HC Deb 25 June 1930 vol 240 cc1150-4

May I ask the Prime Minister if he can make any statement as to the business for the remainder of the Session?


The Government propose to proceed with the following major Bills which are already well advanced, with a view to their passage into law before the close of the Session:

The situation arising from the action taken in another place on the Coal Mines Bill is engaging the attention of the Government, and, in considering the programme for the rest of the Session, provision must be made for time on that Measure. In addition, it is proposed to complete the following Bills which, being mainly of a non-controversial character, and having already made considerable progress, are not expected to entail a large expenditure of Parliamentary time: It is proposed to introduce in another place a Bill for the establishment of a Court of Criminal Appeal in Northern Ireland and a Bill to amend the British North America, Acts to give effect to an agreement recently reached between His Majesty's Government in Canada and the Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I am informed that these Bills are likely to command general assent; in that event, time will be found for their passage into law as early as possible. It will be necessary also to pass a Bill making provision for additional resources for the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and it is hoped to find time to pass through all stages a Bill to give statutory effect to certain provisions of the London Naval Treaty affecting shipbuilding firms in this country.

There remains the normal essential financial business of the Session, including the business of Supply, the Appropriation Bill, the further stages of the Finance Bill, and the Public Works Loans and Isle of Man (Customs) Bills.

The question as to whether emergency legislation is necessary relating to unemployment is under consideration at the present moment between representatives of local authorities and the Government, and should the Government come to a decision that something has to be done in that respect, time will have to be provided.

It is the intention of the Government to advise the prorogation of Parliament as soon as this programme is completed. It is not possible to forecast precisely the time that will be required for this purpose, but I am hopeful that it will be possible, by conversations through the usual channels, to arrange for adequate discussion of the Measures included in this statement and for the conclusion of the Session about the end of July.

It is a matter of great regret to me that the exigencies of time do not permit of the inclusion in the above programme of the Consumers' Council Bill and the Education Bill. I wish to make it clear, however, that these important Bills could not receive adequate consideration this Session without unduly prolonging our proceedings. It is proposed to carry out our intention to pass into law before the end of the calendar year a Measure to extend the school-leaving age. The Consumers' Council Bill will be reintroduced on the re-assembly of the House and passed into law as soon as possible.

In order to deal with the postponed business, it is our intention that Parliament should re-assemble before the end of October.


May I ask my right hon. Friend whether all question of the Land Valuation Bill is dropped? And is he aware that the Land Drainage Bill will certainly meet with considerable opposition in this House?


Regarding the first Bill, it will be postponed so far as this Session is concerned only. Regarding the second Bill, I think it would be a great loss of time if that Bill were not proceeded with now that it has gone through another place and is in Committee upstairs.


Could not the Government give facilities for the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Kincardine (Mr. Scott), dealing with Scottish land, which has already gone through its Committee stage upstairs and a part of its Report stage?


I regard that Bill with profound sympathy, but unfortunately there are about 13 other Bills in the same list, and it is quite impossible to select one and sacrifice all the others.


I have not had the time to study this programme. We are all anxious to get away at the end of July if possible, but I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has realised that if you allow for Supply and the Appropriation Bill, it will only leave 14 Parliamentary days for the whole programme, and I am afraid I must warn him that, however pleasantly the usual channels may flow, it is a physical impossibility, if I may use a metaphor which will be familiar to everybody in the House, even the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) to get a quart into a pint pot.


We are always coming across the truth of the homely metaphor that has just been used, but the Bills that have been read out in the first instance—the Coal Mines Bill and so on—have already occupied a good deal of the attention of this House, and their stages are as near as no matter now the winding-up stages.


Is not one Bill, the last named, I think, of those in his first list, a Bill which only received its Second Reading yesterday and has not yet gone through Committee? [Interruption.] I agree that it is not a controversial Bill, but it is a Bill which requires some discussion, and you cannot call a Bill which was only read a Second time yesterday an advanced Bill. A further question that I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman is this: In the sketch which he has made of the programme of business which he thinks will enable us to wind up the Session by the end of July, how much time has he allowed for the rest of the Committee and the later stages of the Finance Bill? I think he will find there is not enough.


As a matter of fact, we have allowed a certain number of days which I think is very liberal. We have compared them with what has been done in previous years. After to-day, if the right hon. Gentleman will put his question, I think we shall be able to venture upon a figure. I could give him a figure now, but I would prefer to wait until the end of to-day's sitting. This programme of Bills, I am afraid, must be gone through before we adjourn in July.


Is it the intention of the Government to propose to the House any emergency Measures dealing with unemployment before the House adjourns? If so, will the Government ask the House to sit into August and to pass those Measures?


I have included that in my statement.


What about the Trade Disputes Bill?


Is my right hon. Friend aware that a clear majority of the party submitted, in writing, a request that they should be able to sit into August so as to carry the remaining stages of any Bills delayed, and can he give any assurance that children of 14 will begin to be taken off the market in April of next year unless that Bill is passed?


If I could get a guarantee from any section of this House that that business would be done by sitting into August, the business would be done, but there is no such guarantee possible.


Is the trouble not so much inside this House as outside this House?