HC Deb 06 May 1930 vol 238 cc896-905

Resolution reported, That the following sums shall be charged on and issued out of the Consolidated Fund and applied in the same manner as the New Sinking Fund (1928), that is to say:— In the financial year ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one, the sum of five million pounds; In the financial year ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, the sum of five million pounds; In the financial year ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, the sum of four million five hundred thousand pounds.

Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


As the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not answer the last question, may I try my luck again and see if I can put one that he can answer? I quite realise that he is so overwhelmed with the weight of his Budget and the bad reception it has had throughout the country, that he has quite lost all sense of proportion. May I inquire what is the particular object in these new Sinking Fund figures which we have just had read out, and why they drop from £5,000,000 for the first two years to £24,590,000 in 1933. There quite clearly is a position in regard to these figures which needs some explanation. It is possibly that the right hon. Gentleman is able to make the drop because of some other Estimates which have already passed this evening, though it was not explained to us how it came about, or is the alternative reason that by 1933 he thinks that, thanks to the extraordinary series of good predecessors, except in one case—that was in 1924—we shall then have reduced the interest and the debt will be in such a state that we shall be able to cut down to some extent the commitments which the nation has to make each year for payment of interest and Sinking Fund on the debt.

I apologise for taking up the time of the House on this matter, but it is really of interest to see that the Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking such an interest in the matter of National Debt, which is one of very great importance. It would be still more important if, at a time when he is considering this matter of National Debt, he would consider something which has a very close alliance with, and that is the national trade and industry in its wider form. The two things hang so closely together that it is possible that these sums of £5,000,000 are really not necessary at present and it is a definite mistake to place these additional burdens year by year on the taxpayers and, unless I have a very clear explanation, I very much doubt if many of us will be able to vote for the Resolution.


I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government will not take the rapid passage which has been accorded to these closing Resolutions as any indication that we do not dissent very strongly, and for important reasons, to many of them and to some aspects of all of them. There was an arrangement made through the usual channels that if we had an extra day to discuss these Resolutions this week, making a third day, or rather two days and a half in all, certain other Orders were to be entered upon at a reasonable time in the proceedings. These arrangements were made in the ordinary way, and in order to give the fullest effect to them the Conservative Opposition have foregone great opportunities and fertile opportunities of legitimate debate which were clearly open to them. Therefore, I enter this caveat of warning to make it perfectly clear that it must not be assumed that we have, in carrying out, as obviously we should do, the arrangement which we made, in the slightest degree diminished our opposition to many of these proposals, or that our action will invalidate the full criticism which we shall bring to bear upon the proposals in the ample procedure on the Committee stage. This particular Resolution affecting the provisions of the Debt requires to be examined from every point of view, whether it is at this moment a convenient and expedient step to impose further additional onerous direct taxation for the purpose of a comparatively slight addition to our already large Sinking Funds. I do not propose to go into the merits of this argument, but I wish to make it perfectly clear that we reserve to ourselves the fullest rights of examining in every detail the various matters which we have hitherto allowed to pass with practically no debate at all.


The right hon. Gentleman has put his case in a way to which no exception can be taken. Of course, there will be other and more ample opportunities of debating the points that have been embodied in the Resolutions under discussion to-day. These Resolutions are simply to give the power to embody Clauses in the Finance Bill, and when they appear in that form they will probably be—at any rate, I hope so—more intelligible to the House of Commons than the phrasing of the Resolutions. But the right hon. Gentleman must not think that I agree with what he said, that the Opposition had carried out the undertaking. Far from it. There was a very distinct and definite undertaking that we should get through these Resolutions by about half-past Seven. In the statement of business made by the Prime Minister last Thursday he said this: On Tuesday it is hoped to complete the Report stage of the outstanding Budget Resolutions and of the Resolutions relating to the Finance Bill, which have been agreed in Committee of the Whole House, by about 7.30."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1930; col. 374, Vol. 238.]


"It is hoped."


No exception was taken to that, and there has been a definite agreement with the two Whips that we should get these Resolutions by about dinner-time to-day. Now it is 10.30, three hours afterwards, and it was also understood that we should get certain other Orders to-day. There has not been a suspension of the Eleven o'Clock Rule, and therefore the sitting will close at 11 o'clock.


It is exempted business.


Financial Resolutions are, but they have been disposed of.


The Report stage of the Money Resolution on the Housing (Scotland) Bill is exempted.


Yes, that is, but there are about five other Orders which we hoped to get to-day. It must not be understood that I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Opposition have carried out the terms of the undertaking.


I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

I do this to put myself in order, and to take up the charge which has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am not prepared in any circumstances to allow a charge of breach of faith in regard to an arrangement or undertaking to pass across the House without it being answered. There may be a misunderstanding—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] If there is no question of a misunderstanding, we are in the presence of a definite charge of breach of faith. Many of my hon. Friends thought it a great mistake for us to enter into any sort of under- taking or to have any discussion with the right hon. Gentleman and his friends during the whole course of the Finance Bill. I was personally of opinion, with those with whom I have been discussing this matter, that three days was in accordance with the precedents for Budgets of a similar scope and size as this, and with a view to expediting business, and relieving the House from undue strain, we lent ourselves to an arrangement which was not made through any other channel than through the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and the Chief Opposition Whip. These are the two parties who alone have the right to say whether what has in fact taken place is or is not a fair interpretation of any consultations that they may have had. I have yet to learn that they complain of the course which has been adopted, or that there is any difference between them.


There is. A very definite arrangement was made on the lines of the statement made by the Prime Minister about business last Thursday. Since then, in order that we might not be accused of straining the meaning of the phrase "about 7.30," I have had conversations with the Chief Opposition Whip, and I agreed with him no later than to-night that the Debate on these Resolutions should end at the very latest by 8.30. I do not think that I am misrepresenting his point of view when I say quite definitely that that hour was regarded as ample time for the Opposition to discuss the Resolutions.


I take this matter extremely seriously, because in all the years that I have sat in this House, it has always been considered essential to the decent conduct of business that any understanding which has been reached should be carried out, even though it may be to the detriment of one or the other of the parties. I naturally have not participated in these discussions, because it would be the greatest mistake for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and anyone sitting on these benches to have conversations across the House in order to arrive at an agreement. I am confident that a misunderstanding is at the root of the difference between the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and the chief Opposition Whip, and on that we have no information. If it should be found that through a misunderstanding we have been in any way in error it is a matter which we should regret, but, taking the wider view, and in the light of what has now passed it seems to me that we should be well advised for the rest of the proceedings on the Finance Bill to enter into no arrangements. It is perfectly clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will utilise any arrangement which has been arrived at, if he possibly can, as the foundation and basis for making offensive charges against his political opponents.


The concluding remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were altogether uncalled for and very offensive in their character. He has already admitted in reply to the remarks made by the Chief Government Whip that there must have been an understanding between the Whips—


A misunderstanding.


That there was an understanding between them. The misunderstanding is with the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite. I take no exception at all to the suggestion that there should be no further arrangements. I pointed out earlier this afternoon that on no occasion, either in the Committee stage of the Resolutions or the Report stage have I asked the House to sit after eleven o'clock at night, and although I have not looked up previous Debates, I am inclined to think that there is no precedent for such an occurrence. I took that course in order to serve the convenience of the Opposition, and as a quid pro quo the arrangement between the two Chief Whips was made. This evening has taught me a lesson, and I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would be unwise to make any further bargains.


When I rose to address the House after the Chancellor

of the Exchequer had refused to answer a very definite question, which I tried to put as politely as I could, I did so because I remembered the statement the other day to the effect that it was hoped to end about dinner time. [Interruption.] It is perfectly easy for me to go on for some considerable time, but all I wish to do, if hon. Members opposite will allow me, is to conclude my remarks as quickly as possible. As far as I am concerned I hope that in the future arrangements of this kind will be either very clear and very definite, or else, as many of us would welcome, that we may during the remaining stages of the Finance Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—have the fullest opportunity of saying what we think on these subjects. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] Obviously hon. Members opposite know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made another mistake. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] They clearly know that once again—


The House would come to a decision sooner if the hon. Member were allowed to make his remarks without so many interruptions.


I have been endeavouring to point out that once again the Chancellor has badly let down his party by trying to score mean and petty points. I deeply regret that on such an occasion as this efforts have been made to divert the attention of the House from a consideration of the financial affairs of the country, on the singularly slim pretext which the Chancellor raised just now. I hope the Motion we are now discussing will be carried to a division, so that we may register our opinion of the behaviour of the Government and the gross discourtesy of the Chancellor himself.

Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes, 103; Noes, 251.

Division No. 276.] AYES. [10.44 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Colfox, Major William Philip
Albery, Irving James Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Colman, N. C. D.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Colville, Major D. J.
Atholl, Duchess of Brass, Captain Sir William Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.
Atkinson, C. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Cranborne, Viscount
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Carver, Major W. H. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Crookshank, Capt. H. C.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Christie, J. A. Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Iveagh, Countess of Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Davies, Dr. Vernon King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Skelton, A. N.
Davies, Maj., Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Knox, Sir Alfred Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Dlxey, A. C. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Smithers, Waldron
Edmondson, Major A. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Elliot, Major Walter E. Llewellin, Major J. J. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) McConnell, Sir Joseph Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Everard, W. Lindsay MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Fison, F. G. Clavering Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Ford, Sir P. J. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Thomson, Sir F.
Galbraith, J. F. W. Muirhead, A. J. Tinne, J. A.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Oman, Sir Charles William C. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) O'Neill, Sir H. Train, J.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Peake, Captain Osbert Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Greene, W. P. Crawford Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Power, Sir John Cecil Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gunston, Captain D. W. Pownall, Sir Assheton Wells, Sydney R.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Ramsbotham, H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Hanbury, C. Rawson, Sir Cooper Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Remer, John R. Womersley, W. J.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Salmon, Major I. Sir George Penny and Captain
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Wallace.
Hurd, Percy A. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Dukes, C. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Duncan, Charles Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Ede, James Chuter Kennedy, Thomas
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Edge, Sir William Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Edmunds, J. E. Kinley, J.
Alpass, J. H. Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Knight, Holford
Ammon, Charles George Egan, W. H. Lang, Gordon
Arnott, John Elmley, Viscount Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Aske, Sir Robert England, Colonel A. Lathan, G.
Ayles, Walter Forgan, Dr. Robert Law, A. (Rosendale)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Freeman, Peter Lawrence, Susan
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lawson, John James
Barnes, Alfred John Gibbins, Joseph Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Barr, James Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Leach, W.
Batey, Joseph Gill, T. H. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Bellamy, Albert Gillett, George M. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Gossling, A. G. Lees, J.
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Gould, F. Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Benson, G. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lindley, Fred W.
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lloyd, C. Ellis
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Gray, Milner Logan, David Gilbert
Birkett, W. Norman Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Longbottom, A. W.
Blindell, James Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Longden, F.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Broad, Francis Alfred Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Lunn, William
Brockway, A. Fenner Grundy, Thomas W. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Bromley, J. Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Brooke, W. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) McElwee, A.
Brothers, M. Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Mackinder, W.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) McKinlay, A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Buchanan, G. Harbord, A. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Burgess, F. G. Hardle, George D. Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mansfield, W.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Haycock, A. W. Markham, S. F.
Caine, Derwent Hall- Hayday, Arthur Marley, J.
Cameron, A. G. Hayes, John Henry Marshall, Fred
Cape, Thomas Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Mathers, George
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Matters, L. W.
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Messer, Fred
Chater, Daniel Herriotts, J. Millar, J. D.
Church, Major A. G. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Mills, J. E.
Clarke, J. S. Hoffman, P. C. Milner, Major J.
Cluse, W. S. Hollins, A. Montague, Frederick
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hopkin, Daniel Morley, Ralph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Compton, Joseph Hunter, Dr. Joseph Morris-Jones, Dr J. H. (Denbigh)
Cowan, D. M. Isaacs, George Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Daggar, George Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Mort, D. L.
Dallas, George John, William (Rhondda, West) Moses, J. J. H.
Dalton, Hugh Johnston, Thomas Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint) Muff, G.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Muggeridge, H. T.
Dickson, T. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Murnin, Hugh
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Naylor, T. E.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sanders, W. S. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sandham, E. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Sawyer, G. F. Thurtle, Ernest
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Scrymgeour, E. Tinker, John Joseph
Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Scurr, John Toole, Joseph
Palin, John Henry Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Tout, W. J.
Palmer, E. T. Sherwood, G. H. Turner, B.
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Shield, George William Vaughan, D. J.
Perry, S. F. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Viant, S. P.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Shillaker, J. F. Walkden, A. G.
Phillips, Dr. Marion Shinwell, E. Walker, J.
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Watkins, F. C.
Pole, Major D. G. Simmons, C. J. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne).
Potts, John S. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Price, M. P. Sinkinson, George Wellock, Wilfred
Pybus, Percy John Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Quibell, D. F. K. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Westwood, Joseph
Raynes, W. R. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Snell, Harry Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Ritson, J. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)
Romeril, H. G. Sorenson, R. Wise, E. F.
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Stamford, Thomas W. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Rowson, Guy Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Strauss, G. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Salter, Dr. Alfred Sullivan, J. Mr. Paling and Mr. Charles
Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Sutton, J. E. Edwards.

Resolution agreed to.