§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Major ELLIOT
I beg to move,That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House, in respect of the proposed New Clause (Amendment as to disqualifications for receipt of benefit) standing nr the name of the right hon. Member for Wallsend.In moving this Motion standing in my name and the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), in the first place I would call to the notice of the House that the Minister had this suggestion put to her during the Debate, and she returned by no means an unqualified negative to it. It was put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), and the right hon. Lady replied:We have consulted and shall consult those who took a prominent part in the discussion on Thursday.Then she said:Those consultations are still proceeding. Until we get a decision as the result of those consultations I do not think I can make any promise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th December, 1929; col. 93, Vol. 233.]On that, I withdrew the Motion which was then before the House to report Progress. I submit, therefore, in the first place, that the Government themselves at that time saw that this was a reasonable request to make, and the Minister thought it was a request as to which, although she could not agree to it there and then, she used a word which indicated a sympathetic consideration. Previous to that we had had, as the Committee well knows, some vivid and lively debate upon the question of Clause 4 dealing with disqualification from benefit under the unemployment insurance. Clause 4, as introduced by the Government, was, at any rate, considered in many parts of the Committee, and certainly amongst many of their own supporters, to be a Clause far below what they anticipated, and great pressure was brought to bear upon the Minister, as a result of which the Clause was withdrawn, and it was agreed by the Minister that it should be redrafted and brought up 704 in a new form. It seemed to us that the statement used by responsible Ministers during that Debate indicated that the Clause as redrafted would be nothing more or less than a new Clause such as to constitute a new Bill. We put that point of view to the Prime Minister, and to hon. and right hon. Members opposite, and the Prime Minister, in his characteristic fashion, stated in reply to a question by myself:When he considers, he will also find that he is. … very exaggerated in his language when he says a redraft of Clause 4, so as to make it conform more to the original intention, is a new Bill.Further on he said:Clause 4, as redrafted, will simply carry out more precisely the intention of the original Clause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 9th December, 1929; cols. 38–40, Vol. 233.]These were the statements of Ministers on Monday of this week, when it was clear that Ministers themselves had no idea whatever as to the effect of the changes which they were about to introduce into the House, because we had before us a description not from any party source, but, from an impartial source, the permanent officials of the Department, who will have to examine and carry out this scheme, we have an examination of the new Clause which it is proposed to ask this House to consider on Report without another opportunity of considering it in this House. I submit without any hesitation that it fulfils, and more than fulfils, the language which I and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen used on this side as to the extent of the change being so great as to constitute in this respect, which is the kernel of the Bill, practically a new Bill. If it had not been so, it would not have satisfied hon. and right hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. They are under no misapprehension as to whether or not this is a new Bill. They were pressing for a new Bill. They were pressing, not for a mere re-drafting of a Clause, but for alterations of a wide and sweeping character.
It would be out of order for me to discuss those changes now, but that they are of a wide and sweeping character the statements of the Ministry officials and the Government Actuary are themselves sufficient to show. Let me call the attention of the House to this White Paper, which has only been circulated this morning—[HON. MEMBERS: "Last night!"] 705 Last night a few typewritten copies, after 10 o'clock, were placed in the Vote Office and were available for Members, but the Clause itself was only in print that morning, the White Paper was only available in typescript last night, and the two together are only available in print today; and to-day the Prime Minister asks the House of Commons to pass this wide and far-reaching change, to part with it once and for all, without any consideration, even without the moderate amount of review that is possible during the Committee stage in this House. Not merely are hon. Members limited but the Minister herself is limited on each of these occasions. They can only make one statement on each Motion, and if it is desired to elucidate a point, the Minister can only speak again by leave of the House. These rules of procedure, which are laid down specifically to limit debate on account of the previous consideration of proposals during the Committee stage, will be applied, and will have to be applied, by the Chair in all their stringency, to limit debate on proposals which have not been in print until this morning.
The Government Actuary begins by recapitulating the effect of these proposals and stating that they make essential and wide differences from the Clause as introduced in the Bill. The Actuary goes on to state:It is manifestly difficult to make any definite forecast of the financial effect of these changes.He goes on to compare the new Clause with the old Clause, showing that the old Clause affected 65,000 persons and that the new Clause affects another 90,000 persons, which more than doubles the sweep of the original Bill. The old Clause made a charge of £3,250,000 per annum on public funds; the new Clause places an additional burden of from £4,000,000 to £5,000,000 upon public funds. It more than doubles the number of persons who come under it, it more than doubles the sum of money which is levied to pay for these benefits, and this is the Clause which we are asked to con-side for the first time under the very stringent conditions of the Report stage in this House.
But this is not the whole of the Clause. It goes further and the Government Actuary says, in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the White Paper: 7068. These figures relate to insured persons whose unemployment books are lodged at the Employment Exchanges. The possibility should, however, not be overlooked that the new provision may have the effect of bringing certain other persons into benefit, for example, married women who have done little or no work since marriage and seasonal workers during the 'off-season.'9. These two classes of cases will serve as illustrations of what in the aggregate may amount to a considerable group of new claimants. … There are, however, no data enabling any estimate to he made of the additional cost arising under this head.It is a technical point, and one which might be worthy of discussion in this House, as to whether by doing so the Government do not introduce a fresh charge, but it is possible that that may be held to be covered by the very wide terms of the Financial Resolution on which the Bill is based. Let me ask the House to consider that the Government officials are so far dealing with new and unexplored territory that in their summation of the burden which will be laid on the Exchequer, a burden amounting to £26,500,000, on account of the charges under the new proposals in this and previous schemes of the present Government, they specifically exclude any charge that may arise in the cases referred to in paragraph 8 of the White Paper.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
§ Major ELLIOT
I should say the total charges which will be laid upon the Exchequer, as increased by the burdens which have been laid upon it as part of the schemes of the Government in the present year. The total charge as increased is £26,500,000, and in lumping all those figures together the Government officials are still unable to make any estimate whatever as to the effect of the charges arising under the Sub-sections—
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that there would be an increased Exchequer charge of £24,500,000. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, he did. That £24,500,000 includes the £12,000,000 provided for before this Government came into office.
§ Major ELLIOT
The Chancellor of the Exchequer must allow me, if I have made a slip, as one may do in dealing with 707 figures, to restate the matter, and I have restated the matter as given in the terms of the White Paper which is before us, where the statement occurs:This will make a total Exchequer charge in 1930–31 of £26,500,000.Having made a slip previously, I stated that that was the sum, as increased by the burdens which are being laid upon the Government as a result of the schemes of the present year. I was using that as an illustration of the fact that the Government, having taken all these charges into account, are still totally unable to make any statement whatever as to the financial effect of the two new groups, which, by the way, are only given as illustrations and which, as everybody knows, include, certainly in the case of married women, groups as to which it is very difficult to make any safe estimate whatever. I submit that these groups as to which the officials are unable to make any estimate are the groups, if any, where the collective common sense of the House might reasonably give us some guidance. The experts have failed. They are unable to give us any guidance, and we suggest that it is the collective sense of the House of Commons, exercised not under the stringent rules of the Report stage, but under the commonsense rules of the Committee stage, that might be of value, not merely to us, but to the Government as a whole.
There is a further point in connection with this. As I have said, the sums which are being asked for are large sums. They are by no means small sums. The number of persons affected is large; it is double the size which the Bill originally dealt with, and the funds from which this is being drawn are also of importance. These are not merely Exchequer funds, these are trust funds, which we are being asked to deal with; and for the first time, as far as I know, Ministers are coming down to this House in respect of a trust fund and deliberately asking the House to vote this trust fund into a deficit. Let me read the statement of the Government Actuary on the subject. He says:In view of the estimate in paragraph 8 of my Report of 14th November, on the proposals of the Bill (Cmd. 3437) that in the year 1930–31 the income and expenditure of the fund will balance, under the new conditions, if the number of persons on the live register averages about 1,200,000 708 throughout the year, I should point out that, on this volume of unemployment, the estimated effect of the new Amendments (after allowing for the increase in the charge on the Exchequer) is to make such an addition to expenditure as would involve an increase in the debt of the fund during the year by upwards of £2,000,000.It is a trust fund, of which this House is trustee, of which the Government more particularly is a trustee, and we are asked to pass in a morning, after a morning's consideration of the financial proposals, a Clause which the Government Actuary assures us will have the effect of running the fund further into debt to the extent of £2,000,000.
The Prime Minister and others have made demands upon us to consider ourselves as a Council of State. What Council of State, what deliberative body, can function under these conditions? As the right hon. Lady the Minister of Labour will admit, we have discussed this Bill throughout with the desire to concentrate our arguments upon points of substance. We have dealt with it under a voluntary limitation which has been stringently observed by those on this side of the House, even when they thought an overlapping of their time might reasonably be considered to have taken place, and the right hon. Lady will agree to that. Under those conditions, we have discussed this Bill, and when we brought up the fact that a new Clause was being introduced and that it might reasonably be taken in Committee instead of for the first time on Report, the right hon. Lady dismissed it in a word by saying that the speech of the hon. and gallant Member, which was myself, seemed to be much ado about nothing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I observe that apparently that view is still held by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. The supplementary White Paper shows that the Bill is now more than doubled in the number of persons to whom it refers and in the charges which are laid, and showing that it involves, not a balance of the fund, as the Minister has said, but a deficit in the fund, and the answer of hon. and right hon. Members opposite to that is that it is much ado about nothing.
This fund, of which we are trustees, takes the contributions not merely of the Exchequer, but of millions of very poor persons, and for these contributions the Government has a responsibility. The Government is asking the House to 709 abrogate its responsibility with regard to this fund and to vote it into deficit, without making any arrangements whatever by what that deficit can be met. These are not conditions under which free debate can take place, and we ask, nay we demand, from the Government the right of free discussion here in the House of Commons. There is no reason whatever, save the desire of hon. Members opposite to get away for their holidays—[Interruption]. The programme as laid down does not allow for consideration of Lords' Amendments, and it is therefore clear that this Measure is not going to complete all its stages and become law before Christmas. There is, therefore, no good reason why the House should be asked to part with it now. The programme of minor business, business of minor and, in some cases, negligible importance, which the Prime Minister has read out for the week after this House resumes might as well be changed so as to give another half day for a question of this importance.
Three times has the House tried to solve this question of genuinely seeking work, and three times has the House failed to solve it. It has failed, as hon. and right hon. Members below the Gangway opposite pointed out on one occasion, the last occasion on which there was a Labour Government., because they were asked to deal with it in a hurry and because the Government assumed that it would be all right and that there was no necessity to go further into a question of this importance; and they regretted it thereafter. The House is being asked in the circumstances I have described to part with a Clause of first-rate importance which affects the lives of millions of poor people, not merely the poor people who are beneficiaries but the 10 million people who pay contributions. We are being asked to pass this Clause in a single day under the stringent rules of the Report stage. We on this side say that, in such conditions, it is impossible for the Government to contend that they are really asking the House of Commons to bend its mind to the problem.
§ Sir HUGH O'NEILL
I beg to second the Motion.
I do so formally in order to ask your ruling, Sir, on a point of Order. Is it not clear that the effect of this Clause will be to impose an additional charge 710 on the public revenue, and, that being so, is it not the case that it is not competent for this House to consider the Clause by way of re-committal at all. If it does impose a charge on the public revenue, it is surely necessary that it should go through the ordinary procedure—first a recommendation from the Crown, and then consideration in Committee and on Report.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
In reply to that point of Order, it is quite true that, if this new Clause did impose an entirely fresh charge on the revenue, it would be necessary to have a Money Resolution for that purpose, but I have come to the conclusion that it does not impose an entirely new charge upon the Exchequer. Therefore a Money Resolution is not necessary. That certainly would be necessary if it were the case that an entirely new charge was being imposed, and such a case would not be covered by the mere re-committal of the Clause.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
With great respect, may I carry this point one step further? Is it not the case that under Standing Order 67 no charge upon the public revenue can be considered except in Committee of the Whole House, and does not that pre-suppose that charges, even though they may be sanctioned by a Financial Resolution, which are, in fact, over and above charges actually imposed when the House was in Committee, ought to be treated as being, in effect, new charges and that the proper financial procedure should be followed in regard to them?
§ Captain BOURNE
May I suggest, Sir, that this matter is covered by a Ruling of your predecessor, Mr. Speaker Whitley, on the Electricity Bill in, 1926, when he distinctly laid down:You cannot propose anything which involves an extra charge on the Exchequer or the rates on the Report stage of a Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1926; col. 1044, Vol. 199.]I am not sure whether or not this Clause is covered by the Financial Resolution, but the White Paper issued by the Government states that the increased charge which will be imposed on the Exchequer, in the year 1930–31, will be about £2,000,000, and I respectfully submit that the common-sense interpretation of Mr. Speaker Whitley's words is that no Amendment or new Clause which, in fact, 711 imposes any additional cost on the Exchequer, can be proposed in this House with you, Sir, in the Chair.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am very well aware of the Ruling of my predecessor, and it is a Ruling which has been given by many of my predecessors. It is a well-known Rule in this House that no new charge can be imposed, either on the Exchequer or the rates, on the Report stage of a Bill. I maintain that in this particular instance that does not occur. The charge proposed is not a new charge, but is an increase of the charge already provided for in Clause 12 of the Bill.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Miss Bondfield)
I rise to remind the House of what took place during the Debate on Thursday last, in order that we may be enabled to get on with our ordinary business. The discussion in Committee on that occasion showed clearly that there was general agreement with regard to Sub-section (1) of Clause 4 of the Bill as it was then re-drafted. When we came to Sub-sections (2) and (3), after a very long and sustained Debate, I said:When I spoke earlier in the evening I said that I wanted to get the combined wisdom of the House in connection with this matter, and it is perfectly clear from the Debate that has taken place, that the combined wisdom of the Committee is that Subsections (2) and (3) should be withdrawn. I accept the view that has been expressed by the Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1929; col. 2705, Vol. 232.]Later, I was greatly helped by the Leader of the Opposition in dealing with the matter. He pointed out that we had reached a certain point in our discussions, and I accepted his very helpful suggestion. He said:I do believe that the wisest course would be to negative the Clause and for the Government to give an undertaking to put down a new Clause complete, when it can be taken as the first Government Clause on the Report stage. We shall have plenty of time to debate it then."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1929; col. 2719, Vol. 232.]I submit that the position is clear and that it was the intention of the Committee that this Clause should be put down and taken as the first business on the Report stage. Therefore I must resist the Motion.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
I rise to support the Motion and to ask 712 the Leader of the House to give it his consideration. I think every Member of the House will realise that I am in a somewhat special position and I hope they also realise that, being in a special position, I am not intervening on this occasion in any party spirit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I put it to hon. Members opposite who were in the last Parliament that for four and a half years I carried out the duties of what is, by common admission, probably the most difficult of all Ministerial offices—the office which the right hon. Lady fills to-day. It is indeed difficult and disagreeable, but all through that time, according to my lights, whether I was right or wrong, I always thought of the proper administration of the system as my first motive. I am not saying a single word beyond the truth when I say that I cared more for the proper and, as far as possible, the sympathetic administration of the system, than I did for any party or political advantage. I ask the Leader of the House to consider, from that point of view, what he is asking the House to do this afternoon.
This is, without question, the most important Clause in the Bill. When I said to the right hon. Gentleman before that it was the kernel of the Bill he told me afterwards that I had exaggerated. I may have many faults as a politician, but exaggeration is not one of them, and perhaps if I could exaggerate rather more, I might be a more successful politician. The Minister knows quite well and has herself said that it is the most important Clause in the Bill and that was also the opinion of the Attorney-General. It is really the kernel of the Bill because, on this Clause together with the one which follows it, the whole administration of the system depends. That, I am sure, the right hon. Gentleman will realise if he asks either the Minister of Labour or any of her permanent advisers or any person throughout the country who has had an intimate connection with the administration of these Acts. It affects the pivot on which the whole administration of the system rests, and, whatever may be our judgment with regard to its results, this surely is a Clause which ought to go through the ordinary Committee stage. That stage is not a trivial thing. What does the Committee stage really mean 713 in regard to a Clause like this, as distinct from the Report stage? The right hon. Lady says that it means that we can gather the wisdom of the House. What it does mean is that a Clause can be, as it were, licked into shape in Committee. The Committee stage has two advantages which do not apply on the Report stage. There is informal discussion by which one can get at particular points and minor matters. It has the further advantage that if it is found that intricate questions are involved—which the White Paper shows clearly is the case here—there is still the Report stage on which considered, well-drafted and suitable Amendments can be brought up.
Observe what happened in the Committee stage on the original Clause 4 of the Bill. There was ample time for its preparation both as regards substance and wording, but what happened in Committee? Sub-section (1) was dealt with on the understanding that just because there was this further stage, reasoned and well-drafted Amendment to Sub-section (1) might be brought up on Report. When it came to Sub-sections (2) and (3) they were withdrawn altogether and with them the rest of the Clause—simply simply because there was the opportunity of bringing them forward again at a later stage. If that Clause had not been discussed in Committee the House would have been in a hopeless position, because there would have been no subsequent stage at which to deal with the matter. The present Clause goes infinitely further than the other Clause. It is not a question merely of re-drafting. If it were it might have been suitable to bring it forward on the Report stage, but we have a completely new Clause, and I suggest to the Leader of the House to ask the Minister or her advisers if it does not completely alter the whole administration from top to bottom. It has been brought forward obviously in great haste and therefore is more liable to have imperfections than the previous Clause.
I put down a Private Notice Question to the Minister asking her to let us have a White Paper containing all the necessary information so that we might have ample time to consider it. I have not been idle in trying to get the White Paper. I tried to get it throughout yesterday as well as the day before, but I could not get it until 10 o'clock last 714 night. I was doing work from a quarter past nine until 10, and when I got it, it was too late to consider it, and to put down Amendments on the Order Paper for to-day.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at the issues raised. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) called attention to the enormous amount of expenditure. The new expenditure is great, but the new expenditure, from the point of view from which I am looking at it, is the least aspect of the whole matter. It introduces new principles. It is clear from paragraphs 8 and 9 of the White Paper that it introduces perfectly new principles into the whole system of unemployment insurance, and, in a technical matter of this kind, it is impossible to get it considered on Report stage.
I am appealing to the right hon. Gentleman in the interests of good, decent administration—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may not realise that I am really thinking about the pivot of the whole system of administration. Surely, whatever position is ultimately reached in this House, Members opposite, as well as Members here and below the Gangway, must agree that it ought to be reached after proper consideration and proper care. No one would want a great system like unemployment insurance to be—
§ Mr. TOWNEND
On a point of Order. Is not the right hon. Gentleman out of order, owing to the fact that only one speech on either side is usual on a Motion to recommit?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have considered that point. Under Standing Order No. 40A, that is the procedure laid down. But I have studied the Ruling which was given by my predecessor on a rather similar Motion to this. In that case, he said that, not only the letter of the Standing Order, but the intention when it was drawn up, must be taken into consideration. Clearly, in a case of this kind, the intention is that questions of this importance and variety should nor be dealt with in that way by only two speakers.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It is not my wish to take up the time of the House. My wish is to put to the Prime Minister that in this matter he has the whole of 715 the pivot of the great system of administration, and that it ought not to be settled out of hand, so to speak, on the Report stage of the Bill. It is not right. There ought to be the chance of considering it and going through it. I beg of him to realise that it is a matter of first-class principle. There are some situations in the life of the country, where a public need is so great, that anybody will understand at once that it transcends ordinary party considerations. There are other situations, where the need is just as real, though it is not so great, and I put it to the Prime Minister that this is one on which, if anyone wishes to show the purity of their wish and to try to consult the public welfare, he will not allow a great administration and the principles of it to be settled in this way in a single afternoon.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I have been looking at the provisions of Standing Order No. 40A, and I do not propose to turn this exchange of views into a Debate. The only question with which I wish to concern myself is this: Are we to-day acting unfairly? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I put the question to myself: Are we acting unfairly in asking the House to proceed with the Report stage of this Bill without recommitting it in respect of the old deleted Clause 4 as now redrafted? I put that point to myself immediately after I heard what had happened when Clause 4 was withdrawn. Those of us who have been in this House for some time know perfectly well that every now and again both sides come to a certain bargain. The House as a whole gets into a difficult situation, and the suggestion is made, sometimes from the Government side, and sometimes from the Opposition side, that the way to get out of the difficulty might be so and so. Then both sides agree that that is satisfactory, and it is done. What are the right hon. Gentlemen doing to-day? They are trying to re-open a bargain—[Interruption.] I can only say what conclusion I have come to after a very careful study of the OFFICIAL REPORT. This is the position: We were debating Clause 4, and there was confusion, certainly as much on that side as upon ours. The Leader of the Opposition intervened, and proposed an arrangement. I will read his words: 716I am not quite sure whether the Minister of Labour realises what a mess we have got into. I think that far the best and wisest thing to do, if I may venture to make a suggestion, which is made with a desire to help, is to negative the whole of this Clause, and put down a new Clause to come first on Report. Then we shall have the whole Clause before us, we can see what the whole Clause is, and we shall be able to debate it and make such Amendments as the House may consider right at that time.I have been looking at the Order Paper to-day, and I find that the right hon. Gentleman has certainly exercised his right, and is responsible, at any rate, for two Amendments. I will leave out a sentence interjected here. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition proceeded—After the Debate which we have had, and I have listened to a good deal of it, I do believe that the wisest course would be to negative the Clause and for the Government to give an undertaking to put down a new Clause complete when it can be taken as the first Government Clause on the Report stage. We shall have plenty of time to debate it then. We could adjourn further debate now, and start with Clause 5 on Monday.Is there any feeling in the minds of the Opposition—I was not present, but I am reading the OFFICIAL REPORT—that that very helpful statement, which was made by the Leader of the Opposition, was regarded by us, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and by me as something casual? If there be any doubt in their minds, may I read my right hon. Friend's reply:I thank the right hon. Gentleman fur what is a very valuable and practical suggestion, and I accept it.Apparently it was not very clear to supporters below the Gangway, and the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) said:On a point of Order. Has the right lion. Lad v accepted the suggestion?" [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1929; cols. 2720, Vol. 232.]Yes, she had. We have been lectured about fair play, and so on. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, on that record, are we doing anything wrong?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I can speak again only by leave of the House, but I have been directly asked a question. I say, most certainly. That was a suggestion made by my right hon. Friend to try to help the House out of a diffi- 717 culty, but the Clause as brought in is so different from a normal redrafting that we have not had sufficient time to consider it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am perfectly prepared to leave it there. If hon. Members opposite will read the Debate preceding the extracts which I have read, they will find that it was exactly such a Clause in general features as was in the minds of those who objected to the Clause as originally drafted, and I hope that the House will support it in the Division when explanations have been made sufficiently fully. The understanding which made my right hon. Friend withdraw Clause 4, including Sub-section (1) which had gone through Committee, was that all that would be required of us was to produce a Clause which would be taken, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman's own Leader, "as the first Government Clause on the Report stage." Had that not been my understanding of it, and had not that been the understanding of the whole House, the business arranged might have been somewhat different. We are standing by the pledge which we gave.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
A point of Order was put to me a few minutes ago with regard to Standing Order No. 40A. I said that latitude could be given under that Order, but I did not mean that we should have a prolonged Debate.
§ 5.0 p.m.
I do not wish in any way to transgress your ruling, Sir, or to raise a long point of Order upon it, but may I point out that the right hon. Gentleman has made what we on this side of the House consider rather a serious charge? He used the actual words, because I put them down at the time, that an arrangement had been proposed, and that there had been a breach of the bargain. I would like to ask you whether, in those circumstances, and as I do not propose to keep the House more than five minutes, it would not be in accordance with the ordinary custom and procedure of the House for someone from this Bench to be allowed to answer the rather serious charge which the right hon. Gentleman has made? I am entirely in your hands and in the hands of the House, but I think what I have suggested 718 would be according to custom, speaking as an old Member.
§ Mr. MAXTON
On a point of Order. If the Noble Earl, in the course of his reply, makes a charge against someone on this side of the House, as he will be almost sure to do if he acts according to form, will it then be in order for us to reply from this side of the House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That at once shows the danger of departing from the strict letter of the Standing Order.
I think the point raised by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) is an entirely fair one, and I will endeavour to attack no one on the other side of the House. [Interruption.] It may be very hard for me, but I will try to create a precedent for myself. The Prime Minister has said that there has been a breach of the bargain in this matter, and I think it is necessary to recall to the attention of the House what really occurred on that occasion. Admittedly, as the right hon. Gentleman said, there was confusion in the Committee, but in conformity with the undertaking which I have just given, I will not say from what that confusion arose. We on this side have very definite views as to who caused the confusion; but let it remain at that. The point is, there was confusion in the Committee. Nobody denies it. The Prime Minister was not in the House, but my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was, and in view of the confusion which had arisen and which was inimical alike to the interests of the Bill and to the interests of the Committee in coming to a decision, the Leader of the Opposition suggested that it would be better to defer further consideration of this particular Clause to a more convenient season. There is no difference of opinion about that. [Interruption.] To withdraw the Clause, certainly, and to defer consideration of what would be Clause 4 until a later date. [HON. MEMBERS: "On Report stage."] The point of difference does not arise upon that, because it is all in the OFFICIAL REPORT. My right hon. Friend had no conception, and there was nothing in the discussion before the Committee, to show that this Clause was going to differ fundamentally from the Clause which was then before the Committee. [Interruption.] I can assure the Prime Minister that I have read the discussion.
This is a fundamentally different Clause from that which was withdrawn on that occasion. In those circumstances, for the Prime Minister to charge us on this side of the House with having broken a bargain—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."]—is, I must confess, going a little too far. Once again we ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter. Had the right hon. Gentleman been present in the Committee—I know that it is not possible for him to be here always—he would have seen that the temper and the psychologyof the House in discussing the Bill has been friendly.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman assents to that view. Nothing could be more calculated to cause the general atmosphere of the
§ House to be less friendly on the remaining stages of the Bill than for the Opposition to feel, as they do feel, that they have not been fairly treated. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is the feeling on this side. We believe it is perfectly possible to give the time necessary for the further consideration of this Clause, and once again we protest as strongly as we can, at our treatment by the Government; against the fact that the right hon. Gentleman and his Government have not only taken this course of action but have added insult to injury by telling us that it is we who have broken the bargain.
That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House, in respect of the proposed New Clause (Amendment as to disqualifications for receipt of benefit) standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Wallsend.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 192 Noes, 287.723
|Division No. 91.]||AYES.||[5.6 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Albery, Irving James||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cranbourne, Viscount||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., w.)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dalkeith, Earl of||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Dixey, A. C.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Berry, Sir George||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Everard, W. Lindsay||Long, Major Eric|
|Boyce, H. L.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Bracken, B.||Ferguson, Sir John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Fielden, E. B.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fison, F. G. Clavering||MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd'., Hexham)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Marjoribanks, E. C.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Meller, R. J.|
|Butler, R. A.||Gower, Sir Robert||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Grace, John||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mond, Hon. Henry|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Christie, J. A.||Harvey, Major s. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Haslam, Henry C.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Colvllie, Major D. J.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & wh'by)||Penny, Sir George|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Skelton, A. N.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Purbrick, R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Smithers, Waldron||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Remer, John R.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ross, Major Ronald D.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Salmon, Major I.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Tinne, J. A.|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Savery, S. S.||Train, J.||Sir Victor Warrender and Captain|
|Sir George Bowyer.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Edge, Sir William||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Edmunds, J. E.||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kinley, J.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Egan, W. H.||Knight, Holford|
|Angell, Norman||Eimley, Viscount||Lang, Gordon|
|Arnott, John||Foot, Isaac||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Lathan, G.|
|Ayles, Walter||Freeman, Peter||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Barnes, Alfred John||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Barr, James||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lawson, John James|
|Batey, Joseph||Gibbins, Joseph||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gill, T. H.||Leach, W.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Glassey, A. E.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Gosling, Harry||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Gossling, A. G.||Lees, J.|
|Benson, G.||Gould, F.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Blindell, James||Granville, E.||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Gray, Milner||Longden, F.|
|Bowen, J. w.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lowth, Thomas|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Bromfield, William||Groves, Thomas E.||McElwee, A.|
|Bromley, J.||Grundy, Thomas W.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Brooke, W.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Mackinder, W.|
|Brothers, M.||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||McKinlay, A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Harbison, T. J.||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hardle, George D.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Harris, Percy A.||McShane, John James|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hastings, Dr. Somervllle||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall.||Hayday, Arthur||Mansfield, W.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Marcus, M.|
|Cape, Thomas||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Markham, S. F.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, SW.)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Marley, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Mathers, George|
|Church, Major A. G.||Herriotts, J.||Matters, L. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Maxton, James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Messer, Fred|
|Compton, Joseph||Hoffman, P. C.||Middleton, G.|
|Cove, William G.||Hollins, A.||Millar, J. D.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie.||Mills, J. E.|
|Daggar, George||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Milner, J.|
|Dallas, George||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Montague, Frederick|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Isaacs, George||Morley, Ralph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, F. Llewellyn. (Flint)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Dickson, T.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Mort, D. L.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Moses, J. J. H.|
|Dukes, C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Duncan, Charles||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Muff, G.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Murnin, Hugh||Samuel, Rt. Hon, Sir H. (Darwen)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Thomas, Rt. Hon, J. H. (Derby)|
|Newman, Sir B. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sanders, W. S.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Sandham, E.||Tillett, Ben|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Sawyer, G. F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Scott, James||Toole, Joseph|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Scrymgeour, E.||Tout, W. J.|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Scurr, John||Townend, A. E.|
|Owen. H. F. (Hereford)||Sexton, James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Palin, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Turner, B.|
|Palmer, E. T.||Sherwood, G. H.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Shield, George William||Viant, S. P.|
|Perry, S. F.||Shillaker, J. F.||Walker, J.|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Shinwell, E.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Simmons, C. J.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Sinclair, sir A. (Caithness)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Potts, John S.||Sinkinson, George||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Pybus, Percy John||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||West, F. R.|
|Raynes, W. R.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wheatley. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Richards, R.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Sorensen, R.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ritson, J.||Spero, Dr. G. E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Stamford, Thomas W.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Romeril, H. G.||Stephen, Campbell||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Rowson, Guy||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sullivan, J.|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Hayes and Mr. Whiteley.|
§ Bill, as amended, considered.