HC Deb 22 May 1931 vol 252 cc2421-7

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday, 2nd June."—[Mr. Clynes.]


On a point of Order. May I ask for your guidance in this matter? I believe this Motion was not put down until late last night. I would like to have put down an Amendment to this Motion, and had it on the Order Paper, and I did hand it in, hut it was not eligible to go on the Paper. May I ask for your guidance most respectfully on two points? First, is it impossible for a private Member to put down a Motion fixing the date of the adjournment? Secondly, in what way is it possible for an hon. Member to show in the House that he disapproves of the length of the adjournment?


The Motion for the Adjournment is a debatable Motion, and when it is put from the Chair the hon. Member can rise and speak to it or move an Amendment to it.


I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. Am I entitled to put down a Motion for an adjournment of this kind, and hand it in to the Chair, because then I should have got it on the Paper and it would have been there to-day? I understood I was not entitled to do it. I want to know, first, if I can put down a Motion and, secondly, how, if a Motion is only put down so late, I can get my own Amendment on the Paper to show my opinion on the subject.


Unless the Government were proposing a question of this kind, the hon. Member could not put down an Amendment to it.


But could I be allowed to put a Motion down the day before yesterday?


The hon. Member could only put down a Motion for an early day.


Surely any hon. Member is entitled to hand in an Amendment providing it is a genuine Amendment to a Motion on the Paper?


That is what I tried to convey.


Or to do it now without handing it in?




I did send in an Amendment, but it is not on the Order Paper, and that is my trouble, or one of my troubles.


If the hon. Member wishes to move an Amendment now, he is quite entitled to do so.


I am very sorry, but am I entitled to have it on the Order Paper, so that people can be quite clear what I am asking?


If the hon. Member hands in his Amendment at the proper time to any Motion that is on the Paper, it will no doubt appear on the Paper.


But mine was refused. That is my point.


There was no Motion on the Order Paper.


But I handed it in last night.


The Motion for the adjournment in the name of the Prime Minister only appeared on the Paper this morning, so that the hon. Member could not put down an Amendment to it. It was not on the Paper.


I handed in an Amendment, and I also endeavoured to hand in a Motion of my own, so that I could get it both ways. I gather from your Ruling that I was entitled to hand in my own Motion as to when we should adjourn.


I think the hon. Member very often tries to get it both ways. If the Motion had been on the Paper two or three days ago, the hon. Member could have put down an Amendment to it. He could not do that, because it was not on the Paper.


May I ask one very clear question? Should I be entitled to put down a Motion of this kind last night myself?


No, the hon. Member would not. It would have to be put down for an early day.

Question put, That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday, 2nd June.

Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to collect the voices.


I beg to move, to leave out the words "2nd June," and to add instead thereof the words "26th May."


On a point of Order. Have you not already collected the voices, Mr. Speaker?


I had collected only half the voices when the hon. Member rose.


The reason I move this Amendment is that I am naturally of an industrious disposition, and I really think that at a time such as this it is essential that the House of Commons, in view of the alarming growth of unemployment, should not adjourn for eight or 10 days. Looking back over the last two months, I find that for practical purposes, except for two small Bills, one connected with the Post Office, there has been no genuine attempt in the House in any way whatever to grapple with the unemployment question. When we are faced with a position such as this, and when we have a Government which came into power almost entirely on the unemployment question, it is positively monstrous that the last three or four weeks should have been taken up with some kind of election Bill and things of that sort, when the real factor with which we have to deal is unemployment.

There are many other reasons why we should not adjourn for so long. On the Order Paper yesterday there was a Motion in the name of the Prime Minister to apply the Closure in a very drastic way to the financial proposals in the Budget. We have been warned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the danger of our financial position. Surely, with that danger it is not right that we should have a longer holiday and then scamp our discussions on the financial Measures of the year. The Prime Minister has over and over again expressed his dislike of time tables, and I am desirous of saving him the disagree able duty of having to press this form of arbitrary control of private Members. To deprive private Members again and again of all right of taking part in the proceedings of this House—


What about Fridays?


Fridays are now cut off. Oftentimes private Members' Debates are the best, and you frequently find that private Members from the Back Benches are quite as capable as throwing light on the affairs of the country as the Front Bench Members. The interests of the country should be dealt with before the interest of Members of the House of Commons, and instead of wasting our time on small Measures of party legislation, we should endeavour to grapple with the vast question of finance, and particularly with the overwhelming question of unemployment.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

I beg to second the Amendment.

I thoroughly sympathise with the object of the hon. Member in moving the Amendment. While we want to get on with the Debate about agriculture, I feel that the unemployment situation in the country districts is so serious that more than a passing reference to it has to be made. I would remind the House that a few years ago, when the present Opposition were in power, nobody was so keen on continually discussing unemployment as Members of the present Government. The country and the constituents of hon. Members opposite should realise that, so far as the Socialist Government, are concerned, the unemployed have no hope of getting increased employment.


Perhaps a serious word on the matter would do no harm. If all Members of the House were as active and as voluble as the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), we would require about ten times the amount of time that we do now for carrying on our work. This Motion in the name of the Prime Minister is not different from the Motion which is put down on the Paper by all Prime Ministers at this time of the year, and it is in accordance with an announcement made by the Prime Minister many days ago in reply to a question by the Leader of the Opposition. The announcement met with the general acceptance of the House; indeed, so far as dissent has been indicated by hon. Members opposite, it has been not to the length of the interval, but to its shortness. Suggestions were made to us that it ought to be longer. In these circumstances I hope we shall be allowed to proceed to debate the other questions which hon. Members have in mind.


The Home Secretary has told us that this proposal is not different from the one usually made at such a time, but I would remind him that it is one which has been frequently opposed by Socialist Members when they have been in opposition. We must realise that never in its history has this country been in so deplorable a condition as it is to-day, and hon. Members on this side will support most firmly the suggestion that we should stay here and try to pass some legislation to do good for the people, instead of legislating on the things which have been occupying us recently. Throughout the length and breadth of the land people are saying: "What are you doing in the House of Commons at the present time; passing a lot of party legislation which is doing nothing to help the deplorable unemployment which exists!" I do not wish to detain the House longer, but I felt I must give expression to the earnest feelings which possess me regarding the deplorable condition of the country. We have been kept here lately to pass legislation which is not wanted by the country, and the Guillotine has been introduced to burke discussion on it, and therefore I, for one, will go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.


I understand that the Amendment proposes that the House shall resume business on Tuesday next.

I am in full agreement with that proposal, and I think we ought to put it to the test, and see if there is any real feeling behind it. When the other side have been in power and we have argued in this way we have never been able to get them to agree to it. In Opposition I have argued just as they are arguing to-day, that there is work to be done and that we ought not to be on holiday. I am quite willing to accept the view put forward by hon. Members opposite. I would like our party to leave this question to a free vote, and if that were done I should willingly vote with the other side.


I wish to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to a serious matter, about which he can perhaps give me some information. It arises out of a report in to-day's "Times" The Secretary of State for India rather cavilled at Question Time about what appears in the "Times", but this is the report of a banquet at which, I think, the Government itself was the host.


I do not see how this has any reference to the Question before the House.


I think it has, Sir, if you will allow me to finish the sentence. At this dinner, according to the "Times", the Polish Ambassador proposed the toast of HIS Majesty's Government, and the Soviet Ambassador replied. I want to know whether the Government has entirely given up its functions, why it was that on this festive occasion, according to the "Times", the Soviet Ambassador was put up to reply on its behalf. If that report be true, it reveals a very serious state of affairs, and one which might involve the House sitting for a long time.

Question put, "That the words '2nd June' stand part of the Question".

The House divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 36.

Division No. 267.] AYES. [11.50 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, Weft) Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Clarke, J. S. Elmley, Viscount
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gossling, A. G.
Alpass, J. H. Cocks, Frederick Seymour Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Compton, Joseph Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Daggar, George Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Broad, Francis Alfred Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Duncan, Charles Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Ede, James Chuter Hoffman, P. C.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Muggeridge, H. T. Strauss, G. R.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Palmer, E. T. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Kinley, J. Picton-Turbervill, Edith Viant, S. P.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Quibell, O. J. K. Wallace, H. W.
Lawrence, Susan Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Watkins, F. C.
Leach, W. Ritson, J. Wellock, Wilfred
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Rosbotham, D. S. T. West, F. R.
Longbottom, A. W. Rowson, Guy Westwood, Joseph
Lunn, William Sanders, W. S. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
McElwee, A. Sandham, E. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
MacNeill-Weir, L. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
McShane, John James Shillaker, J. F. Williams Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)
Middleton, G. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Milner, Major J. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, W. R. (Norwich) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Sorensen, R. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Thurtle.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Granville, E. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. w. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Briscoe, Richard George Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Broadbent, Colonel J. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Lamb, Sir J. O. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Butler, R. A. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Turton, Robert Hugh
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Courthope, Colonel Sir Q. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Winterton. Rt. Hon. Earl
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Eden, Captain Anthony Muirhead, A. J.
Fison, F. G. Clavering Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES-
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Penny, Sir George Mr. C. Williams and Colonel Heneage.

Main Question put, and agreed to.


On a point of Order. In view of the result of the Division could arrangements be made for the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), and those who care to listen to him, to attend next week?

Resolved, That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday, 2nd June.

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