HC Deb 29 January 1931 vol 247 cc1147-50
49. Mr. O'CONNOR

asked the Prime Minister whether he proposes to afford time for the discussion of the Motion standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) relative to unemployment— That this House, gravely concerned at the widespread and increasing unemployment among the people, calls upon the Government to formulate and to present to Parliament an extensive policy for utilising the labour of the workless in useful and essential schemes of national development; to include regional town planning, housing and slum clearance; the improvement of our system of transport, rail, road and canal; the extension of traffic facilities in our great cities, more particularly in London; land settlement; reclamation and drainage of land; afforestation; the extension and improvement of docks and harbours and the development of electricity and the telephone system and other works of public utility, the works to he such as are needed for the improvement of the national equipment, and the cost to be met by inviting subscriptions to public and national loans from the capital resources which now await investment; the service of these national loans to be provided partly out of economies in national expenditure, partly out of the Road Fund, and partly by a tax on the increased land values created by the improvements carried out under schemes of national development.


The usual course will be followed regarding this Motion.


May I ask the Prime Minister whether he proposes to treat this Motion as a Vote of Censure?


Votes of Censure are put down in a certain form. This is not a Vote of Censure.


May I ask the Prime Minister what will be the business for next week?


On Monday and Tuesday, Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill, Second Reading.

Wednesday and Thursday, Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill, completion of further stages.

Friday, private Members' Bills.

On any day, should time permit, other Orders may be taken.


There are two observations I desire to make on this programme. There is a Motion standing in my name and in the name of certain right hon. Friends of mine— That this House censures the Government for its policy of continuous additions to the public expenditure at a time when the avoidance of all new charges and strict economy in the existing services are necessary to restore confidence and to promote employment"— which, I think, might be interpreted as a Vote of Censure, and I should like to see time arranged for the discussion of it. With regard to the Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill, I would ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that that Bill will be inadequately debated in two days. He was good enough to meet the desires of the Opposition, and I do not think he was acting in any way contrary to the desires of his own party, by giving three days for the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill. I am sure the whole House will agree with me that the Debate was maintained throughout the three days at a very high level. It was a Debate of very great interest, and I think it could have been carried even farther. I am quite willing to recognise the enthusiasm with which the Government party desire that Bill, but, at the same time, this is a Bill to which the Opposition, or the greater part of it, object very strongly, and it is a Bill the details of which apply to every individual Member of this House. While we were all very glad to hear such eloquent and long speeches from the legal profession during the Debate on the Bill which has just passed Second Reading, we think this is a Bill which lends itself peculiarly to the eloquence of the back benchers, who have not had as much chance in the last three days. In the name of the back benchers of the House and of the majority of the Opposition I beg that the Prime Minister will take into consideration the necessity for further time being allowed for discussion of this most important Bill.


There is a Motion which stands in the name of myself and some other Members which I hope the Government will not interpret as a Vote of Censure. I should like to ask the Prime Minister what date he proposes to give us for the discussion of that Motion?


The right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) asked two questions, the first, with regard to a Vote of Censure. That is a Vote of Censure, and I hope that the date for taking it will be arranged through the usual channels. The Government will be very happy indeed to give an opportunity for that Motion to be discussed. With regard to the Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill, it is always a very great pleasure for the right hon. Gentlemen, as it is for myself, to speak for our delighted back benchers, but I think that two days for the Second Reading are quite enough, particularly as the Bill will be taken on the Floor of the House in its Committee stage. In regard to the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill, I agree that the three days given were characterised by speeches of length and eloquence, but I am also perfectly certain that every point that was made could have been made quite adequately in two days. With regard to the Motion standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and his colleagues, the Government will be glad to afford an opportunity of discussing that Motion, and I understand that it will be satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends if time is found in the week after next.

Brigadier - General Sir HENRY CROFT

In view of the fact that the Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill is revolutionary in its character, and was not mentioned in the election address of the Prime Minister, or in the election addresses of any of his colleagues, is it not due to the House that at least three days should be given for its discussion?

Viscountess ASTOR

What has become of the Factory Bill during all this time?


Would it be possible, having regard to the new interests shown by the two Leaders of the House in the back benches, to make arrangements that the Debate should be limited exclusively to the back benchers?


Why should we not have an extra day for the Electoral Reform Bill, instead of this mock battle between the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)?


Arising out of the Prime Minister's statement, may I ask, in view of his statement that we had more than sufficient time to discuss the Trade Disputes Bill, whether he is aware that even three days were not sufficient for the Government to answer all the questions that we asked?


Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the Vote of Censure to be proposed by the Leader of the Opposition will be taken prior to the Motion to be proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)?

Viscountess ASTOR

As the Representation of the People Bill was not in the King's Speech, why should two days be given to it and no mention made of the Factory Bill, the Children's Bill, or the other Bills which the Government promised?


I think that I had better refer the Noble Lady to the King's Speech.


May I have an answer to my question?

Ordered, That other Government Business have precedence this day of the Business of Supply."—[The Prime Minister.]