§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [14th December],"That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that when this Bill was last discussed the hon. Member's speech was interrupted by the Adjournment, and that that does not mean that the hon. Member has exhausted his right to speak?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The hon. Member wants to continue a speech that was interrupted, and I want to ask for a Ruling whether it constitutes a speech or not—quite apart from the question whether the hon. Member wishes to continue or not. If a speech is made and interrupted by the Adjournment, does that constitute a speech, or is it within an hon. Member's right to continue his speech?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member was interrupted in his speech by the Adjournment, then he is entitled to continue it if the debate be resumed.
§ Mr. TINKER
I desire to continue my speech and to take objection to this Bill being brought on at this time of night. It has been on the Order Paper ever since the Session started, and I have been wondering when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury intended to take it. I have been to the Vote Office every evening to see if the Bill was there, but it was not. What is the reason for all the secrecy, and why cannot we have a proper debate on it? No one can put forward any reason why it should be brought forward at a time like this when distress is so prevalent and the miners cannot get what they are entitled to. One would not expect the Government to attempt to bring in a Bill in this 906 manner. It is said that one reason for it is that injustice has been done to these particular people. How anyone can say that injustice is being done to these people, 44 in number, who are getting on an average a pension of over £1,000 each, and when this Bill means to increase that, I cannot for the life of me understand. Had this been a hard case in which the people concerned were entitled to an increase, no one on this side would have objected, but, in the circumstances, some of us cannot agree to this Bill.
I ask hon. Members opposite, if they are going to consider the case of a few people in favoured places, do they never consider the lot of many other people who are as fully entitled to pensions as these people? Take the case of the old age pension. It is certainly not adequate and people have to reach the age of 65 before they can receive it. During the Recess I had cases of colliers who have been stopped just under the age of 65—in one case at the age of 64— and there are no pensions for them. That man had served the State just as well as any of these people, and when I appealed to the colliery manager he said, "I have no need for men of that age." I do not blame the colliery owners but I blame the state of society which gives to one class pensions such as are proposed in the Bill, and prevents other deserving people from getting any adequate pensions at all. It is not fair that at a time like this, we should give to one class and withhold from others the rights to which they are entitled.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)
May I appeal to hon. Members to let us have this Bill tonight. The hon. Member who has just sat down said that we had not given sufficient discussion to this Bill, but we have already had four Debates on it. We have spent a good many hours on it already, and hon. Gentlemen opposite have had full opportunity of offering their views and have done so. There is a complete misapprehension in regard to this Bill. We are not going to increase pensions at all.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
It is an increased charge of about 4 per cent., and that 4 per cent. is founded on an estimate which was sent to the Treasury by the Foreign Office. I think we probably erred on the side of too large increases of these pensions. We put in 4 per cent which is a very small figure indeed. I think probably it is nearer 3 per cent. than 4 per cent.; but I can assure hon. Members that the result of the Bill is not to increase pensions. All we are doing is to lower pensions and we are giving a lump sum benefit, so as to place the Diplomatic Service on exactly the same basis as the whole of the rest of the Civil Service. I beg of hon. Members to let us have the Bill tonight. All the Debates up to now have been conducted on a misapprehension as to the nature of the Bill. We are not asking hon. Members to vote an increase of pensions at all. As a matter of fact in the past we have paid a large maximum pension for 15 years service. In the future, the maximum pension will not be obtainable until the diplomat has actually served 45 years. We are so arranging the pensions that pensions are going to be now in force for the years of service.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I have listened with amazement to the right hon. Gentleman. 908 I am asked to accept statements from him which are not in the Bill at all. We are always told here that in discussing Measures of this kind, we are not discussing statements by Ministers but only what appears in black and white in the Bill. With all due respect, the right hon. Gentleman must not ask us to believe that it is 45 years because the Bill says 10 years and 15 years.
§ It being Eleven o'Cloch, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.