§ "That it is expedient to amend the Law relating to the National Debt, Customs, and Inland Revenue (including Excise, but not including the Law contained in the Import Duties Act, 1932, save as may be provided by any other Resolution passed in, the present Session), and to make further provision in connection with Finance.'"
§ Resolution read a Second time.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I should like to raise a point as to whether this Resolution is in order. As I understand it, this is an amending Resolution, and it is an attempt to control the rights of the House in dealing with legislation. We found a Bill on a Financial Resolution, and an attempt is made here to say that with regard to certain parts of the Resolution, whatever the House does will prevent any Amendments, other than those actually in the Resolution, being dealt with by the House when the Bill is before it. I submit that when a Financial Resolution has been passed and a Bill founded on it, although Amendments to the Bill cannot go outside the Resolution, there is no power to control the House in moving Amendments which are within the Resolution. I submit that this Resolution is out of order on those grounds.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see that this Resolution is out of order. The hon. Gentleman has rightly said that the Budget Resolution limits the Bill since the Bill is founded on the Financial Reso- 524 lution. The Budget Resolution always limits what can be put into the Bill. In other words, nothing can be put into the Bill outside the Resolution on which it is founded. This Financial Resolution appears similar to other Resolutions in that respect.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I submit it is entirely without precedent on a Budget Resolution on which we are founding the Finance Act. While, of course, I entirely agree that the Amendments cannot go beyond the Financial Resolution, does that, therefore, preclude any Amendment whatsoever being moved which is not absolutely contained in the Financial Resolution? If that were so, it would mean that the Bill must be textually the same as the Financial Resolution. I submit that in this Resolution the House is entirely tied with regard to certain Sections of the Finance Act, and it is practically useless to raise any discussion on the Bill itself, because by this Resolution the House will have tied itself so that it cannot move any Amendments whatsoever with regard to the Import Duties Act of 1932 except what is in this Financial Resolution.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would not be in order to move any Amendment to the Bill which would go outside the Resolutions on which the Bill is founded.
While agreeing, of course, with the general tenor of what you, Mr. Speaker, have said, may I put it to you that this Financial Resolution goes further than the mere financial point? By its wording it does definitely make a new departure in the procedure of the House. I submit that Amendments should not be ruled out of order because of the words 525save as may be preceded by any other Resolution passed in the present Session.That would preclude the right of the private Member from taking any part in the financial discussions on the Bill in the way of moving new Clauses or any discussion of that kind, because it is obvious that no private Member would be able to move a Resolution dealing with financial matters. That is in the hands of the Government. Therefore, if the Government do not move any other Financial Resolution, we are tied by the Resolutions referred to in this Resolution, and to that extent this is a distinct change in the ordinary procedure of the House.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It must be remembered that, although this might be not in accordance with some of the former Resolutions, the Committee has already agreed to this Resolution, and this is merely the Report stage.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
On a point of Order. Even if a Resolution or an Amendment has been discussed and passed, and it is then found after some discussion that it is out of order, surely the fact that it has been discussed and passed does not bring it into order but still leaves it out of order?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Further to that point of Order, this Resolution was never discussed by the Committee. It was one of the many Resolutions put through on Budget day, although it is not a matter of urgency. It is in an entirely new form, and it was quite impossible for any one in the House at that time to take any objection or to raise the point.
§ Colonel GRETTON
My recollection is in accordance with that of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken. The Committee passed the Resolution without any examination. I am advised that the effect of the Resolution would be to deprive private Members of the right that they ordinarily possess to move Amendments to Bills which come under the terms of the Resolution. The only power remaining to private Members would thus be to accept or to reject the proposals of the Government. If I am rightly advised, by passing the Resolution the House deprives itself of the rights always 526 possessed to amend proposals submitted to it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see that that is the case. As I have said before, Budget Resolutions always limit what can be done by the House in the way of amending the subsequent Bill founded on that Resolution. This case is not different from any other in that respect.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
If that is so, surely there would be no reason for this exceptional step. Financial Resolutions have always limited what the House can do on the subsequent Bill, and the fact that here we have something entirely different and new shows that it deals with something beyond the Financial Resolution, and the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) states that this is an entirely new departure.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out the words "but not including" and to insert instead thereof the word "and."
This Amendment has to be taken in conjunction with the one following:in line 3 leave out the words from the word '1932' to the word 'and' in line 4.After what has been said, I do not think it is necessary to elaborate the point, which is not a party point. The Resolution was brought up at a late hour, when no one expected such an innovation in the early stages of the Budget discussions, and the effect of it is that private Members in all parts of the House are going to be deprived of their rights.
§ Major ELLIOT
The suggestion that in Committee this Resolution was brought forward at a late hour of the night and rushed through does not square with the facts. This is a Ways and Means Resolution which was left open for two full Parliamentary days. It is not true to say that it "was hurried through in the usual rush of resolutions which are put from the Chair at the end of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech on Budget day. This is the Resolution which is held open to give the House the right of discussing these things. The next point of the hon. Member's complaint is that we are limiting the right of private Members. It is quite true that it is withholding from the House the discussion of the Import 527 Duties Act, 1932, and the opportunity of putting down new clauses in order to tax more things under that Act or remove things from its scope. Yet the hon. Gentlemen who are now supporting that complaint are the same Members who only an hour or so ago were complaining bitterly that any alterations whatever were being made in that Act, were begging the House to reject Amendments which had been put down to carry out undertakings given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the passage of the Act, on the ground that the Act having once been passed no further alteration ought to be made. An hour or two later they come down and complain bitterly that no opportunity is to be given to go through in detail every Clause of the Act and to alter every provision.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The point is that the Government are introducing Amendments to the Import Duties Act, 1932, but this Resolution, when embodied in the Finance Bill, would preclude the House from discussing the Government Amendments.
§ 12 m.
§ Major ELLIOT
I said that the only Amendments which were being introduced by the Government were Amendments to carry out undertakings given during the passage of that Bill. Those Amendments and the reasons for them have been debated at length in the discussions only recently concluded. The Opposition suggest that the Government are doing something unfair by bringing forward a Motion that it is expedient to amend the law relating to the National Debt and to customs but not the law contained in the Import Duties Act. Is it not the case that Budgets have been introduced without any Ways and Means Resolutions making it possible for the House to discuss the Customs provision of the country at all? The Budget of last year contained no such Resolution. We desire to leave it open to the House to discuss these things and to disturb as little as possible the arrangements come to under the Import Duties Act, 1932, in which we had the support of the Opposition and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in every part of the House.
Let me ask the House, apart from the Opposition, to consider the effect if these 528 Amendments were accepted. It would then be possible to go over again almost the whole ground gone over in the Import Duties Act and the new Clauses which, by reason of the guillotine Resolution, could not then be discussed. Could that be carried through without a guillotine Motion, which would limit the opportunities of the House for discussion much more strictly than it is proposed to limit them by the reservation in this particular case? We are trying to get through the Budget of the year without a guillotine Resolution, which hon. Gentlemen opposite did not succeed in doing last year. They introduced a guillotine Motion on the Budget and limited the opportunities of the private Member much more strictly than is now proposed under this Resolution.
The guillotine would be necessary for the great affairs of State on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of the House are to embark. The Chancellor of the Exchequer with the consent of the whole House is to go to the International Conference at Lausanne. That takes place in June and hon. Gentlemen opposite would be the first to complain if, owing to the Budget discussions running on, it was impossible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to attend the discussions at Lausanne. We should be accused on every side, and particularly by them, of omitting to use the full force of the country in coming to a settlement of these international questions. Even the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) could not limit the desire of his friends to take part in discussions over the Import Duties Act, and they would extend to such a length that it would be impossible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get away to Lausanne. To get the proceedings on the Finance Bill concluded early in June, it will be necessary, either to have the limitation of this Resolution, or to have a very stringent Guillotine Resolution, and we ask the House to accept this Resolution. [Interruption.] The precedent is the Autumn Budget of last year, when no Ways and Means Resolution such as this was put down. Surely a precedent for not allowing the House to discuss Customs arrangements at all is at any rate a precedent for a limitation of discussion. [Interruption.] I ask the 529 House to consider, not abstract quibbles, but the practical point as to how the Budget is to be got through with the least infringement of the rights of private Members. The solution of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite was to put on a stringent Closure by compartments; the proposal of the Government now is to leave the Budget discussions open to the free run of debate in the House, but to ask the House not to review again the Import Duties Act, which has been so recently passed; and on that proposal we shall be perfectly willing to meet discussion in the House.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has hardly done him self or the National Government justice in his speech. He has admitted that this is a new form of Guillotine, without precedent in this House. He produces as a precedent for this Resolution an occasion on which there was no Resolution at all—surely a rather feeble precedent. The House was never acquainted with the fact, and it was never suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the two days Debate on the Budget, that a Guillotine Resolution was included in it. We are perfectly justified in saying that this Resolution was put through the Committee stage without the slightest indication that it was intended to be an alternative to a Guillotine Motion. There was not a Member in the House, even on the Front Bench opposite, who knew that this was a Guillotine Motion, with the possible exception of those who were responsible for it.
§ Major ELLIOT
Surely it is not a Guillotine Motion. I never said it was, and I can say now that it is not. It is an alternative to a Guillotine Motion.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I prefer to call a spade a spade, and I thought the right hon. Gentleman liked to do the same. The Resolution is put down in this form in order that it may have the effect of a Guillotine.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said earlier that this was an alternative to a Guillotine, and presumably, therefore, it is desired that 530 it shall have the same effect. It is in tended to cut out from the discussion on the Finance Bill certain matters, in order to shorten the time, and the House was never informed of that when the Resolution was going through Committee. It was not until nearly mid night to-night that it was discovered for the first time.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Member. Certainly I do not think that many people in the House had noticed, until this evening, the effect of the Resolution, and from the discussion on the point of Order it was clear that the House generally had not been aware of its effect when it was going through Committee. We say firmly that this form of Resolution, which is entirely new, is quite un warranted unless the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has some better reasons for it than those which he has given, namely, that he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are both busy people and have to get away from the House as soon as they can.
There has been no suggestion of obstruction on this Budget or on any of the matters that have proceeded in this Parliament—unlike the proceedings of the last Parliament, when there was organised obstruction against the Budget throughout. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman must know that the two cases are not comparable cases. If he had had any excuse for bringing this matter forward in order to get rid of undue delays, he might have had some case to put up, but simply because there is some need for him or someone else to hurry away for some other purpose, surely the House is not going to be asked to bind itself by a form of resolution which in this case may be comparatively harm less but which as a precedent will perhaps be fraught with very consider able danger. Here you are definitely, by means of a resolution, taking a step which purports to exclude the possibility of discussing questions raised by private Members on Amendments to a Finance Bill. That is a thing which it has never before been suggested is desirable or right. I hope that the House will take a strong line on this, and will tell the 531 right hon. Gentleman that if he wants to guillotine the discussions later on, because they are taking too long a time, he will then bring forward a resolution in some form which will enable the House to do that if they think it desirable.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I say with respect that neither of the speakers so far has brought out all the facts about this Resolution. The facts are three fold. In the first place, this is an innovation. There is no question about that, and the bandying of words as to which Government is most to blame does not affect the main point. This is a new form of procedure. We come to the reasons for it. The real justification has not been stated by the Financial Secretary. It is this: All of us who have taken a part in the protectionist movement for years have always, in private conversation, contemplated with apprehension what the effect would be, under the ordinary procedure of the House of Commons, of discussing every single item in a protectionist Budget on the Floor of the House. We know that it would mean weeks and months of discussion. The Government, quite rightly, have taken the matter out of the hands of the House and put it in the hands of the Tariff Commission in order that the Commission may have full powers and, as has been truly stated in the liberal Press, in order that the House of Common may not discuss these various matters item by item. It would have been better if the Financial Secretary, instead of talking about the matter of time, had said that this is not a matter for this Session but for all Sessions, and a permanent Amendment of the law. Let the House face the fact that by this Resolution the effective discussion of various matters is taken out of the power of the House of Commons. It is a constitutional innovation, and that should have been stated frankly to the House. What happened last Session ought not to be any precedent. The Guillotine last Session was a scandal. All Guillotines of Budgets are a scandal, unless they are unavoidable. I hope we shall have no such thing as a Guillotine on this Budget, because it restricts the power of the House of Commons through the agency of private Members, who still 532 remain an important part of the House of Commons, to move Resolutions. The House will do well to pass the Resolution but let us pass it knowing fully what it entails.
§ Mr. AMERY
I should like to say a word to endorse what my Noble Friend has said about the great significance of this Resolution. Its immediate object, as I understand it, is to prevent the whole of the Import Duties Act being discussed over again, at a great waste of Parliamentary time, in connection with the Budget. To that extent I sympathise with it. But I would go even further. I think it is very vital, for the effective future conduct both of finance and of our tariff system, that the two things should be quite clearly separated and that the regulation of trade should no longer be looked upon as merely a part of taxation. We want to separate the taxing and the revenue raising functions of Parliament from its functions as concerned with the regulation of trade, and the more the two are kept apart, the less tariffs are regarded as taxation and the more as regulation, the better. What it is going to do, however, is not only to prevent Parliament re-discussing the Import Duties Act on this year's Finance Bill but, except to the extent to which the Advisory Committee makes suggestions in detail which are brought to the House as Resolutions, there will be no opportunity for the rest of this Parliament for our tariff policy to be reviewed and, while I shall certainly support the Resolution, I think the Government should give very careful consideration as to what is to be its policy in subsequent Sessions. Is the question of tariff policy to be entirely re moved from Parliament except in so far as changes are recommended by the Advisory Committee or an entirely new Import Duties Act introduced by the Government, or could the Government devise some means by which once a year the general question of our tariff policy can come under the review of Parliament? It seems to me that that is a point to which the Government ought to give very serious consideration.
I am not prepared at the moment to say how far I should press for such an annual opportunity for the reconsideration of our tariff policy. It may be a good thing for Parliament to leave the matter in the hands of an impartial body 533 altogether, but it is a tremendous diminution of our responsibilities and, before the Government commits itself to that, it ought to give very full consideration to the matter. It is a little difficult to ask the Financial Secretary, in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to commit himself here and now to a definite statement as to the course the Government intends to pursue, but at an early stage of our proceedings on the Finance Bill the Government should make up its mind and let the House of Commons know whether it is, in the lifetime of this Parliament, going to have any opportunity of reviewing the general working of our tariff system.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The House must have been astonished at the last two speeches, and Members on the Government Front Bench must be repeating the prayer, "O Lord, save me from my two intimate friends." The gravest constitutional departure is being attempted under cover of what has almost amounted to a lie. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] I said "what almost amounted to a lie." It has been stated that it is merely an alter native to the guillotine, but, as we have understood the guillotine in the past, it limits the amount of time the House devotes to certain parts of a Measure. It leaves the Opposition and private Members to select the Amendments upon which they desire to concentrate and simply places a time schedule before the House in accordance with which the business is to be done. Its effect, therefore, is quantitative, but the effect of the Resolution now proposed is qualitative. It does not limit the time the House has to devote to the Measure, but determines the form and nature of the opposition, and what can be done. The whole thing can be understood if we get rid entirely of the obligations of the Resolution and the Finance Bill and simply assume that the Government are bringing in an amending Bill. The Government are saying that it would not be competent for the House to amend the amending Bill, and that it must either reject or accept it in its various parts. The position is hidden and complicated, because here are Resolutions to limit the extent of the Finance Bill which is to be founded upon Resolutions. There was no need for this to be done if all that was intended to be done was to limit the Finance Bill to the 534 Resolutions. The proposal will prevent Amendments being put down to the Amendments of the Import Duties Act, 1932.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I beg the hon. Gentle man's pardon. The point has been brought out with commendable clarity by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl-Winterton) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), that this proceeding is to prevent hon. Members from putting down detailed Amendments to the amending legislation. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] It is precisely the point which has been brought out, and the purpose of the Resolution. Perhaps the Noble Lord sees the difficulty into which his extraordinary candour has placed his Front Bench?
§ Earl WINTERTON
The hon. Member must not attribute to me words which I did not use. That is not what I said, but at this late hour I do not propose to ex plain to the hon. Gentleman what I did say.
§ Mr. BEVAN
The Noble Lord was as lucid as his impudence is now. He made it clear to the House—and he was rein forced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook—that this is indeed a device of the Protectionists to secure the carrying of Protectionist legislation with the minimum of publicity and difficulty in the House of Commons. The House of Commons ought to be told that fact. Hon. Members have not only been asked to hand over the initiation of taxation to an outside body, but they are asked, when that outside body has made recommendations and the Government have come to a decision upon them, to swallow the recommendations at one gulp or to reject them altogether.
I hesitate to intervene at this late hour, and I am sure that the House will be sorry that I do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am obliged for that assurance, because the last thing that I want to do is to embarrass the Government. I think it will be agreed that whenever any infringement was at tempted to be made on the rights of private Members in the last Parliament I always came to the support of my hon. and right hon. Friends who now sit on the Front Bench. This particular instance 535 is a very serious case, and I congratulate the Opposition on having spotted it, though it is late in the day, because last Thursday I specifically asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain the matter. I said then that this proposal was going to limit considerably the Debate on the Import Duties when those duties come up for discussion. I was right in that, because the right hon. Gentleman in his explanation said that the Guillotine would limit Debate more than is proposed by this Resolution. That certainly implies, if words mean anything, that this Resolution does limit Debate. Therefore, my first reading of it was correct. I went on to say:I understand that after the passage of this Resolution it will be impossible, in future De bates, for a private Member to move, for example, any new Clause which might affect the new tariffs, or for a private Member to move to put anything on the free list.My right hon. Friend is correct when he says that this particular Resolution was open for two days, but that is only a half truth, for it must be read in conjunction with the Fifth Resolution, which was passed on the first day. Without that Resolution these words are valueless. Therefore, it is correct to say that the really relevant Resolution was passed on the first day, un discussed and unexplained. I also said:It is one more milestone along the road depriving private Members of their full opportunities of Debate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st April, 1932; cols. 1714–5, Vol. 264.Since that Debate I have had an opportunity of consulting various persons who are more learned in these matters, and they all agree with my view. We are making a very great innovation in our procedure, as the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl-Winterton) has said. That may or may not be a good thing, but it is not right that at 11.30 at night, and without any notice, apparently, we should be asked, once and for all, to make this great innovation. Even if we do not pass this Resolution, the other Resolution which has been passed very much restricts the scope of what may be discussed on the Finance Bill as regards the Import Duties Act. I cannot believe that the Finance Bill either in Committee or on Report would be allowed to have so many Clauses that it would seriously incommode the Chancel- 536 lor of the Exchequer in going to Lausanne in June. If hon. Members read the Order Paper on the Finance Bill they will find that generally there are 50 or 100 new Clauses, but very few of them are called. Therefore, I do not think we should lose very much if we did not pass this Resolution.
It may be that the Government must have this Resolution now, but I should prefer that there should be a little more time given, in view of the very strong protests that have been made. At the present time there is a Select Committee sitting on Procedure. If we are going to make a great revolution in procedure, that Committee is the body to deal with the very matters that we are speaking about. It might become part of our procedure, as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) said that we should have some sort of annual review of the general policy covered by Import Duties, and that we should have a regular review of the financial situation of the country. All these things ought to go before the Select Committee. There fore, I suggest that it might be well for the Government to hold their hand now and not make this great innovation, which will limit Debate on the Finance Bill on very important matters, and that instead it should be specifically referred to the Select Committee on Procedure, the results of whose inquiry we should await with interest.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)
It is quite like old times to make some observations in a Budget Debate. I have refrained from doing so hitherto, because the work has been so admirably done by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. But on this point I think it is right, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not able to be present, that I should say a few words. We must look at wider issues first, and I would ask the House to remember the tremendous fiscal changes made in this country in the last few months. When we are talking about a new precedent being made let us remember we are in a new world and facing new things. I am not stating that as a justification, but I ask the House to remember it. As you proceed in the rapid 537 change of the whole fiscal system of the country, you cannot exactly see what difficulties you are to come up against. You have to provide for these difficulties as best you can with the help of the House when the time comes. Let me say one word, first of all, about a subject closely cognate to this, mentioned often during the day and actually during the Debate on this Amendment, namely, the question of the Tariff Committee. That Tariff Committee, about which much has been said to-day from diverse points of view, and sometimes I think from an exaggerated point of view, is the kind of Committee I have always envisaged since I advocated a tariff. I advocated it for my party long before we thought of a National Government, long before we thought the Labour Government were coming to an end, and I advocated it on this ground—one of the main arguments against tariffs on the part of Free Traders has always been the corruption to which tariffs may lead. I am not saying whether that is true or not. They always used to say, and we have heard it many times, that when you have tariff legislation the lobbies of this House will be full of business men, and corruption will be rife and so forth, according to the views of the speaker and the audience. I said that when we came into power we would do all we could to meet what we think may be a real danger in tariff politics. The only way to avoid that danger is to set up a committee of men of the highest character, of men known to be unprejudiced, of men re warded by the State for their services with such remuneration as would put them outside temptation.
That is the theory, and I believe that in this case it has been carried out. I think that is wholly right. That, again, is a new departure, but you have a new condition of things, and the more we can keep the details of tariff work and advice in the hands of such a Committee, and not directly in the hands of the House of Commons the better— because, after all, responsibility arises. The Government are not bound to accept the advice of that Committee. The Government make themselves responsible for whatever they accept or do not accept, and when they make themselves responsible, they have to get the results of their 538 decision confirmed by this House in the usual way, in the way that the decisions of the Government are confirmed until the day comes when the House turns them out. It is under the process I have de scribed to the House that the Import Duties Bill was framed and the Act was passed.
We saw that it would be perfectly possible, unless limiting words of this kind were put in, to have the whole of the Act ripped to pieces by way of reduction in the House of Commons during the process of the Budget. Is that a good thing or is it not? I say that, quite apart from the fact that an active Opposition might keep the House for months on that work—let us leave that aside—it is a bad thing that you should have the whole details put down on the Floor of the House within a month or two of the process I have described—which I believe to be the best— having been fulfilled literally and correctly. I believe that would foe a bad thing. That is why we have put these words in there. I know it is a precedent. I will say a word about that in a moment. But surely, if I read these words aright, apart from what is contained in the Import Duties Act, there is no liberty that anyone has enjoyed in the passage of previous Finance Bills which is interfered with by as much as a comma by what is included in this Resolution, but it does bring us to another point which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) mentioned, which I think is a good point, and upon which we have been far too busy to come to any conclusion. I may say here that I do not know whether or not this Resolution will be a permanent form. It acts for this year. I would be perfectly willing to have the whole process discussed as mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crook-shank). It is perfectly obvious that whether we do that or not the Government will have to decide, and long before next year, whether they will have such a reservation made next year or not.
I come back to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. I agree that there would be great advantage if we could devise some method by which there should be some review in this House of the whole tariff situation. I am not 539 prepared to say to-night, and he did not expect me to say, what form that should take. I do not know. I have not yet considered it, but the request for consideration is an eminently reasonable one, and there must be a desire among all of us in all parts of the House—a desire animated by different motives—to have some opportunity of saying what we feel about the existing legislation, in which way we should like to see it modified, and so forth. I can assure the House with regard to that, as well as with regard to the continuance in future years of such words as we have in the Resolution this year, these matters shall be Very carefully considered by the Government. I thought it right at this stage to make these few observations. We must get this Resolution. We have to get the Report stage completed so that the Finance Bill may be introduced. It is not an extremely long Bill, but, still, it is a rather long Bill with a number of technical Clauses, which will want very careful printing and correcting, and I would not like to run the risk of postponing the printing of the Bill, having regard to the fact that we have to get the Second Reading of it through before we adjourn for the Whitsuntide Recess.
I would like to add a little more to what I said in the earlier part of my speech and to congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend, who occupies the position which I occupied for nearly five years, on having to undertake so much work without his Chancellor of the Exchequer. I can never forget the kindness shown by Mr. Bonar Law in relying on me to do so much of the work on the Finance Bill in the first two years. My right hon. and gallant Friend may have had his painful moments and may feel justifiably tired, but he has had the satisfaction of learning a great deal in the last few days. He is less likely to give himself away, he has grown in Parliamentary stature, and I congratulate him warmly.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Everyone will agree with the tribute which the Lord President of the Council has paid to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It has frequently occurred in our Parliamentary history that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to fall out of the line temporarily and then is the chance 540 of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Everyone in every part of the House will feel that he has stepped into the breach in the most effective fashion. The great majority of the House will agree with the Lord President of the Council in all that he has said about the importance of keeping the details of tariff arrangements clear and free from the day-to-day work of the House of Commons and administered by an independent and impartial tariff com mission. We are all agreed on that, and the right hon. Gentleman was only forcing an open door in the stress that he put upon that aspect of the topic now under discussion.
What is that topic? The point in question is whether, for the purpose of getting this particular Import Duties Bill through, we may not be permanently limiting and compromising those principles of the House of Commons by which, after all, we have not done so badly, by which in this period of the world's history we have arrived at a position about which we are not concerned, and by which we have a great Conservative majority engaged in carrying through a great Conservative programme. Do not let us, because to-day we hold the power, be in too much of a hurry to sweep away those liberties and principles and even those technicalities of procedure, which perhaps have been the unseen contributory cause of the growth of a structure of political society in this island which has withstood many stresses and many assaults. I was relieved to hear from the Lord President of the Council that he denied the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) when the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said, "Is it true that for the rest of this Parliament tariff policy is entirely removed from the House of Commons?" As far as I could gather, the Lord President of the Council said no, that nothing we were doing now could affect any future year.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Yes. That is with regard to this Resolution on the Paper. I said that, whatever might be done in future years, might have to be most care fully considered in the future. We shall have to consider carefully how to manage a discussion of tariffs in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Suppose that this Resolution is passed to-night and nothing further is done, no reversing Resolution is passed, then during the entire life of this Parliament there will be no means of discussing this matter?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Then it is quite clear from the answer to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that we are in no danger of parting with any liberties of the House of Commons for more than the currency of the present year. If that is so, I am greatly relieved to hear it. I am obliged to the Lord President of the Council for having made it quite clear. I was also gratified to hear from him that he is prepared to accept the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), namely, that this question of the method by which the Import Duties are placed in an exceptional category of procedure shall be brought under effective review, and that he is prepared to refer that to the Committee on Procedure. Is that so? Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to refer to the Committee on Procedure, our own Committee which is now sitting, the question of how the future discussion of Import Duties is to be conducted? I understood from his speech that he was.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I think, speaking from recollection, that what I said was that I was perfectly willing to consider either with them or in consultation with my colleagues in what way this could be done.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Then considerable relief will be given to those Members of the House who fear that, for the sake of the convenience this year of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in attending the Lausanne Conference, which I hope will be more successful than some other conferences, and of some other matters which are special to this year, we might be parting with some of the broad general liberties of the House of Commons. We have a definite understanding that the right hon. Gentleman is going to consult with the Committee on Procedure and not deny them the opportunity of expressing their opinion on these matters, and that, failing agreement between the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee on Procedure, the Government will make some 542 further positive statement on the matter after they have consulted among them selves. I am therefore of opinion that we should support the Government and not hamper them in getting through this Resolution. I agree with what the Lord President of the Council has said. It is an extraordinary situation. We are carrying through an immense fiscal revolution, and we should not hamper the administration at the present time. Therefore, I wish to support the Government on the definite assurances which have been given.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I think that the right hon. and hon. Members who were present when my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) raised the point of Order must agree now that he was perfectly justified—that is to say if the right hon. and hon. Gentle men who have spoken are correct in their view. I rise to put it to you, Mr. Speaker—I do so very respectfully—I think the OFFICIAL REPORT will record the fact that you decided there was no innovation. [Interruption.] If I am wrong, I shall be quite willing to be corrected. I understood you, Mr. Speaker, to say that the course we were proceeding was the ordinary course, and it was the course that was followed whenever a Financial Resolution was brought before the House. I may not have heard what you said, Mr. Speaker, but certainly what we understood you to say in answering my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) was—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman is rather mistaken as to what I intended to say, which was, that there was nothing out of order. It was entirely in order. I did not say the effect of it was not an entire innovation —which it is—but that, as regards the Financial Resolution, it was entirely in order in limiting the discussion which takes place on the Bill founded upon it.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I listened very care-fully to this discussion, and I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) have all agreed that this was a new pro- 543 cedure and not the ordinary procedure on Financial Resolutions, and I do not know what the discussion has been about if that was not so. [Interruption.] If this is not a change, then I repeat, there has been no sense in the discussion. The discussion must definitely have been on the point that we have embarked on a new fiscal policy, that we are living in a new world, and consequently that this was the purpose of the Resolution. I am not arguing whether I understood you to say, Mr. Speaker—we must accept your Ruling and judgment on the matter.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
What I said must not be mistaken. I am not saying that an entire innovation is not started by this form of Resolution. All I said was, as regards the effect of it in limiting in the subsequent Bill the discussion, that there was nothing new in that all Budget Resolutions do that.
§ Earl WINTERTON
On a point of Order. As what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lansbury) has said may be taken to controvert your Ruling, I want to say quite clearly that I was not questioning the constitutional aspect; all I said was that it was an innovation.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I must be allowed to exercise whatever brain I possess. It is extremely difficult to talk of this, because right hon. and hon. Gentlemen are engaged in conversation that is heard all over the place. [Interruption.] I am always willing to be told if I am offending, and I shall be glad to be corrected. I am trying to understand the position, and I did not take part in the discussion until a number of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have been here longer than I have, had given their views. We object to this Resolution, because in our view it is an entirely new form of procedure and an innovation, and we have tried to get Mr. Speaker's Ruling as to whether or not it is in order. I certainly understood you, Mr. Speaker, to mean that this procedure was the same as the procedure of an ordinary Financial Resolution. I am perfectly willing to leave it to be judged by what will be reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow morning as to what has been said by the various speakers.
544 I also wish to say that I think it is rather outrageous that we should have been treated to the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Major Elliot) and the reasons he gave us on behalf of the Government as to why this should be done. His reasons were entirely different from the reasons given by the Lord President of the Council. We only got to the root of the matter when the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham spoke, and it is definite now that this position is in order for this first year. Whether it will last longer or not we do not know. We know now that this is a design by this Resolution to take away from the House of Commons any responsibility, after one discussion, for these new tariffs which the Government like to bring forward. The Lord President of the Council has talked about the reason for this. I do not take any stock of the reason. I think he gave his case away when he said that the remuneration was sufficient to keep the Committee above suspicion and temptation. I think that money is a thing that is acting to the detriment of the honour and justice of this business. While I do not think that that is a good safeguard all I want to point out again is that the Government of the day have rejected a Motion which would have set up a Committee— not a Committee of the whole House— but a Committee giving some advice on another question. The fact is that what the Government want is a free hand. I can remember a quotation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) in a speech on tariffs when he talked about a free hand and free beer in the pub.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Occasionally, the right hon. Gentleman speaks really good sense. I notice he changes his mind, but we now know where he is. There was something he said which was perfectly true. It has been proved true in every country where tariffs are in operation. We register a protest against the Government bringing in a proposal of this kind in this sort of way. If they wanted to take tariffs away from this House, the proper thing to have done was to have brought forward a resolution in the ordinary way and to have given proper time for its discussion.
545 The other thing I want to say is that we know now that when we were told that this proposal was 1.0 a.m. brought forward instead of the Guillotine, in fact, that had nothing whatever to do with the subject.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 209; Noes, 29.547
|Division No. 168.]||AYES.||[1.1 a.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Grimston, R. V.||Petherick, M.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Albery, Irving James||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Potter, John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Hanbury, Cecil||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hanley, Dennis A.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Ray, Sir William|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Hornby, Frank||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Horobin, Ian M.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Remer, John R.|
|Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Blindell, James||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Boothby. Robert John Graham||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Boulton, W.W.||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Jamleson, Douglas||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Ker, J. Campbell||Salt, Edward W.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Kimball, Lawrence||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Scone, Lord|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Leckie, J. A.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Campbell, Edward Tatwell (Bromley)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Lennax-Boyd, A. T.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Levy, Thomas||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Castle Stewart. Earl||Liddall, Walter S.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Llewellln, Major John J.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Lymington, Viscount||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Colville, John||McKie, John Hamilton||Stones, James|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Storey, Samuel|
|Cook, Thomas A.||McLean, Major Alan||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Crossley, A. C.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Templeton, William P.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Donner, P. W.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Milne, Charles||Train, John|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morrison, William Shephard||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Munro, Patrick||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Nicholson, O. W. (Westminster)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||North, Captain Edward T.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||Palmer, Francis Noel||Womersley, Walter James|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Peat, Charles U.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Penny, Sir George||Major George Davies and Corn-|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||mander Southby.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, George Henry||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Price, Gabriel|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir William||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Curry, A. C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Tinker and Mr. Duncan|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McKeag, William||Graham.|
Motion made, and Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in upon the said Resolutions and upon the Resolutions reported from the Committee of Ways and Means, and from Committees of the whole House on the 26th day of April, and agreed to by the House on that day, by the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Chamberlain and Major Elliot.