HC Deb 21 May 1930 vol 239 cc404-5

With the leave of the House, I rise to make the statement which is customary when a Minister resigns from the Government of the day. I understand that it is in accordance with precedent and the usual convenience of the House that this state-merit should be confined to the actual reasons which led to the resignation. I propose, however, to take the first opportunity, when the appropriate Vote is down for discussion, to advance the detailed, and I fear rather lengthy, case which I think that it will be necessary to make on the merits of the issues which have arisen. My present statement can perhaps be summarised if the House will permit me to read the letter which I addressed to the Prime Minister: My dear Prime Minister, On 23rd January last I submitted to you a memorandum on unemployment policy, which was an attempt to work out in detail the programme of our party at the last Election and to provide a more effective alternative to the policy which the Government has pursued. In my covering letter, I explained that the memorandum was 'not advanced in any dogmatic spirit,' and that I was 'more than open to any alternative which could be shown to be superior.' I made it clear, however, that I had reached 'the very definite conclusion that it is impossible to continue as at present.' The Cabinet subsequently decided to appoint a committee under the Chairmanship of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the unemployment situation and in this connection to have regard to the memorandum. That committee presented a report which not only rejects in its entirety the memorandum, but also adopts a position which would involve the rejection of any effective alternative to present policy. Since the report of that Committee you have been good enough to discuss with the Ministers charged with unemployment both the memorandum and the report. Unfortunately, those discussions have only served to emphasise our differences, while during their currency the Chancellor of the Exchequer has affirmed the position adopted by his committee as the policy of the Government in a public speech delivered to the British Banking Association on 14th May last. This policy was reiterated by the Lord Privy Seal in yesterday's Debate. In these circumstances, I regret that I hold it to be inconsistent with honour for me to remain a Member of the Government. On the back benches, I shall remain in vote and action a loyal member of the Labour party. In speech and in the advocacy of policy I shall claim the right always accorded by our party to its members to ask the party to adopt a policy which I believe to be more consistent with our programme and pledges at the last Election. It is to me a matter of great regret that as a Minister I have no means of appeal to the judgment of our party except by resignation from the Government.