§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I beg to move,That, notwithstanding anything in any Standing Order of this House, Standing Order No. 27A, relating to the power of the Chair to select amendments, shall apply with respect to proceedings in the Standing Committee to which the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill is allocated.On the first day of the Session, the Leader of the Opposition remarked that the work outlined in the Gracious Speech from the Throne would take two or three years at least to perform. I think this House must make up its mind to go through business a little more expeditiously than was indicated in the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said a minute ago, the question he was then raising, referred to the efficiency of Parliament itself and was not a party question. I can claim, in the best sense of that phrase, that I occupy to-day precisely the same position. There is nothing that is doing this House more damage, in public opinion, than the leisureliness of its deliberations and its working, and it is particularly true in a time like this. Of course, one has to steer between Scylla and Charybdis. There must be ample right of discussion. This House in itself and in its Committees, must be careful that no question of importance, no consideration and no aspect of a problem brought before it is going to be stifled by Closure or by any such operation as that. On the other hand, we must get work done and steps must be taken by all of us, by every party in this House to see to it that the House of Commons maintains its reputation as a businesslike assembly in the conduct of the affairs of the State. The right, hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) once said:We must find some method by which, with a reasonable consideration for the importance of the business that we have to do, and of the great and diverse interests which are affected by it, that business may he done, and the country may not be held up simply because Parliament is choked by its own interest in the work which comes; before it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 458 Vol. 144.]928 I heartily associate myself with that statement, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is going to do so later on today. A Committee of this House has been set up to consider the whole question of our procedure, the declared purpose of which is to devise ways and means to expedite our work. But in the meantime we have to do certain business. At the present moment, there is an Agricultural Land Bill in front of this House. It is an urgent Bill. It is a Bill full of opportunities for unreasonable delay. It is a Bill which by the operation of nature even more than by the will of a Government must, if it is to be effective, be in operation by the beginning of the year. If this winter is of no avail, if Springtime comes upon us and the local authorities and the other authorities concerned in the carrying out of this Bill have no powers, if this Bill is still hanging between life and death, then it is not a week or a month which is lost, it is a whole 12 months of most precious and necessary time. I believe that with fair and full discussion the Bill can leave this House quite comfortably before we adjourn for Christmas.
To-day I am asking for no new power at all, for in the Manual of our Standing Orders this power has been 'afforded since the beginning of 1919. It is true that in that Manual it applies only to you, Sir, and to the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means of the whole House. The experience of 11 years has justified us in regarding that Standing Order as a very precious one, and a very proper one. If anyone says that I am breaking or disturbing the settled law and order of this House in seeking to apply it upstairs, he is mistaken, because I had predecessor, I had a pioneer. I am aware that there are footsteps in the sand, and the footsteps are those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I remember perfectly well—I was in the House at the time—that when this method of the Guillotine known as the "Kangaroo" Closure was established, there were many doubts expressed regarding it, but before it had been 18 months in operation the right hon. Gentleman himself moved to apply it just 'as I am doing to-day. On the 6th July, 1921, regarding the Railways Bill which was then before this House, the right hon. Gentleman moved a 929 Resolution, and a very complicated Resolution full of other powers, some of them very doubtful and some of them rather dangerus powers. But included in that Resolution was the power which I 'am now moving. Regarding this particular part of his Resolution, he said:There is no novelty in this, and may I say—and shall I not carry the House with me in saying it—that of all the forms of Closure or of Guillotine, or, to put it in a more general way, of all the methods of restricting debates which the wit of this House has hitherto devised, the least blind, the most sensible, the most considerate and the most intelligent is the Kangaroo Closure, which vests discretion in the Chair, to select Amendments of the greatest consequence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 456, Vol. 144.]He will find that in the columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th July, 1921. Those were very wise words. Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman against whom no one can place an accusation that he is not a careful custodian of the liberties, privileges and rights of this House, and of the Members in it. There is no man who has more frequently stood at this Box and declared himself, with effect, to be a good son of the House of Commons than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and I am asking him to-day to make good the wise declaration which he made in 1921. On that occasion, moreover, he was joined by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), so that we are going to have a very united House of Commons. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said on that occasion:I never heard anyone really knowing anything about Parliament who will not admit that the Kangaroo has been a success. It has enabled Parliament to discuss things that matter.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 511, Vol. 144.]4.0 p.m.
In those days the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) represented the Liberal party, and he also took part in the debate, and while I will not quote him, I will give the gist of what he said in one sentence. Referring to the Resolution as a whole, he said that it contained very exceptional proposals, but that he was perfectly willing to give what is called the "Kangaroo" to the Chairman upstairs. So here we are, very united. I am told—at least I have seen it in some of the newspapers—that because we are a 930 minority Government, we have no business to move a Resolution like this. The Bill has received a Second Reading in this House. The Bill has received a very good majority in this House. We may be a minority Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] Yes, but the Bill is no minority Bill, and it is for the Bill I am speaking and not the Government. The Bill, having received a Second Reading by a big majority in this House, is endowed with the right of being debated and discussed upstairs in a reasonable way. We have the right to ask this House to protect it against unnecessary and unreasonable delays. I notice that one of the Amendments, while respecting your impartiality, Mr. Speaker, is framed in a way to suggest that there is just a doubt attaching to the Chairmen upstairs. I do not believe that that aspersion is good. It ought not to be made. The Chairmen upstairs are just as well aware of their responsibility to this House, to Committees of this House, and to hon. Members of this House as any Chairman in the House itself. I remember perfectly well, when I was a member of film Panel of Chairmen in the days gone by, it was the desire, the wish and the en deavour of every one of us to conduct, ourselves in the Chair upstairs with the same distinction and the same sense of impartiality as have always animated you, Mr. Speaker, and the two Chairmen of Committees of this House. The Chairmen upstairs will enforce the Kangaroo with the same objective sense of responsibility as has been shown again and again, and has become, as a matter of fact, habitual to those who sit at this end of the House.
There is another Amendment which, I see, refers to the necessity of protecting the special things that matter. The reason why I move this Motion to-day is to secure that things that matter will be discussed, and that things that do not matter will he overlooked by those who are in charge of the business upstairs. I need not go through Amendment after Amendment. There is only one other to which reference might be made, and that is the Amendment which says that the Motion should he made from day to day. The very fact that that is suggested shows the intention of the hon. Gentle- 931 man. If there is any reason why my Motion this afternoon is justified, that Amendment is the reason. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Then there is an Amendment proposing to modify the provisions of the Standing Order itself. If any Amendment of the Standing Orders is to be made operative, the House must await the report of the Committee to which I have just referred. As I say, the Chairman upstairs knows, I believe, the requirements of fair play. He knows the requirements of Parliamentary procedure, and we must put responsibility upon him and trust his judgment. The only way to get this Bill through, after full discussion, and in a time which will mean that next year is not lost, is to endow the Chairman of the Committee to which this Bill is referred, with the authority to put in operation the Kangaroo Closure, and I, therefore, beg to move this Motion.
§ Mr. STANLEY BALDWIN
Before we proceed to the consideration of any of the Amendments which are on the Order Paper, I would like to address myself to the terms of the Motion, and to make a few observations upon it. I am very much afraid that in this discussion, although there is another right hon. Gentleman who has led the House, I shall not obtain his support to-day for the protection of the private Member for whom I am speaking. I will just refer to an observation which fell from the Prime Minister, and then I propose to put one or two points of view which, if I may say so with profound respect, he rather slurred over. He spoke of this House losing caste with public opinion because of the dilatoriness of its proceedings. That may be true to some extent, hut there is an equal danger of our being blamed for complicated legislation passed through so quickly that its defects are only recognised when it is before a court of law. After all, the justification for what must strike all fresh Members in this House as the leisureliness of our proceedings, is that that very leisureliness gives thoroughness to the examination of a Bill in both Houses, and makes the Bill, as far as it is possible, watertight against actions and suits at a later date.
I will just say that in passing, and now offer one or two remarks about the 932 Kangaroo itself. I do not know who the parent of the Kangaroo was. Mr. Asquith, I think, claimed the parentage, but I always believe that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had something to do with it, because the kangaroo is notable for the speed with which it can cover the ground, the accuracy of its leaps and the care of its young. The first observation I will make about that is, that the Kangaroo is, I quite admit, a very useful weapon in the armoury of the Government, but it is a weapon that ought not to be used too often. I think that all those who have led the House will admit that. Secondly, although I am not going co weary the House with a mass of details, the Kangaroo has not often been imposed until a Bill has had, at any rate, a run in the House. There are exceptions, I know, but, generally, the Kangaroo and the Time Table have been imposed when a Bill has been for some time under examination.
The great advantage of that is that when a Bill has been under examination for some time in the House of Commons, private Members who, after all, must be considered, will feel that they have had their opportunity, and there will be much less, shall I say, soreness on the part of the Opposition if the Kangaroo comes in at a later date than if it comes in at the beginning. The business of this House can only be carried on by a great deal of compromise, and whenever the House gets into a difficult position, and the parties are not working together, that is always bad for the business of the House, as well as bad for our own tempers, and occasionally, in sporadic instances, our own manners. I say that in passing. But also, when a Bill has been before the House for some little time, the country gets acquainted with it, and the Government, if they care for public opinion, then have the opportunity of finding out what people think of their Bill. People are very slow in understanding legislation which comes before this House, and the interests involved have thus time to study it and make their representations in ample time for the consideration of the Government.
Those, I think, are quite sound points, but when an Opposition—and I use the term in the most general sense—has not been obstructive, it does resent Measures 933 that smack of coercion. Those things have to be remembered, but, of course, the main objection, to my mind, is the transference of powers which are exercised on the Floor of the House to Committees upstairs. It so happened that in the Committee on the Hours of Meeting and Rising of the House, a question was put to me that was not put either to the Prime Minister or to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. It was put to me by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths), who said:Do you think that, if the Chairman of Committees upstairs had more power than he has at present, the burden of the work on the Floor of the House could be sent upstairs?I had no warning that that question was going to be asked, and my answer, which was given on the spur of the moment, was given rather crudely. I am not at all pleased with the English of it. I said:That is a matter I have often thought about. There is one real difficulty about it. I think that anyone would find, if he were responsible for the business of the House, that these powers ought not to be given to men who have not had a. great deal of experience. It is one thing to give it to the Chairman of Ways and Means, but there is always difficulty in getting men of the knowledge and experience of a Chairman of Ways and Means as Chairman of the Committee upstairs. It means you have to get about half a dozen men with a thorough knowledge of Procedure, and with experience. I have always felt a little afraid of giving these powers to men who have not had that experience. I do not any that I do not see a way through it, because, honestly, I have not tried to find it, but that has been the difficulty to my mind, and the difficulty which always prevented me making any move in that direction so long as I happened to be leading the House. It is a real, practical difficulty, because it is a very great responsibility, and a Chairman who happened to be a strong partisan—and they occur in all parties—and perhaps a man of not very great experience might render, perhaps unwillingly, a great many injustices in the conduct of the Bill upstairs. That is speaking very frankly, but I think it is right.I have purposely refrained from looking at the names of any of the Chairmen upstairs. I do not know them, and I make no special reference to them, but, speaking generally, I believe that there is a great deal of force in what I said before about the Committees upstairs. It must be remembered that, quite apart from the 934 question of experience, the Chairman of Ways and Means in this House has the corrective force of the whole House of Commons. That is a tremendous force. He is constantly at work here all the year round, work which is lacking upstairs, and a Chairman upstairs cannot gain the experience. He has not the corrective force of this House. He has a small Committee, and a small Committee alone. The two cases are not at all on all fours, and I certainly cannot conceive the circumstances in which I would make myself responsible for a Motion similar to that put down to-day.
Of course, the Motion to which the Prime Minister alluded which was moved by my right hon. Friend, is not in the least on all fours with this, although, judging from the fact that when I went to get the OFFICIAL REPORT of 1921 out of the Library, and found that; it was engaged, I imagine that other Members have been refreshing their memory. Two things differentiate that occasion from this. The Railways Bill—a Bill of infinitely greater complication than this Agricultural Bill—had been before the Committee for weeks, and we had arrived at the end of the Session, late in July, with the August holidays coming. We are now at the begining of a long, prolific, and what ought to be a happy Session. We must not do anything to impair any one of those prospects. We are at the beginning of the Session, and it is proposed to apply the Kangaroo upstairs on a Bill which is merely starting its Committee stage: before it has run an hour. The two cases are absolutely dissimilar, coupled with the fact that at that time the full business was enormously congested and that it was absolutely essential that the Railways Bill, for the smooth working of the traffic of this country, should be got through at the earliest possible date.
The use of the Kangaroo, in my view, is unjustifiable in any circumstances except on the Floor of the House. On the Floor of the House it is only justifiable in a case of emergency. The point arises: is this a case of emergency, or not? The Prime Minister says that it is. I am not so clear about that. I would remind the Prime Minister—I do not know what he thinks about us as an Opposition, and whether he thinks that we obstruct, or not—that when the present Government came in and the 935 right hon. Gentleman who was then Lord Privy Seal addressed the House and said that there were certain emergency Measures which he desired to get through, and that without those Measures he could not proceed with his work, we gave him everything that he asked for, with hardly any discussion. Therefore, no one can say that if you convince us that it is an emergency, we will not help you We have done it before. In this case, I ask: what is the emergency? Had there been a real emergency about the Agricultural Bill, you would have brought it in a year ago. You cannot plead emergency after 18 months. In 18 months you have had a period of gestation in which no one single animal would fail to produce something, except the elephant.
I am not quite sure that this Bill is your own offspring and that there is not some responsibility for it on the part of right hon. and hon. Members below the Gangway on this side of the House. I am not at all sure that it is your own child. I think that it is partly a foundling, and that is why there is this demand for special treatment. The Leader of the Liberal party said: "This is a Bill after my own heart." He recognises kinship—kinship of blood and mind. That does not, in our view, make it a question of emergency. Because we are not convinced that it is an emergency, because we believe that it is a bad predecent, because we believe that it is a proceeding which, if followed. you may regret far more in the future than we, I and those who sit behind me will oppose this Motion to the end.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have seen during the course of my experience in this House a great many right hon. Gentlemen standing at the Table and proposing Motions for the purpose of I will not say c[...]tailing debate but of expediting business. Without exception, I have always found that such Motions have been followed by right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Front Bench saying that it was an outrage upon the liberties of debate in this House. After waiting for three or four years I have found the very gentleman who has made a speech about the outrage on the liberties of debate, making exactly the same Motion when he st[...]d at the Box 936 on the Government side, and the gentleman who proposed the Motion originally ranking from the Opposition side the sort of speech which his successor in office made when he was on the Opposition side the sort of speech which his successor in office made when he was on the Opposition side. [Interruption.] Of course, we have all done it. The real difficulty is this, that it depends entirely upon our attitude towards the particular Bill. If we like the Bill, we want it to get through and to get through quickly. If we do not like the Bill, we do not want it to get through and we resort to every Parliamentary expedient to delay it, in the hope that ultimately we shall defeat it. That is what it amounts to.
Right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition above the Gangway to-day voted almost without exception for the Motion that was made in 1921. Surely, there could not have been anything that was such an outrage upon the Privileges of Parliament, as they would now have us believe. What does it mean? The right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) simply puts it upon one point, that we may not be able to get a Chairman upstairs who has the necessary experience to discriminate between an Amendment which is material and an Amendment which is not material. That means that there are not six men in a House of 601, drawn not from one party but from every party, who can perform that function. That is a reflection upon [...] House of Commons. If we cannot produce six men who can discharge the functions of the Chair with judgment and with fairness, then this House, this Parliament is worthless. The right hon. Gentleman was right when he said that I had something to do with the original Kangaroo. At any rate, the Kangaroo does get along. I prefer him to the sloth, whose main quality is the tenacity with which he clings to his perch. One does get along, while the other does not. Every Government and every party since then has made full use of the Kangaroo. It has been accepted by every party in the House as something which is an essential part not merely of the Procedure of Parliament but an essential means of defending the efficiency of Parliament. Without it, there would be only one way of getting a Bill through, and that would be by means of the Guillotine.
937 The right hon. Gentleman says that by prolonged debate you improve a Measure. The idea that you improve the clarity of a Bill by prolonged discussion is a sentiment that can only be expressed without real experience of the work of Committee. I have conducted many Bills through this House and I have opposed many Bills, and I say, without exception, that the result of prolonged discussion has been that the Government have always had to make concessions against their judgment in order to buy off opposition, concessions which render the Bill more ineffective and not more effective. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense!"] It is so. Take the Bill to which reference has been made, where the Kangaroo was introduced We had to introduce it after weeks if not months in Committee. I would have infinitely preferred to have had the Guillotine. We had to make concessions which have caused us all sorts of difficulties in the Law Courts. Invariably, the trouble came out of the concessions which we were forced to make in order to get the, Bill through. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will remedy those defects by a much more drastic and simple Bill this year. So far from making the Bills watertight, you make them waterlogged.
I trust that the House will carry this Motion. The right hon. Gentleman says that there might be justification for the Motion if there were obstruction. The charge of obstruction is one that is not easily maintained against an Opposition, and yet I venture to say that there never has been an Opposition that did not obstruct. It is more or less its business to obstruct. It is its business to make difficult the carrying through of legislation of a totally different character from that which it believes in: legislation which may be opposed to some of its fundamental principles. Therefore, it ifs bound to do all that it can to retard and to place obstacles in the way of the Bill. I do not want to refer too much to what happened last year and what happened upstairs. You could not say that a single Amendment was moved that was in itself irrelevant, or that anyone could have ruled out of Order, or that was not a debatable proposition, but I do know this, that when the right hon. Gentleman got up in this 938 House and said that they were not going to take any more Bills that Session, suddenly the Bills got through with a rush. What does that mean? The Opposition—and rightly so; I am not criticising them, because it is their business as an Opposition—wanted to occupy the time of Committees upstairs and down here in such a way that no Bills of an obnoxious character could be carried. [Interruption.] I am an independent Member of this House, elected independently of hon. Members opposite or of the party on this side above the Gangway; quite independently, and I am giving quite independent support to this Motion for the very opposite reasons from that on which hon. and tight hon. Members of the Opposition above the Gangway are opposing it. I believe in the Bill and they do not. That is the real reason.
I have not the faintest doubt that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will be taking full advantage of this sort of Motion in due course.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Well, do not be too sure about that. Whether it happens sooner or later, some right hon. Gentleman representing the party who sit above the Gangway on this side today, in order to carry through their legislation, will be making proposals. When Mr. Balfour was making a Motion not quite of this character but more drastic I made it quite clear that my opposition was not in general to the curtailing of extravagant opportunities for debate but that my objection was to the Bill itself, and that I was not in favour of giving facilities for that particular Bill. Although I have been in Opposition longer than any hon. or right hon. Gentleman here, I have never taken up the line that Motions of this kind were not legitimate. I have always said that my opposition was to the giving of facilities for a particular Bill. It is no use arguing the point on general principles. There can be no doubt that this Rouse is upon its trial. I do riot mean this particular Rouse, but Parliament. We shall he tested by whether or not we can do the nation's work. If there is any condemnation on the part of the nation, it is not on the ground 939 that we are not talking enough, that we are not moving enough Amendments, that we are not prolonging debates long enough, but it is on the ground that there is too much talk and too little work. The right hon. Member for Bewdley asked why, if this is an emergency Bill, it was not introduced last year? I could probably put the same question to the Government. The fact is, that the Bill has been introduced. It is a Bill to deal with an emergency, and, if it is carried through as an emergency Bill and administered as an emergency Bill, it will, in my judgment, contribute to the solving of the emergency and will have a permanent effect upon the industrial position in thin country. For that reason I support the Motion.
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
The Prime Minister, in moving this Motion, claimed, and I think rightly claimed, that this is one of those questions which are somewhat outside the boundaries of party. I agree with that sentiment because I regard the procedure of this House and questions of this kind as being far more important than any single Bill such as this. I am sure the Prime Minister will accept it from me that I am addressing myself to this Motion from the point of view that I do not want to commit myself to any definite opinion as to whether in any reform of procedure in the future the use of what is known as the Kangaroo should be either extended or restricted. My main objection to the Motion is that it should be moved at a time when the whole of these questions are to be the subject of inquiry by a Select Committee. I want to make just one observation regarding a certain remark of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that in some of the Amendments there was a suggestion that there might not be the same impartial attitude on the part of the Chairman of a Standing Committee as there is in the case of the occupants of the Chair in this House.
I want to say at once, and quite freely as I have never been the Chairman of a Standing Committee, that no one has greater trust than I have in the fairness and impartiality of the Chairmen of Standing Committees. I have seen the name of the right hon. Gentleman who I 940 believe is to be the chairman of this Committee and I say at once, and every Member of the House will agree with me, that you could not find a Member more experienced in procedure or one upon whose impartiality and honour you could place more reliance. I am referring to the right hon. Gentleman for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones). May I say what to me seems to be the distinction that is drawn in the Amendments between the occupants of the Chair of this House and the position of a Chairman of Standing Committee. The Prime Minister, no doubt, has read very carefully the debate in 1921 and also the very lengthy debate in 1919, when the procedure rules were introduced in regard to Standing Committees. Over and over again in those debates the view was expressed by experienced Members such as the present Lord Banbury, the Noble Lord the senior Member for Oxford University (Lord Cecil) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) that the position of the chairman of a Standing Committee was very different to that of Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Ways and Means.
Speaking as one who has had a short experience in one of these capacities I am very much impressed with what was said in those debates over and over again about the very great responsibilities which the Chairman has in selecting amendments. It is not merely a matter of experience in Parliamentary Procedure as a whole. The selection by the Chairman on the Floor of this House is made after the most careful consultation, not only with representatives of the parties and with those who have moved the amendments but also with the Parliamentary draftsman in order to understand the whole position. That selection is made by a Member of this House whose sole duty it is to preside in the Chair, and he is debarred by custom from taking any other part in the business of the House. The Chairmen of Committees upstairs would not be doing their duty if they failed to come down to the Floor of this House and exercise their privileges as ordinary Members of the House. They are therefore being put in a somewhat invidious position when they are asked to take upon themselves the heavy responsibility attaching to the selection of amendments and at the same time do their duty on the Floor of the 941 House, it may be in connection with the same Bill in a subsequent stage. That involves extra responsibility and an extra amount of work.
In these circumstances, and in view of the very great difference of opinion in the debates of 1919 and 1921, cutting across all party lines, on the use of the Kangaroo, suggest: to the Prime Minister that it would be most unfortunate—I will not say to create a precedent although this would in fact be a precedent—to follow even the precedent of 1921 and give the Chairman of Standing Committee powers under the Kangaroo unless there was very urgent necessity for it. It seems to me that there is no necessity for it in the present case. I am prepared to allow all the statements which were made, perhaps in a slightly cynical fashion, by the right bon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), but after all the Chairmen of Committees have great powers. They have powers of Closure, and it is open to the Prime Minister, if these powers are not sufficient, and if, after two or three days experience of the working of this Committee, he finds that there is obstruction of a kind which can be got over by the use of the Kangaroo, to come down to the House and ask for these powers. I want to treat this question independently of all party considerations because it is important, and I appeal to the Prime Minister, in view of the pending consideration of these questions of procedure, to withdraw the Motion for the moment and see how the work of the Committee proceeds for the first two or three days.
I have said that if the Prime Minister presses this Motion he will not be following the precedent of 1921 so much as creating a new precedent, and I will give one or two reasons in support of that view. In 1921 it was a question of a Bill at the end of the Session, and it was only applied to a part of the Bill—or rather to be correct, to two parts of the Bill. A large part of the Bill had been thrashed out on the Floor of the House and only certain parts were referred to Standing Committee. It was a Bill of enormous length, much bigger and much more complicated than the present Measure. An immense amount of work had been done upon it and all that work, and all that part of the Bill which had been thrashed 942 out on the Floor of the House, would have been lost unless it was -carried before the end of the Session. There is a great difference between the two cases.
The Prime Minister is, I know, as anxious as anyone in this House for the success of Parliamentary government. We often hear that Parliament is on its trial, and I sincerely suggest that one of the accusations made against this House is that a great many important Acts are forced through in a slipshod fashion, and definite complaints have been made over and over again as to the action of the Kangaroo on the Floor of this House. The Prime Minister I see shakes his head, but I can quote cases, although I am not saying that I regard them as a great grievance, in regard to the Finance Bill where it undoubtedly has been most unfortunate that certain Amendments have not been selected. That is one reason why I say that this case is not upon all fours with 1921.
Let me give another reason why it is not upon all fours with that case. The Motion in 1921 was carried on a division by a majority of 164 against 85. That was in the Coalition Parliament, when the Government in office had the support of something like nine-tenths of the House of Commons. The Government moved the Motion, yet in spite of that is was only carried by a majority of 164 to 85, and about one quarter of those who opposed it were members of the Conservative party, a very considerable number were the followers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, -and the rest were members of l he Labour party. I say, therefore, that that question was a totally different one. It was carried under these circumstances and opposed, and seriously opposed, by a substantial number of Members who were supporters of the Government which brought forward the Motion. In these circumstances the Prime Minister, when it comes to a question of justifying his action as being in accordance with the best traditions of this House, can hardly regard that case as one which will justify the carrying of the present Motion which is opposed by every Member of the party to which I have the honour to belong. I do not want to go into various other arguments because I want to make a special appeal to the Prime Minister to withdraw this 943 Motion for the present and. see how the Bill gets on in Committee upstairs; and to do that in the interests of the reputation of this House and in order that there may be less interference with a fair consideration of this question by the Select Committee which it is proposed to appoint to consider questions of procedure.
Let me say, in conclusion, that I reserve the most absolute right to myself to express an opinion in favour of Kangaroo methods upstairs generally, or not, as I may see fit in future. I am not bound against the extension of Kangaroo proposals to Committees upstairs entirely, because I think it might be advisable, when coupled with certain other alterations in procedure; but as things stand at the moment the Chairmen of Standing Committees are not accustomed to this particular responsibility. It is a very heavy responsibility that cannot be exercised satisfactorily until a man, no matter who he is, has had a certain amount of training and experience in that particular responsibility; it is putting a very heavy burden upon him, it is departing from the usual practice, it is anticipating what may be the recommendations of a Select Committee, and it is doing so for the purposes of a Bill which in all probability could be carried through without any undue waste of time and without resorting to any Motion of this kind. I have not in any of my observations attempted to argue the matter from a party standpoint. If the Prime Minister will be good enough to admit that, I ask him in all seriousness to consider whether he could not withdraw this Motion at least until the Committee has started.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
As one who took a very vocal part in opposing the Motion of 1921, which the Prime Minister has quoted this afternoon as a precedent for his Motion, I would like to re-emphasise the essential difference between the situation then and the situation to-day. It is quite true that on that occasion I found myself at considerable variance with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), and that to-day we are together, but I do remember what was then the situation. The Geddes Act, as it is called, for amalgamating the railways, was a measure of immense detailed Complexity, dealing not so much with new 944 legislation that involved new expenditure, as with the actual terms under which various mergers of existing railway companies should be carried out. In fact it was and ought to have been treated very largely as a hybrid Bill. In Standing Committee we were faced with a solid phalanx of railway directors, supported by the Railway Workers' Union and the full force of a Government of a non-party character. A handful of us, drawn from all parties, did our best to modify that Bill. It was not until many weeks of discussion in Committee that a Motion was moved for the first time in this House to give the power of the Kangaroo to the Chairman of the Standing Committee. Whether that be justified or not depends entirely on what view you take as to the success of that Kangaroo Motion. I believe it is thanks to that Kangaroo Motion that the London Midland and Scottish Railway is in such a mess to-day. A large number of questions that ought to have been discussed by that Committee were never discussed at all after the Kangaroo Motion, and the over-amalgamation of the British railway companies was finally effected.
But there we were, a small non-party opposition to a Bill overwhelmingly supported by the leaders of all parties. There was not a single Front Bench man who was not in favour of the over-amalgamation of British railways, and it was left to private Members alone, drawn from all parties, to oppose. Those were the circumstances in which the Kangaroo was then introduced for the first time. Here the Prime Minister is creating an entirely new precedent. Do not let us forget that to-day's Motion is an entirely novel one, wholly different from anything that has gone before. Here is a Bill which has not yet entered the Committee stage. The debate on the Second Reading showed that the Opposition, certainly on this side, was to certain parts of the Bill and not to the whole Bill. The Second Reading had to be opposed because in the opinion of this party there were things in the Bill which were entirely undesirable. Why has the Prime Minister assumed that in Standing Committee upstairs, from the start of any discussion, there will be merely factious opposition, and no attempt made to carry cut his constant appeals to treat these matters, at any rate in the Committee stage, as if we were a Council of State?
945 The right hon. Gentleman assumes that there is to be factious opposition. It is a singularly unfair assumption on this particular Bill.
By this precedent, which will be quoted by Prime Ministers of other parties in future, the Prime Minister is cutting away the chances that the private Member has of raising his voice. We all know what happens under the Kangaroo. It is inevitable that the principal Amendments that are put down by organised parties in the names of the leaders and representatives of those parties are the ones which are taken, and that the private Member, who has an idea and puts his name down to an Amendment, is the man who gets crushed. I remember the circumstances in which that handful of private Members carried on the fight before and after the Kangaroo on the Railways Bill. We were chiefly a few Conservative Members on the bench below the Gangway, similar to a group that is now forming against the present Government, and those of us who were there banded ourselves together to resist what we regarded as the grandiose Geddes Bill. We got no official support. From the moment the Kangaroo came on, it was inevitable that the only Amendments that were really discussed were those that came from the railway companies or the railway workers and the organised bodies, and the private Member was virtually shut out.
Looking back on the history of that precedent, I deplore this further curtailment of the rights of private Members to fair Committee discussion of a Bill, whether on the Floor of the House or upstairs. The only case which has been made out for the Motion is that here at last the Labour Government have produced a Bill which the Liberal party like, that therefore the Conservative party is to be ignored in its united opposition to this method of procedure, and the new Coalition is to go forward rough-shod over the traditions of the House of Commons to the establishment of a new and dangerous precedent for the future.
§ Captain BOURNE
I deeply regret that the Prime Minister has seen fit to put down this Motion. After reading somewhat carefully the debate on the Kangaroo Motion in 1911, I still feel surprised at the warm support given to it by the right hon. Member for 946 Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). In that 1911 debate he described the Kangaroo asthe most popular animal in the Parliamentary menagerie."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911; col. 254, Vol 30.]I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can really understand the Kangaroo or he would hardly give it that very high praise. Speaking as one who has had a very slight experience of presiding over Committees in this House I say that the Kangaroo is the most difficult of all the powers entrusted to a Chairman. The importance of an Amendment; is not always visible at first sight, and even when you have mastered the Kangaroo procedure, as my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) has said, with full assistance and very expert advice as to what precisely an Amendment means, it is not easy to decide its exact importance. It has always to be remembered that the views of the Opposition, the Government, or the Department concerned, as to the importance of an Amendment, are not necessarily identical. For a Chairman to handle that power fairly is extremely hard, and if it is not handled absolutely fairly almost inevitably great resentment is caused.
It feel that for the smooth working of this House it is one of the least desirable powers entrusted to the Chair. I would rather see the House take the responsibility on its own shoulders, relieving the Chair of this very irksome duty. The Kangaroo is useful on the Report stage of the Bill when you, Mr. Speaker, have had the advantage of being able to study the previous proceedings in Committee and of realising what portions of the Bill have been discussed fairly. The Prime Minister in bringing forward this Motion backed it on the ground that it would mean expedition, and would ensure the efficiency of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman is taking a very curious step to ensure efficiency. I believe that no small amount of the efficiency of this House rests upon those who preside over it. No one who has not acted, even for a short period, as a Chairman of this House, can realise the position of those who are in the Chair. They are isolated from the ordinary party councils, and the fact that they do not vote and do not 947 take part in ordinary party proceedings causes them to view the problems that come before the House from an utterly different angle from that which is possible to those who take part in the ordinary work of the House.
The position of a Chairman of a Standing Committee is quite different. I am not for a moment suggesting that Chairmen of Standing Committees will not do their utmost to carry out the duties that the House may choose to place on their shoulders, and to carry out those duties with the utmost impartiality. The man who for a short time presides upstairs and then comes down here to the ordinary life of the House with its party feeling and the preference for this Measure or that, cannot be in the same position of mental isolation that is possible to those who never take part in party proceedings and whose sole duty it is to administer the rules of the House and to look at them from a single point of view only. The two mental attitudes are utterly different. If any hon. Member chooses to look up the history of this House he will find that the powers granted to the Chair have increased precisely in proportion as the occupants of the Chair have ceased to be partisans. The last Speaker of this House who spoke in debate was Mr. Speaker Denison. His predecessor, Mr. Speaker Shaw Lefevre, used to vote regularly for his party when the House was in Committee, and Mr. Speaker Denison records in his diary that after seeing his predecessor marching through the Division Lobby in wig and gown he made up his mind that after his election he would not follow that precedent. The first Speaker who made any use, in any form, of the great powers now entrusted to the Chair was Mr. Speaker Brand who applied the Closure in 1881. He never took part in any of the proceedings of this House at all, after his election. Mr. Speaker Peel followed that example and, so it continued, but the Chairman of Committees voted regularly for his party down to 1895. It was Mr. Speaker Lowther who, as Chairman of Ways and Means, first decided that he himself would not vote in the House. If hon. Members will take the trouble to study our Standing Orders as printed 948 in the appendices to Sir T. Erskine May's "Parliamentary Procedure" they will find that most of the Orders giving great powers to Mr. Speaker and, particularly, those Orders giving great powers to the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy-Chairman, are Orders which have been passed since Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy-Chairman have ceased to take any part in the proceedings of the House otherwise than by presiding and maintaining order. I believe that these powers could only be entrusted to the Chair because the Chair is absolutely and utterly divorced from our ordinary party strife.
I feel that in making this Motion the Government are taking a very retrograde step. This Motion must be regarded as a precedent. Once a Motion of this kind is passed it will be taken advantage of on future occasions and by future Governments. It will not be a good precedent. The case of 1921 has been quoted as a reason for introducing this Motion; and, in 1921, the precedent set up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) of a Motion giving similar powers in 1911, was quoted. But at that time the power was not given until after the Bill in question had been debated for weeks and weeks on the Floor of the House and finally had been sent upstairs to a Standing Committee to be finished. Precedents in this House broaden and, if we pass this Motion we may be certain that in future years it will be used, if not by this Government then by some other Government. I would remind hon. Members opposite that in all human probability they will not be always on the Government benches and when their turn comes to be in Opposition, they will regret the passing of precedents like this which must severely hamstring their own activities in the future.
These methods, however, should never be looked at from the point of view of party hut from the point of view of the House as a whole and I cannot but feel that some day difficulties will arise over some Bill which is sent upstairs and to which this precedent is applied. A Chairman will have difficulty, if this precedent is applied to a Bill on which there is a sharp divergence of opinion, in convinc- 949 ing a Committee that he is really acting impartially in the selection of Amendments, when, after the proceedings in Committee, he can come down here and vote for or against the Measure himself. In that case, when party feeling runs high and when partisan passions have been aroused, it will be difficult to convince Members that the decisions of the Chairman have been just and his selections accurate—that he has not omitted to choose certain Amendments because they might be inconvenient to the Minister in charge or otherwise acted in a partisan manner. Once that impression about the Chair gets abroad, I believe that the efficiency of Parliament will suffer far worse than it could possibly suffer through any question of delay.
I think hon. Members opposite are emphasising too much the necessity for speed. They feel, perhaps, that they may not have very much longer time and they wish to get things through, but they do riot seem to realise that the simplest method of getting business through this House is by agreement and that you will never get agreement if you bring forward proposals of this kind. Earlier in this Parliament the Prime Minister appealed to us to make ourselves a Council of State. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that by a Motion of this kind he is encouraging that feeling? I submit that by such a proposal he is more likely to stimulate party feeling and that, in the end, far more time will be wasted by the Government if they persist in this measure, than they would lose if they abandoned it now and at least allowed the Committee proceedings to commence without any such Motion. I wish to reinforce the strong appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) that the Committee should at least start without this Motion, and, then, if it were found necessary to do so, the House could reconsider the position. But if expedition is the most desirable thing in the eyes of the Government I submit that it would he infinitely better to put down a Time Table Motion.
I know that such a course has never been taken in connection with a Committee upstairs, hut such a Motion would place upon the House the responsibility of deciding how much time was to be 950 allotted to the different parts of the Bill and that procedure would, at least, have the advantage of enabling the opponents of the Bill to have their Amendments down and to make up their own minds as to the Amendments which they regarded as important. If the matter is to be left entirely to the Chairman, however competent, however impartial he may be, he cannot, with a Committee meeting at eleven o'clock in the morning get the benefit of that advice which is available in other circumstances. I am certain that such a Chairman would find himself in a position of great difficulty. I urge at least the postponement of this Motion and I suggest that it should not be put upon the Paper again unless it is found to be absolutely inevitable.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Prime Minister in making his Motion challenged me so pointedly that I feel that it would be a neglect of my duties if I did not reply to his challenge—for challenge, indeed, it was, though it was surrounded by a bouquet of compliments. The precedent of 1921 has been so fully dealt with already that there remains little for me to say about it, but I ask hon. Members to bear in mind what has already been said, namely, that the Bill to which this procedure was then applied had been in Committee for weeks if not for months; that we had reached the month of July, and that it was already evident that, even with such expedition as we were proposing, the House would have to sit until the end of August and very probably in the Autumn as well. The Bill then was, in truth, an urgent Measure—urgent not merely for the convenience of the Government, or of the Members of the House, but because the fate of the railways of this country and of all the interests which they affected was in doubt until that Bill was finally decided and placed on the Statute Book.
What is the statement of the Prime Minister to-day? His statement was made in terms which I venture to say any Government could apply to any Bill. He made no effort to show that this Measure had a particular urgency, that something vital in the life of the nation depended upon it. He simply said that if he could not carry it very early in the. new year its operation would be delayed until the next sowing season. As has 951 been said, that would be a reason for condemning the Government for not having dealt with the question a year ago, but it is not a reason far depriving the House of Commons of its natural and ordinary opportunities of examination and discussion. There was such a reason in the case of the Railways Act, because upon it depended the whole of the financial arrangements for the settlement of the obligations between the Government and the railways arising out of the War. The effect of the War had been, of course, to throw the whole of the railway world into confusion. A settlement on an agreed basis depended on certain conditions which were embodied in the Bill, and if the Bill had not been passed, the railways could riot have paid their dividends, all development and all adjustment to the new situation would have been held up, and a. blow would have been struck at the credit, not merely of the railways but of the country, which would have added to the injury following necessarily in the wake of the War.
I do not wish to say, or to be thought to say, that there might not arise again circumstances of similar urgency in which, after a similar time or even a shorter time, had been devoted to discussion of a Measure in Committee it might be necessary or right to apply some such method. But I say that the circumstances in which it was applied in 1921, whether they justified it then or not, are not paralleled in any single respect by the circumstances of to-day and merely to say that, in quite different circumstances and under quite other conditions this step was once taken, is not sufficient justification for proposing it again. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was very frank about his attitude. When he likes a Bill—or a Government—he will vote for any restrictions upon discussion. When he dislikes either a Bill or the Government which introduces it, he will offer opposition to it. The right hon. Gentleman is purely opportunist but I would beg of the House to consider the logical consequences of the argument which he has advanced. He himself attaches so little importance to discussion or argument in this House that, I think, he left it immediately after delivering his speech.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
If it is the case that the right hon. Gentleman cannot be present, I ought not to have made the comment, but I regret that he could not be present to hear the answers to his own speech which have been given, or, indeed, to consider the arguments which I am about to put forward. The right hon. Gentleman says that the only result of discussion in this House is to cumber legislation, to make it less effective, to create difficulties in its operation. How far does he carry that theory? If he carries it to the length of supporting any restrictions, however severe, in favour of any Measure of which he approves, why should he not go a little further and make a new precedent Why not legislation by simple decree, or, at most, by Motions confirming Measures which the Government have seen fit to introduce? If discussion is to be reduced, why should you not have, not merely a Kangaroo Motion, but a. complete revision of our Procedure? Why should you not ask the House of Commons merely to approve or disapprove of a Bill as it stands when first introduced? Is my right hon. Friend quite certain that such discussions as take place in this House, so far from being of no use to the country, are not sometimes of some use to the Government?
I have often discussed with my right hon. Friend the Budget of 1909, which he has often observed to me shortened the lives of us both by the amount of time which it occupied and by the continuity of our attendance in its discussion, but he has said, "You know, your great mistake was to discuss at such length on the Resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means and on their Report. If you had let the Ways and Means Resolutions go through, we should have been at our wits' end." It was just that discussion in the House on the Resolutions in Ways and Means that made it possible to frame a Bill that would even stand examination and, with very large amendment, secure assent. I admit that you cannot give unlimited time to any particular discussion, but the longer I have sat in the House the more I have thought there was to learn from the discussions which take place in this House, and the more con- 953 vinced I am that the stability of our institutions and the continuity of our policy are immensely dependent upon such discussions.
I would like to say another thing more directly affecting the present proposal. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), who has just sat down, has drawn attention to a fact which had not, I think, been previously mentioned. It is that, concurrently with the growth of the powers entrusted to the occupant of the Chair, and in more recent times to the Chairman of Committees, has grown their abstention from any party action of any kind in the House. My hon. and gallant Friend has recounted how, in days when neither he nor I was in the House, one Speaker set the precedent of not voting in Committee and not speaking in the House, and how that precedent has been followed by all Speakers since. I myself was in the House when the precedent was set of the Chairman of Committees not voting, and I think the Chairman of Committees at that day, who subsequently became one of our most distinguished Speakers, Mr. Speaker Lowther, was led to that decision just because the House was now entrusting him in a growing degree with powers which required a complete abstention from party conflict if they were not only to be exercised with impartiality and judgment, but if it was to be felt in all parts of the House—and that is quite as important—that they were exercised with impartiality and judgment.
You cannot take another six Members out of the House for all the ordinary purposes of debate and voting. You cannot give them the same position of impartiality, and above all of detachment, which is now the possession of the Chair and of the Chairman of Committees. I think it is that which profoundly differentiates the two cases, and it is no reflection on the Chairmen of Committees upstairs to say that it is a good reason why they should not be entrusted with such immense powers as those wielded by the Chair in this House or in this Committee and embodied in the Resolution before us now.
If I may be permitted for a moment to go further, I do not want it to be supposed that I think our Procedure perfect. I recall, or at least I have refreshed my 954 memory since I came down to the House with the speech to which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister alluded, and I see that I then renewed a proposal made several years before—I think more than 20 years before—by my right hon. Friend and predecessor in the representation of West Birmingham, that it would be well to consider whether this House should not set up something in the nature of the Committee of Rules of the American Congress, but to be administered rather in the temper and the tradition of this House than of the American Congress.
An immensely difficult task must in any case be placed upon the shoulders of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees, but when proposals are made for the Guillotine, which I think my hon. and gallant Friend said lie preferred to the Kangaroo, that surely is the most arbitrary and the most bludgeoning way of dealing with the difficulties which have arisen. It is necessarily a Resolution framed by the Government alone. It is imposed upon the House by a majority in the House—a party majority. Some trifling concession may be made—[Interruption.]—indeed often, as the Prime Minister says, it is so drafted as to enable the Government to facilitate its passage by making some concessions in the course of the discussion but it remains a purely arbitrary act. It is very blind in its application, and it does not at all secure the best distribution even of such time as is allowed.
Would it not be well to consider whether a: Committee of this House—formed like the Committee of Selection—might not be established, formed on the same non-party basis, gradually creating for itself rules and precedents which would bind itself and its successors, getting, so to speak, a corpus of jurisprudence which would govern the cases submitted to it—whether such a Committee should not he authorised to allocate time to Bills rather than leave them to such procedure as we now have, with all its arbitrariness, its uncertainty, and its unevenness? I think that is a proposition which might be considered by the Committee which is going to be set up.
I admit that it is open at once to the objection, which is made to the exercise of the Kangaroo even under the 955 most favourable circumstances, that nobody in advance can always know whether or not an Amendment raises au important point, and certainly it may be added that no man can possibly know what is or is not important until the discussion has gene a certain way. The action of the Guillotine is much more certain, not only to be impartial but to be in itself right, when a Bill has reached the Report stage than when it is in Committee, because then the whole of it has been surveyed, and the Speaker or the Deputy-Speaker, who has to decide between Amendments, has the Committee discussions to guide him as to their relative importance; and I think that if any such procedure as I have suggested were adopted it would be necessary, probably, in the first case to give all Bills a run before any time was allotted and in any case to give the Committee, if the Bill developed a greater importance than they had expected, the power and right to revise and extend the time which they had at first allocated to it. But I am now entering into details which are not very germane to this debate. It was only that I wanted just to show that I did not propose that the Committee should consider the establishment of a Committee of Rules without some sort of conditions and restrictions which might he necessary.
I have only to say, in conclusion, that the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt not to his great surprise, will find me in the Lobby opposed to him to-night, and may I add, with all due respect to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, that if I were choosing which Minister's Bill I would specially facilitate by restricting debate, he is the last Minister whose Bill I would so facilitate? I have been Chancellor of the Exchequer when the right hon. Gentleman was a Minister before.I know his utter in-difference to finance. I know how his zeal outruns discretion, and how easy he finds it to spend money in pursuit of smallholdings, which will probably be a loss to everyone concerned, or small houses, which have burdened the country with a deplorable debt and produced so few houses—
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, 250,000, but, at a cost which was prohibitive and has hampered the efforts of this country ever since.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I regard this Motion as of such great importance that I will ask the House to listen to one or two considerations which have not yet been put before it. It was obvious to everyone who heard the introductory speech of the Prime Minister that he had a very thin case. He based almost the whole of his speech upon an attempted parallel to what he termed the precedent of 1921, but in almost his opening words, in his plea for giving this special power over this Bill to the Chairman of Committee upstairs, he said that at a time like this it was necessary. As has been pointed out, in so far as those words refer to the parallel of 1921, this time, at the beginning of a new Session which, if it runs its normal course, will be some 10 months long, and at the very beginning of a Bill which has hitherto had no consideration at all except a Second Reading on the Floor of the House, is the exact opposite, not a parallel, to the conditions of the Railways Bill in 1921.
He went on to justify those words by saying that if any delay prevented this Bill from becoming law by the end of the year, it would mean a delay not of a few months, but a whole year, from the agricultural point of view. I cannot imagine on what he based that statement. The usual time for a change of agricultural tenancy is Michaelmas or Lady Day. A change of tenancy between one holder of a lease of land and another on the 1st January is an unheard-of thing in agriculture. If it be a matter of the work proceeding for the reclamation of land, the last time of the year in which to commence it is the depth of winter. So it clearly does not apply to that. The Bill is not going to place smallholders upon derelict land; it will be land which is in cultivation, and there, again, the appropriate periods are Michaelmas and Lady Day. There is, therefore, nothing in the argument that a whole year would be lost if this Bill did not become law by the end of the year.
He said that the reason why these powers should be given to the Chairman was that the things that mattered would be discussed and the things that did not 957 matter would not be discussed. It is begging the whole question to assume that the Chairman of a Committee upstairs can necessarily know by intuition or experience exactly what things in the Bill are the things that matter and what are the things that do not. A comparatively small Amendment to a Bill, the addition or omission of a single word, although apparently small, may be a thing that matters. If the Bill is rushed through, a large part of it is not considered in Committee at all under the operation of the Kangaroo Closure. These small things will be overlooked, and the unfortunate taxpayer, who depends on this House to look after his interests in the framing of legislation, will find out that something that was thought here to be something that did not matter was something that mattered intensely; and he will find it for the first time at enormous cost in the Law Courts, instead of it being found in Committee on the Bill.
Another reason why this Motion should not be Acceded to is that there is only one precedent of sorts, and it was nine years ago. In any of these invasions of the old forms of debate in this House, you always find that there is a certain interval between the first and the second occasion, that it then becomes more and more frequent, and that, finally, it becomes the official method by which the debates are conducted. On the one hand, we have a part or two parts of an enormous Railways Bill, the rest of which had already been debated here, and which had to be put through at the fag-end of the Session; and, on the other hand, nine years after, we have an entirely different matter under exactly opposite conditions. If we create another precedent, there is nothing in between the one and the other which cannot be justified, and we shall have adopted An entirely new proposal, namely, that principal Measures of the Government should habitually be sent upstairs and discussed, as far as they are discussed at all, under the conditions of the Kangaroo Closure. That is the state of things that has never been tolerated in the House hitherto, but nothing else than that is what is at stake in this Motion.
What would be the effect if all the major Government proposals were sent upstairs to be discussed under the Kangaroo Closure? There would be practically nothing between such a pro- 958 cedure and regarding the debate on Bills in this House as so unimportant and useless that the more it was curtailed the better, that really it ought not to take place at all, and that all this House should do was to register the will of the Executive. We arc coming to that under this proposal of the Government. The Executive will be almighty, and the House practically powerless to delay, withhold or modify the legislation for which the Executive asks. Later we shall debate an Amendment which deals especially with the Committee on Procedure that is being set up. If there be one thing that makes it more appropriate than another that at this particular time we should not adopt this Motion, it is that a Committee is to consider the whole question of Procedure. As to the nature of the Bill in respect of which we are asked to give these peculiar powers, I cannot imagine one that is less appropriate. The major reason for our opposition to the Bill is not so much because of what it contains, but because it will be futile for its purposes at the present time—
§ Sir B. PETO
I did not intend to discuss the terms of the Bill. I merely wished to point out that it is not a Bill that must be put through now. Therefore, we shall oppose the idea, that it must be put through between now and the end of the year, and that there is any urgency that justifies this Motion. The time of the proposal of the Government is wrong; the precedent which they have quoted does not apply; and as this Bill is one of the two major Bills which the Government said they were introducing to deal with the problem of unemployment, the discussion should be in this House, and should be free from any procedure such as the Kangaroo Closure. On these grounds, I oppose this Motion; I consider that no case has been made out to give these powers to the Chairman of a Committee in respect of this particular Bill.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
I rise to state a view which I deem it is proper should be stated from below the Gangway on this side of the House. The debate so far between the two Front Benches has consisted of the bandying of precedents 959 of old cases. There are Members of this House who are not affected by this bandying of precedents. I am not wanting in respect to this House; some of us reached here by various ways—through trade union offices, co-operative societies and all sorts of commercial and other undertakings; and some of us who have given many hard years of thought and study to the practice of the constitution and the history of Parliament, are deeply grounded in respect for the rights and privileges of this House. The question is whether this Motion involves any serious curtailment of the rights of discussion of private Members. If it did, I should resist it. On behalf, I believe, of a number of friends who sit on these benches, I say that we are satisfied that this Motion is necessary in order that the business of the House shall be not only expeditiously, but efficiently carried on. The Prime Minister referred to the decline in the country of respect for this House. That was well founded, but it goes much further than he had time to suggest as to the expedition of the conduct of business in this House. The attitude of the country towards this House has been affected by the way in which the business of the House has been presented and conducted, and these circumstances make it all the more necessary that nothing should be done in this Parliament which would increase that alleged want of respect.
Can it be seriously suggested by those who have sat in this Parliament that there has been at any time any serious curtailment of the rights of discussion by private Members? I do not want to make any invidious references, but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) has had full advantage of the rights of discussion, and I have never noticed that it has been curtailed in any way. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert), who has a number of Amendments on the Paper, took advantage, quite properly, during the discussions on the Finance Bill, to deal with a whole series of devices which some of us knew had been used in years past to avoid taxation by certain classes. We have sat here week after week listening to a repetition, almost in identical words, of the same ideas and the same objections, 960 with Members continually called to order by the Chair for these repetitions, and now we are asked to resist this Motion on the ground that it involves a contraction of the rights of private discussion. Some of us on these benches believe that this Motion might very well he applied to other Bills, that far from there being any curtailment of the rights of discussion in this House, licence has been used, that is detrimental to public business, and has resulted in a degradation in the view which is held in the country with regard to this House. The sort of complaint which was levelled against this Motion is the last complaint that can reasonably be made against the conduct of business by this or any other Government. We shall do all that we can on these benches to support the Government in this Motion, because we feel that it is necessary in order that the business of the House can be efficiently and expeditiously conducted. We congratulate the Government on bringing forward this Motion, and we hope that they will have the courage to revive it on other occasions.
§ Sir ASSHETON POWNALL
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:this House declines to invest the Chairman of one Standing Committee with such powers as may result in the curtailment of the rights of Members to the free discussion of one of the chief Measures of the Government programme, and declares that it will await the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure before assenting to any such changes in procedure.A good many of the arguments I may use in supporting this Amendment have already been advanced by hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House, and with reference to the allusion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) to the origin of the word "kangaroo," I may say that I also have been delving into what I may, perhaps, call the genetics of this particular animal, which has not been imported as any result of the Dominion Conference, because the term "kangaroo" has no Australian connection. I have found that the first time any use was made of the Kangaroo Procedure was in 1911. The Prime Minister was one of those who, on 25th October, 961 1911, voted for a somewhat similar Motion to this. He was then supporting his right hon. Friend now the Leader of the Liberal party, who is now supporting him. After 19 years their positions are reversed. In 1911 the National Health Insurance Bill was under discussion, and had been actually in Committee for 17 days. We have not started the Committee stage of this Bill, but have merely had the Second Reading. In October, 1911, the position was that the Parliamentary Session had already lasted for some eight or nine months. The position to-day is entirely different. It is within four weeks of this Session opening that we find ourselves confronted with this Motion.
There is a further important point, that in 1911 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), complained plaintively that he had received 100 deputations on the subject of the Bill. I wonder how many deputations the Minister of Agriculture has received on this Measure. He may have met three or four, but, obviously, there have been very few; and, therefore, the reasons which actuated the Government in 1911 cannot be said to arise at the present time, and the analogy which has been drawn entirely fails. As regards the Railways Bill of 1921, to which allusion has been made, the position then, also, was entirely different. It was on 6th July that the Motion to apply the Kangaroo Closure in Committee upstairs was brought forward. The position was that the guarantee which the State had given to the railways during the War was due to expire in the middle of August, and there were economic reasons of a, pressing nature why it was impossible to carry on without the Bill. It had to be passed in the five or six weeks between 6th July and the middle of August.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot plead that there is any such measure of urgency in regard to a Bill which has already been on the stocks of the Department for several months, and it may even be for a year. He cannot plead that this Bill must go through before Christmas for this, that or the other reason. If that were so, there would be a general measure of agreement over the step which is now proposed. if this were a 962 good Bill we should all want to see it passed, in the interests of agriculture. [Interruption.] I am not allowed to discuss the merits of the Bill, and I will not be tempted into doing so by hon. Members opposite, but if it were a good Bill it is quite obvious that those of us with agricultural knowledge would try to get it passed at the earliest possible moment. There is no need for the procedure proposed in Committee upstairs.
In regard to the question of the Chairman, I have had 12 years' experience of this House, and in that time one does get to know a, good deal about the personnel. I have said that I should throw bouquets at the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones) if I got a chance, and I do not think a better Member could have been chosen as Chairman, or one to whom one could better entrust powers of this sort. But it is the question of precedent which I am up against. Recently Members of this House with only two or three years' experience have had to undertake the very difficult task of acting as chairman of a committee upstairs. It is not always possible, with the changing personnel of the House, to get hon. Members with long experience, and we have had to fall back upon those with only two or three years' experience. I am not questioning their impartiality, but they have not had the Parliamentary experience which is necessary if they are to be entrusted with such very wide powers.
It is known that the Chairman of a Committee is fortified with the best clerical assistance which the House can give, but however good the clerks upstairs may be, they cannot have had the same experience as is possessed by the three gentlemen who occupy those three chairs on the Floor of the House. If my right hon. Friend there to go sick and some other Member had to take his place as Chairman, we should be throwing upon a private Member an unfair measure of responsibility, and putting him in a very awkward position towards his fellow-Members in the matter of the selection of Amendments. From that point of view I regard the adoption of the procedure proposed as most unfortunate. When a Measure has been discussed in Committee of the Whole House, the Chair has the advantage of very full reports of 963 what has taken place, and the benefit of the advice of those who sit below the Chair with regard to the Amendments to be taken on the Report stage. I imagine that it is quite impossible for the Chair to select Amendments in the same way when a Measure has been taken in Committee upstairs, and on those grounds the Government ought to give greater time to the Report stage, utilising for that purpose some of the time they may have saved by this procedure. They certainly ought to do that after investing the Chairman of Committee upstairs with the powers of the Kangaroo Closure.
We all agree that with a minority Government some things are possible and some things impossible. I recall that in the long debates on the Finance Bill this year the Chancellor of the Exchequer at times hardly showed the spirit of sweet reasonableness which we hoped he might display. If you want to get things done, especially if you are a minority Government, sweet reasonableness does pay. There was one particular instance in which the discussion on an Amendment of no great merit ran on for 10 or 12 hours because the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not agree to the reasonable suggestions—as he thought them—which were put forward from this side. In my opinion, the Government would be ill-advised if, having succeeded in sending this Measure upstairs with the Kangaroo Closure, they were to take a similar line with other Measures. They would not find in the long run that action of that sort paid, and I hope that even at this late hour the Prime Minister may be induced to consent to the Amendment which I have moved.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I hope the Prime Minister will show a spirit of sweet reasonableness, because I cannot help thinking that, busy man as he is, he has not perhaps realised the full implications of the Motion he has put on the Paper. When he was a young man and a member of the Union of Democratic Control he used to plead for open diplomacy and full discussion, and it is rather disturbing to find him now negativing so many of the good resolutions of his youth. May I remind both the Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal party that we are not really arguing 964 about the Kangaroo to-day, but arguing about the extension of the Kangaroo procedure to Committee upstairs, which is a much more serious move than is, perhaps, apparent? The Kangaroo procedure was first applied in Committee upstairs in 1911. That is 19 years ago. After the lapse of 19 years we are only now proposing to apply it for the third time in Committee upstairs. [Interruption.] If the Prime Minister will allow me to say so it was applied in Committee upstairs on the Health Insurance Bill in 1911, and on the Railways Bill in 1921. The leader of the Liberal party taunted the Leader of the Opposition with changing places with the Prime Minister when he was in Opposition, suggesting that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; but I would remind him that the Leader of the Opposition never once asked that the powers of the Kangaroo Procedure should be given to the Chairman of a Committee upstairs. Mention has been made of the difficulty of selecting Amendments, and a Chairman, with the best will in the world, may select Amendments which leave out important points. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean), speaking in the House of Commons, the last time these powers were given, in July, 1921, gave his experience as a Deputy-Chairman of Committees:I say that over and over again it was shown that the Amendments that the Chairman and myself had selected as the best for discussion turned out in the course of debate not to be those which ought to be discussed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1921; col. 524, Vol. 144.]6.0 p.m.
That shows the difficulty of a Chairman of Committees in this House, and it must be much greater for the Chairman of a Committee upstairs. Time and time again points arise during the discussion of an Amendment which were not at first suspected. The surprises of debate are inexhaustible. No Liberal who read his newspaper this morning and saw that the House was to discuss this Motion would imagine that he would open his paper to-morrow morning and see that the leader of the Liberal party had taken advantage of the occasion to make a speech which, if carried to its logical conclusion, would mean the whole negation of Parliamentary government. He went so far as to suggest that we never get anything out of prolonged de- 965 bates. We know that he is a little impatient of prolonged debates, and is very apt to leave directly he has delivered his own speech, but I think the Prime Minister will agree that the Opposition does serve some useful purpose. I think he would agree that his Minister of Health was very useful in the discussions on the Rating and Valuation Bill which went on upstairs, and were carried through without any Kangaroo procedure. I think he paid tribute to the Minister of Health in respect of various Amendments which my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) and the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) accepted during the proceedings on that Bill, and I think the right hon. Member for West Woolwich has said that in the long discussion on the Ministry of Health Bills last Parliament the Opposition performed a very useful function. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) gave the reasons why he produced the Kangaroo Motion in 1921, and he pointed out that it was necessary, if the railways were to be amalgamated, that the Measure dealing with that question should be passed. At that time the whole country was anxious for the amalgamation of the railways, but feel certain that no one can claim that the agricultural interest is anxious for this Bill to go through. On the contrary, the whole body of agricultural opinion in this country is opposed to this Measure, and that is all the more reason why we should have adequate discussion in Committee upstairs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham might have pointed out how congested Parliamentary business was at the time he introduced the Kangaroo Motion on 6th July, 1921, and it should not be forgotten that, at that time, it was anticipated that the House would rise on 12th August. Consequently, only 28 Parliamentary days remained before the rising of the House. Six of those days were allotted days for Supply, six days were allotted to the Safeguarding of Industries Bill, three days for the Corn Production Bill, three days to the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Railways Bill, two days for the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Finance and three days were left for the 966 Pensions Bill and two days for the Consolidated Fund Bill. In addition to those Measures there were also the Church of Scotland Bill and the Burma Bill.
It will be seen from that programme that the business of the Session was very much congested, and that was when we were nearing the end of the Session. Now we find the Government coming forward at the beginning of the Session with a Motion of this kind. The Prime Minister has told the House that the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill is an urgent Measure, but that can be said of every Measure introduced in this House. The Government desire to rush this Measure through in order that they may be able to appeal to the country, after the Leader of the Liberal party has screwed up a little more courage, and say that they have brought forward a Bill to assist agriculture. On this side of the House we are very interested in Measures of this kind, although we do not agree with the proposals contained in this Bill. This is a very bad Bill, and everybody connected with agriculture believes that it is a bad Bill; but my view is, that if we were given adequate time to discuss all our points we could thresh out a Measure which might be of some use to the country. I hope that the Prime Minister, in the interests of the Liberal party, the Labour party and agriculture, will decide to alter his mind, because the carrying of this kind of Resolution will do no good.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I have been a Member of this House for 12 years, and after listening to the speeches made by hon. Members opposite, I have been reminded of an old song which used to be sung in the East End of London entitled, "Yah I yah! what a game it is!" I have listened to the same arguments every year when an Opposition has decided to oppose a Bill, and whenever a proposal is made to assist the passage of any Measure through this House the Opposition immediately begin to talk about stifling discussion. When it happens to be a case of conscripting workmen, or declaring a state of emergency in time of war, anyone who attempts to discuss questions of that kind is looked upon as a traitor to his country. I read yesterday, by probably the greatest journalist which the party opposite 967 possesses—Mr. J. L. Garvin, the editor of the "Observer"—I read his articles every Sunday, and some hon. Members belonging to the party opposite only think about it—in an article in the "Observer," it was suggested that the country was in a greater state of emergency at the present time than ever it was during the War. Peace has its tragedies no less renowned than war, and to-day we are faced with the tragedy of peace. To-day we have 2,000,000 unemployed. Bills have been introduced dealing with this question, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who say that they are always anxious about the unemployed have shed tears of blood every night they think about them at the Trocadero. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are now telling those men who won the War that the Government, in dealing with this problem of agriculture, are not going as far as they ought to go.
The Government have now produced a Bill dealing with agriculture, and when a way is suggested of dealing with this problem in the most expeditious manner possible, hon. Gentlemen opposite tell us that we are stifling discussion. That kind of criticism is now being made by the people who have always stifled discussion, whenever class interests Are concerned. I remember the time when Coercion Acts were rushed through Parliament without any discussion whatever, and the men who dared to discuss those Measures were ordered out of the House, and expelled, not one at a time, but in battalions, because they dared to discuss proposals made by the party opposite. Now hon. Members opposite come forward, like ladies of easy virtue at a christening, in white robes to hide their blackness, and ask us not to give this power to the Committee upstairs. What a reflection on the party opposite! The history of Parliament shows that only a few Labour men have occupied the position of Chairmen of Committees. Those positions have generally been filled by gentlemen with brains from Oxford and Cambridge. The arguments which have been used to-day seem to imply that if this Bill goes upstairs, and the right hon. Gentleman who has been mentioned happens to be the Chairman, he has not brains enough to select Amendments. Who, in reality, selects the Amendments? As a rule they 968 are selected by members of the legal profession who sit at the Table advising the Chair and other people who are interested. If I put down a question, it is sometimes pulled to pieces by legal gentlemen at the Table.
§ Mr. JONES
I desire only to find out the facts. I am not clever enough to draft questions in legal form. Sometimes the Chair does not know whether the Amendment is in order, and somebody else has to be consulted. Some hon. Members opposite ought to know better than make the speeches which they have delivered to-day, after being so long in the House of Commons. They pretend that this House is master of the situation, but it is quite evident that hon. Members have to get behind a lot of machinery before they can get Anything through. The object of the Opposition in regard to this Motion is to delay the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill becoming law, and every possible argument they can find will be used in that direction.
I know that if we were in Opposition we should do the same thing, but hon. Members should recollect that while we are wrangling Britain is burning. The people outside do not understand the technicalities of our procedure in Parliament, and they do not understand terminological inexactitudes. The people want this House to get on with the business. They want the goods to be delivered, and hon. Members opposite are here to stop them. I remember what members of the Conservative party did when they had an overwhelming majority in this House. Talk about discussion! When the Labour party were in Opposition, we were howled down to such an extent that nobody could speak at all. Your voice is not strong enough to howl me down.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. 969 Jones) said it was hinted on this side that someone had not brains enough to select Amendments. That has not been said on this side of the House. What we say is that it is unfair to place upon a Chairman the duty of selecting Amendments when he has to take part day after day in party debate. The hon. Member for Silvertown says that he has been a Member of this House for 12 years. I have been a Member longer than that, and I think that hon. Members will agree with me when I say that year after year the rights of private Members have been curtailed, and that is very largely due to the fact that the executive Government are gradually taking more power to themselves in regard to our legislation. Up to the present the rights of private Members have been very largely preserved in Standing Committees, and it has been, to my mind, one of the charms of Parliament that one has been able to take part in the proceedings of Committees upstairs without the restrictions that are very often suffered on the Floor of the House. A great deal has been said, and I would ask the attention of the Minister of Agriculture to this, about the precedent of 1921. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the precedent of 1911, which, to my mind, is a much more important precedent from the point of view of this debate.
In 1911 we had the National Insurance Bill before us, in which the right hon. Gentleman took one of the most prominent parts throughout, and he remembers very well that, when we came to Part II of that Bill, a Motion was proposed by Mr. Asquith in this House to refer that part of the Bill to a Standing Committee, and he proposed that the Chairman of that Committee should be able to select Amendments under the Kangaroo procedure. I suppose, however, that he had been thinking over the matter while the Motion was on the Paper, because, during the course of his speech, Mr. Asquith said to the House that he had been looking into the matter, and he thought that on the whole it was too drastic a Motion, and he actually, during the course of his speech—I have the words here, but I will not trouble the House with them—deleted a Clause of the Motion and 970 added another giving the Committee upstairs the power of having a Motion made each time the Kangaroo Closure was going to be put, and enabling the Committee to vote upon it without debate. Mr. Balfour expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister and Leader of the House for making that concession on so important a Bill. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that that concession was not misused in any way at all. I was a, member of that Committee, and, if I recollect rightly, Part II of the Bill went through fairly easily—far more easily than Part I on the Floor of the House. That particular concession was never made bad use of. Whenever the Kangaroo was going to be imposed, the Committee had a chance, without debate, of giving its opinion as to whether the Kangaroo ought to be applied on the particular Clause under discussion or not. I am very disappointed indeed that, in making this proposal, the right hon. Gentleman has not seen fit to give that concession, which was not abused the last time it was given on a Bill certainly of equal importance with this one.
There is another point that I should like to make. The right hon. Gentleman knows that a Committee sat the other day to consider the question of the hours of meeting and rising of the House, and I am disappointed that in this Motion nothing at all is said about the question of the sitting of the Committee while the House is sitting. It has always, to my mind, been a great pity that Standing Committees should be sitting upstairs while debates are going down here. An hon. Member Cannot he in two places at the same time, and a Bill may be before the House clown here, and another Bill before the Committee upstairs, both of which may he of vital importance to his constituents, and he has to choose at which one he shall be present. I am very sorry that nothing has been put into this Motion to lay down a rule that this particular Committee should not sit upstairs while the House is sitting here. In order to fortify what I am saying, I should like to quote what the Prime Minister said when he was giving evidence the other day before that Committee. He said:I think it is very undesirable, as a rule, that important Committees, Standing Com- 971 mittees, should sit when the House is Sitting, because the effect of that is to divide the House of Commons into sections, and I am all for keeping the unity of the House of Commons.In spite of that, this Motion not only does not contain any kind of condition that the two bodies should not sit at the same time, but aggravates the position by giving this immense power to the Chairman of the Committee for the first time on a Bill of this kind.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I must say that I was surprised at the remarks which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). We are discussing the question whether we should have a guillotine in Committee or whether we should not. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was not as to whether it was a good thing to have a guillotine set up for this Committee or not; his argument was merely as to whether he liked or disliked this particular Bill. He was perfectly frank about it; be had no principle at all. He merely said that, if he disliked the Bill which was before the House and in the case of which a guillotine was to be set up, he would oppose it, and if he liked it he would support it. I think he is rather like the Kangaroo. He himself world jump from side to side when he had come to a conclusion as to whether he liked the particular Measure or not.
The Prime Minister recommended this Motion to the House because he said that the Bill was a matter of urgency. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Thornbury (Captain Gunston); I think there is more in that than meets the eye. It looks very much as though this was not the beginning of a Session, but was going to be the end of it. It looks as though the Prime Minister was very anxious to get this one Measure through which is going to deal with unemployment before he goes to the country. He will then be able to say to the country that at least he has passed one thing during the time he has been in office which has to do with the unemployment problem, on which he was elected. This seems to me to be a forecast that the Prime Minister is expecting a General Election at no distant date. [interruption.]
972 One of the reasons why this Motion should not be carried is this: There is, to my mind, a very great difference between the setting up of a time table and a guillotine. A guillotine gives to the Chairman of the Committee the opportunity of jumping, as a kangaroo, various Amendments, and he does it without giving any explanation at all to the Committee. A Committee upstairs is unlike the House of Commons itself. It only consists of about 60 Members altogether. There is not a very large number of Front Bench Members there, and possibly the Chairman himself may not be a very experienced Chairman. One can imagine what would happen in a Committee like that, with a certain number of inexperienced back bench Members and a possibly inexperienced Chairman jumping various Amendments which certain Members wanted to have discussed. The result would be a very heated discussion in the Committee. It might even be as heated as the discussion which took place in 1927 on the Trade Disputes Bill when a time table was set up in this House. I would like to read one or two words from a speech made by the present Home Secretary. This is what he said in reference to the time table:It would reduce Parliamentary business to a mockery. We shall not be a party to it. We shall not sit here to take part in this part of the Parliamentary farce. We have once sat on that side of the House; we shall be there again; and we, therefore, enter our protest against this policy of 'gag' and of bullying, but we leave the House at this moment with the consciousness that before very long we shall come back with a majority which shall be used more fairly and reasonably than the majority of the present Government."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th May, 1927; cols. 944£945, Vol. 206.]Then the hon. Members walked out of the House. That resulted in a scene. Do we want that sort of thing to happen in Committee upstairs? With the inexperience of some of the Members of the Committee, and the inexperience, possibly, of the Chairman, who has not to tell the Committee his reasons for skipping certain Amendments, we might easily have protests of that kind, causing considerable disturbance in the Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to get his Bill through, it is very much better to try to get it through 973 at a reasonable speed and in a reasonable way. The Committees upstairs, of which I have had a certain amount of experience, are always amenable to that sort of treatment. I remember that not very long ago the present Minister of Transport was not very happy with the Committee which was considering the Road Traffic Bill, because he tried to force certain things through, and the result was that the discussions went on longer than was necessary. If the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, when he is in charge of this Bill in Committee, will only take the Committee into his confidence and be reasonable—[interruption.] I am sure he will be, but it is not going to be left to him, because the Chairman is going to skip certain Amendments which possibly the right hon. Gentleman might be willing to accept, so that it will not really rest with him; but it does rest with him to tell us to-day that he realises that the arguments on this side of the House against setting a new precedent of this kind are so weighty that he is prepared to say to the Prime Minister that, as far as he is concerned in regard to this Bill, lie does not want this Motion to be passed.
§ Mr. SM1THERS
From a report in the newspapers I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, when he was speaking at a meeting, was heckled by people at the back of the room, and, when the hecklers were brought up at the police court, he asked that they should be let off, because he always advocated free speech; he only wanted an example made of those responsible for the disturbance in order to justify the fact that he stood for free speech. He is, however, a member of a Government which is now proposing to curtail the free speech of this House. One of my reasons for opposing this proposal to curtail discussion in Committee is that this Bill is hardly at all an agricultural Bill, but is a Bill designed to bring in extreme Socialist proposals in regard to the acquisition and control of land, and Soviet methods are being used to suppress speech on the part of those who are opposed to such proposals. [interruption.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but I am perfectly serious about it. The Government as a whole are keeping up a facade of respectability 974 to deceive the public and to hide all their great conferences, Indian and Colonial, and all their other measures by which they are attempting, as far as they dare, to put those Socialist principles into operation in this country.
Reference has been made to the Railways Bill of 1921 on which a similar Motion was put forward. I have been to some trouble to read that debate, and I asked myself, Should I or should I not have voted for the Kangaroo for that Committee? There was the utmost necessity that certain guarantees that the Government had promised to the railways should be made at a certain date. Unless they were made, the companies would have gone bankrupt. There was a kind of War-time urgency about the matter, and I honestly think I should have voted for it as a matter of urgent public importance. But this Bill is not one of that kind at all. It is a Bill that has been born in the heads of a lot of theorists. Every practical man I have spoken to says it cannot achieve any of those things that the Minister claims it will achieve.
If I remember rightly, the Minister on the Second Reading said he would welcome the co-operation in a non-partisan spirit of all Members of the House. It was forced through by the well-trained majority behind him and, directly it has a Second Reading he tries to avoid free and full discussion upstairs because he knows, now that the Bill has been examined by farming experts, it will be completely torn to pieces. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Locker-Lampson) referred to the invidious position in which the Chairman of the Committee will be put. I believe absolutely in the complete impartiality arid fair judgment of the Chairmen not only of this House but of Committees upstairs. It would be interesting to know who will be the Chairman of this Committee. [An HON. MEMBER: "We do know!"] I have been called away on urgent business and I have not heard. But, whoever he is, does he know anything about the technicalities of agriculture? [interruption.] I am informed that he does. That is to the good. [interruption.] I am again informed that he knows Nothing about it. Be that as it may, I suppose officially the Chairman of the Committee will have entire responsibility as to whether he 975 shall allow an Amendment to be moved or not, but he is certain to ask advice as to the importance of the Amendment, as to what ground it covers, or whether one Amendment is covered by another. It would be interesting to know from what sort of people he is going to seek advice. I have spent many hours this last week or two with farming friends and representatives of the National Farmers' Union, and I defy any Chairman to be able to decide whether an Amendment is a good one or not until he has heard the case presented by the Mover. On the Paper it may appear to be of minor importance but, when it is explained to the Committee, it may develop into an Amendment of first-class importance. It is, therefore, unjust to the industry as a whole that the discussion should be shortened in Committee.
There is a point that I should like to put forward for your consideration, Sir. If the Committee stage is restricted, and, a particular Member has a genuine grievance that an important Amendment has not been called, might I suggest that you would give it favourable consideration on Report stage. That is supposed to be a glorified Committee stage in which new points are allowed to be raised, but the ground gone over in Committee is not allowed to be covered again. I would suggest that you should give favourable consideration on Report to a point that has been ruled out in Committee. One of my constituents, who studies constitutional law and knows a good deal about it, put an objection to me which think so important that I ought to put it before the House. He said a back-bencher has a responsibility to his constituents and if, after considerable trouble and work, he puts down an Amendment which represents the views of his constituents which is ruled out by the whim of the Chairman, he will be debarred from doing his duty to his constituents and he has no power of appeal in the matter. That is the reason why I have made that request to you, Sir. I suppose we cannot defeat this Motion, but I hope all these protests will be put on record and that it will be seen that the Government are afraid to go into Committee and have a full discussion, and that they curtail free speech because they know the weakness inherent in the Bill.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I think that this debate has been remarkable, not for what has been said but for what has not been said, namely, reference to the reasons for this Motion and the circumstances under which it is brought forward. But before I come to that particularly, I should like to review some of the objections and arguments against giving this power to the Chairman of the Committee while it was appropriate to a much more complicated Bill some years ago. The first objection was that referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that we should not have confidence in the ability of the Chairman to pass over Amendments that were obviously designed for mere repetition, or which were trivial and unimportant. I have been a Member of this House for a good many years and that is a little discovery to me. Anyone who has bad any material experience of the proceedings of this House would have no difficulty whatever in recognising for the most part which Amendments are trivial. It is a reflection on the Chairmen of our Committees. That objection has really no substance at all. Another objection is that this is not a parallel case to the Railways Bill or that, at least, it is one of less urgency. We were told that the Railways Bill had been discussed quite a long time and that it was towards the end of the Session.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am not in any way disputing that that Bill was urgent, but it was towards the end of the Session. The Prime Minister referred to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition that we were trying to cram into this Session two or three years of legislative programme. If that is the case, if the objection is to congestion, there is nothing in it. This is congestion at the beginning, according to this description, and that was congestion at the end. But I suggest that congestion has nothing whatever to do with it. The question is whether this is a sensible and practicable way of dealing with this business. The Railways Bill was a much more complicated Bill than this. If it will be difficult for the Chairman to dis- 977 tinguish between a trivial and an important Amendment on this Bill, it was much more difficult on such a highly technical Measure as the Railways Bill, but there was no question raised that I can remember of the incapacity of the Chairman to select Amendments. As far as that objection is concerned, it must have applied with much greater force to the Railways Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said that Bill was very urgent. I think it was, and that was a very good ground for passing the Motion. I have no doubt that I voted for it at the time, and I should vote for it again, as it was a sensible thing to do. This is a sensible thing to do for exactly similar reasons.
Hon. Members opposite want us to allow this Committee to experience the same difficulty as that experienced by the Committees on the Consumers Council Bill, and the Road Transport Bill last Session. There was obstruction on those Bills for weeks. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, there was. There was absolute obstruction on those Bills week after week owing to the fact that the Chairman of the Committee upstairs had no power to select amendments. They discussed the Consumers Council Bill for several weeks without getting as many lines. The same thing would happen, without a doubt, to this Bill if we sent it upstairs to Committee without equipping the Chairman with some such power as that now suggested. The experience of Parliament last Session in respect of those two Bills ought to warn us, not this Government only, but any other Government. When the right hon. Gentleman comes in at "an expected early date," I do not doubt that he will make arguments of this kind and support such a Motion, particularly if he is dealing with tariffs and questions of that sort. I dare say that it will be necessary-I think it will-to equip the Chairman with similar powers. As a matter of fact, I believe that after the experience of last Session, we have to contemplate, for reasons which I will mention later, some such procedure as this being more regularly adopted in this House; otherwise, we shall not be able to deal with the business.
The right hon. Gentleman took another novel kind of objection. He said that we ought not to make this proposal until the 978 Bill had been discussed—I will not say obstructed—for some days, and that it should be tabled only after bitter experience had shown us that it was necessary. What would that mean in this case? We are now nearly at the end of the Session. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?" and "Hear, hear!"] If hon. Members opposite do not make a worse slip than that, they will not do amiss. We are now nearing the end of the Sittings of Parliament before Christmas—we will put it that way—and everyone knows that the House will not meet again until, or anyhow towards, the end of January. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh!"] If we had to experience this measure of difficulty before we came down to the House with a Motion, there would, in fact, be so few Parliamentary days left owing to the way in which we do our business, that it would then be impossible to get a Motion of this kind carried and the Bill through its further stages. Then we should have lost the season which we wish to gain by making this proposal. Unless the Department have the, power to acquire land or to make arrangements for people to enter upon it, at any rate, with regard to the allotment portion of it, so as to be able to cultivate it in the spring, we shall in fact lose a season. That is what will happen if the Bill is driven over until the House meets again in January, and therefore there is as much urgency in this matter as there was in regard to the Railways Bill in 1921.
The right hon. Gentleman has too short a memory. He has not always lived up to his professions, not that in that respect he differs from other Prime Ministers or even from other Ministers, I dare say. I find that in the Local Government Bill of 1928, not only did he not wait until he had experienced obstruction—he knew very well that so far as this House was concerned the Kangaroo power was already there—but he came down to the House of Commons and proposed a Guillotine Motion to take the Bill in stages in Committee. That was a much more drastic thing to do than that which we are proposing, and, with great respect, I think that it was much more fatal to a good examination of the Bill, because we must, both of us, be familiar with a good many instances under the Guillotine where whole Clauses with some valuable and important Amendments, have not been discussed at all. If there 979 is to be a choice between processes, I am sure that the Kangaroo is a much more sensible way of dealing with it than the closure by Guillotine.
There was one matter to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) called attention. He referred to it because he said, "A dangerous man was in charge of the Bill." I am not going to reply to that controversy at all. I have no intention of doing so, although it has been dragged before me several times. I shall say nothing. But I want to remind the right hon. Gentleman of two facts. First, that as far as housing is concerned, he himself was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. The second thing—and I am only referring to this because it has already been published; I have refrained from replying for reasons which he will appreciate—is that the financial scheme of that business, as he knows well, was not recommended by me and was contrary to my recommendations. Having known that, I think that what he did was not quite fair. The protestation that these proposals closure fair debate and prevent the discussion of important matters is a statement which is not well founded. It impresses nobody and misleads nobody. The real reason why we need this Motion, apart from the fact of having the bitter experience of last Session before us, is that unless we had a proposal of this kind we could not possibly get the Committee stage of this Bill before next Easter. That is an absolute certainty. We should lose the whole of that time. With that possibility and the experience of last Session before us, it is due to the House of Commons and to the importance of its business that we should equip ourselves with some such power as that now proposed.
I suggest—I think that this is a consideration which has been overlooked and is the most important consideration of the whole lot—that this House of Commons, as the Mother of Parliaments, has to adapt its Procedure so as to be able to deal with the much vaster volume of business which crowds upon it. We all know, especially since the War, that we have had legislative and administrative problems forced upon the attention of this House and that they have had to be 980 sandwiched between the innumerable conferences on disarmament and reparation; and now matters affecting the Dominions and India have crowded, one after another, upon the time of this House. It is evident that if we are to justify Parliamentary institutions we must be ready to make sensible adaptations of our Procedure so as to enable us to do so. In my view it is as important as anything can be that this House should stand for the advancement of Parliamentary institutions in order to show that they can be made efficient machines of popular government. We have seen all over Europe a very manifest distrust of Parliamentary institutions, and therefore it is particularly important that this House should not have too much regard to precedents and. party considerations in approaching a matter of this sort. In view of the situation with which we are faced and the urgency of the occasion—we have2,000,000 unemployed looking on to see how we handle this problem—I think that there is no further authority whatever needed for this Motion.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
There were several interesting features of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, and certainly one of the most interesting was in the first part, when he called to his aid a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I never thought that I should ever find the Minister of Agriculture looking across at the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and almost kissing him again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I remember very well—and so does he—the last love letter he received from the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and I suppose that it was that which my right hon. Friend the Member for West, Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) had in mind when he made his criticism of the right hon. Gentleman's housing proposals.
I suggest that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture have failed to make out a case, at any rate, 6o far as this particular Bill is concerned. I have had a fair amount of experience in Committee upstairs, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. I do not say for a moment that there may not be a case in which you might have to call in aid a process of this kind. But what is the 981 urgency for this Bill? If it was a Bill to make farming pay or a Bill which was going to provide work and profit for people already on the land, there might be something to be said for it, but it is a Bill which has been delayed, as far as the present Government are concerned, for many months. I did not follow the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, that because the Government of the day happen to put a very large number of Measures in the King's Speech, that therefore some particular device of this nature has to be adopted with regard to the Bills presented. Surely, that is a most remarkable argument.
The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs also made a most extraordinary speech in favour of his new found friend. I remember very well, on the Second Reading of this Bill, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs advocated that it should be taken on the Floor of the House and then voted against it in the Division Lobby. If hon. Members will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, they will find one of the worst possible arguments that could be adduced in favour of this course contained in the references to the right hon. Gentleman's own experience with regard to debate and action under the Government of which he was a member and to his method of accepting Amendments. If I followed him aright, he did not believe in debate in this House at all. He said that he found in his experience, especially on the National Health Insurance Bill, that it was most detrimental to the conduct of the Bill to have any debate upon it at all and that he accepted Amendments, which were forced upon him and which did a great deal of damage to his Bill and were most detrimental afterwards. That is an extraordinary argument, and we gather that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs would prefer to go forward without a debate at all. I cannot speak as to the consequences of one occasion on which this particular procedure was adopted, namely, with regard to the railways, but I can speak about the other precedent, when it was adopted in connection with the National Health Insurance Bill. Whether for that reason 982 or another, that Bill has had to be amended no less than 17 times. There must, at any rate, be some support for the argument that a fair amount of the subsequent difficulty was due to the absence of proper discussion when the Bill was passed. That Bill was taken upstairs in 1912 after a portion of it had been debated here, and this process was adopted in Committee upstairs. That has not proved a very useful precedent.
The Minister for Agriculture and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs somehow brought into the discussion the position of this House and said that the country outside was growing impatient of it and that it was losing the sympathies of the people. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has made that observation very frequently during the last year or two. It is an observation often made by people who are impatient of their position or who do not occupy a position in the Government. The country outside would be more impatient, not of proper adequate debate, but of tactics and votes given by Members, not on the merits of a Bill, but according as it suited their own personal fortunes or those of their party. The criticism of most of the work done here has not been on that account at all. The great complaint—by our High Court Judges, for instance, in connection with the Workmen's Compensation Act and such Measures—has been that we have not given sufficient attention to our work in examining and passing laws. That has really done more damage than anything else to the House of Commons, and we often hear references to our slipshod methods. You may take various Acts of a particular nature, and, without exception, the reason for this fault has been exactly the opposite of the arguments urged in connection with this Motion. The great case against the House of Commons is that a great deal of its work is stamped and does not have that final scrutiny and criticism, which will very often improve a Measure and will prevent many people paying the costs of litigation.
The right hon. Member has not dealt with the criticisms which were urged by the right hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), when he said that the Government were placing the Members of the House in a very grave 983 difficulty if the Committee was to sit upstairs at the same time as the House. I hope we shall have an assurance that it is not his intention to ask the Committee to sit at the same time as the House. He ought to give some undertaking in that respect before we pass this Motion. No Member would agree, if he were free, to a proposal which would make demands upon him of such an unreasonable nature. It is only the most urgent case that would justify demands being made to sit upstairs in Committee while there is a debate on the Floor of the House here. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us an undertaking that he does not contemplate anything of the kind.
So far as this particular discussion is concerned, the Government have made out no case. They are setting up a new precedent. This is a House of Commons matter and not so much a party matter. It affects almost every Member, because they may be in different places to-morrow. The Opposition and the Government may change, and the very first people who may object to proposals of this kind may well be Members of the Labour party themselves. I hope, therefore, we shall hear from Members on the Government side some protest on a matter of this kind. At any rate, our course is quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman has not justified his proposals, and we shall be glad to go into the Lobby against them.
§ Dr. ADDISON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be CONY put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.984
§ and I was interested to note that he had spent a week-end with admirable assiduity raking over fallen leaves and delving into the ancient dustbins of precedents. Reckless disregard is being shown of the rights of private Members. On the Floor of this House we have the protection of an experienced Chairman but we have no similar safeguard so far as proceedings upstairs are concerned. It is nothing less than an abuse that after 18 months—during which nothing has been done—a Bill of this character should suddenly be introduced and special powers sought from the House in order to force it on to the Statute Book in the shortest possible time. Only the plea of urgency, coupled with obstruction so far as our party is concerned, could justify a proposal of this nature. The Second Reading debate, however, showed very clearly that it was not a desire to obstruct that induced us to take an interest in the subject but the fact that the Bill embodies very novel features. We all recognise that parts of the Bill may prove to be quite good when they have been scrutinised and considered in Committee. Against that, it is reasonable to recognise that there are other parts of the Bill which are highly controversial and introduce novel elements into agriculture, the discussion of which is not any question of urgency. I hope the House will not give these powers since no adequate reason has been advanced for this stifling of proper discussion. If we pass this Resolution, we shall be sowing weed seeds which may eventually choke the growth of Parliamentary Procedure on future occasions.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 160.987
|Division No. 21.]||AYES||[7.13 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bellamy, Albert||Bromley, J.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff, Cannock)||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brothers, M.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Benson, G.||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Burgess, F. G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)|
|Angell, Norman||Birkett, W. Norman||Caine, Derwent Hall-|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Bilndell, James||Cameron, A. G.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bondfleid, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Carter, W. (St Pancras, S.W.)|
|Ayles, Walter||Bowen, J. W.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Chater, Daniel|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Broad, Francis Alfred||Church, Major A. G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Bromfield, William||Clarke, J. S.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton.on-Tees)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Kelly, W. T.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Coffins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kennedy, Thomas||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molten)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cove, William G.||Lang, Gordon||Samuel. Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Dagger, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Sanders, W. S.|
|Dallas, George||Lathan, G.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Scott, James|
|Day, Harry||Lawrence, Susan||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Scurr, John|
|Duncan, Charles||Lawson, John James||Sexton, James|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Leach, W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lees, J.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Egan, W. H.||Lindley, Fred W.||Shield, George William|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer)||Longbottom, A. W.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Foot, Isaac,||Longden, F.||Shinwell, E.|
|Freeman, Peter||Lunn, William||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Simmons, C. J.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McElwee, A.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McEntee, V. L.||Sinkinson, George|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||McKinley, A.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gill, T. H.||MacLaren, Andrew||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)|
|Glassey, A. E.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gossling, A. G.||McShane, John James||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gould, F.||Malcne. C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Snell, Harry|
|Graham, Rt. Hon.Wm. (Edln.,Cent.)||Mansfield, W.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gray. Milner||Marcus, M.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Markham, S. F.||Sorensen, R.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marley, J.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Marshall, Fred||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mathers, George||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Matters, L. W.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Messer, Fred||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Middleton, G.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Mills, J. E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C )||Morley, Ralph||Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hardle, George D.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Tillett, Ben|
|Harris, Percy A.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Tout, W. J.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Townend, A. E.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Hayday, Arthur||Moses. J. J. H.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Viant, S. P.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Naylor, T. E.||Walker, J.|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Herriotts, J.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oldfield, J. R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||West, F. R.|
|Napkin, Daniel||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||White, H. G.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie.||Palmer, E. T.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Perry. S. F.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Hutchison. Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Isaacs, George||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wilson. J. (Oldham)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pole, Major D. G.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Johnston, Thomas||Potts, John S.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Jones. Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Price, M. P.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pybus, Percy John||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Jones, T I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Raynes, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Paling and Mr. William Whiteley.|
|Albery, Irving James||Berry, Sir George||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Bevan. S. J. (Holborn)||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Butler, R. A.|
|Ashley. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bird, Ernest Roy||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Campbell, E. T.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bracken, B.||Castle Stewart, Earl of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Brass, Captain Sir William||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briscoe, Richard George||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cayzer, Maj.Sfr Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)|
|Beaumont. M. W.||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newby)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon, Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hurd, Percy A.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittoms|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst.)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Smithers, Waldron|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Somerville, A. A, (Windsor)|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Stanley, Maj. Hon, O. (W'morland)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Mellor, R. J.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sueter Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Train. J.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Muirhead, A. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||O'Connor, T. J.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Peaks, Capt. Osbert||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Withers, Sir John James|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Womersley, W. J.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ramsbotham, H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer. John R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Harrington, Marquess of||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Sir George Penny and Sir Victor|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Warrender.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
I beg to move, in line 5, at the end, to add the words:Provided that the power shall not extend to any amendment which on account of privilege is incapable of being inserted in another place.This is an Amendment to which we attach a good deal of importance, particularly because at the present time the financial position of the country is causing such grave anxiety in all quarters. There axe certain powers which are possessed by this House, and only by this House. The other place, which is mentioned in the Amendment, have no power to make Amendments which deal with finance. The result will be that if we do not insert this Amendment and the original Motion stands there will be a very grave chance that certain financial aspects of the Bill may never be discussed, because they will have been jumped over upstairs, and when the Committee stage of the Bill takes place in another place they will not have power to deal with the Amend- 988 ments. Of all Bills, this particular Bill is one in which finance plays a very important part. There are three closely printed pages dealing with the financial memorandum to the Bill.
I will give a few of the points to be discussed in Committee on the financial side. There is a sum of £1,000,000 for financing the Agricultural Land Corporation. For the acquisition of land for demonstration farms, England and Wales, there will be expenditure of £5,000,000 for England and Wales, and £700,000 for Scotland. There is a sum of £1,100,000 in respect of every 1,000 smallholdings. There is £640,000 for smallholdings per 1,000 unemployed persons. Advance of working capital for the unemployed per 1,000 holdings will cost £270,000. The estimated cost per 1,000 persons provided with smallholdings may amount to another £40,000. Training the unemployed accounts for £7,000 per 1,000 persons. Demonstration holdings will cost £125,000 and the cost of allotment gardens will be 989 £80,000 in the first financial year and £200,000 in future years. I mention these figures to show that whatever Clauses of the Bill we discuss, financial questions will continually crop up. Part II1 of the Bill is to a large extent in italics. That means that it deals with finance.
As the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said, we have as Minister in charge of the Bill a gentleman who when he was last a Cabinet Minister—if we can understand the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)—was got rid of because of his financial instability. Undoubtedly, the question of how we are to deal with financial matters will have to be considered by the Select Committee which the Government have said they are going to set up to deal with procedure. When the Parliament Act was passed it wars not intended that procedure should be adopted whereby certain things can be ruled out in Committee and those things are then incapable of being discussed in another place when the Committee stage is reached there. It is an extraordinary thing that this Government should continually set up committees to deal with various matters, and before the Committee has decided anything or presented a report to the House, the Government makes proposale which may be at entire variance with the findings of the Committee. We have had three recent examples of this state of things, the raising of the school age, the Unemployment Insurance Committee, and, finally, the Select Committee on Procedure, to which this particular subject (should be sent.
This important point of privilege would not arise to such an extent in Committee of the whole House. The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy-Chairman are men of great knowledge and experience who spend the whole of their time in considering these questions, and, secondly, the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy-Chairman in Committee of the whole House are in constant touch with Mr. Speaker. No one will deny that the last word as regards the question of Privilege must rest with Mr. Speaker. If we set up the precedent of giving powers to a Chairman of Com- 990 mittee upstairs, I submit that with his various other duties to perform he cannot give the time which is necessary for the proper selection of Amendments, particularly Amendments which deal with Privilege.
I have had a fair amount of experience of Standing Committees and I have never had to complain of unfair treatment by the Chair, but I have known some inexperienced Chairmen of Committees who have got themselves into tremendous difficulties. Chairmen of Committees may be inexperienced in dealing with questions of finance and Privilege, and I say that the power of the Kangaroo should only be exercised by the Chairman of Ways and Means in Committee of the whole House. It is easy enough to get business through in this House if it is unopposed. It, is said that our procedure is cumbersome and old-fashioned. My answer is that if there is a general measure of agreement business can be despatched in very quick time indeed. It is only when hon. Members hold genuine convictions in apposition to a Measure that the progress of business becomes slow, and I do not believe that this Motion will get over that difficulty. You cannot automatically stifle discussion in this way. For these reasons, and particularly because I think it is vital that every item of Government expenditure should be thoroughly and drastically examined, that I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Major GEORGE DAVIES
I beg to second the Amendment.
Hon. Members will have noticed that I also have an Amendment on the Order Paper covering substantially the same ground as the present one, the only difference being the use of the word "privilege" instead of the words "a charge upon local or public funds." This Amendment, like my own, really deals with the question of finance. It has been well said that the ideal Act of Parliament is one which neither restricts the liberty of any citizen nor places any burden on any taxpayer; and I suppose that if any hon. Member went to the electors with the boast that during the period in office of his party no single Measure of any; sort had been added to the Statute Book he would be returned with acclamation. It is because this Motion, pinned as it is to a Bill which we all have in mind, fails 991 to protect the important interests of the taxpayer that 1 wish to Say a word on this Amendment.
This House has always been very jealous of its rights over finance. Not only do we deny all claim of another place to deal with any Bill which is certified by Mr. Speaker as a Money Bill—and we are satisfied that our privileges are always safe in your hands—but we have provided by our own procedure here with special care for those questions which affect finance and taxation generally. For example, the financial provisions in a Bill are printed in special type so that the wayfaring man although a Member of Parliament may not err therein, and we have to go through the special procedure of a Money Resolution on Second Reading and Report stages. We have thus singled out for special consideration all matters dealing with finance. The special provisions of this House tend to restrict the exuberance of the more ardent spirits amongst us. Private Members are not allowed to move Bills which entail a charge on the Exchequer or move Amendments which may have the same effect. We have passed legislation which has tended to restrict the right of private Members from bringing forward Measures which will impose a charge on the taxpayer but it is left to a democratic Labour Government to press this matter, so far that we run the risk, if this Motion is carried, not only that the rights of private Members to be restricted and limited in this important respect but also in another matter, which is very closely connected with finance and which should be in the mind of everyone; and that is national economy.
It is obvious that certain hon. Members opposite regard the Rules of Procedure of this House with barely concealed contempt. We have evidence of that on the Order Paper to-day. Perhaps it is a little unfortunate that other considerations have allured the protagonists of this line of thought across the border in pursuit of unity rather than taking their places here as silent witnesses of the unity which still exists. I oppose this Motion for two reasons; one, the risk of interfering with our control in the interests of economy 992 and, secondly, that the Government in their excess of record breaking zeal are already setting up yet another Select Committee to go into the whole question in all its aspects, and it is a little previous and unnecessary to forestall decisions which will doubtless be reached by that important body. This Amendment does not avoid any check there is on expenditure at present; it restores checks which in my opinion will be lost to us if the Motion is carried un-amended.
It would not he in order for me to touch on the question of local expenditure, although it is true to say that in too much of the legislation passed by this House we do not realise that the repercussions, so far as the ratepayers are concerned, will be very far reaching. Many ratepayers who are now struggling under the burdens imposed by the legislation passed by this House will regret that one of the safeguards which have protected them in the past is going to be taken away by this Motion. I support the Amendment because it is in the interest of economy. Hon. Members opposite have never paid even lip service to economy; they have never regarded it as a national virtue. They have explained that additional taxation is not an evil to be avoided but one of the most delightful of pastimes—that is, spending other people's money.
Their unstable companions below the Gangway at one time included economy in their triology of national and political virtues, but of late they have tended to fall from grace and have solaced themselves with the suggestion that perhaps the truest economy is wise expenditure. Indeed, I am credibly informed that instead of their slogan being, "I came, I saw, I conquered," it is, "I spent, I taxed, I conquered." We have lost to sight and memory dear those who were at one time the protagonists of economy and it is left to the occupants of these benches to put in a word for that which should have been on the lips of every speaker in this debate—including the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture. Whilst it may be possible, if our industrial conditions were brighter and if our agricultural conditions were brighter than they can possibly be as a result of this precious Bill which the Minister of 993 Agriculture has fathered, to say that true economy lies in a wise expenditure, we maintain that that is not the case to-day. To-day the country cannot afford it, and the attitude we take is that to-day true economy is just economy. It will not be in order to go into the details of the Bill referred to in the Motion but I should like to allude in general terms to the Measure—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment which the hon. and gallant Member is seconding is quite a narrow point. It deals only with Amendments which raise a question of Privilege. That is a very narrow point.
§ Major DAVIES
All I was going to say is that the Motion moved by the Prime Minister seeks to interfere with what has hitherto been the rights of primate Members upstairs in regard to a certain Bill. That Bill has certain financial provisions in it and I was going to [make a general allusion to those financial provisions in order to show that if we are not allowed to bring forward Amendments in Committee upstairs they cannot be dealt with in another place. As a rule, when a Measure, and particularly one of first importance—and I understand the Government to regard the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill as of first importance, although I confess I find some difficulty in coming to that conclusion from an agricultural point of view—involving considerable financial expenditure comes before the House it is customary for the Financial Memorandum and the financial Clauses to give hon. Members some fairly close idea as to the expenditure involved and what expenditure the ratepayers are going to be saddled with if the Bill becomes law. In the case of this particular Measure we can get no exact idea however closely we study the Bill.
The Financial Memorandum is perfectly useless in this respect. It is true that in certain parts of the Bill a definite limit is set, but in connection with the real expenditure under the Bill the Minister of Agriculture has told us that he not only could not but would not say how wide its extensions might be and, consequently, how great the financial considerations would become. We have made attempt after attempt to 994 correct our ignorance upon that matter but without avail. We elucidated nothing. The watch-dogs of the Treasury were absent and silent; no bark, no growl, at the thought of the additional millions which the Minister of Agriculture was going to impose on the community. It was our hope, and it is still our hope, that in Committee the Minister or his representative will be able to tell us how he has managed to soften the adamantine heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to what extent. We want to know how big that new-found warm regard for agriculture, of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member is now travelling very wide of the Amendment, which deals with the power of selection of particular Amendments by the Chairman of the Standing Committee.
§ Major DAVIES
I am trying to emphasise the facts, particularly as we know so little that is definite about the financial implications involved. It is important that the rights of private Members in matters of finance, which cannot be dealt with in another place, should be maintained. Further, the Amendment should be accepted in the real interests of economy. I do not second the Amendment in any partisan spirit. This is a matter affecting the interests of private Members regardless of party. If that remark applies to the provisions of the Motion, it is of infinitely greater importance as it applies to those aspects which are covered by the Amendment. It is in the interests of economy that T ask the Minister to accept the Amendment and to refrain from taking away, in this particular respect, the rights of private Members. I have the hope borne of confidence in a good cause and in an unanswerable case.
§ Dr. ADDISON
With the rest of the House I followed with interest the aphorisms of the hon. and gallant Member, and for myself wish that I had a better memory so that I could remember them. However, I shall have an opportunity of reading them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. When they were being delivered I tried to find some string or other attaching them to the Amendment. 995 At that moment, happily, you, Mr. Speaker, intervened and proved to my satisfaction that there was no such string; so that so far as the interesting and charming asides of the hon. and gallant Member are concerned, as to the idiosyncrasies of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself and so forth, I can take it that they have nothing whatever to do with the Amendment. What was the reason for the Amendment? The hon. Member and his hon. and gallant Friend are under the apprehension—if it was well grounded it would be dealt with—that the Chairman of a Committee will in some way or other take away the rights of private Members. There is no suggestion whatever that any proper right of a private Member is to be taken away.
I agree that the Motion does take away the opportunity of unlimited talk, and it is intended to do it, but I am sure it is not intended, nor can any Chairman of a Committee utilise the procedure with a view to prevent discussion of any important matter, especially finance. I cannot call to mind any case in which the Kangaroo has been used in that way. Finance, in fact, is the one subject for which the House of Commons by its procedure does provide extra opportunities of discussion. There are the Committee and Report stages of a Financial Resolution, both of which are set aside particularly for discussion of the finance of a Bill. There is also this consideration; a Private Member is precluded by the Rules of the House from moving an Amendment to propose an increased charge. Therefore this Amendment could apply only to Amendments for reducing the charge or to Amendments moved by the Minister for increasing the charge. But if the Minister himself put down an Amendment for increasing the charge, it would be out of order because the Chairman of the Committee would rule that it was beyond the scope of the Financial Resolution, and the Bill might have to be re-committed.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
The Financial Resolution is drawn so wide that it would be quite possible for the Minister in charge of this Bill to propose an Amendment to increase the charge and still be within the Resolution.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Of course that is perfectly correct, if the Amendment was one within the terms of the Resolution, though increasing the charge above what hon. Members opposite thought might be involved, but I cannot imagine that any Chairman of a Committee would allow a proposal like that not to be debated. The only point in the Amendment is the suggestion that an important thing of that kind is to be slipped over and not debated. I cannot imagine any Ministerial Amendment that would not be discussed. These facts are well known to everyone in the House, and if we associate with them the special facilities for the discussion of the Financial Resolution in two stages, we see that it is unreasonable to ask us to limit the Motion by the entirely arbitrary and unworkable wording of the Amendment.
§ Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL-THOMSON
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have given two different sets of answers which are mutually inconsistent and destroy his case. First of all he repeated the general arguments which were used on the previous general Amendment. It has been suggested that owing to the vaster body of Amendments nowadays it is even more important than it was before that a Chairman should be equipped with these powers. That argument can be taken too far. When the Kangaroo was first introduced, this House had before it a large number of questions which do not reach it to-day. There was the whole volume of business connected with Ireland. Many hon. Members will remember how large a share that business took in our debates. Secondly, with regard to the Railways Bill, our experience in Standing Committee, when the chairman was equipped with these powers, was not altogether happy. If I remember rightly there was a good deal of friction over the exercise of the powers. Thirdly, no one, as far as I know, has made any allusion to the fact that the Chairman of a Committee already possesses very large powers if he will only use them. Any new Member sitting in this House to-day might imagine that a Chairman had no powers. Chairmen have enormous powers. They have not only the power of ordinary closure, but the power to closure down. I often wonder why the Chairmen of Committees do not use the power of closuring down more.
997 Let me come to the specific point. It has been said, in effect, that it is unnecessary to have any protection in regard to finance because the Minister cannot conceive a Chairman not selecting an Amendment of importance. If that is true, there is no reason why the Minister should not accept this Amendment. It is impossible to tell in Committee how important an Amendment is until discussion of a particular Clause is reached. Therefore, it is very difficult frequently to select Amendments beforehand. The right hon. Gentleman confessed quite frankly that it sometimes happens that a Chairman does jump an Amendment which afterwards turns out to be a very important Amendment. Then as a rule the Chairman endeavours to find an opportunity later on in the Bill for a discussion. While that is important in regard to any ordinary Amendment, it is doubly important in regard to finance.
Something has been said about the wishes of the country. The wish of the country is not that we should have more legislation, but more economy. The Minister, I am sure, will not go as far as the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) seemed to go to-day. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs seemed to postulate verbal inspiration for his legislative efforts; he appeared to think that they were so perfect that no one could improve them—that they were like the miracle of the Septuagint, when 70 learned gentlemen sat in wattle huts for 70 days on the sandbanks near Alexandria and all evolved the same translation from the Hebrew into the Greek. I am sure that the Septuagints on the Treasury bench do not claim that. If that is so, is it not reasonable and proper to say that the Amendment is necessary? We all know how difficult it is on Report to secure consideration of Amendments. We know too that another place is handicapped in dealing with Amendments of this character. How important this is was realised in the case of previous Bills to which illusion had been made. There are the Insurance Act and the Railways Act precedents, in which cases the right hon. Gentleman will find that the financial provisions were carefully kept out of the Standing Committee and were dealt with on the Floor 998 of the House. In those circumstances, I respectfully suggest that if the right hon. Gentleman's contention is right, and if the Chairman of a Committee is quite sure to call every financial Amendment which would affect the charge then, really, there is no reason why he should not accept this Amendment. It will not on the right hon. Gentleman's own hypothesis do the Bill any harm. It is only in case his hypothesis is wrong that harm will be done to the Bill and then it will be incurable harm. I think from the House of Commons paint of view this is an important Amendment. Let me add, not by way of any threat to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the time will come when the sides will be reversed and when the right hon. Gentleman will be sitting here, and some of my hon. Friends will be on the Government side of the House. Then, let it be remembered, that while we protest on this occasion it does not follow that we shall shrink from using the precedent which hon. Members opposite are creating. I can imagine the sort of speeches which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will make when the Schedule to a General Tariff Bill is sent upstairs and the Chairman of the Standing Committee is equipped with this power in regard to it. I can hear the right hon. Gentleman declaiming against us as assassins of financial economy. I can well imagine how he would go on in such circumstances and I need not dilate upon it, but if what the right hon. Gentleman has told us is all he has against the Amendment, I do not understand why he should not accept it.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I think it most unfortunate that the Government cannot see their way to accept the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman will admit—in fact has admitted—that these questions of finance are of peculiar importance and I agree with him that it is most unlikely that a Chairman would not select Amendments dealing with questions of finance. But if that be the case, surely the right hon. Gentleman is showing a lack of acquaintance with the best way of dealing with this House. If he wants to get business through the House, a concession of this kind is likely to be of considerable help to him because it will show that he is trying to 999 meet the views of the ordinary rank-and-file Members. Under the Standing Orders at present the Kangaroo procedure does not operate until after the Committee stage when there has been an opportunity to discover the meaning of these Amendments. There is, of course, the one exception of Finance Bills. The Kangaroo procedure does not operate unless and until the Clauses of the Bill have been threshed out in Committee and, Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Ways and Means, or the Deputy-Chairman, as the case may be, to whom is entrusted the task of working this procedure has then the advantage of knowing the discussions which have takers place in Committee beforehand. It is true, of course, as I have said, that there is one class of Bill exempt from that operation. The Finance Bill has to be taken on the Floor of the House in Committee, and, as it has to be so taken, the Kangaroo procedure does not apply to the Committee stage in that case. But there is this difference, that it is applied not by the Chairman of a Standing Committee, but by the more experienced, and, if I may so describe them, the disfranchised officers of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there had been a first consideration of these questions on the Financial Resolution relating to the Bill. I am sorry to say, however, that a most unfortunate custom has been growing up in this House—and I am not blaming the present Government only, but the late Government and previous Governments
§ as well in this respect—of drafting these Financial Resolutions in such a way as to make them almost a mockery of the House of Commons. They are drafted with such scope that they are of comparatively little use and the same procedure has been followed with this Financial Resolution. When these Resolutions are discussed we ask for information and we are told to wait for the Bill. To use a phrase which I have often heard the right hon. Gentleman himself use, if he accepted this Amendment he would be making a gesture which would do him a deal of good. If the Government with the majority which they have got for the moment through the cynical support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) chose to use the big stick in forcing this Motion through, without making any concessions they can do so. But I think that this Amendment would do the Government so little harm that they might reasonably accept it. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman that this peculiar species of animal is one which occasionally gets beyond its keeper's wishes, and if the kangaroo, as it may do, makes a bound backwards it may upset its keeper. This is one of those cases in which, if the right hon. Gentleman does not show some consideration for the Opposition, he may find that he has a harder task in the end than he anticipated.
§ Question put. "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ages, 134 Noes, 244.1003
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
I beg to move, in line 5, at the end, to add the words:Provided that the power shall not extend to amendments to any amendment proposed by the Government.The object of this Amendment is to draw a distinction between two sorts of Amendment which may conceivably come before the Chairman of Committee upstairs. On the one hand, there is the ordinary Amendment proposed by a Member of the Opposition, and on the other hand there is the Government Amendment, and I would urge upon the House that quite different considerations ought to apply to those two sorts of Amendment. We have agreed now that it is desirable to limit the discussion of Amendments by arming the Chairman of the Standing Committee with the power of selection. We have domesticated the Kangaroo in the Committee upstairs, but even though we have come to that decision as a general matter of principle, I suggest that it would be desirable to make this distinction.
When the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was speaking, he made a very important and impressive point about the authority behind this Bill. He said, in reply to attacks that this Bill is the work of a minority Government, that the authority behind the Bill is that has had a Second Reading. These Government Amendments against which my Amendment is aimed have not had a Second Reading. They are entirely new proposals, slipped in in Committee, placed before the Members of the Committee and before the Chairman for the first time. How is any Chairman, no matter 1004 how assiduous he may be, to have an opportunity of gauging the relative importance of Amendments? Surely it is by listening to the discussion on Second Reading and various other stages of the Bill, but here are new Amendments, put forward by the Government in Committee, which have not been discussed. They are virtually new proposals, and there has been no discussion of them to arm the Chairman with a true idea of their relative importance. Therefore, I suggest that, however desirable it may be to limit the moving of Amendments by representatives of the Opposition, when the Government move an Amendment, that is a new proposal, before the Committee and before the Chairman for the first time, and the power of excluding Amendments to that new proposal ought not to be given to the Chairman of the Committee upstairs.
There have been two different ideas put forward in this debate as to the value of discussion in this House. We have had it said that discussion is useful and necessary and must be allowed a certain amount of latitude and free play. We have had it said, on the other hand, by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that discussion tends to confusion, that the more a Bill is discussed the more legal difficulties are discovered in it, and the more pitfalls for future law suits are dug by that process. I am content to adopt a middle course, and to say that adequate discussion is absolutely necessary, if any Bill is to be properly put through the machinery of this House. Otherwise, if discussion were not necessary at all, it 1005 would be better far to abolish altogether the Standing Committees upstairs and the Report stage in this House. But if you grant that discussion is valuable, I say that it is valuable particularly in the case of a new proposal which is put up by the Government for the first time, such as Government Amendments introduced in Committee.
There is quite another consideration which renders a Government Amendment quite different from the ordinary Amendment put down by a Member of the Opposition or by a Member of the House who is not in the Government, and that is that Government Amendments are important because they are passed. They stand a very good chance of being incorporated in the Bill—a much better chance than any Amendments from outside. In other words, it is not exaggerating the position to say that an Amendment moved by the Government in Committee is an executive act. It is altering the law straight away by the Executive, and if Parliament has one function which is more important than another, it is that of maintaining a vigilant and constant control and supervision over the acts of the Executive. These Government Amendments, which are likely to affect the people by becoming incorporated in the law of the land, require from their very importance more discussion than any other sort of Amendment, and for that reason I suggest that the power of selection should not extend to them.
What is the position if we are to have these Government Amendments introduced in the Committee stage and if there is to be curtailment of discussion of them and of Amendments to them? We may find ourselves on the Report stage confronted with a Bill which has been so radically and drastically altered in Committee, without discussion, as to present an entirely new problem to the House, and so altered as to make the Second Reading debate not a true criterion of the House's opinion of the principle involved. When I say that a Government Amendment is almost certain to be passed, I am keeping in mind what no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will say to me, and that is that, in the peculiar position in which the Government find themselves, it is not so certain to be passed. We had the same note in the speech of the Prime Minister, who spoke 1006 very feelingly of Scylla and Charybdis. I wished to hear him develop that theme and tell us whether the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was Scylla and the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was Charybdis or vice versa, and which was the seductive and delusive whirlpool and which was the raging monster, the eater of men.
Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side have at last found a subject on which they can vote, and for that reason the Government may look forward to a majority on this Committee, and their Amendments are more likely to affect this Bill than any other Amendments which are proposed. Our discussion on these matters of Procedure must be modified a great deal by the manner in which we regard the Bill, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that this Bill deals with agriculture, which is a subject of all subjects requiring the most anxious and careful handling in Committee, and the most ample discussion of any proposals made by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was a common error to talk of agriculture as one industry, because, in fact, it was a bundle of industries. That is a mistake which is commonly made, and it is one of the few mistakes I do not make myself. I ask him to consider that principle in relation to this Amendment.
Let us get down to grips with what will actually happen if this Motion is passed. We shall have the Government producing an Amendment which, if nothing is done, will become the law. It may be an Amendment on the subject of a part of the agricultural problem touching some particular point in that very many faceted industry. On matters like that, in particular, the Minister should rely with the greatest confidence on the experience of Members from every part of the country. When he produces his Amendment, there will be some Member who knows particularly well one little side of the agricultural industry, in which perhaps his own constituents are engaged. He may put down an Amendment designed to prevent the Minister's Amendment from working oppressively on that particular branch of the industry. The Chairman of the Committee, not having had an opportunity of hearing any discussion on the matter, may very likely 1007 cut that Amendment out. Consequently, we shall be denied what we need for agriculture more than any other subject, the full co-operation and the pooling of knowledge of Members in all parts of the House.
I would appeal on these grounds to the right hon. Gentleman to regard this Amendment favourably. Let him not be led too far aside by the exhortations to ruthlessness which have come from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. It is very easy to exhort other people to ruthlessness, but I would impress on the right hon. Gentleman that ruthlessness does not come well from him; it does not suit him. He is much more likely to achieve the object, which I am certain he has in his heart, of doing something for the good of agriculture, if he accepts an Amendment of this kind, and permits the fullest discussion of his proposal so as to assure that no small section of the industry in which we are both interested shall be hurt by some well-intentioned Amendment of his introduced for the first time in Committee, and by this Motion denied the criticism which should fall on all Government proposals.
§ Commander SOUTHBY
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am but a fairly recent comer to the House of Commons; there are Members on the other side who are as recent, and perhaps more recent, and as a back bench Member I second this Amendment. This is, as it were, the last ditch in this discussion. The House has seen fit to pass the proposals of the Government which tend to limit the freedom of speech of private Members in Committee, and I would remind my fellow back benchers on the other side of the House that the Committee stage of a Bill offers to the private Member one of those few occasions upon which he is able to put Amendments down and to make his voice heard, and to speak on some subject which may particularly interest and concern his constituents. We have already decided that the private Member is to be limited, and we now put forward for the approval of the House this Amendment, which, I suggest, is an Amendment of real substance. My hon. Friend has said that the new Amendments put down by the Government are just as important as the Bill itself. I would go 1008 further, however, and say that they are more important because there has been opportunity for discussion of the Bill on Second Reading, but now it is proposed to rule out discussion, by reason of the selection by the Chairman of the Committee, of the various Amendments which may be put down by back bench Members, and then limit discussion still further by saying that there may be no further Amendments to new proposals put forward by the Government, which are practically certain to pass. A Government Amendment in Committee, after all, is almost as certain of passing as anything can be in this House. When these Amendments have been put forward, it is proposed to deny to back bench Members any opportunity of amending the Amendments of the Government, although they may be Amendments which vitally affect the interest of some constituency or other. The House might well pause and reflect. I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman, with no great hope that I shall soften his heart, that he might at least accept this Amendment. He has had it all hi sown way in the debate up till now, and he might give this little crumb of hope to back bench Members, who are as anxious to get good legislation through the House as those who are fortunate enough to sit on the Front Bench. I do not speak with any great hope that he will accede to our wishes—
§ Mr. McSHANENil desperandum!
§ Commander SOUTHBY
Had the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), who has been speaking so forcibly, been in Opposition, and had these proposals come from the Conservative side of the House, what a lion in debate he would have been in support of this Amendment! He would have got up and trounced the Conservative Government for its dastardly interference with the rights of private back bench Members. Nobody would have been keener than he to see the rights of Private Members were upheld. I suppose it is only because the opposition to our Amendment comes from his side of the House that now he changes his tone and supports what on another occasion he would say was so wrong. We do not see with us the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). He is an ardent supporter of the rights of back bench Members, and it is inter- 1009 esting to see what he said when a similar discussion took place in 1921. Just before the question was put, this is what he said:I think the position is intolerable, and I hope hon. Members will not go blindly into the Lobby in this Division as they did the last time.I suggest that the House should consider these moving words of the hon. and gallant Member, and that they should not go blindly into the Division this time, as they did last time, but that they should consider that this is a very real Amendment which will safeguard a good deal in Committee. It is not put forward with any obstructive end in view, but simply that we may have on Government Amendments in Committee, as adequate a discussion as we demand on the Bill itself when it is having its Second Reading in order that they may become better Amendments. If the right hon. Gentleman is really anxious, as I am sure he is, that this Bill should go through, he should give us an opportunity of amending the Amendments which he will bring forward, in order that he may have at his disposal the collective wisdom of those who sit on both sides of the House.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am sure the House has listened with much interest to the hon. and gallant Member, but I rather suspect that even some of those on his own side of the House must have felt that be was rather overstating his case. There is no desire to deprive any Private. Member of his right to speak. That point is not involved at all. When a Government Amendment comes up in Committee it will have to be discussed, unless the Chairman Kangaroos it, in which case, of course, no question would arise; but that is not very reasonable, that is not likely. Therefore, in the first place, the Government Amendment will be discussed, and the hon. and gallant Member will have the fullest opportunity of stating his views. There is no desire to curtail the rights of Private Members in that respect. It was next suggested that an Amendment to the Government Amendment would be ruled out in some ruthless fashion. I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member and his Friends do not accuse me of desiring to act in that fashion, but they seem to think the power to do so will belong to the Chairman of the Committee. What will happen will be that if there is an 1010 Amendment to a Government Amendment, and it is an Amendment of substance, one that matters, the Chairman of Committee will call it and it will be discussed in the ordinary way, but if it is merely a trivial and dilatory Amendment then it will not be called; and quite right too. That is the full purpose of the procedure.
I do not think the mover of the Amendment would urge for a moment, for he was quite as reasonable as I am in the way he presented his case, that a trivial or dilatory Amendment ought to be allowed to take up even five minutes. If it is an important Amendment it will be discussed, if it is a Government Amendment it must be discussed, and therefore there is no curtailment of the rights of private Members. To accept this Amendment would be to give some irresponsible person the right to string to a Government Amendment all kinds of unimportant Amendments without there being any power to limit the discussion upon them, and that would defeat the very purpose of the Motion. Therefore, it would not be reasonable to expect me to accept the Amendment.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I did hope that the right hon. Gentleman would give some more convincing argument to the House as to why this very reasonable Amendment should not be accepted. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that every Government Amendment put down in Committee will be discussed. Technically, no doubt, the Chairman has power to refuse to put even a Government Amendment, but it is inconceivable that he should do so. Therefore, as every Government Amendment, trivial or not, will be discussed, to say that an Amendment put down by a private Member which is trivial ought to be ruled out is not fair. All we ask is fair treatment and equality of opportunity. This is the position which may arise. We have seen the Bill and have considered it on Second Reading, and we have thought that here is the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill. Then, suddenly, we go to the Committee room upstairs one morning and find that the right hon. Gentleman has put down half-a-dozen Amendments, but we are to be prevented from having any Amendment to those Amendments put down.
§ Dr. ADDISON
Oh, no, not at all. The right hon. Gentleman is unfairly stating the case. He and his friends will be entitled to put down as many Amendments to them as they like, but the Chairman will not be obliged to take those which he does not regard as relevant.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
But the Chairman will be obliged to take any trivial Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman puts down.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
The Patronage Secretary to the Treasury knows that no Chairman ever refuses any Government Amendment, and therefore the Government are loading the dice most unfairly against the private Member and in favour of the Government. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, whatever his official views may be, to make some concession to the Opposition in this matter. After all, we do not want to obstruct, and candidly I am not doing that, but if we are going to be treated in this way we will obstruct the Bill. [interruption.] I will obstruct the Bill, and I have a very fair sense of justice. If we are treated decently and given some concession we will try to make this Bill as good a Bill as possible. The right hon. Gentleman must know, as an old Member of this House, that you can do a great deal if you try to conciliate the Opposition and behave well to them, but if you try to ride roughshod over the Opposition the only result is that it takes very much longer to get a Bill through than it otherwise would do. Why should there be this hurry, and why should this non possumus attitude be adopted by the right hon. Gentleman? He cannot possibly get his Bill before Christmas, there is not the slightest chance of that, and therefore, from every point of view, from the amenity point of view, from the good feeling point of view of all parties in this House—
§ Colonel ASHLEY
From the good feeling point of view, I repeat, it would 1012 be much better to give some slight concession to the Opposition than absolutely nothing, however reasonable.
§ Dr. ADDISON
May I respond to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman? I do not in the least want to be unreasonable, and if there is some assurance that this concession will not be used to cause any undue delay or an unfair complication of Amendments I will give it friendly consideration. If there is that distinct understanding with regard to dilatory Amendments and it is considered as an obligation so to regard it, I would not object to it. If I can have an explicit pledge of that kind I should be agreeable.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
One realises to the full the perfect bedside manner which the Minister of Agriculture has just shown in order to feel the pulse of the Opposition. I cannot answer the point which the right hon. Gentleman has put to the right hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch (Colonel Ashley), but I think there is something really substantial in this Amendment. The Minister of Agriculture has been considering this Measure for a long time. He commenced its consideration some time in the middle of the summer, and parts of the Bill were thought out during the Recess. Therefore, the details of the Bill have been well considered, but during the discussions from day to day when the Bill is in Committee no doubt the Government will have to call up the draftsmen suddenly in order to bring in some Amendment which they think ought to appear in the Bill. In view of that fact, it would be a very small thing for the Minister of Agriculture to concede this Amendment if he really thinks that the Bill is so perfect as he described it in the debate on the Second Reading. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that there may be considerable Amendments demanded by right hon. and hon. Members who sit on the Liberal benches. If the Government think this is such a perfect Bill, surely they will not need to move many Amendments, and it would be a very small thing for them to accept the Amendment which we are discussing.
Our point is that hon. Members may desire to make suggestions in regard to 1013 Amendments produced by the Government. It is quite clear that hon. Members, to whichever party they belong, should have every opportunity afforded them of making suggestions. The most concrete form of making a suggestion to benefit the Bill when the Government bring in an Amendment is obviously to submit another Amendment. My submission to the right hon. Gentleman is that it should be possible in regard to the Agricultural (Utilisation) Land Bill, to have a full discussion on any Amendments put forward by the Government for the simple reason that they may have been drafted in haste, and they may not have had that amount of consideration which the right hon. Gentleman has given to the Measure during the past two or three months. Amendments introduced by the Government at the very last moment require much more consideration than any other, and that is why I shall support this Amendment.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I think I ought to make a reply to the Minister of Agriculture. I may bring in any number of Amendments which may not he selected, and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is prepared to guarantee that in Committee no Amendment which I propose will be regarded as dilatory. I have never known an Amendment moved during the Committee stage of a Bill by the Opposition which the Minister in charge did not consider frivolous and dilatory, and I have known few Amendments which the Minister has not treated in that way.
§ Lord E. PERCY
All the points which the Opposition are likely to raise are points which have been considered in the privacy of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and it is inevitable that the Government will oppose such Amendment. I think the right hon. Gentleman has been attributing to other Ministers a characteristic which is only applicable to himself, but, if he turns his mind back to 1919, I think he will recollect the attitude which he took on that occasion. It is a very unsafe thing to give powers to a Chairman which depend entirely upon a personal interpretation of the words. For these reasons, I am unwilling to give the right hon. Gentleman the power for which he is asking. There is growing up 1014 in this House a custom of which all Governments are guilty, and it is the settling of the details of a Bill by negotiation with outside interests and not by discussions in the House. Over and over again it happens that the Bill as introduced on the Second Reading is fundamentally changed by Government Amendments as a result of outside negotiations. The result of those negotiations ought to be subjected to more fuller scrutiny in Committee than the original terms of the Bill. We know that the Minister of Agriculture has been negotiating not only with farmers and agricultural workers, and those connected with the land, but also with those who have been referred to as the Scylla below the Gangway. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite will not object, as many of his colleagues object, to my quoting the description by Horace of that body:
§ "Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne."
§ The Seyllas below the Gangway may be beautiful ladies to start with, but their end is often somewhat fishy and right hon. Gentlemen may think of negotiating with them. No doubt there will be compromises embodied in Government Amendments, but the result of all outside negotiations ought to be scrutinised very carefully.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I feel that the only matter which concerns me in connection with this question is that of the interests of the back benchers. I have had considerable experience of the Government, and of the maladministration of the Minister himself. I have had to sit and endure over and over again his imperfect methods of conducting these Bills through the House of Commons. I have done my best in my time to help him to get them through the House—[Interruptian]—and have suffered terribly from his incompetence. It was not until the Leader of the Liberal Opposition came to our rescue that we obtained a little relief. Now the Minister comes to this House and objects to anyone even daring to put down an Amendment to any Amendment that he may move in Committee. I could give probably the best part of a thousand reasons why any Amendment of his is almost certain to be incompetent. It is certain that, when the right hon. Gentleman moved an Amendment, he would have but the haziest knowledge of what it was all about, 1015 because he is not capable of seeing the bearings of an Amendment on a Bill of some complication.
If he began putting down Amendments to his Bill this is what would happen. He would try and put down a manuscript Amendment. That would go past the Chair, because it is no good pretending that any Government Amendment does not automatically go by the Chair. Not understanding agriculture, not understanding procedure, not understanding the drafting of a Bill—the right hon. Gentleman smiles, from which I take it he admits that I am right. I have sat up hour after hour trying to make him better, and have never succeeded yet. In drafting these Amendments to his own Bill, having got some little glimmerings of light drilled into his head by a persistent, steady Opposition knowing their job and knowing their facts, he would do so with the very best intentions in the world. Nothing would induce me to accuse him of anything except the best intentions. It is not in intentions that he is at fault, but in carrying them out. Perhaps I had better not give an illustration of the kind of thing that he would do, but I think I shall be in order in going on to say that the manuscript Amendment which I 'am assuming might make absolute foolishness of the whole Bill. The right hon. Gentleman might, for instance, in dealing with the matter of large farms, quite easily think that five acres is a large farm, from his knowledge of agriculture.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)
The hon. Member is now speaking on the Bill. He must confine himself to the Amendment to the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I will not deal with the Bill, but I was explaining that the right hon. Gentleman would put down—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I willingly accept your Ruling that I am not entitled to anticipate what Amendments the right hon. Gentleman will put down, but I may, 1016 perhaps, be allowed to point out the difficulties of the Opposition in having to put down Amendments. I was going to point out the difficulty of any Opposition putting down a manuscript Amendment upstairs, and there is also the appalling difficulty of the Chairman. It is grossly unfair that the Chairman, in any circumstances or conditions, should have to give in Committee a Ruling on such a point, and, therefore, in kindness to the Chairman alone, this Amendment ought to be accepted. It is essential to remember, in connection with Amendments dealing with a very complicated subject, that there are many Members of the House belonging to different groups who may agree on the main principle of the Bill, but who may wish to express their feelings on a Government Amendment in a definite form of policy, and unless such groups—for instance the one below the Gangway on this side, or the one above the Gangway opposite—have the means of putting their thoughts definitely on paper, they are deprived, in this matter of Amendments to a Government Amendment, of a most important right and privilege. The right hon. Gentleman is not really objecting to this Amendment because of the Opposition, or even the semi-Opposition, but because he realises that, if he once accepted it, he would, when his Amendments are on the Paper, be riddled by his own backbenchers, to whom it would give the chance of getting in behind him and making his Bill even sillier than it is at present.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It strikes me as extraordinary that the Minister has suggested that his Amendments will be less trivial than those of the Opposition. If he takes the Education Bill which is now before the House, I do not think he will find one Amendment that anyone in the House could describe as trivial. There are 10 pages of Amendments, and not one of them is Therefore, I do not think the Minister is justified in saying that, if he agrees to this Amendment, he may expect to see trivial Amendments put down.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 128; Noes, 250.1003
|Division No. 22]||AYES||[8.8 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Campbell, E. T.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l.,W.)||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Fielden. E. R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cautley, Sir Henry S||Forestier-Walker. Sir L.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S )||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Chamberlain Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Chapman, Sir S.||Gilmour. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cockerlll. Brig.-General Sir George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Balfour. Contain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Cohen. Major J. Brunel||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Balniel, Lord||Colfox, Major William Philip||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Cranborne, Viscount||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Berry, Sir George||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Guinness. Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bevan. S. J. (Holborn)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Gunston, Contain D. W.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cunllffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hannon. Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bracken, B.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovill)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dawson, Sir Philip||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Butter, R. A.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s -M.)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)|
|Cadegan, Major Hon. Edward||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stanley Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pllditch, Sir Philip||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Lamb, Sir J. O.||Ramsbotham, H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Remer, John R.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Train, J.|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Buggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Making, Brigadier-General E.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Meller, R. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Savery, S. S.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Simms, Major-General J.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Mond, Hon. Henry||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst.)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B||Skelton, A. N.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Sir George Penny and Major the|
|Muirhead, A. J.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Marquess of Titchfieid.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife. West)||Elmley, Viscount||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lawson, John James|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Foot, Isaac||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Freeman, Peter||Leach, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lees, J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Ammon, Charles George||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Angell, Norman||Gibbins, Joseph||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Asks, Sir Robert||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Moseley)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gill, T. H.||Longden, F.|
|Ayles, Walter||Gillett, George M.||Lowth, Thomas|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Glassey, A. E.||Lunn, William|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Gossling, A. G.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Gould, F.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Batey, Joseph||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gray, Milner||McKinlay, A.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Benson, G.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McShane, John James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Groves, Thomas E.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mansfield, W.|
|Blindell, James||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Marcus, M.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvill)||Markham, S. F.|
|Bowen, J. W,||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Marley, J.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Marshall, Fred|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hardie, George D.||Mathers, George|
|Bromfield, William||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Matters, L. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Middleton, G.|
|Brothers, M.||Heyday, Arthur||Mills, J. E.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morley, Ralph|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Henderson, Arthur, Juan (Cardiff, S.)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Herrlotts, J.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Mort, D. L.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hoffman, P. C.||Moses, J. J. H.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hollins, A.||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hopkin, Daniel||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Chater, Daniel||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Horrabin, J. F.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Clarke, J. S.||Isaacs, George||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Heath)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Johnston, Thomas||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Compton. Joseph||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Perry, S. F.|
|Daggar, George||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Dallas, George||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kelly, W. T.||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Day, Harry||Kennedy, Thomas||Potts, John S.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Price, M. P.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lang, Gordon||Pybus, Percy John|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lathan, G.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Rayne, W. R.|
|Egan, W. H.||Lawrence, Susan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Ritson, J.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Romerll, H. G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Snell, Harry||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Sanders, W. S.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||West, F. R.|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Sorensen, R.||White, H. G.|
|Scott, James||Stamford, Thomas W.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Stewart, J (St. Rollox)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Scurr, John||Strauss, G. R.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Sexton, James||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sherwood, G. H.||Thurtle, Ernest||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Shield, George William||Tillett, Ben||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Tout, W. J.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Townend, A. E.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Shinwell, E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Simmons, C. J.||Vaughan, D. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Want, S. P.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. William|
|Sinkinson, George||Walkden, A. G.||Whiteley.|
|Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Walker, J.|
|Division No. 23.]||AYES||[9.5 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Fielden, E. B.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdfey)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Remer, John R.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H, (I. of Thanet)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Berry, Sir George||Gower, Sir Robert||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Hartington, Marquess of||Savery, S. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Butler, R. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)||Hurd, Percy A.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Chamberlain Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral F.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lewis. Oswald (Colchester)||Train, A. J.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Macquisten, F. A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Making, Brigadier-General E.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Meller, R. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Mond, Hon. Henry||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Muirhead, A. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Ormsby-Gore. Rt. Hon. William||Sir Frederick Thomson and Major|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.)||Penny, Sir George||the Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon, W. (Fife, West)||Caine, Derwent Hall-||Gossiing, A. G.|
|Adamson, W. M, (Staff., Cannock)||Cameron, A. G.||Gould, F,|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Graham, Rt. Hon.Wm. (Edin.,Cent.)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Charleton, H. C.||Granville, E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Chater, Daniel||Gray, Milner|
|Alpass, J. H.||Church, Major A. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Clarke, J. S.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Angell, Norman||Cluse, W. S.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Clynes. Rt. Hon. John R.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Ayles, Walter||Compton, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston)||Crew, William G.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Cowan, D. M.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Dagger, George||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Dallas, George||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Dalton, Hugh||Hardie, George D.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Day, Harry||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Benson, G.||Duncan, Charles||Haycock, A. W.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Ede, James Chuter||Hayday, Arthur|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Edmunds, J. E.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Blindell James||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Egan, W. H.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Elmley, Viscount||Herrlotts, J.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Foot, Isaac||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Bromfield, William||Freeman, Peter||Hollins, A.|
|Bromley, J.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Brothers, M.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Gibbins, Joseph||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Gibson, H. M. (Lance, Mossley)||Isaacs, George|
|Burgess, F. G.||Cill, T. H.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Gillett, George M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Glassey, A. E.||Johnston, Thomas|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Mort, D. L.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Moses, J. J. H.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Jones, T. I Mardy (Pontypridd)||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trernt)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F W.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Jowett Sir W. A. (Preston)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Roel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Snell, Harry|
|Kelly, W. T.||Oldfield, J. R.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Sorensen, R.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Lang, Gordon||Paling, Wilfrid||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Palmer, E. T.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Lathan, G.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Taylor. R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Perry, S. F.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Thorne. W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Lawson, John James||Pole, Major D. G.||Tillett, Ben|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Potts, John S.||Toole, Joseph|
|Leach, W.||Price, M. P.||Tout, W. J.|
|Lees, J.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Townend, A. E.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Raynes, W. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Richards, R.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Walker, J.|
|Lowth, Thomas||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lunn, William||Riley, F, F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ritson, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Romeril, H. G.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|McKinlay, A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Welsh, James (Paisfey)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Sanders, W. S.||West, F. R.|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sawyer, G. F.||White, H. G.|
|McShane, John James||Scott, James||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampion)||Scrymgeour, E.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Mansfield, W.||Scurr, John||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Marcus, M.||Sexton, James||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Markham, S. F.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Marley, J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Marshall, Fred||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wilton, J. (Oldham)|
|Mothers, George||Sherwood, G. H.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Matters, L. W.||Shield, George William||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Middleton, G.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Mills, J. E.||Shillaker, J. F.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Shinwell, E.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Simmons, C. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Thurtle.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sinkinson, George|
§ Main Question put, "That, notwithstanding anything in any Standing Order of this House, Standing Order No. 27A, relating to the power of the Chair to select Amendments, shall apply with1020
§ The House divided: Ayes, 252; Noes, 127.
|Gossling, A. G.||Lunn, William||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Gould, F.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Scurr, John|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Sexton, James|
|Granville, E.||McEntee, V. L.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Gray, Mliner||McKinlay, A.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Calne)||MacLaren, Andrew||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Crenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Shield, George William|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacNelll-Weir, L.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Groves, Thomas E.||McShane, John James||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Shinwell, E.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Mansfield, W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Marcus, M.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Markham, S. F.||Sinkinson, George|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Marley, J,||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hardle, George D.||Marshall, Fred||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mothers, George||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Matters, L. W.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Middleton, G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mills, J. E.||Snell, Harry|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Snowden, At. Hon. Philip|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Morley, Ralph||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Sorensen, R.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Herriotts, J.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Stewart. J. (St. Rollfox)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Mort, D. L.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hollins, A.||Moses, J. J. H.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Thomas, Rt. Hon, J. H. (Derby)|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Muggeridge, H. T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham. Plaistow)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Nathan, Major H. L.||Tillett, Ben|
|Hudson. James H. (Huddersfield)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Toole, Joseph|
|Isaacs, George||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Tout, W. J.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Oldfield, J. R.||Townend, A, E.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Johnston, Thomas||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Vlant, S. P.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Paling, Wilfrid||Walkden, A. G.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Palmer, E. T.||Walker, J.|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Perry, S. F.||Wallhead. Richard C.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Phillips. Dr. Marion||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Pole, Major D. G.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Potts, John S.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Price, M. P.||West, F. R.|
|Lang, Gordon||Quibell, D. J. K.||White, H. G.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsey, T. B. Wilson||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Lathan, G.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Raynes, W. R.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Richards, R.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lawson, John James||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lowther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Leach, W.||Ritson, J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lees, J.||Romerll, H. G.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sanders, W. S.|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Sawyer, G. F,||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lowth, Thomas||Scott, James||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Thurtle.|
|Albery, Irving James||Castle Stewart, Earl of||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Fleiden, E. B.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Chamberlain Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Balniel, Lord||Chapman, Sir S.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Berry, Sir George||Colville, Major D. J.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cranborne, Viscount||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l d'., Hexham)||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Devies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Butler, R. A.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S,)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxt'd, Henley)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Heneage, Lieut.Colonel Arthur P.|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Muirhead, A. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Ormsby-Core, Rt. Hon. William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Penny, Sir George||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Ramsbotham, H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Remer, John R.||Train, J.|
|Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Llewellin, Major J. J.||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Ruggles-arise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Making, Brigadier-General E.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Marjoribanks, Edward||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Meller, R. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Savory, S. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Withers, Sir John James|
|Mond, Hon. Henry||Simms, Major-General J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Skelton, A. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Sir Frederick Thomson and Major|
|the Marquess of Titchfield.|
That, notwithstanding anything in any Standing Order of this House, Standing Order No. 27A relating to the power of the Chair to select amendments, shall apply with respect to proceedings in the Standing Committee to which the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill is allocated.