§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the second word 'the,' in line 1, stand part of the Question."
§ Major GLYN
The point I had reached in my remarks when the procedure of the House interrupted me, was that on these occasions when the matter under discussion in a Bill is a matter of party arrangement and of party character, it is more than usually essential that full Debate should be allowed and that there should be no idea in the country that something is being done under the cloak of Parliamentary procedure. I am satisfied that hon. Members belonging to the Socialist party, when they go to their constituencies, will find it difficult to defend the fact that matters concerning unemployment, trade disputes, and other questions have not been discussed publicly on the Floor of the House—
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Rouse counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ Major GLYN
It is not often that a Member has the opportunity of making three speeches on one subject. We are debating the rights of private Members and whether or not we are to submit calmly to those rights being curtailed. The Leader of the Opposition, in opposing the Prime Minister, made it clear that whenever the weapon of the Guillotine was employed when our party were in Office, it was only done when there had been proved opposition. That certainly cannot be said of this Bill. If we are to attempt to discuss Measures of first importance in Committee upstairs, and have another Measure of constitutional importance on the Floor of the House under the Guillotine, the Government will deprive certain constituencies of any opportunity of taking part in a matter which intimately concerns them. It will allow only a very few hours for the discussion of university representation, to give one example, and that will be but little satisfaction to the people who are affected. Judging by the letters one receives, a great many individuals who reside in the Crown Colonies look upon the representation they get through 263 their university qualification as their only chance of any say in the government of that part of the Empire in which they reside. I am astonished that more Members of the Socialist party are not rising to defend the right of free speech, and I can only assume they have had to curtail their enthusiasm in order to retain themselves and their Government in office, at the will of those for whose favours, and only for whose favours, this Bill is to be forced through the House.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
I intervene for two minutes only to say a word in answer to the challenge of the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) that there is no respect for the rights of free speech on this side of the House. It is true that only one hon. Gentleman on these benches has intervened to express a view of this Motion, and I rise merely to say that, without adopting the reasons or the methods of advocacy of the hon. and gallant Member, that in the main his argument is supported by every Member on these benches. These are not days in which the rights of free speech and free discussion should be disregarded, and, so long as I have the honour to be here, if ever I think the right of free speech is being infringed I shall not hesitate to express indignation about it, and no official frown will interfere with that expression. But I am satisfied that in the present case the course which the Government commend to the House is a right course. It is contested by hon. Gentlemen opposite only for rhetorical purposes. They are as fully acquainted with the facts as I am. All matters raised by this Bill have been discussed in the House again and again. The hon. and gallant Member shakes his head. I hope he is not shaking his head at anything I have said.
All the questions raised by the Bill were discussed at some length on the Second Reading. We had the advantage of hearing hon. Gentlemen opposite state and relate their reasons against the proposals of this Bill, and we are quite familiar with their views, and it is idle for them to suggest that those matters require any further considerable discussion. It is true that the Bill raises a very important question in the alternative vote, but the pros and cons of that question were set before us on Second 264 Reading, and most of us have made up our minds about it. Therefore, I desire to congratulate the Government on the course they are taking. I agree entirely, if I may say so with respect, with the observation of the Prime Minister that the country is expecting the business of this House to be conducted more expeditiously, and I am satisfied that the course the Government are taking is directed to that end, and properly directed to that end. For that reason I propose to support this Motion, and that, I am certain, is the intention of every hon. Member sitting on these benches.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
The hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) stated that the country was anxious that the business of this House should be carried on more expeditiously. I think he is right there, but the people who take that view are not thinking of an electoral reform Bill, but of Measures which might be of some use in helping them to find employment. They are not looking to this House to pass expeditiously a Measure such as this. The Prime Minister told us that he had no apologies to make for this Measure. When he was addressing recently a big meeting and was referring to the conditions in the country, he said on that occasion also that he had no apologies to make. The country, however, may not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He himself may have no apologies to make, but some of his back bench supporters are making a good many apologies for the Labour Government. The Prime Minister suggested that the Guillotine would be the normal procedure in future. That is a very dangerous precedent, and particularly dangerous under present conditions. I can understand a Prime Minister with a large majority wanting to pass an important Measure in a hurry and resorting to the Guillotine; that would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do; but let us consider what may happen if this procedure is to be regularly adopted.
We have a minority Government, supported by a small party below the Gangway on this side. Together they are attempting to force through the House a Measure which the country has never been asked to sanction, which was not mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's election address, or in "Labour and the 265 Nation." The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has a small group in the House. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has a small group in the House. The hon. Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley) has another small group in the House, and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) also has a small group here. In the future this House may be made up of a lot of small groups, and those groups may come together, as the Liberals and the Government have done to-day, and may agree together on Measures about which the public have not been consulted. They may do what the right hon. Gentleman wants to do to-day, that is, set up a guillotine to force through the House of Commons without proper discussion Measures which have not the sanction of the country but are merely agreed to by those groups. That is why I say we are setting up a dangerous precedent if a minority Government are to join with another small party to bring in a Guillotine Motion and force such a Measure as this through the House.
How did the Bill itself originate? It originated in Lord Ullswater's Committee. When that Committee was set up the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other parties felt that anything to do with electoral reform ought to be carried through on non-party lines that there ought to be a general agreement between all parties as to any electoral reform to be carried out. Lord Ullswater's Committee was set up to go into that question, but it could not agree on any Measure. What has the right hon. Gentleman done in those circumstances? He has brought in a partisan Measure, a Measure with loaded dice, and he is trying to force it through the House by means of a Guillotine Motion. What is the urgency for this Measure? I think the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) is the originator of this Guillotine proceeding. Not long ago he told us that he was always ready to support a Guillotine Motion if he agreed with the Bill to which it was being applied. The urgency lies in the fact that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs does not want to have to keep the Government in office too long. He wants to get the Bill through as quickly as he possibly can, 266 and when that has been done he can then help to turn the Government out at the earliest moment. Why do the Government accept this proposal from the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs? Because the Prime Minister wishes to be kept in office. He is frightened of the people. He is terrified of going to the country to ask them for a verdict on his administration, and that is why he is ready to join with the Leader of the Liberal party and ready to pass this Measure under the Guillotine. What we see happening now may go on for some time. It is rather like the spectacle of two drowning men clutching at each other and trying to save each other. What is going to happen to them in the end is that both will be drowned.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I would appeal most earnestly to the Government to allow a more ample and generous measure of discussion upon this important Bill. I am particularly concerned with Clauses 4 and 5. I agree with the Prime Minister that the people are looking to the House for a more expeditious discharge of business, but surely expeditiousness must stop short at inadequacy. Clause 4 raises a bigger question, a more fundamental question, than any other Clause in the Bill, yet it is proposed to take Clauses 4 and 5 in a half-day. It is true that Clause 5 is a mere machinery Clause, but Clause 4 raises a fundamental matter of democratic government. University representation raises the whole question of regional as opposed to occupational representation. That is a matter of grave difficulty, which sooner or later must be considered seriously by this House. Can it be argued that the Debate on the Second Reading exhausted that question? Is it proposed to push through in three an a-half hours this large matter? It is a question which, I believe, raises great difficulty in the country amongst certain classes, and the number of petitions against the Bill proves that. Apart from opposition from the universities, we have had opinion expressed by some of the most eminent leaders of opinion in the country against this Clause. It may be right or it may be wrong, but I do appeal to the Government to give the matter serious attention, and to extend to this Clause a more 267 generous consideration, since it raises what seems to me to be fundamental questions which affect the Government more than do any other Clauses in the Bill.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I am one of those who agree with nearly everything that has been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the great waste of time that takes place through unnecessary Debate in this House. I suggest that the great liberality of the discussion upon utterly trivial issues serves only to bring into stronger relief the inadequate measure of time which is being meted out in regard to a Bill which, whether we like it or not—I am one who agrees with some parts of the Bill, and disagrees with other parts—makes a fundamental change in the constitution of this country. Last night we spent about as much time discussing the protection of grey seals as is allotted in this time-table to the abolition of university franchise. A few days ago as long a discussion took place over details of expenditure in two minor Government Departments as is here given to so great a change in the electoral system as the introduction of the alternative vote. This Bill proposes constitutional changes of extreme complexity and, in spite of what the Prime Minister has said about these changes having many times been discussed before, I would like to point out that the whole circumstances have changed since franchise problems were last discussed.
The very brief discussion which took place on the Second Reading of the Bill revealed how little clear understanding there was on the subject of the alternative vote, and how much room there was for a difference of opinion as to how a scheme of that kind would work. Some of those who wrote in the newspapers made elaborate criticisms, and many points of view were brought forward by those who oppose and by those who support the alternative vote. In those circumstances, surely we are entitled to ask that time enough should be given to that important subject to allow Amendments to be moved which would bring into relief the advantages and disadvantages of other proposals for meeting the anomalies which the alternative vote attempts to remedy. It is an open secret 268 that those responsible for bringing forward the alternative vote would have preferred proportional representation, and that they are accepting the alternative vote because they could not secure agreement in regard to proportional representation.
It may be said that university representation, to which the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) has referred, concerns only some 12 constituencies, but it concerns a principle of representation which has lasted in this country since the reign of James I. It is a principle which was extended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) as lately as 1918. Under this Motion it is proposed to devote to the proposal for abolition, and to another Clause, less than 3½ hours. One would have thought that the present Government had enough difficulties already without going out of their way to abolish university franchise. Scattered as they are all over every territorial constituency to the number of about 200 voters in every constituency of 60,000 electors, those exercising the university franchise may not seem a very formidable voting force. But many of them belong to occupations which have hitherto very rightly exercised considerable influence in the councils of the nation. Their influence is to be swept away by the abolition of university representation, although I am aware that the individual graduates are not to be completely disfranchised. They are still to retain their voting strength of 200 votes. What real guarantee does that give them of being able properly to represent the great occupations to which they belong? The representation of great interests and of expert opinion and specialist points of view is bound up in this question of university representation.
The indignation which this proposal has excited in the occupation to which the graduates belong must be familiar to every hon. Member in whose constituency there is an appreciable number of graduates. The fact that the Government is going out of its way to abolish university representation seems to show astonishing aptitude in the gentle art of making enemies, and this is accentuated by the proposal to reduce a discussion of this subject by a very inadequate provision in the time-table. Perhaps they acted in the spirit of saying: 269If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIt were done quickly.While I do not disagree with the application of the Guillotine, I would very strongly appeal to the Government to allow considerably more discussion of the university question and more time for the consideration of the other Clauses of this Bill. The Clauses of the Bill dealing with motor cars raise all sorts of difficulties and technical points which require more time for discussion than is accorded under this Motion, and I appeal to the Government to reconsider their programme.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
It seems to me one of the great disappointments of our procedure that more and more we are becoming simply instruments for registering the decrees of the executive. A Minister brings in a Measure conferring great powers on his Department, and the Bill is generally forced through the House. Amendments are rejected whether they are good or bad, and hon. Members are not permitted to vote as they think right. The only thing that remains is the right of speech and criticism. We know that the exercise of that right frequently does good, because very often weaknesses are discovered and put right by the Minister at a later stage. No one can deny that the opportunities which are given for a free and adequate examination of any question are of the utmost value, and it is the only right that remains in this House.
No Guillotine Motion ought to be introduced unless it is to meet a case of urgency or obstruction. There is no suggestion of urgency in this case, and the Prime Minister did not say a word to justify this Motion. There was no suggestion of urgency, want of time, or anything of that sort. When a Guillotine Motion is introduced, there can be no justification for it, unless it is that there is not time for adequate discussion. That is a test which the Prime Minister has laid down, and I will deal with it. The Motion says that five allotted days shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill. That is a mistake, because the time table gives only 4½ days. A closer examination of the proposal shows that it is only four days, because the Bill as it stands has to be completed by the end of the fourth day, and the fifth day is devoted to the new Clauses and Schedules, 270 and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion. How that can be described as giving five allotted days to the Committee stage I cannot understand.
I observe that 4½ hours are allowed for the discussion of the first Clause, and I assume that half an hour will have to be devoted to the Instructions. That leaves four hours for the consideration of the Clause. In that short space of time three different parties in the House will have to present their views on Clause 1. If the Conservative party gets a fair share of the time it will have allotted to it 1½ hours. In that limited time we have to deal not merely with the merits of the Clause, and its results, but we have also to deal with the Committee stage. There is not merely the consideration of the Clause, but there is the moving of Amendments. The whole point of the Committee stage is that people's proposals for amending the Clause are to be considered, and in that short space of an hour and a half the Opposition have to bring forward, discuss and support every one of the Amendments which they would wish to see incorporated in the Clause. On the top of that, some time has to be left, I suppose, for the Debate on the Clause standing part. In this short space of an hour and a half, therefore, every suggested Amendment coming from our party, every argument to be advanced in favour of any one of those Amendments and the consideration of the Clause as a whole, its merits, its motives and its results, have all to be included. I say with the utmost confidence that I do not believe there is a Member in this House who would even pretend to think that that space of time is sufficient for the adequate consideration of that Clause and of the Amendments to it which will be on the Paper. I do not believe that there is one Member who would venture to suggest any such thing.
For Clause 3, which deals with the question of the abolition of the business premises qualification, the long period of three hours is permitted, that is to say, one hour for each party. I repeat that it is a question of the consideration, not merely of the principle of the Clause, but of every Amendment, and let it be noted that one exception to this Clause is permitted, namely, the City of London. That 271 at once raises the right of every important city to have its claims to similar treatment considered. How can it be said that, in that short space of one hour which will be the fair share of the time for the party to which I belong, the claims of the various cities in the country can be even presented, let alone considered If it had been said that there should be no exception at all, and if that had been accepted as a principle, well and good; but that there can be an exception is admitted by the Clause itself, and, therefore, that necessarily involves the right of other cities to receive similar consideration for their own peculiar position. There is also involved here the very serious question whether the vote of every great city in this country is to be turned unto a vote of caretakers and charwomen, or whether the people who really run the business of the city are to be permitted to continue to be represented.
The Clause which deals with the abolition of university constituencies has already been referred to, and I will not repeat what has been said about it, except to add this testimony of my own, that I do not think I have ever received more letters from constituents about anything than I have received in connection with this proposed change. There is obviously a very strong feeling in the country about it. The special position and claims of each of the universities ought to be considered, and again I repeat that, if we divide up the time between the various parties, there will be somewhat less than an hour for the consideration of the case which our party would present on that matter. Test it as you will, I do not think anybody can contradict with any degree of honesty the statement that it is an absurdity to suggest that any one of these Clauses, with the various Amendments that we want to bring forward, can possibly receive any consideration at all.
There is one other matter which has been alluded to, and which imposes a greater duty upon the Opposition in connection with this Bill than is usually imposed upon it. This Bill is not being introduced because of its merits; there is no suggestion that it is. It is not being introduced because it is wanted; it is not being introduced because the 272 Government think it is good. If the Government introduce a Bill because they think it is a good Bill, there may be something to be said for trying to hurry it along, but no one suggests that this Bill is introduced because the Government like it, or because they think it is good. Everybody knows that it is being introduced for the purpose of paying a price. Whether you call it a bargain or whether you call it an understanding, it is by common consent a bribe to try to purchase the support of the party below the Gangway. When a Bill is brought in under conditions of that kind, and for motives of that kind, surely the duty imposed on the main Opposition becomes more and more imperative. All the greater duty is imposed upon them to show where the Bill is going to lead, to expose its results, and to show what it is aimed at.
In this Bill every conceivable thing is done which it is thought may militate against one of the parties in the State. It is a Bill for reducing the, representation of interests, and trying to cut it down to a matter of mere numbers. All the direct taxation in this country is paid by about 2 per cent. of the people, and everything is done in this Bill to reduce the size of the voice which that 2 per cent. has. Therefore, I say that, when a Bill is brought in for these purposes and with these motives, it becomes more and more our duty to analyse it to the very utmost, and I protest against the cutting down of the time that will he available to us for the performance of this duty. It will certainly be successful in preventing the adequate exposure of the results of what I venture to think is a very disreputable bargain.
§ Mr. GODFREY WILSON
I desire to support the view which has already been expressed by other representatives of universities. We do seriously take exception, as I think fairly, to the fact that under this Guillotine Motion only two-and-a-half hours are to be allowed for the whole of the discussion of the principle of university representation. That principle dates back, as everybody knows, to the time of James I, and to my mind it has a much wider signification than the mere presence of 12 or more Members in this House. It raises the whole question of the principles upon which this 273 House should be constituted, and to dismiss that question in a mere matter of two-and-a-half hours is, in my opinion, quite wrong. I appeal to the Government to give us at least a whole day for the discussion of Clause 4.
I cannot help feeling that an altogether wrong interpretation is placed upon the presence of university representatives in this House. It has been suggested that university representation is a very easy road to Parliament, and that for that reason we wish to retain it. It has, however, nothing to do with that question. It is a question of the principles upon which this country should be governed, and of whether particular interests should be represented or not. That, however, is a question which had better be discussed in Committee rather than on this occasion.
I desire to criticise the remark which was made by one hon. Member to the effect that everything that it could possibly be necessary to say on this subject had already been said in the Second Reading Debate. That is an altogether wrong idea as to the object of the Committee stage. In the case of a Bill of this character, we cannot make any amendment or suggest any alteration of the Bill whatever on the Second Reading. It is only possible to do that during the Committee stage, and, surely, therefore, a reasonable time must be allowed for Amendments to be discussed and for reasons to be given as to why they should or should not be included in the Bill. All the arguments of the hon. Member in that connection would tend rather to suggest a change in the procedure of the House, involving the abolition of the Committee stage and permitting the amendment of a Bill on Second Reading. For this and for other reasons, and especially because of the short time that it is proposed to give to Clause 4, I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will give us a whole day for that Clause.
§ Captain CAZALET
I realise that in a discussion of this kind it is not always possible to avoid a certain amount of repetition of what has been already said, but I shall endeavour to confine my remarks to a very few observations, which I hope will not include any repetition. I admit that it is pure hypocrisy for Members of any party in the House, when they happen to be sitting on this side, to 274 oppose the Guillotine in principle. It is obvious that, as long as Parliament exists in its present form, every Government must introduce at one time or another the principle of the Guillotine if it desires to carry certain Measures through. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) thought that this Bill ought not to have been discussed in Committee on the Floor of this House, but ought to have been sent upstairs. That question, however, it is not our business to decide, and, as it has been decided that the Bill shall be discussed in Committee of the Whole House, we maintain that adequate and proper provision should be made for that discussion, and that the proposals of the Government do not give us that adequate and proper time which we think is necessary. We say that the Prime Minister might surely have waited to see whether the Opposition was going to obstruct so as to necessitate the introduction of the Guillotine, or whether that sweet reasonableness which has always been so intimately associated with the party on these benches would not have prevailed and avoided the necessity for the introduction of a Motion of this kind.
After all, we on these benches are the people who are going to be affected by this Bill. As was pointed out in the discussion on the Second Reading, almost every Clause in the Bill, whatever its merits or demerits may be, has at least one object, and that is to trim the Tory electorate; in some way or other it is going to act to the detriment of the Conservative party in this country; and, therefore, it is quite natural that we should desire a full and unfettered discussion of every Clause, and every detail of every Clause in the Bill.
There is one aspect of the Guillotine to which I desire to draw attention. Under the Guillotine it very often happens that the best Amendments are not discussed at all, whole portions of the Bill going by without any comments being made upon them whatever. As every Member knows, when the Debates are begun, discussions arise on all kinds of subsidiary matters. Occasionally Members are called to order, points of Order are raised, and even, at times, there may be repetition of arguments that have already been put; and then, before what is, perhaps, the most im- 275 portant and vital Amendment on the Order Paper has been reached, the Guillotine falls. Moreover, once the Guillotine Motion has been carried, Members supporting the Government are encouraged to speak. We know very well that the Whips, who usually are so anxious that their supporters should not delay discussion and raise new points, then say to their Members, "By all means speak on this subject; the Guillotine falls at half-past seven." [An HON. MEMBER: "How do you know that?"] We do know that the Whips will tell their Members to speak on the matter and support every Clause, because, while it cannot delay the proceedings, the Opposition will be thereby deprived of their usual custom and practice of getting more than a fair share of the Debate when a matter like this is being discussed.
The view of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull appeared to be that this Bill was of no importance whatsoever in regard to dealing with the national crisis with which we are faced to-day. It does not give employment to a single man or woman; it does not help to solve the unemployment problem; it does not help to restore confidence in trade or industry. If it did, it would be quite reasonable and understandable that a Guillotine Motion should be introduced, although, if it were really going to do something to restore confidence or remedy unemployment, it would be quite unnecessary to introduce a Guillotine Motion, since Members on these benches would then be only too anxious to assist the Government in getting their Measure through. As, however, it does not do these things, we do not see why we should be deprived of our rights of discussion and baulked of our legitimate privileges as private Members of this House.
As to what influence or pressure may have been brought to bear upon the Government to take this action, we know nothing for certain, but we suspect much. If the remarks of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) are in any degree true, then certainly our suspicions are by no means groundless. We believe that this Guillotine proposal of the Government is neither reasonable in its allocation of time nor in conformity with 276 the best traditions of Parliamentary procedure, in that it has been introduced before the Government have ascertained whether there is going to be obstruction on this question or not, and we think that it will not be, and is not, conducive either to the effective working of Parliament or to the improvement of what we believe to be a thoroughly bad Bill.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I wish to say a few words about the iniquitous innovation of the Socialist party in bringing in the Guillotine on a Measure of this sort. I suppose there has been in our time no Bill that has affected all our constituents more than this Bill will. Nearly every Clause in one way or another affects them, and they will want to know, not only the arguments on all sides, but what we particularly did or said to prevent certain suggestions that are put forward in the Bill going through. Take, for instance, the Alternative Vote. That will alter the whole system of Parliamentary elections if it reaches the Statute Book. Surely every elector will want to know how it was that that came about. "Why was it arranged?" "Did you approve of it or did you not?" "Did you say anything about it, and what did you say in the House if you disagreed?" Our constituents are anxious to know not what other people said, but what we ourselves said on an ordinary Bill that goes through the House. It may be a question of unemployment, which strikes at the very heart of the country, but it may not affect each individual constituent, whereas this Bill does and, therefore, each individual elector will want to know our viewpoint and whether we were for or against it.
Then with regard to the University Vote, many of us have received dozens of letters from people in our constituencies who have a University Vote, all of whom are asking us for our views and asking us to express them in the House. When the day comes for the discussion of the University Vote I, at any rate, shall not be called upon by the Speaker, because I have nothing to do with universities. He will, obviously, call upon others who, he considers, perhaps rightly—it is in his jurisdiction, in any case—have a greater right to speak for them than I have and, owing to the curtailment of time, it will be quite impossible to call on other people who 277 have a general viewpoint and speak for a hundred or more university electors, but who have not any direct interest in the universities themselves. Then we have the question of vehicles. Surely everyone who is going to be prevented from getting a lift in a car will want to know the reason why. "Did you approve of our being prevented from going in a motor-car?" "Have we to walk to the poll?" We all know the difficulty of getting people even to go round the corner to vote unless they can ride. People of all parties have experienced the same difficulty, and we want to express our views on the subject. The question of expenses also affects every locality, and everyone will want to know about it.
I quite agree that there is, from time to time, a tremendous amount of time wasted in Debate. In the last Parliament, when we were sitting on the other side, there was a good deal more time wasted, and Member after Member got up and repeated exactly what the fellow before him had said, in less good words than the previous speaker had used. There is that waste of time over unimportant Measures, but this cannot be ranked as an unimportant Measure. If it is, what is the hurry? If it is important, we need more time. You cannot have it both ways. The Prime Minister said that the public thinks there is a good deal of time wasted. It is obvious that the public should think that. They are thinking in terms of employment and economy. Those are the two things that they are not getting. That is why they are grumbling about the waste of time. They say, "You are bringing forward Measure after Measure, but none of them really go to the heart of our trouble, which is that we are overtaxed, and we have not a job? Knowing the Front Benches, our own as well as the Government Front Bench, not to mention the Liberal party, one may say that at least one Front Bencher will speak from each side. It is very seldom that, on a matter of importance, they speak for less than 45 minutes each.
There is an hour and a half gone straight off. In the last Parliament I tried to get speakers to promise not to speak for more than 10 minutes, exclusive of Front Benchers. I am sorry to say we never achieved that. [Interruption.] I never speak for more than 10 278 minutes. We may take it that on the average there will be 15 minute speeches. That will mean that 12 other people besides the Front Benchers will be able to speak on the Alternative Vote. The time for the University Vote is still shorter. I cannot see one of the university representatives speaking for less than half an hour, so there will be very few speeches on that topic. For all these reasons, I think the bringing in of the Guillotine is an iniquitous thing. This is an important subject which affects every voter, and every voter will feel that it is up to his Member in one way or another to make a protest. There may be a few who will do the opposite and give their blessing to the Bill which, as far as I can understand, is no more wanted by the Government than by the Opposition. It is brought in merely in the interests of a handful of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and I wish seriously to protest against the Motion.
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
I apologise for speaking, not having heard a great deal of the discussion, but I have had to be present at the funeral of the Trade Disputes Bill. I cannot see why a Guillotine Motion should be brought in on a Bill of this kind. There is no hurry whatever to put it through. One of the major Measures of this Session is now out of the way. We do not know of any other business going through. In fact, the Government have considerable difficulty in filling up Parliamentary time. When you bring forward a Bill which completely alters the whole of our system of elections, it is nothing short of a disgrace to put it through under the Guillotine. The Prime Minister quoted certain precedents, but every one was from a former Liberal Government. The Bill is brought forward simply under pressure from the Liberal party. The Prime Minister said he was going to give Conservative precedents as well, but he did not do so. It is all part of a rather discreditable arrangement to keep the present Government in office.
I wish particularly to draw attention to the amount of time allotted to the Alternative Vote. That is going to alter completely the whole of our election machinery. There has been a tremendous amount talked and written about it. Various people have suggested various 279 situations that might occur in the event of it being adopted. A great number of the supporters of the Government are against it, yet the Prime Minister suggests that only four hours shall be given to the complete discussion of the Alternative Vote, including the Front Bench speeches—a completely inadequate time. I hope that when we come to the Amendments the Prime Minister will realise that many of us take a great interest in the question of some alternative system of voting, and we do not consider that four hours is anything like sufficient time in which to alter the whole voting system of the country. We might say the same of the University Vote. Some university seats were created as long ago as 1600. I hope, if the Prime Minister cannot take off the Guillotine altogether, he will seriously consider giving very much more time to these two subjects. The whole Bill has one object only running through every Clause, to make it as difficult as possible for members of the Conservative party to get into the House. Every Clause is aimed against this party alone. One can see why the Government and hon. Members below the Gangway have joined together. I do not think it is fair to use the weight of a majority against one party in this way. The reason the Government have brought forward the Motion so quickly, before there has been any question of obstruction, is because they dare not have these Clauses fully discussed. That is the only conclusion that any sensible person can come to.
The Prime Minister said he had precedents from the last Government, and he quoted the number of times Guillotine Motions have been brought in by us. I do not think that there was more than one occasion on which the Guillotine Motion had not been brought
§ in after an all-night sitting or a very great number of hours of obvious obstruction by the Opposition. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) as Prime Minister explaining that, although we had spent 18 hours on one Bill, we had got only the first seven or eight words, and on an occasion like that, of course, it is absolutely necessary to allocate time. I do not believe that in a Bill like this, with all the different interests concerned, that the Prime Minister would have found that there would have been obstruction. I agree that on a question like the Alternative Vote you might have had considerable discussion, not only from this side, but from those who support it and from those who are opposed to it on his side. But it would have been a discussion which would have been useful. The Guillotine procedure was not devised to be used to stifle useful discussion, but in order to prevent anything in the nature of obstruction.
§ I do not believe that there is any demand whatever in the country for the Bill. It was not mentioned during the election campaign when the party opposite were returned to office. Therefore, it is all the more reprehensible on the part of the Government to stifle discussion by such a Motion, and I sincerely hope that even the Liberal party will disagree with the proposal and desire to have a full discussion of the Bill on the Floor of the House.
§ The PRIME MINISTER, rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 259: Noes, 203.283
|Division No. 176.]||AYES.||[6.48 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Calne, Derwent Hall-|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Benson, G.||Cameron, A. G.|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.||Birkett, W. Norman||Cape, Thomas|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bowen, J. W.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Arnott, John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Chater, Daniel|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Broad, Francis Alfred||Clarke, J. S.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bromfield, William||Cluse, W. S.|
|Ayles, Walter||Brooke, W.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Brothers, M.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Compton, Joseph|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Buchanan, G.||Cove, William G.|
|Bann, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Burgess, F. G.||Cripps, Sir Stafford|
|Daggar, George||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Richards, R.|
|Dallas, George||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawrence, Susan||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ritson, J.|
|Day, Harry||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leach, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Rothschild, J. de|
|Dukes, C.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Rowson, Guy|
|Duncan, Charles||Lees, J.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lindley, Fred W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sanders, W. S.|
|Egan, W. H.||Logan, David Gilbert||Sandham, E.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Longbottom, A. W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Freeman, Peter||Longden, F.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sexton, Sir James|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Lowth, Thomas||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shield, George William|
|Gill, T. H.||McElwee, A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gillett, George M.||McEntee, V. L.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Glassey, A. E.||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Shinwell, E.|
|Gossling, A. G.||McKinlay, A.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Graham. D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Simmons, C. J.|
|Gray, Milner||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||McShane, John James||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Manning, E. L.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hair, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Marcus, M.||Snell, Harry|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C)||Marley, J.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Marshall, Fred||Sorensen, R.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Mathers, George||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Hardle, George D.||Matters, L. W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maxton, James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Melville, Sir James||Sullivan, J.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Messer, Fred||Sutton, J. E.|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Middleton, G.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Henderson. W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Millar, J. D.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S W.)|
|Herriotts, J.||Milner, Major J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Montague, Frederick||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Tillett, Ben|
|Hollins, A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Toole, Joseph|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Mort, D. L.||Townend, A. E.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Muff, G.||Vaughan, David|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Muggeridge, H. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hutchison. Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Murnin, Hugh||Walkden, A. G.|
|Isaacs, George||Naylor, T. E.||Walker, J.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Oldfield, J. R.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||West, F. R.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Palin, John Henry||Westwood, Joseph|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Paling, Wilfrid||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Perry, S. F.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Kinley, J.||Pole, Major D. G.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Knight, Holford||Price, M. P.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Pybus, Percy John||Wise, E. F.|
|Lang, Gordon||Quibell, D. J. K.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Lathan, G.||Raynes, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Hayes and Mr. B. Smith.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bird, Ernest Roy|
|Albery, Irving James||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Alien, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Beaumont, M. W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Berry, Sir George||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Boyce, Leslie|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Bracken, B.|
|Atkinson, C.||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Buchan, John||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Butler, R. A.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Purbrick, R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer, John R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hammersley, S. S.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Haslam, Henry C.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm-.W.)||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Chamberlain, Bt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Christie, J. A.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smithers, Waldron|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Law, Sir Alfred 'Derby, High Peak)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Dairymple-White. Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Macquisten, F. A.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Meller, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Muirhead, A. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||O'Connor, T. J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Grace, John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||O'Neill, Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Major the Marquess of Titchfield.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the second word 'the' in line 1, stand part of the Question."284
§ The House divided: Ayes, 263: Noes, 227.287
|Division No. 177.]||AYES.||[7.3 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Benson, G.||Calne, Derwent Hall-|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Birkett, W. Norman||Cameron, A. G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Cape, Thomas|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bowen, J. W.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Arnott, John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Broad, Francis Alfred||Chater, Daniel|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bromfield, William||Clarke, J. S.|
|Ayles, Walter||Brooke, W.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Brothers, M.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Buchanan, G.||Compton, Joseph|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Burgess, F. G.||Cove, William G.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Richards, R.|
|Daggar, George||Lawrence, Susan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Dallas, George||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawson, John James||Ritson, J.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Day, Harry||Leach, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Rothschild, J. de|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Rowson, Guy|
|Dukes, C.||Lees, J.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Duncan, Charles||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lindley, Fred W.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sanders, W. S.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Logan, David Gilbert||Sandham, E.|
|Egan, W. H.||Longbottom, A. W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Longden, F.||Sexton, Sir James|
|Freeman, Peter||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lowth, Thomas||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Lunn, William||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shield, George William|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Moseley)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Gill, T. H.||McElwee, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Gillett, George M.||McEntee, V. L.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Glassey, A. E.||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Gossling, A. G.||McKinlay, A.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Gould, F.||MacLaren, Andrew||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gray, Mliner||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||McShane, John James||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, W. H. (Norwich)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Snell, Harry|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Manninq, E. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.||Sorensen, R.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Marcus, M.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Marley, J.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Marshall, Fred||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Mathers, George||Strauss, G. R.|
|Hardle, George D.||Matters, L. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Maxton, James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Melville, Sir James||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Messer, Fred||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Middleton, G.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Millar, J. D.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Herrlotts, J.||Mliner, Major J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Montague, Frederick||Tillett, Ben|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Toole, Joseph|
|Hollins, A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Townend, A. E.|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Vaughan, David|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Mort, D. L.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Muff, G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Muggeridge, H. T.||Walker, J.|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Murnin, Hugh||Watkins, F. C.|
|Isaacs, George||Naylor, T. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Johnston, Thomas||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Oldfield, J. R.||West, F. R.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Palin, John Henry.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Paling, Wilfrid||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Perry, S. F.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Kinley, J.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Pole, Major D. G.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Knight, Holford||Potts, John S.||Wise, E. F.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Price, M. P.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Lang, Gordon||Pybus, Percy John|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Quibell, D. J. K.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lathan, G.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Mr. Hayes and Mr. B. Smith.|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Atholl, Duchess of||Berry, Sir George|
|Albery, Irving James||Atkinson, C.||Betterton, Sir Henry B.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bird, Ernest Roy|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Beaumont, M. W.||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Grace, John||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Boyce, Leslie||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Bracken, B.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Purbrick, R.|
|Buchan, John||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer, John R.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hammersley, S. S.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hartington, Marquess of||Richardson, Sir P W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Haslam, Henry C.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox, Univ.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Savery, S. S.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hurd, Percy A.||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Iveagh, Countess of||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Little, Sir Ernest Graham-||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Hands'v'th)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Tinne, J. A.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lymington, Viscount||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Train, J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Meller, R. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s-M.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fermoy, Lord||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Fielden, E. B.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Muirhead, A. J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. G. (Cambridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||O'Connor, T. J.||Sir George Penny and Major the|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Marquess of Titchfield.|
§ Lord ERSKINE
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out the words "the Report stage, and Third Reading."
I move this Amendment because the House has already decided by the Vote just given that there shall be a Guillotine Resolution applied to the Bill. This Amendment, if carried, would have the effect of applying the Guillotine merely 288 to the Committee stage of the Measure, and would leave the Report stage and Third Reading free from its operation, although, of course, Mr. Speaker would still have his usual power of selecting Amendments. The reason I am prepared to advocate this particular Amendment to the House is because I feel that, on a Bill of such magnitude, there should 289 at least be some part of the Measure which should be allowed to come under the usual free and unfettered discussion of the House. We all know that, when the Guillotine is in operation, there are very often a number of Clauses, certainly a number of Sub-sections, which never get discussed at all. On the Committee stage, when a Clause is brought in, one often finds that the first, or, perhaps, the first two Amendments raise very important subjects, which are so important that they take a long time to be discussed in the House. It is often discovered while these Amendments are being discussed that the Bill has been badly drafted, or that it means something quite different from what the original draftsmen supposed. For these reasons, arguments arise between the Government side and the Opposition, perfectly proper arguments, arguments which should be put in this House and for which Debate is intended. On these grounds, we believe that there should be free and unfettered discussion on the Report stage.
The time given to the Report stage in the Motion in inadequate. There are other Amendments to re-allocate the time under the Guillotine. I would point out that under the Guillotine for the Report stage, it is proposed to allow only one day for Clauses 1 to 4. Those Clauses include the alternative vote, the abolition of university constituencies and the question of the complete abolition of the plural vote. It may be that a great many hon. Members opposite do not believe that two of those Clauses are important. Those hon. Members, perhaps, think that those Clauses might be cleared away in a very short time, but there are other hon. Members who take a completely different view. There are in this House many university Members. The hon. Lady who represents the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) has already spoken on the Guillotine Resolution, and has stated that far too little time is allowed on the Committee stage and on other stages for the discussion of this very important subject.
If we had a free discussion on the Report stage, it might remove a great many of the objections which we have felt it our duty to bring forward against the Guillotine Resolution. There may be, and there probably will be, many subjects that we should desire to raise on the 290 Report stage, subjects which have not been discussed during the Committee stage and which the House ought to discuss at some period while the Measure is under review. Many matters may be blocked out. You never know when you are debating under the Guillotine what Clause will be adequately discussed and what Clause will be inadequately discussed. When we look at the usual procedure we find that when the Report stage of a big Measure is taken, it does not occupy a great deal of time, because most of the major Amendments which require discussion have been taken on the Committee stage, but there are certain questions on which we want to take a decisive vote of the House. It does not usually take very long for the Third Reading stage. Therefore, if the Government could see their way to relent and to despise discussion a little less, the Bill would be better discussed, and there would not be that great waste of time which the Prime Minister, apparently, thinks there would be. I think we can make a case for the Report stage and the Third Reading being free from the Guillotine. Therefore, I recommend the Amendment to the House, and I hope that the Government will accept it.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to second the Amendment.
I would urge upon the Government that this is not a Bill where the Guillotine is desirable on all stages. This is, first and foremost, a Bill which is the concern of the House of Commons. It is a Bill to alter, among other things, the method of election of Members to this House. For that reason it is primarily the concern of every hon. Member, and it is to a much less degree a matter of concern to the other place. Roughly speaking, in this Bill the Prime Minister is bringing in five main and major propositions. The first is the alternative vote, the second is the abolition of the business premises vote, except in the City of London, the third is the abolition of the university vote, the fourth is the restriction of the use of motor cars at elections, and the fifth relates to election expenses.
Under the Guillotine it is very difficult to ensure, no matter how much skill is devoted to drafting the time table, that every single part of the Bill receives 291 adequate time for discussion. No one would be more ready to admit that than the Prime Minister. Therefore, I do feel that it is extremely desirable that we should have an opportunity for reviewing on Report stage those portions of the Bill which under the Guillotine in Committee have received very little attention. An Amendment often raises questions which are unsuspected, even by the hon. Member who moves it, and very often it takes much longer time than was anticipated. Under the Guillotine if that occurs, they must of necessity cut out a good deal of discussion of other and later parts of the Clause. That is one of the drawbacks of the system. This is a Bill which deals with five very widely separated questions, many of them of administrative complexity. The Prime Minister will admit that on the alternative vote the working out of details will be a matter of complexity. The Clause dealing with motor cars is one of great difficulty and complexity. Therefore, it is necessary and desirable that the House should have a longer time to discuss some of the details. If Amendments are accepted by the Government on any of these Clauses, it is necessary that we should have time for discussion of them on the Report stage.
It is unfair to tie the House at this stage to a time-table. Once we have passed this Resolution and the time-table is set up, it will be only possible to alter it by the Government coming to the House and asking for a new time-table. We are starting on a Bill which, it is common knowledge, different sections of the House view very differently. He would be a rash man who would prophesy what is the real view of the House on the various Clauses. We cannot foretell, I do not believe that the Government can foretell, the ultimate shape in which the Bill may emerge. For these reasons, I suggest that some latitude on the Report stage is highly desirable.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am sorry that, whatever accommodation may be possible later on, it is quite impossible for me to accept the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment would be, as the Mover and Seconder said, to remove the Report stage and the Third Reading from the operation of the Guillotine. The Guillotine has many drawbacks; I am 292 not at all blind to them. As I said before, this is not a matter about which I care very much. I made a suggestion to the Committee upstairs that, if it was generally accepted, the construction of the Guillotine should be subjected to some sort of safeguard, and I am willing to carry that out, provided it is to be an arrangement with all parties, and that everybody will be subjected to the arrangement. But we have not got that yet and we must take the Guillotine as it is; it is unavoidable. I am certain that if a little stretch were given, it could only be very small for the Committee stage.
There would be no difficulty either on the Committee stage or on the Report stage of having a perfectly adequate discussion on the five points which the Seconder of the Amendment has enumerated. That would be impossible if we had repetition, but by careful selection we could see how far we got on the Committee stage, and then we could concentrate the Debate on the Report stage on the subjects which had not been considered in Committee. I feel certain that no harm will be done to the freedom of the House in expressing its opinions upon these points. I do not know if I am right—I have had no time to look it up and to check my impression—but I think there never has been a Guillotine Motion moved to exempt the Report stage and Third Reading. There have been Guillotine Motions moved to protect the Report and Third Reading after the Bill has gone through the Committee stage. I should have liked to have started by giving something away, but the Amendment would mean, if it were carried, that the greater part of the time that was saved by the Guillotine would be lost in the unprotected stages of the Bill. Therefore, I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The quite unexpected and sudden intervention of the Prime Minister at the close of the discussion on the previous Amendment, prevented me from taking any part in the discussion and offering to the House my observations on the general question. Therefore, I must take what opportunity remains to oppose, not the whole Resolution, since the House has already decided that there shall be a Guillotine for the Committee stage, but 293 that part of the Resolution about which a decision is still open to the House, in the hope that, although those who share my views have been unable to prevent the adoption of the Guillotine Resolution, we may somewhat minimise its scope. I have wondered very much as I have sat here this afternoon whether many Members of the House realise how grave is the step which we are taking to-day. The Prime Minister has made a proposal which is revolutionary, and he has made a speech which is more revolutionary still.
Hitherto, when a Motion of this kind has been made it has been made reluctantly by the Leader of the House, and he has felt bound to justify it by the special circumstances attaching to the project to which he proposes to apply the Guillotine. Either there has been special urgency in the situation with which the Bill proposed to deal, or such a congestion of business in the House that it has been necessary to deal with particular expedition with the particular Bill. Or there has already developed an obvious intention on the part of the Opposition or some portion of the House to obstruct the Measure, instead of discussing it fairly on its merits. The right hon. Gentleman did not pretend to give, and did not give, a single one of these reasons for his Motion or for his resistance to the Amendment which has been moved. On the contrary, coming down as Leader of the House to curtail its rights in debate he opened his speech by saying that he is not going to apologise, for what he is doing is henceforth to be the rule on all Bills of any importance.
That is a prodigious revolution. It is much more than an ordinary Resolution justified on the expediency of the particular case. We know that such a Resolution once passsed becomes a precedent. The Guillotine was used in the first instance with extreme reluctance by the one party the Liberal party, which prides itself on being the champion of free speech—for itself, although it is not so generous in allowing it to others. They came down reluctantly and proposed a particular expedient on the ground or a particular emergency. The Prime Minister now comes down triumphantly and announces that henceforth this is to be our normal procedure; that Debate is 294 useless, discussion is worthless, that the less we have of it the better, that our participation in legislation is to be not co-operation in the framing of Bills but an "aye" or "nay" to the schemes which these fruitful brains will propose for our approval or disapproval. That is a policy, not merely a Resolution. It is a policy which affects the whole future of this House and it is useless for the Prime Minister to say, "Oh yes, after I have got my way, after I have passed my jerrymandering Bill by an unprecedented act of Closure, I will talk with you as to whether when I am out of office I cannot have a greater measure of freedom in discussing your Measures." He is coming too late with his concession, and he is singularly inconsistent.
The right hon. Gentleman as Leader of the present Government has been fertile in the production of commissions and committees on all manner of questions. They have two methods of treatment, but both have the same origin. If a question is embarrassing to the Government and they do not want to say either yes or no, they propose the setting up of a commission or committee. Then if you ask them for any expression of opinion they always say, "We must wait until the Commission or the Committee has reported." This is not the first time by many that the right hon. Gentleman has invited other parties to co-operate, but even when he has done that, and when they have given their assent and have appointed members to represent them, the Prime Minister, whilst using the existence of a commission or committee as a reason for not dealing with the question if he does not wish to do so, utterly disregards the fact that a commission or committee is inquiring into a particular proposal if he wishes to press the proposal. He appoints a Commission but pays no attention to their report. He uses them as an obstacle which he can present to any demand by his opponents, an expedient by which he can relieve himself of giving an answer when it is inconvenient and as of no account when he wishes to disregard them.
He has appointed a committee to consider our procedure. One would have thought that he would have held his hand in the meantime, that at least he would have been careful not to alter the 295 existing procedure or extend it beyond that which the strictest regard to precedent would justify. He wipes the committee away. He has made some suggestions; and he will be ready when he has got his own Bill to consider them. Do not let him delay too long or he may find that he has overstayed his leave. When he thinks he is going out of office he will be ready to consult with the Opposition as to whether they will tie their hands and bind themselves not to use the measures he has used himself. He makes a great mistake. If one thing is more certain than another it is that once the House has sanctioned a procedure of this kind it tends to grow and become more drastic, and when we find that there is no pretence of any exceptional circumstances, that the Prime Minister now proposes this Motion as the normal procedure to be applied to contentious Bills, it will be idle for him when he sits on this side to whine for mercy or consideration.
In more than one speech from all sides of the House there have been allusions to the lessened interest which the public outside take in our proceedings and the lessened regard they have for this House. I am afraid that that is true; and to one who like myself has spent nearly 40 years in the service of the House, who cares for it, who admires its great traditions and loves it, it is a matter of profound regret. Does the Prime Minister really think that he is doing anything to raise it again in public opinion? What is the cause of this reduced respect? I will admit that there has been in certain quarters a deliberate attempt to lessen the importance of the House of Commons and to prevent such reports as would really he interesting and informative of our proceedings reaching the great mass of the public. I regret it, I think it is deplorable and unpatriotic in those who have the responsibility, but the conclusion I draw is that it behoves us to be all the more careful not to play into their hands, not to do anything which will make the task of shutting off the House of Commons from the public more easy than it would be otherwise.
A great deal no doubt is due to the fact that our Debates themselves are less interesting that they used to be. There used to be a continual clash of 296 mind with mind, a series of speeches in which Member after Member, according to his faith, sought to meet and repel the arguments which had been put from the other side of the House. In the course of recent years that has been less and less true, and everyone knows that hon. Members are more apt to make a speech not directly related to the Debate but to their constituents outside, not answering the arguments which have been addressed to the House but passing over their heads to other matters. I think the Prime Minister exaggerates the loquacity of the House. There is no one who is a more able master of the art of saying nothing in many words than the Prime Minister himself, and I need go no further than his speech on the Second Reading of this Bill for an illustration of what I mean. There was no attempt at argument, not the slightest effort to answer the arguments adduced by his opponents, and as long as the right hon. Gentleman treats the House and the Opposition in that way he will not help to restore its dignity or make our Debates what they ought to be.
The right hon. Gentleman himself in publishing to all the world, and in trying to impress upon his followers, that debate is useless is striking a deadly blow at the House of Commons. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that debate is not useless. There is no more idle and vain charge made against this House of Commons than that speeches do not change votes; they do. I have known it occur again and again, and an even more frequent result of debate is that the Government under the force of debate., of reiterated and repeated argument, have found themselves unable any longer to sustain an unsustainable proposition and have withdrawn or modified it sooner than take it to a Division. If Ministers always yielded to reason our discussions would be short, but they very often resist for an hour or two, until the growing uneasiness among those who sit behind them penetrates their minds, not unlikely reinforced by the difficulties which the Whips are finding in the Lobbies. Under the pressure which can be produced by debate, sometimes only by prolonged debate, the course of Governments is constantly modified, and particularly the 297 character of individual provisions of Bills.
When you come down with the Guillotine you take from the hands of the private Member his most effective way of bringing pressure to bear upon a Government which is unreasonable in its attitude to the project under discussion. The Minister has only to sit tight; he need not argue, he need not speak, he sits tight and obstinate with his eye on the clock, and he says that at 7.30 or 11.30, as the case may be, it will be all the same.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
No, it is not. This is the worst form of Closure that the wit of Parliamentary man has yet devised.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps the hon. Member will read a little Parliamentary history. This is the worst and clumsiest form of Parliamentary Closure. I do not think the Prime Minister would dispute that for a moment. I think he has himself said so, more than once. But the form of procedure which by his Resolution he seeks to apply to this Bill, he would apply not only to all the stages of this Bill, but to all the stages of every Bill that raises any contentious points. That is a prodigious revolution in the procedure of the House, and if the House accepts the proposal it will mark a new decline in the discussions of this House and in the opportunities which this House has, first, to influence a stubborn Government, and in the second place to be what it ought to be, not merely representative of the people, but a great political and educative influence upon the public mind.
My conclusion is that of all forms of general Closure this is the worst. Of all forms of general Closure, the Kangaroo, that is to say, the selection by the Chair of the Amendments to be put, is the best. I do not like it, for, the Chair not being omniscient, mistakes inevitably will occur, 298 but it is by far the best method of general Closure, by far the fairest and by far the best that has yet been devised for the efficiency of this House. If the Government needed a form of general Closure at all this Bill was particularly suited to the Kangaroo, as it is called, and particularly unsuited to the Guillotine. This is a Bill of great principles, not of a mass of detail, and it ought to be discussed in the traditions of this House. We ought not in four hours to settle whether we shall introduce into our electoral system a proposal which has never been before this House, except to be condemned, as it has been frequently. It is a disfranchising Bill; it enfranchises no one; it disfranchises many. This House has always been very tender to all whose interests it was forced to destroy or limit. At least before the Government disfranchise anyone they might give free and full opportunity for the discussion of their proposition.
I say, therefore, that you are applying the worst form of general Closure to a Bill which is particularly unsuited to it, and you are doing that avowedly, not merely as an expedient to pass this Bill, but are doing it when it is not necessitated by any urgency in this Bill, not necessitated by any pressure in the Parliamentary situation, for we have plenty of time in front of us—you are doing it in that way and you are passing a Motion which will make it certain that before long this will be the normal procedure of the House, and you are doing to-day that which you complained of as having been done by your predecessors, that is, placing the House more and more in the hands of Ministers, and in advance tying the hands and restricting the powers of yourselves and your successors. Members on the back benches are very ready to taunt the two Front Benches, sometimes not without reason. At least you have fair warning from one Front Bench of what you are doing, and if you now choose to do it you do it with your eyes open and you have to take the consequences.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I cannot pretend to have the historical knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman. He has been here so long that he has forgotten even some of the incidents in which he took part. I remember that nearly 40 years ago Bills were going through the House and this kind of Guillotine did not operate.
299 It was a different kind of Guillotine then. As soon as a Member on this side opposed the Government's policy the Closure was moved and carried. Automatically the Member lost his right even to address the House. As soon as he got on his feet the Motion was put, and the Member was ordered out of the House. I was here one night when 17 policemen were brought in to carry one Member out, and that was under the auspices of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Gentleman now reflecting on the conduct of one of your predecessors in the Chair, Mr. Speaker?
§ Mr. JONES
I apologise. I was merely reciting the facts of history because the right hon. Gentleman said that I did not know much about the history of this House. If I was examined in history side by side with him I would pass with honours. This Bill is providing us with the opportunity of getting a fair decision on public matters. It is not perfect. Have human beings ever yet discovered methods whereby it is possible to ascertain exactly the proportions of public opinion? Proportional representation has been argued and the alternative vote has been argued. Can any scheme of voting yet devised decide what is the exact opinion of the public? We support this Bill, for one reason, because of the fancy franchises that exist. At present universities are entitled to special representation. Why? We have a number of university Members in this House. Have they proved themselves superior to me? I come from the university of poverty; they come from the University of Oxford. They have taken some degrees; I have taken all mine. I claim that I have as much common sense as they have when it comes to a decision in this House on any question of public importance, although they call themselves M.As. and B.As. They claim the right to special representation. I deny that right. If they are better than we are, let them stand the gamut of the ordinary electors 300 at an election. They claim the right to two votes, one because they are graduates of a university and another because they happen to reside in a certain constituency.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment before the House merely deals with the Report and Third Reading stages of the Bill under the Guillotine. This is not the occasion for discussing the Bill itself.
§ Mr. JONES
I am sorry to have had to make that reference. There is no right for any party in this House to claim to be the special protectors of public interests. The party opposite when in power have always used the Guillotine. They have used special machinery to prevent other people from opposing them. They have adopted a three-shift system. Whenever they wanted to do anything they have done it, and now they object to retaliation. I am not afraid of the Guillotine in the future, even if the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) becomes Prime Minister. When he reaches that position I shall accept the Guillotine from him, because I shall always know that he will use it as a gentleman.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I should like to say how much I appreciated the strong stand for Members' rights made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), and how equally shocked we were by the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon. I am old enough to remember the days of the Union of Democratic Control, when we were told that we must have open diplomacy and full discussion. Since then the Prime Minister has moved far. We have the most secret diplomacy we have ever known, and now discussion is to be curtailed as much as possible. I will deal with one point in the Prime Minister's speech—his statement that it might be easy to arrange to discuss on Report stage matters which had not been discussed on the Committee stage. What happens on the Committee stage? Very often, owing to the pressure of hon. Members, the Minister has to give way. He gets up and says that he will consider the matter on the Report stage. The fact that he considers it on Report means that we may have a discussion on the Report stage, but with the best will in the world it may be very difficult to 301 discuss then matters which were not discussed in Committee, owing to the operation of the Guillotine.
Any hon. Member who reads the public Press can hardly pass a day without reading some comment of one of His Majesty's Judges that Bills have been passed through this House after scanty discussion, with the result that the words of the Act did not interpret the wish of the House. As the Prime Minister knows, in regard to the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, because of the wording of a certain Clause an Amendment will have to be introduced. Under the Guillotine, discussion must be more and more inadequate. We know that points of importance that arise in discussion very often come from private Members. Let me put this to the Prime Minister: Whatever the Bill under discussion there are experts on every subject under the sun in this House, and they give their views. They may not always be great speakers or great Parliamentarians, but their knowledge of the subject is very useful to the Minister of the day. We are all interested in this Bill. It concerns us all. We know how people vote, and we know all about motor cars. We all think we are the greatest experts in the way of winning an election. This is the sort of thing on which we should have liked unfettered discussion. If the Government do not give us this concession in regard to the Report stage they must inevitably curtail further the right of private Members, because, even if the Prime Minister's suggestion could be carried out, what would happen? The Minister would speak and the Front Benches would speak on matters which have not already been discussed, and the private Members must more and more be crowded out. This is a Bill, more than any other, on which the views of private Members ought to be heard, because it is a Bill which touches us one and all. In conclusion, I would like to protest against the Prime Minister moving the Guillotine on this Bill which concerns the rights of this House, and in moving the Closure this evening and thus preventing us from discussing this Motion, which is to prevent Members from getting their rights.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to accept this Amendment, although I understand he has indicated his willingness to consider some further concessions in regard to the time for the Committee stage. But surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot now maintain the argument which he called to his aid at 4 o'clock. The business of the House is not likely to be congested in future, because we now know that we shall not have to consider the Trade Disputes Bill, and that is a strong reinforcement of the argument which we brought forward earlier in the afternoon in trying to resist the Prime Minister's Motion in general. I submit that the right hon. Gentleman has himself put forward the strongest argument in favour of this Amendment. He said: "I am satisfied that between the Committee stage and Report stage we shall be able to arrange things so as to make sure that every important point, every question of principle, is discussed." He also said that they would see how they got on in the Committee stage and make arrangements on the Report stage to ensure that these discussions took place. But that is exactly what we cannot do unless this Amendment is accepted. Surely, that is one of the strongest arguments for its acceptance. I could understand the right hon. Gentleman saying: "Let us have the Guillotine for the Committee stage and see how we get on, and, if it turns out that my advisers have not guessed right and some important point is shut out on Committee, we shall so provide in our time-table that on Report the Opposition shall have a reasonable opportunity of discussing that point." That I could have understood, but that is not what the right hon. Gentleman is doing, unless the House takes the extreme course of rescinding this Motion. There is a difference between free-will and predestination, and the right hon. Gentleman wants predestination for the Report stage, and I want free-will.
This is a Bill on which you do want to retain a free hand for the Report stage, because upon it various sections in the House are going to raise important points of principle on which their attitude is extremely doubtful. You have questions like the alternative vote and university representation, and it is admitted 303 that, on those points, there are differences of opinion in all parts of the House. The proposal put forward in the Bill is not commonly shared by all Members on the other side. Therefore, it may happen that in the course of the Committee discussions the decision may be taken for example, to exclude the university vote, and, if such a decision is taken, your time-table for the Report stage must be absolutely stultified, and, unless you want it to be stultified, you would have to move to rescind this Resolution and move a new one in its place. Would it not be much better to complete the Committee stage and get as much time from the Prime Minister as he can give us under that head, and, when we have done that, to see what has been discussed and then consider the time-table for the Report stage? That seems to me to be a reasonable proposition, and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman does not accept it.
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
This Amendment, if accepted, would have given the Prime Minister some opportunity of lessening the case which can be made against him for treating with such lack of regard the principles and the traditions upon which this House have always acted. Surely, he can scarcely have been feeling very happy when he was listening to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). I am sorry the Prime Minister has had to leave the Chamber, because he is, personally, as I know well, interested in the traditions of this House, and I do not think he would have taken quite the course of action which has been taken to-night in regard to this Motion if he had realised what was likely to be the effect of it or the case which could be made out against him, as one of the leading Members of the House. What is the position when we come to the Report and the Third Reading stages of a Bill of this kind which is not a very long one? The Government then have at their disposal, through the working of the Chair, the power of selecting Amendments and the Closure. It would be literally impossible for any Opposition, however expert they might be, to waste any very great amount of time in obstruction on the Report stage of a Bill of this brevity.
The Prime Minister referred to the possibility of some concession being made 304 later on in the terms of this Motion, but he said at the time, and I took particular notice of this, that the concession he would be able to make would be very slight. I am not going back upon the arguments which there are against the application of a Guillotine Motion at all to a Bill of this kind, but I think I am at liberty to call attention to this particular fact, that the Prime Minister, in refusing this Amendment, is practically refusing to depart at all from the use to the fullest extent possible of the Guillotine on a Bill of a kind on which I believe it has never been used before. At any rate, it had never been so used until there had been considerable signs of obstruction shown. The right hon. Gentleman is doing that and refusing now an Amendment which will at least give him the opportunity of being able to defend himself to some extent against what would be said against him, here and throughout the country, in regard to his action in using this weapon upon this Bill.
If we are to have time cut so short on the Report stage and if there is so short an allowance of time for the Committee stage, such a procedure will only support those accusations which have been made against the whole of the present Government, and I may say against the Socialist party generally, and with a great deal of substance—I think even it is admitted by some of the back benchers of the Socialist party—that their whole theory of office is a kind of government by decree of the majority in existence in the House for the time being. I see the Chief Whip on the Front Bench opposite, and this is a point which will interest him. If you are to stifle discussion to this extent under the present party system, what will happen in this House at present? No one can deny that it will amount to an attempt simply to register the decisions of the Government for the time being. Whatever views the Chief Whip may have on the subject I am sure the Prime Minister would never support the theory that legislation was to be practically legislation by decree of the Government in power or in office for the time being.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. T. Kennedy)
I have never suggested that.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
Do not let me be thought to be accusing the right hon. Gentleman of that. I am not doing so. I am saying that, whatever views he may have, and they may differ from the views of the Prime Minister, I feel sure that the Prime Minister himself would repudiate very vehemently any suggestion that he was in favour of establishing a system such as that which I have described as practically legislating by Government decree. But what would happen in a case of this kind where you have the time of Members in opposition or of private Members on the Government side in discussing a Measure of this sort cut short? You have a Measure in which there are at least five great questions of principle and on every one of which it would be legitimate to spend a whole evening in a general Debate. We are to be given much less than that. We are only to have half-a-day on any particular Clause, half the time that we ought to have to discuss the main principle of the Clause, and no time whatever to discuss details of the Clause and the points which arise when you have once dealt with the question of principle. Then having been treated in that way on the Committee stage, we are to go through proportionately the same procedure on the Report stage as well.
In spite of the Prime Minister's reply, I do suggest seriously that the Government would be well advised to reconsider this particular Amendment, and see if they cannot give way on it for the present. If they would be willing to withdraw this part of the Motion it would still be open to them to move the Guillotine again for the Report stage later on if they found it necessary, but I suggest very seriously that, in the case of a Bill of this character and brevity, the selection of Amendments, and the Closure are amply sufficient to see that the Report stage is got through in a reasonable time.
§ Captain CAZALET
I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) for the strong appeal which he has made on behalf of the back benchers. It is obvious what will happen during the Committee stage of this Bill. The hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) has pointed out that as each Clause comes up, its main principle wilt have to be discussed. A Front Bench Member will speak on behalf of each party, and then, no doubt, there will be an expert in each party who will have a right to be heard and who will, properly, be called upon to put various other points to the Committee. The result will be that the Guillotine will fall before back benchers can submit those points which are perhaps comparatively small but which directly affect themselves or their constituencies. That is quite apart from the fact that it will be impossible to discuss any details, because the main principle in each Clause will probably occupy all the available time. In other circumstances, we might look forward to having a chance on the Report stage, but in this case we are told that if it is found that some relatively important points have not been discussed during the Committee stage, certain facilities will be given for their discussion on the Report stage. Thus exactly the same procedure will be followed on the Report stage, and, again, the private Member will be deprived of the opportunity of presenting his point of view. Now that the Government have obtained the Guillotine for the Committee stage, they might at least wait to see if any considerable number of new points are left undiscussed during the Committee stage, before committing themselves and the House to applying the Guillotine to the Report stage and Third Reading.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 247 Noes, 165.309
|Division No. 178.]||AYES.||[8.17 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Attlee, Clement Richard||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Ayles, Walter||Bowen, J. W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Barnes, Alfred John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Batey, Joseph||Bromfield, William|
|Alpass, J. H.||Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Brooke, W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brothers, M.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)|
|Arnott, John||Benson, G.||Buchanan, G.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Birkett, W. Norman||Burgess, F. G.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Potts, John S.|
|Calne, Derwent Hall-||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Price, M. P.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Chater, Daniel||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Clarke, J. S.||Kinley, J.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Knight, Holford||Richards, R.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lang, Gordon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lathan, G.||Ritson, J.|
|Cove, William G.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Rowson, Guy|
|Daggar, George||Lawrence, Susan||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Dallas, George||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Samuel, H. Waiter (Swansea, West)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Leach, W.||Sandham, E.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Day, Harry||Lees, J.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sexton, Sir James|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lindley, Fred W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Dukes, C.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Duncan, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Longbottom, A. W.||Shield, George William|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Longden, F.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Egan, W. H.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lunn, William||Shinwell, E.|
|Freeman, Peter||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Simmons, C. J.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McElwee, A.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, V. L.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McKinlay, A.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Gill, T. H.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Gillett, George M.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gossling, A. G.||McShane, John James||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Gould, F.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sorensen, R.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Manning, E. L.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Granville, E.||Mansfield. W||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Gray, Milner||March, S.||Sullivan, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marcus, M.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Markham, S. F.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Griffiths, T. (Manmouth, Pontypool)||Marley, J.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Graves, Thomas E.||Marshall, Fred||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mathers, George||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Melville, Sir James||Tillett, Ben|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Messer, Fred||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Middleton, G.||Toole, Joseph|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Millar, J. D.||Townend, A. E.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Mills, J. E.||Vaughan, David|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Milner, Major J||Viant, S. P.|
|Hardle, George D.||Montague, Frederick||Walkden, A. G.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Walker, J.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Morrison. Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Mort, D. L.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Muff, G.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Herriotts, J.||Murnin, Hugh||West, F. R.|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Isaacs, George||Paling, Wilfrid||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Johnston, Thomas||Palmer, E. T.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Perry, S. F.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Thurtle|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)|
|Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Astor, Viscountess||Betterton, Sir Henry B.|
|Albery, Irving James||Atholl, Duchess of||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Atkinson, C.||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bird, Ernest Roy|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Bracken, B.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bran, Captain Sir William||Gower, Sir Robert||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grace, John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Buchan, John||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Remer, John R.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Hammersley, S. S.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Christle, J. A.||Haslam, Henry C.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hurd, Percy A.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Lleweilln, Major J. J.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Train, J.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S.M.)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fielden, E. B.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Morrison. W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson. Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gault, Lieut-Col. A. Hamilton||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain|
|Sir George Bowyer.|
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
I beg to move, in line 5, to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "eight."
I shall later move a consequential Amendment apportioning the time differently, assuming that eight days are given to the Committee stage. During some of the discussion to-day there has been a measure of agreement that in certain events a Guillotine Motion becomes practically a necessity, but, when we come to the question as to whether the allocation of time under the Guillotine Motion is fair or unfair, we come down to the real merits of the case. In a Bill of this importance and intricacy, five days is entirely inadequate for the Committee stage, and I earnestly suggest to the Prime Minister that some concession should be given. It is very usual in the discussions of Guillotine Motions for a concession to be granted, 310 and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to grant scene more time for the Committee stage.
As has been mentioned in the discussion on one of the previous Amendments, five days are not really being given to the Committee stage. On an examination of the Government's proposal, it will be found that only four days plus 1½ hours are actually being given. That is arrived at in this way. On each of the days the Debate is to come to an end at 10.30 instead of 11 o'clock. That means the loss of half-an-hour each day. As there are four days to which 10.30 applies, that means a loss of two hours. In addition, on the fifth day, so-called, the Debate is to conclude at 7.30. If these hours are worked out, it will be found that the actual time to be given to the Committee stage of this important Bill is four days and 1½ hours of Parliamentary time. No reasonable Member 311 would think that that was anything like sufficient time for an adequate and proper discussion of the Measure. In my subsequent Amendment it is proposed to extend the time each day by one hour, and to make 11.30 the time for the fall of the Guillotine instead of 10.30. In addition, it is proposed that the Guillotine should fall only once a day at 11.30 instead of, as the Government propose, at 7.30 and 10.30.
To Clause 1, which deals with the Alternative Vote, I propose that the whole of one Parliamentary day should be given, instead of only 4½ hours, as is proposed by the Government. The Alternative Vote, although it has been discussed on previous occasions in this House, sets up a completely new system in our constitutional history, and to give only 4½ hours for a detailed discussion of that vitally important change seems to be rather drastic. I think that even the Prime Minister will agree that a larger amount of time than 4½ hours is necessary properly to discuss so great a change. On the paper of Amendments to this Bill, there are a large number dealing with the Alternative Vote, and many of them deserve a close and careful attention and consideration by the House. I also propose that Clause 2 should be given a full day instead of only half-a-day. This Clause proposes to abolish double-Member constituencies, and incidentally, it contains a provision dealing with the City of London. Both these questions are deserving of full and sufficient discussion. There are hon. Members opposite who do not desire that the City of London should have special treatment, and no doubt they will be moving Amendments to carry out their suggestions.
Then there is the whole question of the 12 constituencies which return two Members each. Double-Member constituency representation is very old in the history of this Parliament; it has continued through many generations. I myself happen to be one of the Members of a double-Member constituency and I know that there are some disadvantages attached to such representation, but, on the other hand the Members representing these old boroughs, most of them in the North, like Stockport, Bolton, Blackburn and Dundee, surely have some right to be heard.
312 Quite apart from whether double-Member representation is a good or bad thing, the point of view of the individual who represents a particular borough where a change is to be introduced is surely deserving of careful consideration. Sometimes questions of local pride arise.
Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Robert Young)
The right hon. Gentleman is now going into the merits of the Bill.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
I was trying to show that this was an important question and deserved more time for consideration, and I do not think I was going very much beyond what was necessary to point that out. However, Sir, if you think I was, I will curtail what I was going to say, though as a matter of fact I think I have already said enough to show that there is a good case for extending the time for discussion. My Amendment proposes that one whole day should be given for the discussion of Clause 3 instead of the three hours allotted by the Government. It is an important Clause dealing with the business premises qualification, and that, of course, entails consideration of plural voting. When one realises the great importance of plural voting and the strong views which are held about it on different sides of the House it is not unreasonable to ask that one whole day of Parliamentary time should be given to it. With regard to Clauses 4 and 5, my Amendment proposes to give them a whole day of Parliamentary time instead of three and a-half hours. Clause 4, which deals with university representation, is, I was going to say, almost the most important Clause in the Bill. At any rate, it has given rise probably to more interest in the constituencies than any other.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
It is certainly the one proposal in respect of which hon. Members have received more correspondence than any other.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
Under the Government's time-table the question of university representation is only to get 3½ hours, and that allotment of time is to include also Clause 5, though I admit this deals with rather a minor point, a provision for postponing polls in islands, probably 313 not a matter which raises any controversy. Clause 4, however, really does require more than a half-day's discussion. I suppose the principal discussion will take place on the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill, because then the whole merits of university representation can be dealt with, but there is also a point of particular interest to myself and others who come from my part of the United Kingdom, and that is, how far these proposals regarding university representation affect the settlement which was arrived at under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. That is a constitutional point of some importance and deserves sufficient time for its consideration. If that point is to be adequately discussed, and also the whole general question of university representation, it is hardly reasonable to allow only 3½ hours.
My Amendment suggests that a whole day should be given to Clause 6 instead of the three hours proposed by the Government. This Clause, again, is one of considerable interest and not inconsiderable intricacy. It raises the question of the provision of vehicles to take electors to the poll. I do not propose to go into the merits of the Clause, except by way of illustration, but those who have read it feel that there is a good deal to be said about it, to put the matter no higher. It is rather a novel, and in some ways an extraordinary Clause. There are such difficult questions as what is aperson other than the owner of the vehicle or a member of his family resident with him,who may go to the poll in a motor car if driven by the owner. That is a point upon which hon. Members on both sides of the House will probably have a great deal to say.
There is also a very novel and remarkable provision under which any person who is the owner of a vehicle, and wishes to use it may do so if he places it at the disposal of the Returning Officer for the use of electors in any part of the constituency. That may be a good or a bad thing, but it is a very uncommon thing, and I suggest that it is a point in this Bill which requires very careful consideration not with a view to an empty discussion, but with a view, if possible, to making a more workable provision and an improvement. I cannot 314 help feeling that if changes of this kind are to come about one would like to feel that such changes as are proposed are really practicable and possible. Many of us think that a number of the proposals in this Measure are neither practical nor possible.
With regard to Clauses 7 to 9, I propose that they should be given a whole day instead of the three hours proposed by the Government time-table. Those Clauses deal with the question of election expenses and plural voting. It may be that with regard to that particular part of my proposal Clauses 7 to 9 are as important as some of the other Clauses. I admit that they are not, but nevertheless I think adequate time should be given for the discussion of those Clauses. My Amendment proposes that two whole Parliamentary days should be given for the discussion of the new Clauses and Schedules, instead of one day which is the Government proposal. I propose two days for the discussion of the new Clauses and the Schedules largely because, in the Schedules, the whole question as to how the alternative vote is to work has to be considered under the Schedule, in which a certain method of exercising the alternative vote is proposed. There are many other ways of exercising the alternative vote system, and I think hon. Members should be given an opportunity of moving Amendments to that Schedule and putting test questions as to the way in which they think the alternative vote should be worked.
There are on the Paper several responsible and reasonable Amendments dealing with this question. For instance, under the proposals of the Government I see that the electors are to be given the choice of putting first preference and second preference votes. [Interruption.] I am not going into the merits of this question except to show that this matter does require adequate discussion, and I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will allow me to deal with this point for a few moments. My point is that there is another system by which you give first, second and third preference votes, and that is a scheme which deserves more time for its consideration than the Government have given for the discussion of this very important Schedule, which is the only part of the Bill where hon.
315 Members can make their suggestions for improving the system under which the alternative vote is to operate.
I think I have said enough—I know the Prime Minister is really not unreasonable on these matters—to cause him to realise that the gravamen of the opposition to this Motion to-day is not so much because the Prime Minister has proposed it, as because we think it has been proposed at a time in the discussions of the Bill when it was unnecessary and because it is too drastic in regard to the time which is allowed. I hope that the Prime Minister, in replying to my Amendment, will realise that although there may be something to be said for the use of the Guillotine, nevertheless it should be only used with a proper regard for the dignity and efficiency of Parliament, and if the time allotted is in all the circumstances ample, reasonable, and fair.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I think it will be for the convenience of the House that I should reply to the Amendment at this point. I will first deal with the minor points which have been raised in regard to the time for bringing the proceedings to a conclusion, which appear in the third column. The time of 10.30 and 7.30 has always been there, and the reason for that is that it enables Divisions to be taken at a reasonable time. The difference between 10.30 and 11.30 is not so very serious when the time-table is properly arranged. The points which the hon. Member has put about the deduction of Parliamentary time by the time-table are all objections that have been taken again and again, and I do not think that they are really of very much substance when we are settling a scheme for the discussion of a Bill like the one we are considering.
The right hon. Gentleman did, however, while referring to his second Amendment, make one or two objections which I admit straightaway. When our scheme was being drafted, I asked that eyes and ears should be kept open for objections and criticisms and proposals, so that we might do our best, within the limits imposed upon us, to meet serious and substantial objections to the distribution of the time, and I am willing to do that. I do not think that eight days are required. It is very curious that the three subjects upon 316 which the right hon. Gentleman laid special stress, and which he objected to as being dealt with in three hours, are three subjects that I am willing to consider. The first is the Alternative Vote. In ordinary circumstances, I think it will not be half a day only that will be available for that discussion. Then, with reference to the university vote, Clause 4—the group is Clauses 4 and 5—I am willing to give an extra half-day. I think that that is fair. With reference to Clause 6, as a matter of fact a day is given to that Clause—[Interruption.] I will read it all out; it is a little complicated. With reference to the Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules, I think it is possible to give a day for them. The Amendments therefore would be, that "Six" be substituted for "Five" in line 5—that is to say, there would be six allotted days instead of five—and that in line 18, which relates to Clause 3, "10.30" would be left out, while in line 19 we should propose to leave out from the beginning of the line to the end of line 25, and insert:
The effect of this will be to give to the universities and to the Schedules an extra half-day each. I hope that this alteration, if it is not accepted gratefully, will nevertheless ease the situation, and make the Guillotine more acceptable than it would have been as drafted originally by the Government. We shall move accordingly the insertion of six allotted days and the consequential Amendments which I have indicated.
P.M. Third Clause 3 7.30 Clauses 4 and 5 — Fourth Clauses 4 and 5 7.30 Clause 6 — Fifth Clause 6 7.30 Clauses 7 to 9 10.30 Sixth Schedules, new Clauses, etc. 10.30
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir SAMUEL HOARE
I rise at once to say that on this side of the House we are fully conscious that the Prime Minister has at any rate gone some way towards meeting the very strong case that has been made from this side of the House. I still think that the full Amendment of my right hon. Friend will have met the case a great deal better, but I should be churlish if. I denied that the Prime Minister has made a definite concession. I imagine that what he 317 wishes to do is, as far as he can, to meet our desire that the principal questions should start at a suitable time and should have a reasonable period of discussion. That being so, I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there are one or two small alterations in his proposal which we should prefer, and which I should have thought he might equally well have been able to accept. I have here an alternative schedule based upon the allocation of six days to to the Committee stage, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the small alterations which I now suggest, because they would certainly meet the wishes of those on this side better than the proposal which he has made. For instance, we on this side of the House would like the first day to be allotted to the Alternative Vote, that is to say, to Clause 1, and the second day to Clauses 2 and 3.
§ Mr. ALBERY
Might I ask the Prime Minister if he would make a little more clear exactly what his concession is?
§ Sir S. HOARE
We propose that the second day should be allotted to Clauses 2 and 3, the third day to Clauses 4 and 5, the fourth day to Clause 6, the fifth day to Clauses 7, 8, and 9, and the sixth day to the Schedules, new Clauses, and new Schedules. I should imagine that this alteration would make very little difference to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and I think it would ensure a better Debate than would the suggestion that he has made.
Having said that, might I also add this further point? We on this side of the House attach a great deal of importance to the Amendment which stands later on the Paper in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) and two other hon. Members—In line 49, at the end, to insert the words:Upon any allotted day no Standing Committee, Private Bill Committee, or other Committee of the House shall sit or 318 remain in session after the conclusion of Questions, or if the allotted day be a Friday, after 11.5 a.m., and the chairman of such Committee shall at that time declare the Committee to be adjourned without Question put.The object of this Amendment is that the Closure Resolutions should not run while a Standing Committee is sitting upstairs, and I would take this opportunity of asking the Prime Minister whether he could not meet us on that point also. We attach great importance to this Amendment. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to meet us on that point as well. If he could agree to the small alterations I have proposed, and also upon the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), it might greatly facilitate our proceedings.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am perfectly willing to leave it in this way: If the Government, to use language which has been very familiar in the naval negotiations, gives a globular tonnage of six full days, I am quite willing that the Opposition should fix the details. We really want as honest a discussion as we can possibly make it. I hope it will meet the convenience of the other section as well. There must be accommodation all round. With reference to the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) I am not sure that I could definitely accept it. The second part of it would be deleted, because it contemplates the possibility of Friday being an allotted day, but the first part is that no Standing Committee. Private Bill Committee, or other Committee of the House shall sit after the conclusions of Questions. I will do my best that that shall be done. At present, I know no reason why it should not be done, but I am warned that circumstances might arise when it would be exceedingly inconvenient if it was done. If it is going to add to the harmony, I shall be only too glad to do everything I can to meet the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I understand that, although he cannot formally accept the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, he is anxious to meet our views and, so far as it is reasonably possible. Standing Committees will not be sitting when discussions on the Bill are taking 319 place. That being so, I accept what the Prime Minister has said, and I should think the best course would be to hand the Home Secretary our suggested alterations in the time-table.
I should like to know where we are. Is the right hon. Baronet going to withdraw his Amendment?
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
I think the proper course will be for you, Sir, to put the Question that the word "five" stand part, and that will be negatived. Then it will be for someone else to move the insertion of whatever Schedule is agreed upon.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
In view of the arrangement that the Prime Minister is proposing, that no Standing Committee is to sit during the sittings of the House if the Representation of the People Bill is being considered, Standing Committee B is not sitting in the afternoons this week, but it has been practically decided that it will sit in the afternoon next week. It is only fair that the House should be in possession of that fact before the Prime Minister decides.
If the right hon. Baronet does not withdraw his Amendment, I shall have to put it.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
I have moved to leave out the word "five" and to insert the word "eight." The Question that you have to put is that the word "five" stand part.
§ Sir H. O'NEILL
I suggest that it should be negatived, and then it will be moved to insert words comprising the agreed Schedule.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
Surely it is simpler than that. The Question that "five" stand part is to be negatived by agreement. Then I gather the Prime Minister will move to insert the word "six."
An Amendment has been moved and, if the word "five" is negatived, we shall have to 320 get rid of the Amendment. It would be better to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I am sure there is no objection on this side to the withdrawal of the Amendment on the understanding that the Prime Minister will move. Perhaps I may follow up the point that has been made by the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones), which puts the House in a little difficulty. We have an undertaking from the Prime Minister on which we rely. I suppose he has no control over what the Committee upstairs may decide, and, therefore, it would seem to be necessary that we should discuss the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham when we come to it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
As a matter of fact, I had asked that information should be given to me as to how far I could give any pledge in the matter, and I am told that I cannot very well give a pledge because the Committee will very much resent any instructions sent to it. All I say is that I will do my best, but I cannot promise that it will be carried out every day.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
I should like to thank the Prime Minister for the consideration that he has given to the University Members. We are very grateful to him.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
The Prime Minister has suggested that the party below the Gangway might have something to say with regard to the new arrangement. Speaking on behalf of the party, we accept the six days.
I think it would be much better if the right hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made: In line 5, leave out the word "Five," and insert instead thereof the word "Six."
|First||Instructions and Clause 1||10.30|
|Second||Clauses 2 and 3||10.30|
|Third||Clauses 4 and 5||10.30|
|Fifth||Clauses 7 to 9||10.30|
|Sixth||New Clauses, Schedules, new Scheduler, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion||10.30|
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in line 42, after the first word "day," to insert the words "other than a Friday."
Now that we have got a new and an amended time-table, as far as the Committee stage is concerned, I hope that it will not be taken at all on a Friday. I feel sure that the Government will accept the Amendment, as Friday is clearly a shorter day and the whole time-table would be upset if the Bill were taken on such a day. Friday, I understand, is still to be kept for private Members' business, and I hope that it will not be taken from them for some time to come.
§ Lord ERSKINE
I beg to second the Amendment.
I understood from the remarks of the Prime Minister that he was prepared to accept it.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Clynes)
In accordance with the undertaking of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a few moments ago, the Government are quite willing to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, to leave out lines 47 to 49.
This Amendment is consequential upon the decision which the House has already taken. These lines provide for what may happen on a Friday, and the House has already agreed not to take the Bill on a Friday.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I beg to move, in line 49, at the end, to insert the words:Upon any allotted day no Standing Committee, Private Bill Committee, or 322 other Committee of the House shall sit or remain in session after the conclusion of Questions, or, if the allotted day be a Friday, after 11.5 a.m., and the chairman of such Committee shall at that time declare the Committee to be adjourned without Question put.I move the Amendment for the purpose of elucidating a little further the undertaking which the Prime Minister has given. I understand the position that neither the Prime Minister nor any other Member of the Front Bench controls the procedure of Standing Committees, but we want to be assured that normally no Standing Committee will be sitting while this Bill is under discussion in the House. I suggest to the Home Secretary that the way to carry out the undertaking of the Prime Minister is not to put he Bill down for discussion when the Government know that a Standing Committee is going to sit. I imagine that the Home Secretary will be able to give me that undertaking. It may be that in remote contingencies it may be necessary to make an exception, but, speaking generally, the normal procedure of the Government will be not to put down the Bill when they have information that a Standing Committee is to sit. I have moved this Amendment for the purpose of giving the Home Secretary the opportunity of confirming that undertaking.
§ Mr. CLYNES
What the Prime Minister indicated was that he accepted the general purpose and spirit of this Amendment, but that if it were carried out it might very well give rise to difficulties which were not under the control of the Government. What precisely he has in mind as to the methods and ways of giving effect to its spirit and purpose, I cannot say, but while I accept the view that normally it would be advisable not to put down the Bill on a day on which Committees were sitting, yet there may be exceptions to that rule. That is only one, and there may be others. I think the House may very well agree to accept the very definite assurance which the Prime Minister has given, leaving it to him to give effect to it and honourably carry out its purpose.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am quite prepared to leave the position as stated by the Home Secretary in view of the general undertaking that the Prime Minister has given.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I want to say one word on this, because on Standing Committees I have possibly as much as, if not more work than most Members. I should like to draw the Government's attention to what the Prime Minister said on this very important matter when he was giving evidence before the Select Committee dealing with the hours of sitting of the House. He spoke very strongly, indeed, against the fact that Standing Committees were sitting, more and more due to Government pressure, when the House was sitting. I would not do anything to upset the arrangement that is being made, but I do think, in the circumstances, as this is a most important matter, we ought to have a practical assurance that, as far as Government Measures are concerned, there will be no attempt whatever to force those Committees to deal with Government Bills upstairs. We have already had on at least one Standing Committee a threat that we may have to sit in the afternoons very shortly. If that threat is taken away, no one would wish to make any trouble at present. This does affect private Members' time and the whole position of private Members very greatly, for it is becoming increasingly difficult to attend Committees upstairs and downstairs at the same time.
§ Sir S. HOARE
After what the Home Secretary has said, I am prepared to withdraw the Amendment. I should like to say we are grateful to the Prime Minister for making the concessions which he has made, and we have not felt compelled to move all the other Amendments; nevertheless we feel so strongly that no Closure Resolution should be applied to this Bill, that we shall have to divide against, the main Resolution.
§ Government Bill shall not be proceeded with upstairs in Committee at the same time as the Representation of the People Bill is taken on the Floor of the House, I suggest that it is in the House that they should exercise their discretion in fixing business, because under the Standing Orders the Committees upstairs are entitled to sit while the House is sitting, and I do not think the House should be under the impression that the Standing Orders can be set aside.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I agree with the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) that Members cannot be in two places at once, as an Irish Nationalist Member once said in this House. I sympathise with the objection to having Standing Committees sitting at the same time as the House is sitting. I remember the long drawn-out discussions on the Railway Bill 10 or 12 years ago which went on until 10 o'clock at night, even after the House had risen. That is a most objectionable practice, and I should be very glad to see it avoided as far as possible. The remedy is to meet downstairs in full Committee two days a week—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not want to go beyond the Motion, but you cannot have important Measures on the Floor of the House if the Committee is to do its work.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, as amended, put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 248; Noes, 150.327
That the Committee stage (including any Motion for an Instruction), the Report stage, and Third Reading of the Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill shall be proceeded with as follows:—