HC Deb 14 May 1931 vol 252 cc1374-7

Will the Prime Minister kindly state what is the business for next week, when the House will rise, and for what period.


The business next week will be:

Monday: Supply, 9th Allotted Day. The subject will be announced to-morrow.

Tuesday: Finance Bill, Second Reading.

Wednesday and Thursday: First and Second Allotted Days on Report of the Representation of the People (No. 2) Bill.

Friday: It will be proposed that the House adjourn until Tuesday, 2nd June, and the Motion for the Adjournment will be taken.

On any day, if time permits, further Orders will be taken.


Does the Prime Minister think he will be able to afford facilities for the passage of the Rubber Industry Bill this Session, as it is a Bill which is practically agreed to in all parts of the House?


I wish very much that those interested in the Bill would make representations either to my hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, or to myself.


I see that the Prime Minister has put down the Second Reading of the Finance Bill for one day only. I am quite aware that during recent years the time has continuously been shortened for that particular Debate, but in this year's Finance Bill we have proposals for a tax which has not been discussed for a great many years. In 1909, the right hon. Gentleman will remember, four days were given for discussion of the Finance Bill, and, having regard to these circumstances and the fact that until the Finance Bill was published we were unable to understand as fully as we do now what the incidence of the tax would be, I beg to ask him whether he cannot give us a second day for the Second Reading discussion of this Bill.


I wish to associate some of those on these benches with that request. It has been impossible to discuss these very important proposals on the Resolution on Report, because necessarily the Resolution was in very general terms, and it is impossible for us to make a general survey except on the Second Reading of the Bill.


I am always very glad to try to be reasonable, but I would remind the House that on the Resolution, in Committee and on Report, already seven days have been taken up with this discussion, and that if the wording of the Resolution was somewhat vague, I should have been very glad to have transferred one of those days to the Second Reading. But the Committee took full advantage of the time, and I am afraid that I must count it against them in making up my days. I have had very careful inquiry made into this matter covering the last 10 years, and there have been Budgets of a very controversial character taken in those years. It is not exactly accurate to say that there has been a diminishing amount of time given. There has been practically the same amount of time given on every occasion, except one, when there was no discussion on the Report stage of the Budget Resolutions. The time has been either half-a-day for the Second Reading or one day. On the occasion when there was no time taken up on Report, there was one day and one Friday given to the Second Reading. In the circumstances, I think the House will agree that this is a very reasonable time to allot.


I would remind the Prime Minister that in the course of the discussions on the proposals with regard to land valuation and taxation we really had no sort of explanation of what the proposals were until the speech of the Solicitor-General, which was the last speech from the Government side in the Debate, and we therefore had no adequate opportunity of ascertaining with any certainty what it was that we were discussing until it was too late to discuss it at all. It is rather hard, therefore, that the Prime Minister should say that the discussions on the Resolution must be counted against us on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill.


That may be perfectly true, but that always happens. In the case of the Budgets to which reference has been made, practically the same thing happened. The Resolutions were of a general character and time was allotted accordingly. I only throw this out without any authority, but I would say that it is quite obvious that a discussion would be far more profitable on the Clauses themselves, and what I would like to do—and as I say, I am not making an offer or suggesting anything which would bind right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—would be to agree to allot time and then allow the critics to use that time just as they like themselves, but I am sure it is desirable that I should stick to one day for the Second Reading, and then let us see what can be done on the Committee stage.


Must not the right hon. Gentleman, in considering the request of my right hon. Friend, bear in mind that our previous request that a White Paper should be supplied to us, so that we might get sufficient information for useful discussion on the Resolution, was refused—by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, and not by the Prime Minister himself? It was, however, refused by the Government. If I may mention myself, I put a series of questions, immediately after the conclusion of the Chancellor's speech, on points which he had left completely uncovered, and only one out of the many questions which I put was answered, and that only when the Solicitor-General spoke and when Members of the different Oppositions had no longer any opportunity of commenting upon his statement. How can we discuss these proposals as a whole on separate Amendments in Committee; and are we not entitled to discuss them on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, since we have been refused the opportunity of discussing them on the Resolution?


Quite honestly, I cannot accept the criticism of the conduct of the Debate—


But the right hon. Gentleman cannot deny the facts.


What I say is, that the experience is a common experience in connection with Budget Resolutions, and I would urge upon the House that the very remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has just made show the advisability of getting on to the details and the Clauses.