HC Deb 16 April 1929 vol 227 cc102-4

Motion made, and Question proposed, That on Fridays, 19th and 26th April. Government Business do have precedence."—[Mr. Churchill.]


I wish to offer a brief explanation of the intentions of the Government. On 7th November of last year the Prime Minister moved a Resolution to take private Members' time until the Easter Adjournment, and that was done on account of the considerable programme of necessary legislative and financial business that had to be transacted, in view of forthcoming events which are never very far absent from our minds. But the two Fridays between Easter and Whitsuntide were not dealt with. Indeed, none of the Fridays after Easter was dealt with; only private Members' time was taken up to Easter. The Motion I have now moved proposes to take the two Fridays between Easter and Whitsuntide. There is no private Members' business on the Order Paper for consideration on either of those days, and they are absolutely needed for Government business and for the general convenience of the House. We all know what the position is, and that we are really only engaged in winding up our affairs with expedition, in order that a new Parliament may be chosen in which there will be a substantial majority to support the policies which His Majesty's Government propose. There therefore remain after Whitsuntide only—


The Liberal policy.


There therefore only remain the Fridays after Whitsuntide to discuss. It really is not worth while discussing them, because it is our expectation, shared, I think, in all quarters of the House, that the present Session of Parliament will have been brought to an end at the latest before Whitsuntide is reached. Our proposal is an absolutely reasonable proposal, and it follows necessarily and logically upon the Motion to which the House assented on 7th November last.


I have no intention of taking up time in discussing this proposal. I quite agree with that part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement in which he said that everybody in all quarters of the House knows that the Government is engaged in winding up its affairs. But it is a Government's duty, when it asks for private Members' time, to tell the House how it proposes to use its own time. I understand that, with the usual courtesy of the Chief Whip of the Government, the usual channels are in operation, but it would be for the convenience of the House that a public statement should be made without delay on two points: First of all, how long are we going to sit; and, secondly, what business is to be transacted during that period of sitting? I have no intention of opposing the Motion. We understand the necessity for it, and we are perfectly willing to expedite in every way we can the happy day of the Government's decease. I think, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual sticking to Par- liamentary rectitude, will see that the request I have made is not only reasonable but necessary. If he cannot make a statement to-day, as I believe is the case—of that I have no complaint to make—before he gets his Resolution, he ought to tell us when he will be in a position to answer the questions that I have put on two specific points.


I need scarcely say that the request of the right hon. Gentleman is entirely reasonable, and that it is the duty of the Government to defer to it. But the communications which are passing through the recognised channels have not yet reached a decisive result. We do not wish to make an announcement of the business and to prescribe a programme up to the end of April without having ascertained as far as possible what agreement can be reached. As soon as we know what is the best arrangement for the convenience of all parties in the House, a statement will be made on the subject by the Prime Minister.

Question put, and agreed to.