HC Deb 02 February 1932 vol 261 cc32-6

I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make about the business during the week.


The Government have been engaged during the Recess in studying the trade balance of this country in all its aspects with a view to the formulation of schemes for meeting the present situation. It has been decided to introduce a Bill, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will propose the necessary Financial Resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means on Thursday. It is the intention of the Government to press forward with the Bill and place it on the Statute Book at the very earliest possible date. In view of the state of business before Easter and particularly the urgency of passing the Trade Bill into law, the Government must regretfully ask Private Members to sacrifice their time. The Motion to take Private Members' time will be moved to-morrow. Therefore, the course of business for the week will be as follows:

To-day, as already announced, the Second Reading of the Town and Country Planning Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

To-morrow, Wednesday; Motion to take Private Members' time, and, if the House agrees to that Motion, consideration of a Resolution approving of Order No. 3 under the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act.

Thursday; Ways and Means; Committee.

The business for Friday will be announced later, and, if there is time on any day, other Orders may be taken.


I understand that on Thursday the Prime Minister proposes to take the Money Resolution in regard to the new tariff proposals. In view of the fact that the Government are hopelessly divided on this most important matter and in view of the constitutional position, which I am sure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to safeguard, I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will give time before Thursday, or on Thursday, whichever suits him best, to debate the Motion of Censure which we have put on the Paper: That this House can have no confidence in a Government which confesses its inability to decide upon a united policy and proposes to violate the long-established constitutional principle of Cabinet responsibility by embarking upon tariff measures of far-reaching effect which several of His Majesty's Ministers declare will be disastrous to the trade and industry of the country. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks it is really decent to this House, with such a Motion on the Paper, to proceed to discuss legislation which four of his own colleagues are going to speak against and vote against; and, whether, in order that the House may decide the constitutional question, it would not be much more decent and becoming to allow that question to be discussed beforehand.


We are very glad indeed to meet the challenge which has been put out and to do so at the very earliest opportunity, but the first duty of this House is to go on with its financial schemes. It is quite impossible to do it this week. I would like to see the wording of the Motion but, apart from that, we shall certainly give the very earliest opportunity available next week for the discussion of the Vote of Censure.


The right hon. Gentleman has hardly met the point. This legislation is designed to benefit the country's trade and industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, we were told that that is what it is being brought forward for—to give industry and trade a fillip. Four Members of the right hon. Gentleman's own Cabinet have declared against it. That, at least, is unusual, and should not the question of whether it is right for a Government so divided to bring forward such legislation be settled first, before the legislation is brought up for discussion?


Yes, but we took the view that perhaps after the event there would be some more reason for moving the Vote of Censure. If my right bon. Friend cares to take Friday, I shall be very glad to accommodate him.


On the question of business, is it proposed to close the proceedings on the Financial Resolution on Thursday?


No. It will be introduced then.


At what point may we have the benefit of the advice of the Home Secretary?


Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to state that his proposal is to take absolutely all Private Members' time from now until August?


Private Members, as my hon. Friend knows, have no time up to August. The proposal is to take all Private Members' time, but per- haps my hon. Friend would just wait for the wording of the Motion which will be handed in to-day. I regret that I shall not be able to move it myself, but my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council will do so.


The point I want to anticipate is this. I have to accept the Government's statement that there is going to be so much work that they need all the time, but it may be that the work will proceed much more speedily than they at present anticipate. Will the form of the Motion to-morrow be such that Private Members' time will be taken away, finally and absolutely, for the whole Session, even supposing that subsequent progress proves it possible to allow some time to Private Members?


That is so. Private Members' time will be taken away, but if, as a result of the working of the experiment, we find we have time to spare, we shall be very glad to devote it to ways congenial to the Opposition.


Before we rose for the vacation, we were given an assurance that, in giving up Private Members' time, we should lose nothing, because we should have Private Members' time afterwards. What is the reason for this sudden change?


The reason for the sudden change is the preparation which the Government have made to supply the House with business of the most urgent importance.


Will the rights of Private Members under the Ten Minutes' Rule be taken away?


The Ten Minutes' Rule will not be included, but will hon. Members be good enough to wait for the exact wording of the Motion?


In the unlikely eventuality of the Government's business proceeding so quickly that the Prime Minister has time to spare, will he be good enough to remember that the Private Members' facilities which we are asked to sacrifice, are as much the right of the majority as of the Opposition?


When we rose for the Recess, we were promised a Children Bill. May I ask whether that Bill is to be dropped?


There is nothing dropped. The variation has taken place in order to get the Trade Bill advanced. The Children Bill is only postponed.


On a point of Order. Before the first Motion relating to the Business of the House is put, may we have an explanation, in view of what the Prime Minister has said, of the second Motion which is on the Order Paper to-day at the commencement of Public Business?

Business of the House,—That no Bills, other than Government Bills, be introduced in anticipation of the Ballot, and that all Members who desire to ballot for Bills do hand in their names at the Table during the Sitting of the House this clay or to-morrow; and that a copy of the Notice of such Bill be handed in at the latest during the Sitting of the House on Thursday: That the Ballot for the precedence of the said Bills be taken on Thursday, at a convenient time and place to be appointed by Mr. Speaker, and that the presentation of Bills on Friday be taken at the commencement of Public Business."—[The Prime Minister.]


In view of what the Prime Minister has said, and with the consent of the House, because I think it would be for their convenience, I do not propose to take the Ballot for Private Members' Motions to-day.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on Government Business be exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House)."—[The Prime Minister.]

Ordered, That no notices of Amendments on going into Committee of Supply be handed in before Thursday, and that the Ballot for precedence of such Amendments be taken on that day immediately after Questions."—[The Prime Minister.]