure which we are now discussing, and the Measure which is to be presented in the new Session dealing with local government, had both been before the House at the same time. That has been one of our difficulties, and it would have facilitated discussion had the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health introduced this Bill with the complementary Measure in the autumn. I could understand the guillotine Motion being used if the Bill were a relatively unimportant Bill, but it happens that it is by way of being revolutionary, and it therefore requires a great deal more detailed examination than it is likely to receive.

The Prime Minister tells us that with the time we have already had on this Bill, and the time he is graciously going to permit us to have in the future, we shall have had nine days for all stages of the Bill. To use that as an argument in favour of the guillotine, is to pay very little attention to the desires of the House for reasonable and decent legislation. Nine days for a Bill of this magnitude is utterly inadequate. There are questions arising out of this Bill which, without any desire to obstruct, would require much more time for their proper consideration. I will not say a word about the merits of the Bill, but the extension of the principle of de-rating agricultural land, which was devised to meet very special circumstances, to a very large number of classes of hereditaments is so far-reaching in its importance, that it merits a great deal of consideration.

On Clauses 3 and 4 we are to have a Committee stage of no more than from six to seven hours. With the best will in the world, with the strongest desire to cut out every unnecessary word, and to facilitate the passage of the Bill through the House, six hours on the question of industrial hereditaments is a grotesquely small amount of time, and it is quite impossible to deal with all the issues that arise under those Clauses in the time allotted. Similarly, Clauses 5 to 8, of which Clause 5 is the most important, are to be given six or seven hours' consideration in Committee. Clause 5 raises very large questions which are perturbing the minds not merely of the dock authorities in the country, but even of the railway companies, who were so highly satisfied with the Measure at first glance; and to suppose that these interests can have their points settled, and that Clause 5 can be dealt with in a matter of six or seven hours, is absurd, to use no stronger word. When we come to consider what the Bill is bound to mean in the way of difficulties, anomalies, and injustices, it is quite clear that it is the kind of Measure which really merits very detailed treatment in the House. In the next place, this is not a Bill which has the unanimous approval even of members of the Government. A number of very important questions of substance are raised in Amendments in the names of Members of the Conservative party, Members who certainly are not animated by any desire to impede or embarrass the Government, and they are Amendments which have been put down because very substantial difficulties have arisen. Therefore, this is not the kind of Bill that has the unanimous support of that side of the House. Nor is it a Bill so simple that it can easily be disposed of.

In the use of the guillotine and its general desire to suppress the expression of opinion in this House, the Government become more and more audacious. The Prime Minister's statement that some earlier Liberal Government resorted to the guillotine three times per year, and that this Government have resorted to it only 75 per year, means nothing to those who are smarting under the injustice of having their rightful demands for criticism curtailed. Consider the history of this Bill. The Government were permitted by this House to proceed with a Measure which is merely part of a general scheme. It was a very difficult proposition to make to the House to say that we should have two Bills, but that the second Bill would be withheld from the House; we are asked to consider the first Bill in vacuo without relation to the Bill that is coming subsequently. That is imposing an unfair strain upon the House, and the result is that a great deal of time has already been spent in the discussions on Second Reading and in Committee on matters of confusion arising cut of the fact that the major proposal; of the scheme are withheld from us, and we cannot argue them. We have been told to wait and see, and that it would come out all right in the autumn. We have been told that our points of criticism will be met when the further Bill is before us, and all that we had to swallow. The Government's second step in audacity was to keep this Bill on the Floor of the House for the Committee stage. If ever there were a Bill which required the very close attention of a Standing Committee, point by point, it is this Bill. Clauses 3 and 5 especially are of a particularly detailed character, and can only be adequately discussed in a smaller body than the Committee of the Whole House. The Government decided to take the Committee stage on the Floor of the House, and, by doing so, they were enabled to make use of a procedure which severely limits discussion on the Bill.

Their final act of audacity, having withheld from us their proposals, having, by keeping; he Bill on the Floor of the House, restricted our opportunity for examination and criticism, is to come forward and entirely stifle discussion on certain important points. What it means is that, not merely on certain important questions in the Bill, is there to be curtailed discussion, but under the operation of the guillotine, it is inevitable that there will be a number of important points of substance on which not a single word will be uttered before the Bill goes through. That is a most unfair way of treating the House.

I have tried to make the most of the right hon. Gentleman's argument about time; I have tried to appreciate his point of view about the use of the guillotine, but the real reason for this method of dealing with this very important Bill is perfectly clear. The Government are afraid to face a detailed examination of the Measure. They are afraid that examination and criticism will reveal all its absurdities and its injustices. They are very uneasy that the revelations which are bound to come from a full discussion will convert some of their political friends into political opponents. Therefore, from the Government's point of view, the less said about this Bill the better. The Bill is not as we have been led to believe, a carefully considered Measure, and the result of a long period of incubation, it is panic legislation. It is an impulsive Measure which derived its first impetus from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose lack of political judgment is well known. A Bill with an origin like that, an illogical and impulsive Measure, a hastily-conceived Measure, which is part of a plan which still remains unknown to the House, needs very prolonged consideration if it is not to be a discredit to Parliament. But, of course, the Prime Minister and his colleagues are less concerned about discredit to Parliament than discredit to themselves, and the chief way of avoiding discredit to themselves, as they see it, is to stifle discussion of the Bill. If they had welcomed the full co-operation of the House in making the Bill a workmanlike Measure, faulty though it be, that would have been one fair method of admitting its imperfections and one fair method of putting those imperfections right, but instead of taking the House into their confidence they have preferred to fall back upon coercion and suppression in order to hide the shortcomings of the two Ministers who are primarily responsible, and to hide also the defects of the Bill.

I do not want to use very strong words, being a moderate-minded person, but this Motion does merit the strongest possible condemnation. We have not had the real reason why the Government are funking discussion on this Bill. It is on one hand because of its defects, but it is also because, if they do not get it through rapidly, they will never get it through at all, and because the body of criticism has increased. No doubt the Prime Minister is occupied with many other duties, and he does not appear to be aware that there is objection in the country to this Bill. Let me inform him he is entirely mistaken. Some of the earlier friends of the Measure are now questioning some of its provisions. Certain large interests have taken the Bill into their consideration and are most anxious for substantial amendments to be made. The House of Commons ought to consider that strong body of opinion outside, but the Government are more concerned to get the Bill through rapidly before the worst is known about it.

This Motion is the last refuge of an incompetent and muddled Government who have rushed into these proposals without proper consideration, and they are using this dodge, because it is only a dodge, to escape justifiable criticism and to evade or avoid complete exposure of their intellectual bankruptcy. That is the motive behind this Motion, and although I am afraid no words of mine will convince hon. Members opposite I still think there is justification on pure House of Commons grounds for our objection to the Motion. This Amendment is a protest against the suggestion that we should legislate in this way. There is no reason why the House of Commons should be as hasty and as impulsive as some Members of the Government, and in defence of the rights of the House of Commons and the full discussion of the principles of this Measure, I beg to move my Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment.


It would be idle for me to say that I have an objection to a Motion of this character. I have taken part in supporting such Motions and have defended them, and, apart altogether from precedent, I have been of the opinion for a very long time that it is impossible to get a highly contentious Measure through Parliament in anything like reasonable time without some procedure of this character. It is not merely a question of obstruction. I do not think the argument about obstruction is the conclusive one. You could have perfectly legitimate debates upon legitimate Amendments which would take up so much time that they would paralyse the whole activity and deliberations of Parliament unless there were some means of curtailing the discussions. Therefore, in principle, I certainly am not opposed to a guillotine Motion. I tried to get a big Bill through this House without the guillotine. It was the Budget of 1909. The result was that we went on from April to December. We sometimes had to sit till 6 o'clock in the morning, and even till 9 o'clock; and I thought at the time, and I am even more convinced of it now, that nothing was gained through the manner in which that Bill was amended—it did not improve it. The Government of the day were forced to accept Amendments to it not as a result of being convinced by appeals to reason but in order to facilitate the progress of the Bill. I do not think that is desirable in itself, and I am more than ever convinced that it is impossible and impracticable to carry through the House of Commons any great contentious Measure without some motion of this kind.

My appeal to the Government would be of a different character. But before I come to the specific appeal which I propose to make, I would make a general suggestion—I am not sure that I have not made it before—that in the future it would be desirable before the Government pat down a Motion of this kind that they should take into consultation the Opposition parties. I am speaking now merely as an old House of Commons man. No doubt the Opposition would press for more time than the Government could concede, but at any rate it is just conceivable that an arrangement could be made which would be suitable both to the Government and to the Opposition, because an Opposition party may want to concentrate more upon some particular Clauses. As long as they get their Bill in the time, the Government might allow the Opposition to indicate what they would prefer to discuss. I am throwing out this as a suggestion to right hon. Gentlemen who may at some future date be responsible for the direction of the affairs of this House, and I hope they will bear that in mind as a suggestion coming from one who has had a pretty long experience of the carrying through of Parliamentary business.

One general criticism I should make would be this, and it is a confirmation of what has fallen from the hon. Member for Nelson (Mr. A. Greenwood). The Prime Minister stated that nine days in all will be given to the discussion of this Measure. I do not quite know how he makes up his nine days, but I take the figure from him; but four of those days have been spent in debate at a time when we really were not in possession of the scheme of the Government. We shall have three Bills, the Finance Bill, this Bill and the third Bill, and I do not know when it will be strictly in order to discuss the whole of the scheme, whether it will be on the Budget, upon this Bill or upon the third. That is one of the difficulties of carrying through one great, comprehensive scheme by three different Measures which do not seem to be quite complete from the Parliamentary point of view. What is our position? This is a Bill for the purpose of determining the allocation of the fund placed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the disposal of the Ministry of Health—not in form, but in substance. This Measure will more or less determine the character of the beneficiaries, who the beneficiaries shall be, and what the exceptions shall be. We have discussed that subject for four days without knowing what the Government scheme was. I have been working out the meaning of sentences used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—quite sincerely, I can assure him—to try to find out what he really had in his mind. Nobody charges him with any lack of lucidity and I do not think he has been deliberately darkening counsel—I am sure he has not. On the other hand, the Minister of Health has been using certain phrases with regard to the particular method of allocating the money. Nobody would charge-him with lack of lucidity, but, all the same, I do not believe there is anybody in this House who quite knows what the Government's scheme is with regard to, say, the necessitous areas. I am told that to-morrow we are to have the scheme. I was not here at Question Time when an answer was given, but I understand the White Paper is to be circulated to-morrow.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain) indicated assent.


To-morrow, for the first time, we shall know what the scheme is, but for four days we have been discussing it on the basis of phrases used by the two Ministers. After tomorrow we shall begin to discuss this Bill on the basis of a document which shows what the allocations will be. But from the point of view of informative criticism, four days have been thrown away. I think there is great force in the contention of the hon. Member that the Government ought to take that into account. The Prime Minister said there was no criticism in the country. He is really quite wrong in that. It is no use arguing about that. When Ministers address a crowd of people who have come there to applaud and support them, naturally they do not hear criticisms, but there is a good deal of criticism in the country. That criticism is growing and it will become more and more formidable. The Minister of Health smiles. I wonder whether that smile will be as broad after his interviews with the local authorities. I think it is a smile that will wear away as the result of those interviews. I am not going to refer to any other indications of public opinion, because I am awaiting the results myself. I have been congratulated upon having had a holiday because I have been in the country. Heaven forfend that I should have many holidays of that sort-seven meetings in two days is hardly what I call a holiday.

The Prime Minister is making a mistake in imagining that there is not criticism, and very formidable criticism in the country of these schemes. That may be a matter of argument now, but when discussion in the country develops it will be quite clear whether Ministers are right or whether we are right. Though we are now in the region of conjecture, the time will come when we shall both be equally certain, whichever way it goes. Take those Clauses that are coming on now. Does the Minister of Health really think that he has given us adequate time to discuss them, even assuming that the principle of the Guillotine is accepted? Take the purely business discussion of these Clauses. There is hardly enough time to discuss the Amendments which have been put down by Members on the Government side, and certainly those are not wrecking Amendments. Take one very important Clause, Clause 2, which has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson, the agricultural Clause; or take Clause 3, which lays down the whole basis of the distribution. The Minister of Health, there, is practically recasting our rating system. That is a gigantic piece of work. One is bound to argue at the present moment from the point of view that the principle is a sound one, but, even assuming that the principle is a sound one, it requires very careful definition, and, unless two or three very important matters are discussed on each of these Clauses, the Minister of Health will find that it will result in endless litigation, and that there will be decisions given by the Courts which do not carry out the intentions of this House or of the right hon. Gentleman himself.

I am not going to dwell upon this point longer, because I understand that there is an Amendment, which I believe is in order, and which will make a special appeal for a couple of days. If that is the ease, I shall not dwell any longer upon this particular aspect of the matter, except to point out, generally, that I think the Minister of Health would be acting very much more wisely by giving us a little more time to discuss these very important practical issues. If the Opposition, instead of discussing the practical Amendments, take up time in discussing the general question of principle, that will be their fault entirely and their responsibility, but, at any rate, the Government will have afforded an opportunity for a more extended discussion of what I call the purely business Amendments; and I would honestly urge him to give more time to the discussion of Clauses 3 and 4.

I understand that there is a very important issue with regard to London, and another as to Scotland. I am not sufficiently well informed to be able to say anything upon those two particular issues; I am discussing now only the question of Clause 3 and Clause 4, upon which, if the Minister of Health will just glance at the Amendments, he will find that there are quite a number of what I call purely business and technical Amendments, the passing of which would have a considerable effect upon the working of this scheme, and upon which, I think, we ought to have discussion in this House, and ultimately a decision. Those Amendments do not affect the general principle of the Bill, and do not affect the finance, except perhaps to a very small extent. They might, perhaps, add slightly to the financial requirements, but they can add nothing which will in the slightest degree wreck the financial scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and the discussion of those Amendments will give us an opportunity to urge upon the Minister of Health certain improvements which would make the scheme a more workable scheme and certainly a fairer scheme. Therefore, I would support the Amendment if it is in order, as I understand it is, for an extension of time with regard to those matters.


I have been an interested listener to everything that has been said in support of the Motion by the Prime Minister, but I expected more cogent reasons to be given for that proposition than have been given. There are only two points put forward in favour of the Prime Minister's Motion. One is that there is not sufficient force of opinion in the country against this Bill to justify us in spending a great amount of time over it; and the second is that all the Members of this House are desirous of getting away for their holidays in August.

Take the first point. I do not want us to arrive at a time when we shall act only according to the representations which reach us from constituents, and shall only devote adequate time to Measures which attract a lot of attention on the part of constituents. I do not want the time to arrive when Parliament will be negligent in its work because it happens to be on a subject of which the country do not know anything at all. On the second point, with regard to the summer holiday, we on these benches are only human, like everybody else, and when the time comes for the holidays we shall welcome it. So far, the Prime Minister has not attempted to prove, what I thought he would have tried to prove, that there has been obstruction to the passage of this particular Bill. I have sat here most of the time while the Bill has been under discussion, and in my opinion no one can say that on the whole the discussion has not been well thought out. I contend that there has been no attempt at all to obstruct the passage of the Bill. If there had been, then I should agree that Parliament must take up the attitude that something must be done to put a stop to it, but the Prime Minister did not urge that at all. If he had done so, and had proved his case, then we would have readily agreed.

With regard to the second point, the question of Parliamentary time, let us assume that it will take another week to get this Measure through without the guillotine. Are we restricted as to time? If we take another week in August, will anybody complain? Surely, on an important Measure like this, the work which we have to do ought to come first, and we ought not to be thinking about how long our holiday shall be. I can say quite candidly that we on these benches are quite prepared to go on working as long as it is necessary to do so. Our first job is here; we are paid a certain amount of money to come here and see that the work is done. On this important Measure, which to my mind is one of the greatest Measures that could be considered by Parliament, if we think that time is required at least the Government ought not to stand in the way. It does occur to us, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson (Mr. A. Greenwood) pointed out, that the Government are afraid of a careful examination of this Measure. I should have expected the Members of the Government, especially the Minister of Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer who have laid themselves open to all kinds of criticism, to have been prepared to meet it at all points. But evidently there is something which they do not want brought forward; hence their curtailment of the Debate.

I am very sorry indeed that the Government have taken the attitude which they have done upon this matter, and I should have hoped that the Prime Minister would have put up a much better case in asking Parliament to make use of the great weapon of closuring the Debate; because it means closuring the Debate. We shall arrive at a stage in the end, it, may be, when many things remain which should be dealt with fully, but the guillotine will fall, and all discussion will be at an end. I do not know whether we shall have sufficient force on our side to enable us to defeat the Government; probably we will not, but Members of the Government must realise that, when we go to the country to tell them the position of affairs on this important Bill, they will want to know why the Members of the Government have not given ample time for the discussion of its provisions. For those reasons, I shall go into the Lobby against the passing of this proposition of the Prime Minister.


I quite agree, speaking as a long suffering Member on the back benches, that, if there is a profuse and tropical growth of speeches, you must make use of some such machinery as is suggested if the House is to cut them down, but there are certain Measures with regard to which it is true to say that it may be almost a danger to the Constitution for the Government of the day to use that weapon under the pretext of pressure of time; and this Bill, being part of a larger scheme which, when carried through, will in my opinion be more momentous than any Parliamentary scheme which has been carried through in the history of our Constitution, is, I submit, one of those Measures. The difficulty of discussing the Bill at all is obscured by the subsequent Bill which it is proposed to bring in later on in the year. I am not putting forward this argument as a sort of blocking speech, nor am I wasting time; I am putting it in all genuine seriousness. I think that more time ought to be devoted to the discussion of this Bill, and also of the third Bill which is to be brought in, than should be devoted to any other Bill which the Government may have in view.

The Prime Minister advanced very weak excuses for his proposal. He contended that there has not been a great deal of criticism of this Bill in the country. I submit that that is no argument at all. There was one Bill called the Law of Property Bill, which I dare say evoked no criticism from the ordinary people of the country, but which was a highly complicated and highly involved Measure. I well remember the famous Budget introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). At first, it seemed that the scheme underlying that Budget evoked popular applause, but the longer it was discussed and the more it was inquired into and analysed, the more violent became the reaction in the country; and we all know what was the subsequent history of that Act. This Bill is almost akin to the Measure referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, because this also deals with rating. These questions of rates and taxes, being somewhat technical, always appear to the man in the street to be questions of a very dry and uninteresting nature, and do not cause him excitement nor call for applause or condemnation. Therefore, it is no sound argument for the Prime Minister to submit to this House that, the Bill having so far provoked no great criticism from the ordinary people of the country, he feels safe in expediting its passage.

There is another point which the Prime Minister submitted, namely, that private Members are asking that this Bill may be pressed on as quickly as possible. It would be extremely interesting to find out who those private Members are. If they are private Members on the other side of the House, one can understand it, but, if they are private Members on this side of the House, I rather suspect that they are below the Gangway, because I could not entertain the idea that any Member of the Labour party has petitioned the Prime Minister to expedite the passage of such a Bill as this.

Coming to the Bill itself, and the reason why there is necessity for full and ample discussion, it has been suggested that certain Clauses of this Bill might be passed by the operation of the guillotine without much being lost; but I submit to the Minister of Health that there is great ambiguity with regard to the definition of agricultural hereditaments; and, again, when we come to railway valuation, the position is extremely obscure. I do not know how far the Government have made up their mind to recast these Clauses; but, when one comes to review the machinery of railway valuation, when one knows the condition in which that department of valuation has been for years, when one bears in mind that the incidence of valuation and the forms of valuation with regard to ordinary hereditaments are entirely different from those relating to railway hereditaments, then one finds it extremely difficult to understand how in this Bill there can have been inserted Clauses similar to those affecting the valuation of ordinary hereditaments. I do not know how far the Government have made up their mind to insert altogether new Clauses, but, if those Clauses stand, then in view of the intricacy and difficulty of railway valuation—and no settled policy so far as I know has been arrived at for properly valuing railways—I do not think the Minister can say, apart altogether from party politics, that it will be fair to use the guillotine upon those Clauses, or at least to deny to the House the opportunity of full and ample discussion.

5.0 p.m.

I believe, and I dare say the right hon. Gentleman himself believes, that what is wanted in this country is an entire revolution of the whole system of railway valuation, I am not now using offensive language in regard to the principles of the Bill, but merely its technique. Our archaic form of railway valuation has been extremely slipshod, ever since it first existed. The most competent valuers agree that our present system of valuation of railway property is entirely fallacious. There is no scientific valuation or rating of railway property. If we are to have a Bill of this kind at all, it is of the highest importance that the whole system in regard to the rating of this form of property should be revolutionised and that some centralised form of valuation should be drawn up. I do not see how it is possible, in fairness to the Opposition, and having regard to the present state of rating and valuation in this country, to dispose adequately of this Clause, when we only have five or six hours for discussion.

Then, when we come to the other Clauses, I think hon. Members will agree that the mainspring of this Bill is to be found in the valuation Clauses. They are entirely novel in character and, if put into action, they would mean separate valuation lists for the same kind of property, highly technical in character and involving great experience among valuers. I do not deny that we have such experience, but even our most experienced valuers working under this Bill would require more definite instructions, more straightforward and less ambiguous instructions, than are in this Bill now. Then we come to agricultural hereditaments, and I see here much difficulty arising again. As the Clause is drawn in regard to agricultural hereditaments, it would indeed be extremely easy for evasions to take place. Reading the Clause as to what land would gain the benefit of the proposal of the Government, and what land would not enjoy this benefit, reminds me of some of the fancy taxes brought in under a famous land valuation, when all sorts of evasions were drafted and the Finance Act of that year was finally dropped, because of the evasions cunningly devised by those opposed to the Measure. I have not so far challenged the principle of the Bill. I am not doing so. Much could be said about it by way of criticism. Along that line there is danger of getting out of order but as a Member of the House of Commons, faced with a Bill of this kind, so involved in its character as it is now drawn, and with administration arising out of it so momentous, I appeal in all sincerity to the Minister of Health that, while the Government uses the guillotine in regard to some of the minor Clauses of the Bill, he might use his influence with his colleagues in the Cabinet to see that some fail measure of time shall be devoted to this portion of the Bill dealing with instructions on valuation. The guillotine should not be used as fiercely on those parts of the Bill as in some others, and more especially is this the case in regard to Clause 5, which deals with the railways.

There is much dubiety as to who is the ultimate Court of Appeal, as far as instructions are laid down in the Schedule. Are the local authorities, working as the rating authorities, and the assessment committees, to be the final Court of Appeal or is the revenue officer to be the emperor who will rule in his particular area? I am not going to say any more with regard to that because I want to keep, if possible, to non-contentious grounds. There is, naturally, apprehension that, while ostensibly local authorities will have the last word in regard to any contention arising out of valuation assessments, the Schedule as now drawn would rather indicate that the revenue officer is supreme over the local authorities and the assessment committees in any question of distinction or difference of opinion. There, again, considerable time must be set apart to make that clear. It may be necessary to draft a new Clause, or new paragraphs to the Schedule, but the whole of this Bill is so momentous, and it may mean so much in the future, it is so involved and calls for so much technical skill, that I do appeal to the Government on this matter. I do not wish to offer more opposition than is necessary, but I do urge the Government to devote more attention to these particular Clauses to which I have called attention. If the guillotine is to be used at all, I urge that it should be used with greater discretion on those parts of the Bill to which I have referred. In that way there would be less excuse for us if, when we come to criticise the final element of this great composite scheme of the Government, we protest that we have not had ample time to discuss, amend and correct it where possible. I most sincerely ask the Minister of Health to do what he can to give us as much time as possible, taking everything into consideration, on these involved and technical parts of this Bill.


I must say a few words on this Motion, from an entirely different point of view from that of Members who are supporting or opposing it because of the merits or demerits of the particular Clauses or provisions of the Bill to which it relates. It seems to me that there is, on the face of it and at first hearing, great force in what was said by one hon. Member, that we ought to do our work and that if our work cannot be done in proper time, then we must make the necessary arrangements. That seems quite unanswerable, but there is really an answer to it. The answer is this: A Committee of the whole House is not useful work at all. It really has become an unreality, and an unreality prodigiously wasteful of human time and human effort. I shall vote in favour of this Motion, because it diminishes to some extent the burden on this House, without, I think, at all diminishing the efficiency of the proceedings of the House. Therefore, it is a gain, but, of course, it is a most absurd proposal. The only thing that can be said for it is that it is less absurd than the procedure that would follow if we did not have such a Resolution.

But is it not time that the majority of this House, or on the Front Benches, or whoever are to decide this question, tried to apply to the procedure of this House a more complete remedy? I suggest that there is quite an easy remedy. I do not suppose that really it is a remedy, because no evil is completely cured, but it will be a considerable alleviation of the evil under which we are at present suffering, and it might be quite easily applied. We have the alternative procedure now of sending a Bill to a Standing Committee, but at present that is attended by difficulties of its own, and those difficulties mainly result from the circumstances that the Standing Committee meets in the morning. Now, I admit, it is inconvenient for a great many Members to attend, and there is, therefore, some difficulty in getting a quorum or such a representative attendance that the majority of the Committee can come to a reasonable decision. Supposing you varied that procedure. Supposing that, in the months of April, May and June the House always adjourned as a House immediately after Questions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and that, thereupon, they sat in as many Standing Committees as were needed—five or six, perhaps, or not so many—and 80 or 100 Members attending each Committee, and dealing with the Committee stages of all the Bills; not only a few Bills, but all the Bills, except, of course, those purely formal Bills that go through Committee of the Whole House as a matter of course. The alteration required in the Standing Orders would be exceedingly small. We might need a new Standing Order permitting the adjournment of the House after Questions. Perhaps that would not be entirely necessary. The system would be simple from the point of view of technical procedure. You would adjourn always after Questions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in those three months, and it would work out that those Members who attended a Standing Committee in which there was not much business——

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Dennis Herbert)

I am loath to interrupt the Noble Lord, but I am afraid he must not develop this too far, because his suggestion would mean that an alteration of Standing Orders would be necessary. He is not entitled to discuss that on this occasion.


I only want to show how you could have a workable alternative to such a Resolution as this, and how you would relieve the House from what, I am sure, everybody recognises is a clumsy expedient. No one thinks, even the Government do not think, that this Motion is the best procedure possible. The only alternative, really, to these Motions is to have a larger recourse to Standing Committees. The only way to make these Standing Committees work well is to make the system easy and, therefore, there is a workable alternative. The only objection to it—it may be an advantage—is that the Government have not got necessarily the same control over Standing Committees as they have over the Whole House, but they can reverse the decision of a Standing Committee on the Report stage and, therefore, they have got control over procedure, although they may not have control in every detail which comes before the Standing Committee. But that is really an advantage, because I do not think you will get able men coming into this Parliament if they are merely to be tight-rope artists or mere mechanical machines for voting in the Lobby on certain occasions. If that were to be always the case, I do not think you will have them coming any more. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, perhaps, knows that, because if they do not attend, they receive circulars—I receive them—reminding them of their duties. I tell him, partly in sympathy and partly in contrition, that those often fail to produce that amendment which should follow repentance. But you always will have the difficulty of attendance, and the difficulty of getting able men to stand as candidates for Parliament, unless you can give them a real share—perhaps a subordinate share—in the legislative business. That would be secured, to some extent, in the Standing Committees.

Therefore, I press the Government to consider whether some alternative might not be made. I suppose that next Session we shall be on our death-beds and occupied entirely with preparations for our latter end, and, therefore, there will be no time for an arrangement of this kind, but, for those who take part in the joyful resurrection that will follow, this arrangement might be considered. The Government might consider whether, in the next Parliament, some such change in procedure might not be made, and the House spared these recurring Motions, which are an absurdity and a sham, but which are better than the long drawn-out, wearying, burdensome and quite useless procedure of Committee of the Whole House as it would be conducted without this Motion.


I do not propose to follow the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) in regard to the suggestions which he has made for the improvement of our procedure. I may have an opportunity of doing so upon some other occasion. I am sure many hon. Members feel that there is need for bringing our rules of procedure up-to-date, and I hope that an opportunity will be found before very long of doing so. Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) I do not intend offering any objections to the principle involved in the introduction of the guillotine Motion. What I do submit is that when we have to deal with a Bill of this importance and complexity, it is necessary to have every facility for the discussion of all the multifarious and complicated issues which arise. My point is that we need much greater facilities for discussing the effect of this Measure upon Scotland than are given in the particular Motion which is now before the House.

I wish to deal with this question from the Scottish point of view. The Prime Minister has referred to the general approval with which this Bill has been received, but that is not the case as far as Scotland is concerned. I am not referring just now to the rating proposals of the Government as a whole, but to this particular Bill, and the method which is proposed of applying the rating principles which it contains to Scotland. The Prime Minister has recently received a deputation from the National Farmers Union of Scotland protesting against the methods of the Government in applying their rating proposals to Scotland. We have had innumerable expressions of opinion in regard to this Bill in the Scottish Press, and from many Scottish public bodies, urging that the methods proposed by the Government of applying the plan of this Measure to Scotland demand revision. I do not propose to discuss the merits of these various questions at the present moment, but I wish to illustrate the sort of questions for which we demand more adequate opportunities of discussion. First of all, there is the idea of excluding houses. We would prefer some rates to be left on the land, and all rates removed from the houses. That has been the line of advance for many years in Scottish legislation, and more particularly in reference to small holdings.

There is nothing more distressing to the agricultural community in Scotland than the bad condition of housing, especially in the case of farm servants. Consequently, any proposal which would tend to penalise housing is a radically bad proposal, and the relief should be given to houses even more than to the land. In England, farmhouses and cottages are valued separately from the land. Now the Secretary of State for Scotland proposes to fix arbitrarily a proportion of the value of the whole hereditament to represent the value of the housing, and the proportion he suggests is one-sixth of the value of the holding. A great many anomalies and injustices will occur. Only the day before yesterday I heard from a man who has a large pastoral farm of about 2,000 acres, for which he pays £130 a year rent, and he told me that he will have to pay on £22, or one-sixth of the rental value, although the only house on his farm is a shepherd's house worth about £4 a year. That is the kind of anomaly which is inherent in the proposals which the Minister of Health has made. You may have a set of buildings which are adequate for a particular size of farm——


The hon. Baronet is now discussing the merits of the Bill. He must confine his remarks to the Motion before the House.


I am trying to illustrate my contention that in these matters there are great differences between Scotland and England. In Scotland, the landlords pay half of the rates. The position in Scotland is the result of a long-standing custom whereby the landlords pay half and the tenants pay half, and under the Acts which were passed in 1896 and 1923 the landlords now pay on three-quarters and the tenants on one-quarter. The Prime Minister says that the Government are going to give relief to industrial hereditaments, but it seems to me that in the case of Scotland whereas he is going to give the full relief to the landlords——


The hon. and gallant Gentleman is now discussing the merits of the Bill, and that is not in order.


I will pass from that subject, as I only desire to point out that in all these respects the conditions in Scotland are different from those in England. There is the difference in respect of the valuation of the buildings which in England are valued separately from the land, whereas in Scotland the holding is valued as one agricultural unit; and the difference in respect of the payment of rates which in England are all paid by the tenant, whereas in Scotland the landlord pays half. The proposals in the Bill which are made in order to meet these differences are not at all clear to the Scottish people, and we demand more information about them. As far as these proposals are understood in Scotland, they have received considerable opposition. Then in Scotland, the tenure of the smallholders is absolutely different from the tenure of any land in England.


I do not think that the hon. and gallant Member needs to go into that question for the purposes of any argument that is relevant to this particular Motion. The hon. and gallant Member may refer to the different forms of land tenure in Scotland for the purposes of arguing that more time should be given for the consideration of this Bill, but he must not go into that question in detail.


I was simply referring to this question to show that there was a difference as far as the tenure of the smallholder in Scotland is concerned. That means that the application of this Bill to smallholders will have to be very carefully considered. I will not submit any further illustrations to the House. I have chosen four or five different respects in which the situation as it affects Scotland is totally different from the situation in England. I am aware that I cannot discuss these questions in detail at the present moment, but I wish to say that Scottish Members will demand time to discuss them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] If I am out of order, I am sure the Deputy-Speaker will put me in order. I think I am in order in saying that we certainly shall demand adequate time for the discussion of each and all the points which I have raised.

We say that this Guillotine Motion, under which we are only allowed one day for the discussion of Clause 9, the Scottish Clause, along with Clause 10, the New Clauses, Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion, is quite inadequate, because it means that we shall only have one or two hours to discuss each and all of those very complicated and difficult points which I have mentioned this afternoon. We shall require half a day at least, and I think we should demand a clay for the discussion of those very difficult and complicated questions affecting Scotland. Several English Ministers have spoken on these rating proposals. We have had speeches from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister of Health, and the President of the Board of Trade, but not one single Minister had spoken on behalf of Scotland, no one had yet explained the application to Scotland of the scheme contained in this Bill, and we had had no statement on behalf of Scotland or any explanation of the Scottish situation until 7th June, when, for the first time, after the introduction of the Budget, we had a statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland. On that occasion, the whole of the time was mortgaged for the discussion of the broad issues presented by the rating proposals, and there has been no discussion whatever of the very difficult and separate problems presented by the application of these proposals to Scotland. Therefore, I do appeal to the Government to give at least one day for a full discussion of these Scottish problems. If they will announce that they will do that, I, for my part, shall be quite ready to vote for this Motion, but, if they deny to Scotland proper time for discussion of these problems, I shall have no hesitation in voting against the Motion.


It is a remarkable fact that every speaker up to the present has recorded his assent to the general proposition that the system of procedure which we call the Guillotine has become a necessary part of the procedure of the House of Commons, and that, indeed, without it, it would be impossible to carry on our business satisfactorily. My Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) has made an interesting suggestion for the improvement of our procedure by some other method, but I think that on the whole I am inclined to agree with him that discussion on that subject would be better postponed until the joyful Resurrection. I would only point out to him that there is one outstanding difference between the proceedings of a Committee of the whole House and those of Standing Committees upstairs, and that lies in the powers possessed by the Chairman; and, unless such a proposal were accompanied by the granting to the Chairman of a Standing Committee much greater powers than he has at present, it would be impossible entirely to substitute Standing Committees for a Committee of the whole House. I would like to say, with all respect to my Noble Friend, that I cannot quite agree that discussions in Committee of the whole House are necessarily useless. On the contrary, I have found that, although a body of such size might seem on the face of it to be a somewhat unwieldy one for dealing with matters of detail, nevertheless, when the House is in the right mood, discussions in this House are businesslike and extremely useful, not merely to the Members of the Opposition, but frequently to the Government, as pointing out how their Measures can be improved.


Could it not be done by means of deputations of Members interested to the Ministry of Health?


I am afraid that there would be difficulty in selecting the members of the deputation, because, as I daresay my Noble Friend has observed, Members who seem to act with intelligence on one day appear on another day to have lost all trace of it. Let me come to the particular grounds on which those who assent; in general to the principle of the Guillotine profess to take exception to its use on this special occasion. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Greenwood) appeared to be inclined to lay it down that the use of the Guillotine was only justifiable for dealing with prolonged, deliberate and frivolous obstruction——


And when there is pressure of time.


That is a very important addition. While I agree that such obstruction as the hon. Gentleman described might be in itself a complete justification for the introduction of the Guillotine, yet to my mind it is not necessary to rely upon that ground alone for the purpose of justifying the procedure that we are suggesting to the House this afternoon. I should be inclined to go a little further than the hon. Member. I agree that the question of time is a very important factor, and I am inclined myself to agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who, I think I am right in saying, said that in his view no highly contentious Measure could really, at any rate under our present Standing Orders, be satisfactorily dealt with in this House except under some restriction such as the Guillotine, because it is only under such restrictions that you can get discussion concentrated on the really vital points at issue. That is the view that I personally take, after a certain amount of experience in this House, and I believe that it will be found more and more in the future that, in the case of Measures of a complicated, lengthy or highly controversial character, it really is necessary to have some sort of time-table by which discussion can be divided into separate compartments on different parts of the Bill.

Unless you have that, the Opposition, who, naturally, are opposing the Bill, and almost inevitably must take advantage of every opportunity they can get to voice their opposition and prevent Bills from passing into law, may exhaust themselves at the beginning of the discussion in talking about matters which are not of vital importance, and, consequently, we come up against the position that, either there will be no time left for the remainder of the discussion, or the Closure must be applied. We can get on without the Guillotine by the free use of the Closure under the procedure of Standing Order No. 26. We have had occasion to make use of that procedure in the past, upstairs as well as down-stairs, but the Standing Order is one which, although it may be used when necessary if it is not possible to get through the business in any other way, does not lead to a thorough and exhaustive examination of the details of a Measure, and certainly does not tend to remove the impression of bitterness of feeling between the two sides.

Personally, I am not complaining on this occasion of any frivolous, prolonged or deliberate obstruction, but I do say that, if this Bill is to be got through in a reasonable time, and if we are to do what I believe all sections of the House-desire, that is to say, really to give serious attention to the most difficult and doubtful parts of the Bill—and, when I speak of doubtful parts, I mean questions on which there may be differences of opinion—I think it is necessary that we should have a time-table. I want to say another word also on the question of time. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister put the view that the House ought to get away for a reasonable period of rest, and that it would be convenient to hon. Members to spend their holidays at the same time as their families take them. An hon. Member opposite repudiated with some warmth the idea that he would for a moment put the question of holidays above that of work, and that, of course, is common ground; I am sure that not a single Member here would for a moment take a holiday if by any chance there was the possibility of doing work in this House. But there is a more important question of time involved. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reminded the House that, while hon. Members opposite are opposing and criticising our proposals, nevertheless, individual Members of both parties come to tell my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself, and also voice their views in this House, that industry of various kinds and in various parts of the country is in such a desperate plight that it cannot wait for 18 months, and that it ought at once to have some part at least of the benefit which it will ultimately receive under our proposals.

It will be within the recollection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who has indulged in a number of prophecies in connection with this Bill, prophesied, among other things, that the time-table which I sketched out to the House on the Second Reading of the Bill would be insufficient for our purpose, and that we should not be able to get through the necessary procedure of sorting out and classification in time to give the relief that we promised by the 1st October, 1929. If the right hon. Gentleman be correct in saying that I am taking considerable risks in that time-table, and that we shall have very serious difficulty in getting through all the work that has to be done in making these distinctions and classifications by the 1st October, 1929, does not that indicate to the House the necessity of getting this Bill passed at the earliest possible moment? Hon. Members in no part of the House can deny the force and cogency of that argument. Although it may be said that this is the wrong way of getting it, everyone agrees that some relief is urgently required for necessitous areas. That relief cannot be got without going through this process of investigation and examination of claims and insertion of the necessary information in the valuation list. The longer we take to pass this Bill, the longer the period before the Bill reaches the Statute Book, the greater will be the danger that we may miss the critical date, namely, the 1st October, when the new half-year begins, and the more important, therefore, it is that we should introduce such a procedure as will make it perfectly certain that no such disaster can ensue.

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, in a peroration which I think I have heard from him on more than one occasion before, found a reason for the bringing forward of this proposal in this way in the desire of the Government to restrict debate. Yes, we do desire to restrict debate which is irrelevant, but we have no desire to restrict—on the contrary, we shall welcome it—debate upon those parts of the Bill which we agree are matters on which there may be fair differences of opinion, and on which it is possible that Members may he able to put forward facts or considerations which we had not thought of or which have not been brought to our attention. We have the greatest possible interest in sending this Measure on to the Statute Book in the most perfect form possible. No one has such a great interest as we have in that. If it is wrong, if it becomes law in a form in which it will not work, it is the Government that is going to suffer. Therefore, we have no reason for restricting debate; on the contrary, we have every reason for getting our Measure sifted down to the very finest point. That does not mean, however, that we are to waste time in talking about comparatively trivial matters, and the effect of setting out a time-table such as that comprised in this Motion is that it gives the Opposition the change, of which they can avail themselves if they choose, of selecting the particular points to which they attach most importance and devoting their time to those points.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs did not object to our proposal on the ground that there had been no frivolous obstruction. He objected to it because he said there had been no consultation with the Members of the Opposition beforehand, and because he thought the time ought to be further extended. It is almost too much to expect that on a Motion of this kind you can get agreement between the Government and the Opposition as to the time necessary for the discussion of a particular Bill. But, of course, there is every opportunity for Members of the Opposition to put down their own ideas of how the time should be allocated, and while we have put down the arrangement of time as between the various Clauses which seems to us on the whole most convenient and to give the bulk of the time where it is most wanted, if hon. Members apposite will agree among themselves upon any other distribution of the five days available we shall not raise any objection.


My difficulty is that you cannot get sufficient time to discuss important points arising on, say, Clause 5. The time is cut so closely with only three; days that it is quite impossible to get a fair distribution for the substantial points.


I was not so much addressing myself to the hon. Gentleman's point, which I understood to be that he wants more time altogether, but, having examined the Clauses very carefully, I came to the conclusion that we have allowed quite enough time for the important Clauses of the Bill. Clause 2 deals with the definition of agricultural land, and there is practically nothing new in that. The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) said there were innumerable opportunities for evasion in the Bill. The definition is not a new one. It is an old definition. It has stood the test of over 30 years. The relief of agricultural land and buildings is not new. It already exists. All we are doing in regard to agricultural land and buildings is to increase the relief from 75 per cent. to 100 per cent. There is no new principle involved in that. It seems to me there is really only one point of any substance on the Clause, and that is the question of the severance of sporting rights from the value of the land. Clause 3 is important, but Clause 4 does not compare with it, and we thought in giving a whole day to Clauses 3 and 4, we were affording ample time for concentrated discussion on the points that arise. Our discussions on Clause 1 ranged over a very wide area and we settled in those discussions some points which might very easily have been raised on Clause 3, and it is not necessary to discuss them again. Therefore, on Clause 3, important as it is, and desirable as it is that it should be debated, there is hardly sufficient matter to justify more than the time given.


Seven hours!


You can do a wonderful lot of discussion in seven hours if you address yourself strictly to the point. Clauses 5 and 6 are parallel to 3 and 4. There are special questions to be raised on them but, as has Been pointed out by hon. Members opposite, they are not so much Opposition Amendments. They are put down by Members on this side.


On all sides.


I thought it was suggested by hon. Members opposite that a good many have been put down by hon. Members behind me. At any rate, there are Amendments that are suggested by the railway companies. Of course it is necessary for bodies who are interested in a Measure of this kind to put down Amendments in order to protect their position, but it does not follow that, when you come to see what their position is and have time to examine their arguments, you may not be able to meet interests of this kind to some extent and, if so, we may very easily find that the questions that remain to be discussed on Clauses 5 and 6 are not very serious. There is only one other Clause of real serious importance and that is the Scottish Clause. There again, if hon. Members from Scotland think the time insufficient, let them come to an agreement with their colleagues. It is rather for them than for us. As long as we do not run over the total time we have put down for the Bill, I can assure them they will not find us raising any difficulty about a re-arrangement of the time.


I feel that this Motion is an abuse of a very sound principle. The Noble Lord said the Guillotine was a clumsy instrument. I do not know whether I agree with him. I think it can be, and ought to be, a very highly polished and efficient scientific instrument for the control of sensible debate in the House. I do not know, however, that I agree entirely with what the Noble Lord said on the subject of Standing Committees. We have to protect the interests of the House itself, and we have to be fully aware all the time that this is the centre of British politics and British administration, and to look with extreme jealousy upon any proposal to make the methods of Government a mere hole-and-corner affair. Nevertheless, there may be something to be said for his point of view if that protection is made to be found in an adequate Report stage. Although I agree with the principle of the Guillotine as an efficient instrument of government and of discussion, I think this is a Measure that requires much more time than the ordinary Measure that is debated in this House, and this stage of the policy of the Government embodied in this Measure is surely one of the most vital stages in that policy. The policy is one upon which by-elections are being fought and about which members of the Government are going to constituencies to talk and appeal to the people, and this cramping of time upon such a vital stage in this discussion of that policy is exceedingly bad. On the other hand, I agree that it ought to be possible, in nine days, on an ordinary Measure, though not on such a Measure of firstclass importance as this, to say everything for and against that can be said about it. The drip, drip, drip of repetition that goes on in this House is appalling, and if a scientific instrument could be devised much more up-to-date and efficient than the present procedure of the House it would be of great advantage to us and to the business of the nation.

I want to speak in very strong terms of the point put by the Prime Minister, that certain business has to be done, and if we are to do it in time to enjoy our holidays with our families, our Debates must be restricted. It is time a protest was made against the attitude of those who speak from the old traditional aspect of business in this House. The idea that Government is the hobby of a leisured class and that it must not interfere with their social or business considerations, has got to be overthrown if we are ever to deal effectively with the great social problems we are sent here to deal with. We have already had twice the holiday—and we have been paid for it—that the great majority of people in my constituency ever get, although they work hard during the rest of the year. I go to a poor constituency. How am I to explain and to justify, not only the interim holiday we have had, but the coming three months' holiday? And yet the plea is put forward that there is not the Parliamentary time available to deal with important matters. I cannot excuse myself. All I can do is to utilise my time as best I can, as others here do, and probably many in other parts of the House, in propaganda and general political work outside. But our real business is in this House, and we ought not to talk about lack of Parliamentary time when we are looking forward to taking three months' holiday now and more than three months in the course of the year.

6.0 p.m.

It is said our work is very strenuous while we are here. It may be. We have all-night sittings, as we did the night before last. Fortunately I was not here. I was at Carmarthen helping to bring in the sheaves, which are nearly ripe. But I read the Report of the Debate and, judging by what I read, the House was deliberately wasting time. The Debate was one of the most futile we could have had. That kind of thing goes on here in this de-vitalised atmosphere, and we talk about strenuous work. There is room for improvement and room for better business principles. If we applied ourselves on businesslike lines to these things, we should not have so much occasion to talk about the strenuousness of our work. It would be quite possible for the Government to give the House the opportunity to come back, not in November but in October. Why not? We have all the time we want to have with our families. I wonder how many Members of this House want to spend two months with their families. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I will undertake to say why not. The average Member of the House will not do anything of the kind. You talk about spending your time with your families apart from the home life one has in the ordinary way! I do not think that it is necessary to make a plea of that kind in order to shirk the real work that we are sent to do and that we are paid to do. I do not think our families will be likely to object to our doing that work and doing it in a businesslike and an efficient way. There is no danger of anything being held up if we have our holidays at a time when we can spend them with our families, that is to say, from the beginning of August, and then come back in October in order to deal with the Measure preliminary to the other parts of the policy of the Government. I enter my most emphatic protest once again against the idea that the House of Commons has to have all this holiday time simply because of the old tradition that politics is the hobby of people who have great social and great business responsibilities or activities. They have to look at the business government of this country from a different point of view in the future. Problems of economics and of industry and the great social questions demand better business principles and the whole of the time of hon. Members and not simply time given as a hobby.


Like almost every other Member who has spoken, I regard the guillotine at the present juncture in our Parliamentary system as a most unfortunate but necessary expedient. I can quite realise that the Government are bound on occasions to introduce it and to enforce it. I rise at this juncture to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to give us a reply to the arguments which were advanced by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). It is typical of this Bill that the reply has come entirely from an English Minister. Our objection, as Scottish Members, to this Bill is that it includes the whole of the rating system of Scotland as a mere afterthought. So far we have heard very little from the responsible Minister for Scotland about the Scottish rating system. He knows, as every Member of the House knows, that there is a special rating system in Scotland, and that Commission after Commission has sat to consider improvements in the rating system of Scotland in the same way as Commission after Commission has sat to consider the rating improvements in England, thereby identifying the system of rating in Scotland as a purely Scottish system. This is a purely English Bill. In reality it has nothing to do with Scotland, yet it interferes with and revolutionises the whole rating system of Scotland.

My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland put the Scottish case very fully. We have asked for at least half a day if not a whole day. An hon. Friend behind me suggests that we have asked for a whole day. I put down an Amendment to that effect. I understand that that Amendment is out of order, but this is the only opportunity which we have of pressing the Scottish claim. I see, for example, in the time-table of the English part of the Bill, that Clause 2 is given up to 7.30 on the first allotted day, but Clause 2 in the Bill deals with English agriculture. Scottish agriculture is just as important as English agriculture, and from the rating point of view much more difficult. We in Scotland are not getting half a day for Scottish agriculture. We are not even getting half a day for the whole of Scottish rating, including Scottish agriculture. Surely, the Prime Minister must regard that as an indefensible position. I would beg of the Prime Minister to give his personal attention to this claim. It is not an exaggerated claim. It is a fair and a just claim. We merely ask that the Scottish rating system should not be put in this Clause and merely treated as an appendage to an English Bill. We ask that fair and reasonable time should be given for a discussion of what in Scotland is just as important as the rating system in England.

Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland stand at that Box and give us some sort of reply to the contention that we are putting forward? My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has suggested to us that the Scottish Members should go as a deputation and arrange a time. Who should lead us in that deputation more properly than the Secretary of State for Scotland? If I might be allowed to say so, I would move that the Secretary of State for Scotland be now the chairman of that deputation. I would, therefore, ask him to take the opportunity which has been offered of really acting as the first commoner in Scotland and pressing Scottish claims in the proper quarter. I am sure that if he did so he would meet with the approval of all Scottish Members. He knows from his post-bag as well as I do that nobody in Scotland really understands the proposals which are being put forward. I have seen resolutions from most important bodies of farmers, not a single one of whom understands the proposals. Surely, therefore, my right hon. Friend must see that in the interests of the good government of Scotland he ought to stand up now and declare that Scottish interests in this connection should not be overlooked, and that they should be given at least half a day in the general discussion.

Brigadier-General CHARTERIS

I would like, in speaking from these benches, to reinforce as far as I can the request that has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) and by previous speakers. I do think—and I am talking here solely from the point of view of Scotland—that the alterations which are going to be made in the rating of Scotland are of sufficient importance to require more discussion than can be given in the limited time provided in the timetable laid down by the Government. I admit at once that the guillotine, a necessary instrument, must mean that some subjects have to suffer at the expense of others, but I do urge, from the Scottish point of view, that we are here going to make a change which it will be enormously difficult to explain to the people of Scotland. They will look to this House for an explanation of it, and if the discussion is shortened or the question is burked in any way, I think that Scotland will have a just cause for grievance. I, therefore, venture to say to the Minister of Health, and particularly to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, that while we Unionist Members are very loath, indeed, to impede in any way the conduct of business, yet we in common with other Scottish Members do urge that Scotland should have a larger proportion of time than that which is allowed under the time-table. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I notice that the Opposition agree with that. They may regard this as a revolt. There is no revolt. I am sure that I have not made any suggestion that is offensive to the Opposition, but I can assure the House, as I assure the Secretary of State for Scotland, that in the remarks I am making I am speaking not only for myself but, I am sure, I am giving expression to the opinion field by every Scottish Unionist Member if not by every Scottish Member in the House of Commons at the present time.


I am not sure that the best way that we of the Opposition can deal with this Bill is to allow it to go through in the most chaotic fashion possible. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland does not prompt the varied interests in Scotland to put their case on this Clause and to have it thoroughly discussed, nothing but chaos will result. Every hon. Member knows from his postbag that large and representative bodies in Scotland simply do not understand with what this Clause deals. The Secretary of State for Scotland is aware that there are fundamental difficulties between the Scottish position and the English position. He knows, for example, that it is only in Scotland and not in England that in the Bill which is before us the tenant farmer is going to be in pocket; that he is not only going to avoid his rates but he is going to have money handed back to him. That is not going to apply to Scotland. All sorts of different circumstances will arise out of the chaotic condition which will result if Clause 9 is not properly considered. I am hoping that in the interests of Scotland this Clause will be properly considered and adequate time allowed for it. But in the political interests which I have more largely at heart—it is in the fundamental interests of Scotland at the moment to "turtle" this Government—this best thing that can happen is that under the guillotine Motion such as is proposed all the varied and distinctive legislation in Scotland shall be thrown into chaos and we shall be treated as a mere satellite of England. That is going to happen unless the Secretary of State for Scotland insists upon adequate time being given for the discussion of Clause 9.

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)

I appreciate, of course very much indeed the anxiety which my fellow Members from Scotland have on a subject such as this proposal to incorporate all matters connected with the rating system. As one who has been responsible for investigating the subject of the proposals to this House, no-one appreciates more the intricacies and the difficulties which the problem presents. I will say at once that the Government are conscious of the fact that this matter is one which, in justice to Scotland and to Scottish Members, should be given a fair and a reasonable time. I am, therefore, prepared to say here and now on behalf of the Government that they will give an extra half day for a discussion on the Committee stage of this Clause dealing with Scottish interests. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will, at a later stage, move the necessary Amendment so that this can be done.

Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY

The result of nearly half a day's discussion has been that we are going to get an extra half day for Scotland. One of my hon. Friends has talked about the drip of repetition in this House. In supporting that view, I would refer to what the Minister of Health said earlier about the unnecessary speeches that are made on every important Measure, and I would allude particularly to the fact that we have been debating a guillotine Motion, which is intended to save time, ever since a quarter to four. Looking at the Amendments on the Order Paper, we are likely to be engaged for a considerable time yet. The trouble is, that whenever an important Measure is introduced, no matter what the Government may be, they have to introduce a guillotine Motion. No Government has done anything to remove the necessity for the guillotine. You will agree, Mr. Speaker, as you are in a position to realise, that the lesson before us under the present procedure is that the machinery of Parliament is breaking down. It is inadequate to carry out the modest programme even of the present Government. The Government had the intention of rising about the third week in July, and to begin the new Session before Christmas. That programme has gone by the board. They will, no doubt, have to sacrifice a number of minor but useful Measures, although earlier in the Session we wasted day after day by rising at 5 or 6 o'clock, or even earlier in the evening.

The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) put his finger on one of the causes of the trouble, and that is that the Committee of the whole House is an extremely clumsy and inefficient way of dealing with a complicated and difficult Measure like this, especially a technical Measure. This Bill, in the first place, should have been sent to a carefully-chosen Standing Committee upstairs, as was done with the Railway Amalgamation Bill—a very big Bill but not so important as this one—and the technical part of the Bill should be thoroughly thrashed out upstairs. The Standing Committee system should be far more largely adopted, instead of our wasting time first of all and then having to submit to the guillotine. A further lesson which we have learned to-day, during the last hour and a half, when the Scottish Members had adorned the Debate with their speeches, is that it is absolutely necessary to remove Scottish affairs from the floor of this building in Westminster.

This Bill is intended to deal with Scotland. The reason is that the Government have not time to introduce two separate Bills. The sensible thing would have been to introduce a second Bill dealing with the entirely different case of Scotland, but there was no time to occupy the whole of the British House of Commons in dealing with a Scottish Bill, in the present state of the timetable. If anything could demonstrate the need for the devolution of Scottish affairs, this afternoon's proceedings have surely proved it. I hope that to-day's proceedings will be noted over the border, and that the movement for Scottish devolution or Scottish Home Rule will be immensely strengthened. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) would not then have to be curtailed on the Floor of this House, but would receive attention in a purely Scottish assembly.

The third lesson is clear, and I would apply it to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. I have great sympathy with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. He is trying to perform a very important task with obsolete machinery. Our system of procedure in this House has become impossible, and that is why a guillotine Motion has to be brought in, much against the will of the right hon. Gentleman, whenever a first-class Measure is under discussion. We had such a Motion last year and the year before, and the previous Conservative Government had one. We had guillotine Motions galore during the Coalition Government's tenure of office. I have seen about 20 guillotine Motions introduced in the last 10 years. The Prime Minister gave us a sketch of the business of the remaining part of the Session. We have still seven days of Supply. I am going to use strong language now. Every Session this House wastes 20 days in Committee of Supply of the Whole House. For the real purpose of bringing forward grievances before Supply and bringing about economies in administration, these 20 Supply days in Committee of the Whole House are absolutely useless. It would be very much better instead of having 20 Supply days on the Floor of this House to set up Standing Committees for each of the principal spending departments, in Grand Committee upstairs, proportionate to the strength of parties in the House. The detailed examination of the Estimates should then take place upstairs, and a defeat in Standing Committee should not lead to the resignation of the Government.


The hon. and gallant Member must not extend the discussion to a general Debate on how Supply days should be allocated.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I apologise. I did not intend to do that. I was only following up the argument which was started by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University. Some remedy must be found for the congestion of business which leads to the necessity of such a guillotine measure. This is an extreme case of the guillotine being undesirable—it is always undesirable, because it impairs the rights of the House of Commons—in view of the complications of this Bill and how much it affects every interest in the country. The use of the guillotine will mean that certain important parts of the Bill must be left undiscussed and there will be complications and difficulties outside, and litigation will result. I do hope that during the long holidays of which my hon. Friends have complained, the three months' recess, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury will take counsel with his friends and see if some better method of saving the time of Parliament could not be arrived at. I suggest first of all, an alteration of the Standing Rules of Committee upstairs and the better use of the available time at the beginning of the Session. The legislative programme of the present Government is meagre. Imagine a strong Labour Government, with a large majority, bringing in a complicated and lengthy programme of legislation on, say, six great subjects of social importance! What would our possibilities be of making any real progress without continual resort to the guillotine, under the present procedure? This is one of the greatest problems of Parliamentary Government, because if the Parliamentary machine breaks down very many serious things may happen, and much chaos may result.


I am glad to support the suggestion coming from Scotland that another half-day should be allocated to Scotland, and I suggest that proper consideration should be given to England. I do hope that in giving this extra time to Scotland the interests of the rest of the country will not be sacrificed. I am glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health in his place. The Secretary of State for Scotland looks after the interests of Scotland, and I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, as a London Member, not to sacrifice the interests of London. London has a special case of its own. Clause V deals with the separate issue of London. London is very seriously affected, because it is now exempted from the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925, but under Clause 7 that Act is to be extended to London. There is a very reasonable proposal on the Paper that a half-day should be allotted to London.

Not only is London the capital of this country and of the Empire but we have a population of 4,500,000, with great assessable value, that assessable value being unevenly distributed. There are a great number of local authorities with different assessments which are done locally under the supervision of the London County Council. There is an Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Fulham (Colonel Vaughan-Morgan) who is a Member for a London constituency, an ex-Chairman of the London County Council and a present member of the London County Council. He will move his Amendment, or we hope he will do so, although it is suggested that he may not move it. I do not suppose that he will have a chance under the Guillotine. I want to be sure that the hon. Member, as a supporter of the Government and a representative of an important authority like the London County Council, will have an opportunity not only to move his Amendment but to have it discussed. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health as a Member for Woolwich and not as a member of the Government, to see that London interests are not sacrificed for those of Scotland. By all means let Scotland have its fair share of discussion. I recognise that Scotland has special claims, but what is the population of Scotland compared with that of London? Of course, there are many Scottish people in London, thousands of them, but London represents a higher assessable value, and a greater population than Scotland.


Is the hon. Member, aware that according to the last Census there were more English people taking money in Scotland than there were Scottish people in London?


That seems to indicate that Scotland is becoming more prosperous. I do not want to rob Scotland of time, and I will support the Amendment that gives Scotland a full share of the discussion on this important Bill, but I do ask the right hon. Gentleman for Woolwich, West (Sir K. Wood) to see that we get a half day in which to discuss Cause V.


I am glad that the Government have seen fit to give the extra half day to Scotland. Although I think that is quite inadequate, at least it is a step in the right direction, and one is grateful for that. It seems to me extraordinary that in arranging this programme the Secretary of State for Scotland should not have seen to it that Scottish interests were protected, and that it should not have been necessary to take up time to-day discussing the amount of time that should be given to Scotland. I have had complaints in regard to the fact that in the Government the Scottish representatives seem to lose sight of Scottish interests and that it is only by the constant urge of Scottish Members in this House that we are able to get more attention paid to Scotland. However, better late than never, and I am glad we have had this act of penitence on the part of the Secretary of State. It is rather a pity that more time is not allocated to a Measure like this. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Patronage Secretary in the arrangements he has to make and I am prepared to make him an offer now. If the Government would see their way to make it a full day we are quite willing to see the Re-organisation of Offices (Scotland) Bill abandoned by the Government thrown on the scrapheap. We do not want it; and it would give more time for other business.

The Government are constantly pressing the importance of this Eating and

Valuation Measure, which, according to the rhetoric of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is going to revive British industries; foreign merchants are going to fall over one another in their endeavour to get British goods. If it is so fearfully important as that surely this House might put off its holiday for another week, extend the Session for another week, in order to adequately debate the proposal. If it is really true that this Measure is going to add so much to the prosperity of the industries of this country then nothing should be wanting to provide adequate discussion so that every hon. Member who has something to contribute to the subject might have an opportunity of doing so. I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury would be well advised to accept the suggestion of taking a week off the long holidays. I know he is a little bit tired; the House has been so dull for many weeks past that both he and his supporters are tired, but this Measure seems to be stimulating interest among all parties in the House and I am sure that agricultural and other industries will agree that another week spent in trying to make it effective would be a week well spent.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the end of line 3, stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 125.

Division No. 218.] AYES. [6.37 p.m.
Albery, Irving James Briscoe, Richard George Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Brittain, Sir Harry Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Brocklebank, C. E. R. Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Davies, Dr. Vernon
Astor, Viscountess Buchan, John Dawson, Sir Philip
Atholl, Duchess of Buckingham, Sir H. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert
Atkinson, C. Burman, J. B. Drewe, C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D. Eden, Captain Anthony
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Burton, Colonel H. W. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Elliot, Major Walter E.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Campbell, E. T. Ellis, R. G.
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Carver, Major W. H. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith
Bennett, A. J. Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Everard, W. Lindsay
Berry, Sir George Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Bethel, A. Charterls, Brigadier-General J. Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Betterton, Henry B. Chilcott, Sir Warden Fielden, E. B.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Cobb, Sir Cyril Finburgh, S.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Ford, Sir P. J.
Blundell, F. N. Cope, Major Sir William Foster, Sir Henry S.
Boothby, R. J. G. Couper, J. B. Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Courtauld, Major J. S. Fraser, Captain Ian
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Galbraith, J. F. W.
Brass, Captain W. Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim) Gates, Percy
Brassey, Sir Leonard Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Gamour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Briggs, J. Harold Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Grace, John
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sandon, Lord
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cetncert) Savery, S. S.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Maclntyre, Ian Shepperson, E. W.
Grotrian, H. Brent McLean, Major A. Skelton, A. N.
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Macmillan, Captain H. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Gunston, Captain D. W. Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hacking, Douglas H. MacRobert, Alexander M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Hanbury, C. Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Sprot, Sir Alexander
Harrison, G. J. C. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Hartington, Marquess of Malone, Major P. B. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Margesson, Captain D. Storry-Deans, R.
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian Mellor, R. J. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Tasker, R. Inlgo.
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Templeton, W. P.
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Tinne, J. A.
Holt, Captain H. P. Neville, Sir Reginald J. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Hope, Capt. A. D. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exnter) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hopkins, J. W. W. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Pirsfild.) Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Nuttall, Ellis Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Oakley, T. Waddington, R.
Hume, Sir G. H. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Hurst, Gerald B. Pennefather, Sir John Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Penny, Frederick George Warrender, Sir Victor
Iveagh, Countess of Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Jephcott, A. R. Perring, Sir William George Watts, Sir Thomas
King, Commodore Henry Douglas Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wells, S. R.
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Knox, Sir Alfred Pilcher, G. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Lamb, J. Q. Power, Sir John Cecil Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Pownall, Sir Assheton Withers, John James
Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Preston, William Wolmer, Viscount
Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Radford, E. A. Womersley, W. J.
Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Burner, J. R. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Loder, J. de V. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Wragg, Herbert
Looker, Herbert William Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Lougher, Lewis Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
Lowe, Sir Francis William Rye, F. G.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Salmon, Major I. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Captain Bowyer and Captain Wallace.
Lumley, L. R. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Lynn, Sir R. J. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Greenall, T. Montague, Frederick
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Murnin, H.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillstro') Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Naylor, T. E.
Ammon, Charles George Groves, T. Owen, Major G.
Attlee, Clement Richard Grundy, T. W. Palin, John Henry
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normantor) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Baker, Walter Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Ponsonby, Arthur
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Harney, E. A. Potts, John S.
Barr, J. Harris, Percy A. Purcell, A. A.
Bondfield, Margaret Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hayday, Arthur Ritson, J.
Briant, Frank Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Bromfield, William Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Saklatvala, Shapurji
Bromley, J. Hirst, G. H. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Scrymgeour, E.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Scurr, John
Buchanan, G. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Sexton, James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Charleton, H. C. John, William (Rnondda, West) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Shinwell, E.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Compton, Joseph Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Sitch, Charles H.
Connolly, M. Kelly, W. T. Smillie, Robert
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, T. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Crawfurd, H. E. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph VI. Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Dalton, Hugh Kirkwood, D. Snell, Harry
Davies, Rhys John (Wetthoughton) Lansbury, George Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Day, Harry Lawrence, Susan Stamford, T. W.
Dunnico, H. Lawson, John James Stephen, Campbell
Edge, Sir William Lowth, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lunn, William Strauss, E. A.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Sullivan, J.
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Mackinder, W. Sutton, J. E.
Gibbins, Joseph MacLaren, Andrew Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Gillett, George M. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)
Gosling, Harry March, S. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Thurtle, Ernest Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Wright, W.
Tinker, John Joseph Wellock, Wilfred Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Tomlinson, R. P. Whiteley, W.
Townend, A. E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Varley, Frank B. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow) Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Paling.
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne) Windsor, Walter

Bill read a Second time.


I beg to move, in line 4, to leave out the word "Three," and to insert instead thereof the word "Four."

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, in pursuance of that spirit of sweet reasonableness which always characterises the Government, has offered a further half-day for the discussion of the particular Clause which affects Scotland, and I am now moving the first of the necessary Amendments to give effect to this undertaking. I had better make it clear that although I am proposing to insert "four" instead of "three" it is not proposed that a whole extra day is to be given and this will be made clear by subsequent Amendments.


While welcoming the concession made by the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, I am sorry that he has not seen his way to go a little further. The House will observe an Amendment on the Paper to which my name is attached asking for two additional days. One of our points has been met, inasmuch as a whole day will be given to the discussion in regard to Scotland, but I would urge on the right hon. Gentleman that the time-table suggested in the Amendment to which I have referred would be better than the proposal in the Amendment now before us. There is one consideration to which I think due weight has not yet been given. Whereas, under the present proposal, Clause 2, which deals with the question of agriculture, gets a bare half-day, there are 43 Amendments down for consideration dealing with agricultural land in England and Wales. When the document which has been promised by the right hon. Gentleman is available at the Vote Office, showing how the proposals of the Clause are to be applied, it may be necessary for agricultural Members to put down further Amendments in addition to the 43 already put down.

The Amendments proposed to this and other Clauses of the Bill are not all political Amendments as such. They are mainly practical and constructive Amendments and that is especially so in regard to Clauses 2, 5 and 6. I wish I could induce the right hon. Gentleman to extend his proposal of four days to five days. I think the time-table suggested in the later Amendment which I have mentioned would meet the case more equitably than the present proposal, because it would give one day to the agricultural discussion, one day to the discussion of industrial hereditaments, and one day for the discussion of Clauses 5 and 6—which deal not merely with railways but with canals, docks and harbours, and to which there are over 50 Amendments, all raising intricate and difficult problems. These are not all large problems, I admit, but they have given rise to Amendments which have supporters in every part of the House. One day is not by any means too much for Clause 9, but I suggest also that the division of time proposed in the other Amendment would be for the general benefit. Therefore, I hope due consideration will be given to my point. There are 153 Amendments all together down for consideration, and they are fairly evenly divided between the four main issues which I have indicated. When Scottish Members meet to consider the Scottish question, a great many more Amendments will be put down to Clause 9 because of the difficulty which we have had in understanding the precise application of the Bill to Scottish conditions.


The Minister has made one very small concession, having been moved, apparently, by the difficulties of what we regard as one of the less complex Clauses of this Bill. His concession is altogether unsatisfactory, and we shall not be satisfied unless the time allowed is substantially increased. We are dealing here with a Bill which was truly described by the Minister himself as a "machinery" Bill, and we are now approaching the question of machinery for the first time. Our Debate on Clause 1 was in the nature of a Second Beading Debate because, during the whole of it, two questions were discussed, namely, the question of necessitous areas and the question of whether certain classes of property other than those dealt with did not also deserve de-rating. Those were essentially Second Reading points. I am not complaining that we had not enough time for the Second Reading. I think the time for the Second Reading was ample, particularly since part of the Committee proceedings also partook of the nature of a Second Reading Debate. Indeed it might be said that we had much time for the Second Reading owing to the peculiar disadvantages under which we laboured in regard to that Debate.

As several hon. Members have pointed out, we have been engaged in debating a serial story which is being presented to us in instalments. We do not know the end of the story and therefore, criticism is difficult. We do not even know who in the end is to get the hidden treasure. Deputations of assiduous treasure seekers have been visiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when the Prime Minister said that all was peaceful and happy in the country, I could only believe that the Chancellor had not confided in him about the secret of the treasure, and the treasure seekers. I venture to sympathise with the Chair in this matter. I know how expert you, Sir, and the Chairman of Committees are, but when the cart is in front of the horse, even the most expert driver finds himself in a difficulty. Now, for the first time, we are going to approach this question of machinery. We have left behind us the political issues and we are on the machine itself. The subjects which we discussed during the Second Reading Debate were, of course, such as might be discussed in the case of any private person who was buying machinery, namely, what is it to be used for, and how much will it cost. Now we come to the question of how the machine is going to work. There have been two classes of criticisms. Two sections of the community have put forward criticisms of the Bill. First there are the experts—the surveyors, the valuers and the people who have to work it. Their objections are entirely outside politics. All they ask is that they should know what certain Clauses mean. Was there ever a Bill which caused more confusion among the ranks of the experts than this Bill? Was there ever a Bill containing proposals and words calling more for elucidation?


The hon. Member is now proceeding to make a Second Reading speech on the merits of the Bill.


No, Sir. Far from that, I am keeping narrowly to the question of why we want more time. I was saying that two classes of criticism have been directed against the Bill, both of which relate to questions of machinery, and I was going to point out how difficult were those questions. Take Clause 3, for example. What does it mean? There was a meeting the other day of surveyors and valuers who asked, what did the word "primarily" mean in this Clause. Eminent gentleman after eminent gentleman got up and emitted cries of distress. They said they did not know what "primarily" meant here, and we do not know what it means. My point is that we want more time, and, in support of my point, I want to show how many difficult things there are in the Bill. There are many new terms of art in the Bill which will need definition, and I merely enumerate some of them. We do not know what the word "primarily" means in this connection and the Minister does not know. The Minister says airily that if people do not know what it means they can go to the Quarter Sessions or to the High Court; and, ultimately, I suppose, at the expense of a vast amount of public time, the meaning will be determined by the Judges. The Judges always do put some sense into Acts of Parliament, and, probably, in five or six years' time, some luminary in the Courts will tell us what it means. But is it not better that Parliament should spend five or six hours in determining a matter of this kind, rather than that in the process of five or six years' time the Judges should have to determine it? Therefore, my plea is for five or six extra hours of time on this particular word. There are many other words which will cost the country a great amount of time if we cannot have these matters properly discussed here.

The Minister said that Clause 2 was an uncommonly easy Clause. He suggested that it was all beautifully simple. But the last words of Clause 2 contain one of the most strange and difficult conundrums of the Bill. The Minister's parental partiality for his bantling blind him to the objections and to the points which other people want to discuss and which need discussion. Clause 2 contains the words, "persons of the labouring class." I have communicated with experts on the matter, and they say they have not an idea of what the words mean in this Clause. There is a reference to "persons of the working class" in the Housing Acts, but even that is a rough and ready definition. They do not know and cannot imagine what is the meaning of the term used here, and that is a point to which an hour's discussion might profitably be devoted. Then we come to points which the rating officers more or less understand, but which will be excessively difficult to administer. There are the words "industrial purposes." That is an entirely new and exceedingly doubtful term. Industrial hereditaments we do know, but industrial purposes——


I cannot allow the hon. Member to continue on these lines, which, if followed out in this discussion, would lead to her example being followed by others. I would again point out to her that she cannot go into the merits of the various Clauses of the Bill on an Amendment to a Motion of this sort.


I am trying to give my reasons why more time should be allotted. I have said that I want an hour at least for discussing the one point I have mentioned in Clause 2, and five or six hours for the word "primarily" in Clause 3. I want to suggest another point on which I would need two hours—[Laughter]—or, with all due deference, on which the House would need two hours. We are not arguing the narrow question as between three days and three-and-a-half days. I want to make out a case for five or six days, and I do not know how to make an addition sum without mentioning the various items of the total. The Minister himself enumerated the various Clauses, and said that Clause 2 would not take long, that Clause 3 might require half-a-day, that Clause 4 was easy and so forth. I am answering the Minister, and when he says that Clause 2 is easy, I say it is difficult. When he says that Clause 3 only requires half-a-day, I say it requires two days, and I must point out to the House, without dwelling on them, the various items in the Minister's speech to which I am replying. I say that in Clause 4 there arises a point which nobody understands, and a new term of art which nobody can define. We know about "industrial hereditaments," but what are "industrial purposes"? If I were given time I would entreat the House to incorporate in Clause 4 a considerable part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech on Clause 4.

7.0 p.m.

I should need a little time for that, because what happened under Clause 4 was that the Minister said "This is a simple thing. We take the hereditaments and dissect out the things that are not used for industrial purposes," and he gave some examples. That was a very important opinion of his, but the Minister's opinion will not be in the Act of Parliament and may not be the opinion of the Law Courts. To put what the Minister said in half a dozen words into Clause 4 would take, with the greatest possible expedition, another hour and a half or two hours. I could give other pronouncements but I do not want to transgress the forms of order. On the rating of machinery there comes a second class of cases and there it is not so much un-intelligibility but new terms. Then I come to the difficulty and uncertainty of this piece of machinery from the point of view of the rating and valuation officers. Experts of all kinds have said it will be very difficult to draw the line between properties to be de-rated and properties which are not.


The hon. Member-must not discuss the details of the Bill.


I thought you permitted me to say that this or the other Clause would need rather more time than the Minister proposed.


That would be enough.


May I give my grounds? If I say this is a difficult Clause and sit down, I have said nothing I will come to the Amendments on the Paper and point out how long some of them will take to discuss and what real substantial new interests are raised. In the course of a day or two we are going to set up a very intricate piece of machinery and we have, on the Order Paper, Amendment after Amendment, not from politicians but from men of business, putting forward matters! of importance to their trade. There is a particular set of Amendments——


The hon. Member is going into matters proper to the Committee stage of the Bill. She really cannot go into these matters.


There are a particular set of Amendments on the Paper which are backed by those acquainted with the shipping interests, which are excessively technical and difficult. They are so technical that one would find it of some difficulty to catch their meaning at first. They are things of which the meaning is not apparent immediately. Each of them needs some detailed explanation. When you see these Amendments of such a technical character that Members of Parliament find it difficult to understand them, Amendments backed by Members speaking for their own business the shipping business, you see that to discuss those matters will take a considerable time. When persons are moving Amendments with regard to their own business, the House ought to listen with respect and humility, for they are in the position of scholars on such an occasion. It is rather a bad thing, when you are going to have a lesson on a subject you know nothing about, to limit your teacher to the amount of time you think necessary. The Minister is dealing with things outside his own province——


This Amendment is intended, I understand, to give an extra half day for Scottish discussion. Has a single word yet been addressed by the hon. Member to this point?


The actual Amendment is to change "three" into "four." The purpose of it is not disclosed on the Order Paper, and the effect of changing "three" into "four" will, if it is passed, make it impossible to change "three" into "five."


I can quite understand the hon. Lady's contention, but she is arriving at it in rather a roundabout way. If her remarks were addressed more to the Amendment and less to the Bill, it would save the time of the House.


The Amendment is not enough. We cannot get this quart of discussion into the pint pot of four hours. The interests involved range over the whole field of trade, commerce, and distribution, and touch questions of a very complicated nature. Various classes of interests have put down Amendments that will need much time to consider. How is one to speak about a guillotine Motion, or a Motion to give us four hours instead of three, without saying what you want? This is a. Bill of a very technical and detailed character. Many of its details are entirely new. We are breaking fresh ground. The question of discriminating between industry and commerce is a question which this House has never touched before, and, in drawing this line, leaving this and that out, you are doing something which may conceivably be a very great hindrance to industry and production.


If the hon. Member will not address herself to the Amendment, I shall have to ask her to sit down.


I am not referring to the merits, but merely enumerating difficult subjects that will need much discussion. We ought not to have had this Bill here at all. It ought to have been upstairs. How are we to get the House in this short time to have the give and take that will be necessary if we are to make any sensible progress? To hurry this Bill will mean a waste of an enormous; amount of time by His Majesty's subjects. To cut four or five hours here, will mean endless days and expense in the Law Courts. That is my argumens for giving more time. I know these discussions are wearisome, but what are we sent here for? Not hurriedly to pass through a mass of technical legislation, and say: "Thank Heaven for the judges; they will put it right." To do that, is to bring Parliament into contempt and to evade the duties put upon us. We are here to see that, when you have a machinery Bill, every Clause shall be perfectly clear at any rate. A very small amount of vagueness in an Act of this kind is very much worse than a mistaken Cause. To hurry through this Bill, dealing with so many complications, is to do a very great harm to municipal authorities, the trade and commerce of the country, and individual citizens. I cannot imagine more unprincipled conduct on the part of any Government than, for the sake of ease, for the sake of getting a thing through, for the sake of their own holidays, to grudge the time necessary to hammer out these difficult terms. I would like to set an examination paper to the Members of the House. I am sure most Members would not understand the Amendments on the Paper. There are many Amendments on the Paper of an important character backed by great business names of which Members would be puzzled to give an explanation. I could run through, if I were allowed, a good many——


I would remind the hon. Member that there is a Standing Order against tedious repetition. I should be sorry to have to apply it.


With the utmost deference to the Chair, and the utmost desire to keep strictly to order, how can I possibly argue why we need more time if I may neither give instances nor detail the inconveniences which result? I do not see how it is possible for anybody to speak rationally in this way——


I have called the hon. Member to order once. I cannot keep on calling her to order over and over again.


I only wanted to say that Members opposite did not know what "vessel" meant under the Merchant Shipping Act. I was referring to this question in general terms in order to conform to the wish that fell from the Chair. If I may mention new ones, I will do so. There are plenty of new ones. May I mention the details?


All I want the hon. Member to do is to keep the Rules of Order.


I want to keep the Rules of Order, but I do desire to give the House instances of how much time we want to deal rationally with this Bill. I have mentioned that the docks and the railways are very much troubled with regard to the difficulties in which they will be placed in making their assessments. In Clause 3 we have whole troops of business people and different businesses desirous of putting their points of view, all of the most varied and detailed character. How can we compress into one hour the claims of the domestic workshops, the retail shops and the warehouses? How can we in the short space of a day do justice to these multifarious and various trades, which in various ways find themselves affected? There is a question which may well keep the House for a week. If you de-rate one man and not his competitor, you throw great hardship and confusion into——


I have warned the hon. Member, and, as she still continues to disobey my ruling, I must ask her to resume her seat.


It is strange that the Government in the generosity of their hearts should find it possible to give another half a day. I protest against the system of limiting time in this respect, in view of the fact that there is plenty of time in the course of the 12 months to discuss these things. It is shameful that the time on a Bill of such importance should be cut down for the sake of allowing the Government to keep to its time table, and to enable its Members to go on their holidays. I appreciate holidays as much as anybody, but I do not think any Member wants a time table if it means that this Bill will be shoved through in any shape or form. In the discussions which we have had up to the present, we have not had any too much information on anything. On most occasions when information has been asked for, we have not been able to get it, and now we are going to be cut down to 3½ days on one of the most important Bills that has come before us. The Prime Minister, in moving the Motion, stated very kindly that he had in mind the hard work that Members of Parliament had done, and the fact that we wanted to get away for our holidays. That is very kind of him. He has a reputation of being a kindly man with some people, and if we have a long holiday, we shall be able to appreciate it. I was wondering when he was talking about holidays, and recommending it for himself and the Members of the House, whether he had a change of heart and that he was going to recommend as much leisure for the people. When we were discussing the miners, he increased their hours from seven to eight. [Interruption.]


It is not in order for the hon. Member to discuss the condition of the miners.


I am using that as an illustration that the Prime Minister is not prepared to give to the miners what he is prepared to take for himself and for the Members of this House. It is no use Members protesting. I appreciated the speech of the Prime Minister in regard to holidays and leisure time for Members of the House and for himself, but I wish he would apply the same principle to other people outside, who work much harder than we do. When it comes to a question of their leisure, he makes himself responsible for increasing their hours of labour. We have been discussing for years the question of a 48–hours week. We cut our time down to six or seven months in the year, and we have four or five months off, but when we have a Bill of this importance which wants time to discuss it, sooner than cut our leisure time down by a single day, the Prime Minister stops Members discussing the Bill in detail, as they ought to, and gives only 3½ days for it. When people in the country, who have neither leisure time nor means to enjoy it because of their low wages, want a 48–hours week, as recommended by Members belonging to his own Government, he will do nothing. We have gone on for years and we can get nothing from him in that respect. I take this opportunity of making this protest against cutting down, the time for the discussion of this Bill. I want long holidays and plenty of leisure, and the money to enjoy it, but I hope the Prime Minister will have the goodness of heart to give to other people what we are prepared to take for ourselves.


I want to add my appeal to what has been said to the Minister to withdraw his Amendment, and accept the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) and of the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) to extend the time to five days. Not so much because I want to speak on the Bill, as because I want to hear the Minister—and it is very necessary that I should hear him—on what I regard as the most important part of the Bill. I do not think that it is the right hon. Gentleman's intention that very important parts of the Bill should be passed over without discussion, but I want to draw his attention to Sub-section (2) of Clause 4, which will never be reached. Our experience of this House tells us that seven hours is not sufficient to cover the whole of the provisions in Clause 3 and to get on to Clause 4. Is it the intention of the right hon. Gentleman that an important proposal of this kind for the purpose of determining in what proportions an industrial hereditament is occupied and used for industrial purposes and for other purposes should be passed over without discussion? He made a very interesting suggestion to the Opposition leaders that some arrangement might be made with regard to the exact allocation of the time and, of course, it was understood that difficulties were in the way. I would like to have seen it arranged, but it implies that if the Opposition agree to the allocation of time, they also agree to the allotment of time. That is the difficulty in the way. It is the function of the Government to allot the time of the House in such a manner as to insure that every important item and every one of the provisions should at least be discussed. I do not often bother the House; I listen a great deal more than I speak, and I am extremely anxious to hear the Minister's views on this Sub-section. I am aware that the speeches in this House do not enter into the law of the country, but it is essential that we should know what the Minister's view is upon such important matters as are contained in the Sub-section I have mentioned.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In line 10, leave out the word "Clauses," and insert instead thereof the word "Clause."

Leave out from "9," in line 19, to the word "conclusion," in line 21, inclusive.

In line 21, insert the words: Fourth-Clause 10, New Clauses, Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Commitee stage to a conclusion 7.30. —[Mr. Chamberlain.]


"That the Committee stage, the Report stage, and the Third Reading of the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Bill shall be proceeded with as follows:

(1) Committee Stage.

Four allotted day6 shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill, and the proceedings in Committee on each allotted day shall be as shown in the second column of the following Table, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of that Table.

TABLE I.—(Committee Stage.)
Allotted Proceedings. Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.
First Clause 2 7.30
Clauses 3 and 4
Second Clauses 3 and 4 7.30
Clauses 5 to 8
Third Clauses 5 to 8 7.30
Clause 9 10.30
Fourth Clause 10, New Clauses, Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion 7.30

(2) Report Stage and Third Reading.

Two allotted days shall be given to the Report stage and Third Reading, and the proceedings on each of those allotted days shall be those shown in the second column of the following Table; and those proceedings, if not previously brought to a conclusion, shall be brought to a conclusion at the times shown in the third column of that Table.

TABLE II.—(Report Stage and Third Reading.)
Allotted Day. Proceedings. Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.
First New Clauses and Clauses 1 and 2 7.30
Clauses 3 and 4 10.30
Second Rest of Bill and any other matter necessary to bring the Report Stage to a conclusion 7.30
Third Reading 11.0

On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without Question put.

After this Order comes into operation, any day other than a Friday after the day on which this Order is passed shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order on which the Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the Day, and the Bill may be put down as the first Order of the Day on any Thursday notwithstanding anything in any Standing Orders of the House relating to the Business of Supply.

For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and shall next proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules; and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Government Amendments or of Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clauses or Schedules be added to the Bill, as the case may be.

Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 7.30 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10 on an allotted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orderes, be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Orders relating to the Sittings of the House.

On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order proceedings for that purpose shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.

On an allotted day no dilatory Motion on the Bill, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, nor Motion to re-commit the Bill, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.

Nothing in this Order shall—

  1. (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
  2. (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, after any proceedings to be concluded 789 under this Order on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of.

Forward to