HC Deb 19 October 1932 vol 269 cc153-75
The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I beg to move, That, notwithstanding the practice of this House according to which a number of new duties relating to different commodities may not be imposed in a single Resolution, the Resolution 'Imposition of Duties in fulfilment of Agreements and Announcement made at the Imperial Economic Conference held at Ottawa,' standing on the Notice Paper in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a Resolution to be moved in the Committee of Ways and Means, may be moved in the form in which the Resolution stands on the Notice Paper, or in any modified form, and the Question thereon may he proposed from the Chair accordingly. This Motion, which stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, is a Motion which must precede the moving of the second of the Ways and Means Resolutions. The House will see that we are not asking for any alteration of the Standing Orders, but we are asking that the House shall grant dispensation from a particular Rule. I think that perhaps I might usefully inform the House what is the history of the Rule in question. It is really founded upon a Ruling given by Mr. Speaker Lowther in 1916, on the Report stage of the Ways and Means Resolution at that time. That Resolution contained combined provisions for the continuance of five different duties, and Mr. Speaker ruled that there was precedent for combining in one Resolution provisions for the continuance of a number of existing duties, and he said: I quite agree… that it would be extremely undesirable to put into a Resolution a combined number of new duties, but I would point out that this does not contain any new duties; they are all old duties. Later on he said: While I quite agree that it would be extremely undesirable to introduce a Resolution in Committee which contained a number of new duties, I would point out that this Resolution does not do so. It simply continues some of the old existing duties which have already been imposed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th June, 1916; col. 561, Vol. 83.] The next point to mention in the history of this matter is that in 1925, on the Report stage again of the Ways and Means Resolutions for the Finance Bill of that year, the Third Resolution made provision for the revival of several new import duties which were imposed by Part I of the Finance Act (No. 2), 1915. Captain Benn moved to recommit the Resolution to the Committee of Ways and Means on the ground—a ground which was not disputed at the time—that provision was made by the Resolution for the imposition of several new duties. The Motion eventually was withdrawn after Mr. Speaker had given his Ruling as to the correct procedure in Committee of Ways and Means. Mr. Speaker Whitley then said: I entirely adhere to the Ruling given by my predecessor in 1916. … As far as I am concerned, I certainly shall be satisfied that the decision of my predecessor should become recognised as a matter of the practice of the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1925; col. 1026, Vol. 183.] That, then, is the practice of the House—that, while it is in order to combine in a Resolution provisions for the continuance of more than one existing duty, it is not in order to take in one Resolution a number of new duties. That is the Rule from which we are asking for dispensation. I may, perhaps, point out to the House that in the present instance there would be very great practical difficulties in carrying out the Rule. If hon. Members will refer to the table of duties which are in question under the Second Ways and Means Resolution, they will see that they are under no less than 22 different headings, and, therefore, 22 separate Resolutions would be required if we were to follow the Rule in question. Even supposing that you could to some extent group different items together which had some resemblance to one another, you could not avoid a very large number of Resolutions—certainly not less than 11—being required if we were to maintain strictly the practice of the House; and I think it is obvious that in the time at our disposal for further Debate in Committee and on Report it would be quite impossible to give more than perfunctory attention to so many Resolutions as that.

There is, however, another consideration, which I must say carries a great deal more weight in my mind than merely considerations of expediency, or even of convenience. What is really the conception that underlies the practice of the House? It surely is that the House should not be asked to give one single decision upon a number of different issues such as might well be comprised in a series of different duties. That is the thing which it is desired to avoid, and that is really the underlying reason for the practice that has been observed. But I would ask the House to consider this fact, that in the present instance, although there is this large number of new duties, there is really only one issue concerned, and that is whether or not the Agreements which were come to at Ottawa shall be implemented by this House. In order to implement those Agreements, all these duties must be granted by the House, and, therefore, it is not possible to pick and choose among the duties, to decide that we will take one and not another; that would destroy the Agreements themselves. It is, therefore, a fact that, although under this Motion we are asking to be dispensed from the letter of the practice, in spirit we are still carrying it out, because it is really only one issue.

I see that there is an Amendment on the Paper, but it is simply a negative, and it would not make any difference if there were no Amendment down at all; it is really just the same as if hon. Members were to vote against the Resolution. I hope, however, in view of the explanation I have given, that the House will see that there is nothing really very disturbing or anomalous in the Motion which I now make, and accordingly I beg to move.


I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words: in view of the accepted constitutional practice by which a number of new duties relating to different commodities may not be imposed in a single Resolution, and having regard to the diverse character of the articles affected by the proposed new duties, which include foodstuffs and raw materials of many industries, this House declines to vary the normal procedure. This Amendment proposes the reverse of the proposal of the Prime Minister. The Chancellor of the Exchequer dismissed this matter very lightly, but I have always been told that, if we have a Resolution departing from the practice of the House, we have to look at it very closely. It comes to me as a surprise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when suggesting a departure from a long established practice, should treat the matter in such a light way. According to his version, we should just allow this Resolution to go through after a perfunctory Debate, for, if by any chance the House should take its courage in its own hands and leave it out, the whole Bill would be dropped, and all those long, weary weeks in the hot atmosphere of Ottawa would have been wasted. I contend that that is a theory and doctrine that we should not accept.

I do not over-rate our precedents and practice in this House; I realise that the Rules and practice of the House exist for the House. The House can modify them in the light of experience, but there has to be a very strong case made out before we go back on the experience of generations of Parliamentary life. There is no one in whose hands we feel we can more safely trust the traditions of this House than the Lord President of the Council. There is no greater believer in the traditions of Parliament. I suggest to him that this is a very bad time, when the Parliaments of the Empire are considering similar problems, to break the established practice. The Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised that, when on a previous occasion Mr. Speaker ruled that it was undesirable to lump together a number of duties. They were not new duties; they were merely a continuance of old duties. This is a very much more serious matter. This is not only introducing a whole series, a long list of 22 new duties, classified under 11 heads, establishing a new practice of Parliament, introducing a new tradition—it may be a good policy, but still a new tradition—in the practice of imposing taxes, because these are taxes. It is no use quibbling or camouflaging them. They may be desirable taxes, but they are ordinary taxes imposing a charge on the people of the country just as much as the taxes embodied in the Budget of the year.

This is really a supplementary Budget. The Bill that will embody it will be a supplementary Finance Bill. It will raise a considerable amount of revenue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday ignored the fact that these proposals will bring in a very large sum of money. He has not bothered even to make an estimate. We should be justified in asking him to publish figures, just as is done in the annual Budget. He ought to have told us what revenue will ensue if we pass these proposals, what he anticipates will come as the result of the imposition of a, 2s. duty on corn. I am told from a reliable source that, assuming that the wheat comes from the same channels as at present, or during the last twelve months, we have reason to anticipate a revenue of something like £2,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman has no right to talk as if it were merely an ordinary Bill. The Secretary of State for War has stated that, when it reaches another place, it will not even be a Money Bill. I know that we can trust Mr. Speaker to safeguard the interests of the House, and I cannot believe that even the Chancellor of the Exchequer would suggest that these proposals must not necessarily take the form of a Money Bill. They are a charge on the people of the country and, therefore, established practice ought to be adhered to and not departed from in this case.

There is another, and a very substantial reason why they should be taken separately. Many Members, not confined to these benches but in different parts of the House, who were prepared to accept Protection, and even Preference, gave solemn pledges that on no account would they agree to taxes on meat or wheat. The President of the Board of Trade had an unopposed election. He got a very free hand. He stated that on no account would he agree to a tax on wheat. We want to give him and others an opportunity to express their views under each head. No doubt, they will swallow castor oil—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cod liver oil."] Castor oil would be very much better for them. It is very doubtful whether they can adhere to their pledges solemnly given at the last election not to vote for a tax on wheat. I do not know the opinion of the Secretary for Mines. I do not know if he is prepared to go to the miners and ask them to submit to a tax on corn. We ought to have an opportunity to vote separately. We ought to give the House a chance to vote on each particular head so that we can say how we stand on these new taxes. First, we ought to know what revenue is anticipated. I hope this discussion will give the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury an opportunity of showing his great financial ability and ex- perience and knowledge of business. Perhaps he will tell the House, with the aid of his officials, how much under these various heads we are to expect in the way of revenue. I may be told these are not merely revenue taxes but that the aim and object of them is to give a preference to the Dominions. But that is not a new policy. It is a policy which has been accepted of recent years in many new taxes. It applies to tea and tobacco and almost every new tax of the last three or four years. There is nothing novel in it. But we must assume that, though some part of the trade will be directed into Imperial channels, the greater part of these commodities will continue to come from those countries from which they have been previously supplied. Therefore, I submit that we should not depart from constitutional practice and from those old and valuable customs which have been built up after years of Parliamentary experience.


I beg to second the Amendment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that there is only one issue. To some extent that may be correct. It is the issue of the Ottawa Agreements. But we have to remember that each one of these items is placing a tax upon our people, and the wisdom of past years has laid down a procedure which ensures that, when new taxes are put upon the people, each new tax shall be separately considered, and that the people's representatives in this House shall have an opportunity of saying Aye or No to it. We have been asked to consider a whole long list of taxes, the majority of them food taxes, and the others mostly on the raw materials of various industries. It is an entire departure from that which the wisdom of this House has laid down in the past, that we should be asked to vote without knowing, as my hon. Friend said, what revenue is expected from these taxes either individually or in bulk. People may say that the conditions of the present day are entirely different from any to which we have been accustomed. That may be so, but the old rules which guided us in the past in laying taxation upon the shoulders of the people should surely not be forgotten, and on occasions like this, when we are making such big departures in taxation, we should pay greater attention than ever to the burdens which we are laying upon the shoulders of our people.

There is little to add to the argument, which is quite clear. Are we to break away from past practice and vote new taxes without consideration, or are we to keep to the old practice and vote them after consideration? It is the duty of this House when we are taxing the people to give the greatest consideration to every new tax which is imposed.


The Resolution which has been moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to which this Amendment has been proposed, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, brings about a complete innovation in the fiscal policy of this country and in the methods of imposing taxation in this country. One of the Resolutions which will be submitted to the House later, if the Amendment be defeated and the Resolution be carried, will contain a long list of articles upon which it is proposed to impose certain duties. Those duties will vary in their amounts and as to the dates upon which they are to apply, and I do not think that it is intended that they shall end unless something fresh is put in their place. Each of those duties in normal circumstances would require to be debated separately, and yet the House has been asked to pass en bloc a list of articles—about 20 in number—varying in character from foodstuffs to raw materials. We are asked to pass en bloc a tax upon eggs and a tax upon ingots of raw steel. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government generally, why they take this step? They say that the time of the House is very short and they wish to put those things through in time to maintain their Agreements. The House has a right to know the Agreements which have been entered into with the Dominions and Colonies with regard to the various articles, because in the Resolution which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has moved they state quite definitely: The Resolution 'Imposition of Duties in fulfilment of Agreements and Announcement made at the Imperial Economic Conference held at Ottawa.' We should like to know—and the House is entitled to know—the Agreements which have been entered into with respect to each of the particular classes of articles.


They are all in the Blue Book, No. 4174.


I agree that they are all in the Blue Book, but we are not having the opportunity to discuss the Agreements in detail upon the particular articles. That, I submit, is one of the rights of hon. Members of this House. This National Government, or Tory Government composed of different sections in the House, has become really the revolutionary party in the House. The Die-Hards, in this Resolution, are supporting the red cap of liberty—liberty from discussion and freedom of any criticism on the part of this House. Some of his old colleagues twitted the Minister of Mines and also the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who I am pleased to see in his place, and who will now have an opportunity of supporting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the imposition of duties upon many articles against which he, speaking from different parts of the House in which at the particular moment he happened to be seated, spoke very bitterly and strongly. It will be most interesting to the House to hear from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the reasons which he will have an opportunity of putting forward this afternoon why these duties should be imposed and to compare them with some of the reasons which he gave in former days why duties of the same character should not be imposed. It will be interesting to compare the utterances of those past days of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues who used to adorn the Liberal benches of the House, but who are now adorning the benches of a hybrid Tory party in a Tory Government, with their utterances on the present occasion. The same thing applies to other Members.

Some of the Liberals, while not against imposing harsher conditions and sacrifices upon many of the poor people of this country, found that at least they could not submit to the principles of Free Trade being violated, and so they left title Government after having agreed to quotas. I think that any Liberal who has swallowed quotas can swallow the list of duties contained here. They have made a protest from the Front Bench and another from below the Gangway, and yet they voted for a Government which imposed various duties which were even heavier than those which are now being put before us. For the life of me I cannot understand how Members of the House, who were prepared to vote for the imposition of worse conditions upon the people of this country, and who justified their action in the country as well as in this House, can come along in all hypocrisy and say that they cannot swallow the fresh duties which are to be put on certain articles in order to benefit the people in the Colonies. While I object to the sudden discovery of virtue on the part of the one-time supporters of the National Government in regard to quotas and new duties, I shall at least take this opportunity, as will the Labour Opposition, of expressing dissent from the method which is now being adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by the Government. We shall vote against these things being taken en bloc in the manner proposed in the Resolution.

3.30 p.m.


No one can accuse me of any very violent revolutionary principles, but I cannot but support the Government in the Resolution which they have put before the House and which seems to be in keeping with the urgency of the times and the business with which it deals. After all, we are to have an adjournment to-night to discuss serious troubles arising out of unemployment. The Ottawa Agreements, be they good or be they bad, are constructive suggestions to deal with unemployment. As such, they cannot be got through this House too quickly. Hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that this Amendment is only and can only be a time-wasting effort. They know perfectly well that the whole of the duties hang together. They must all be accepted or they must all be rejected. They know equally well that in the present, state of Parliamentary procedure and with the present constitution of the House, there can be only one result.


Why have any Debate at all?


I have been sufficiently long in the House with the Hon. Member and his friends to know that, while they remain Members of it, we are not likely to get through any controversial subject without long discussion. This is not the occasion for wasting time in long discussions. The Government's scheme is intended to be of constructive assistance to employment. Let us get on with it. I could have listened with much more sympathy to the appeal of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) and the hon. Member for Orkney and Zetland (Sir B. Hamilton) if I did not remember that two years ago they willingly went into the Lobby with the late Socialist Government in support of a Guillotine Motion on a Finance Bill, which stifled discussion on the imposition of taxes, and was contrary to all the principles which they have been laying down to-day.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that because certain agreements had been reached at Ottawa all of them should go through at once, and that it would be impossible to carry them out if one was defeated. Seeing that this is a big matter, the Government would gain the confidence of the House if they allowed their scheme to be thoroughly examined. If the scheme is going to be the big thing that is expected, the Government could not lose anything by examination in detail. We should then know thoroughly what the proposals mean. The last speaker said that whatever we say the House will carry the proposals. If we were to follow that line of argument, it would hardly be worth while taking up any time of the House of Commons, because there happens to be a big majority on one side. I do not think that anyone would take that point of view; it would utterly spoil Parliamentary procedure. I want full opportunity to examine each one of the duties and to see what argument can be put forward why they should be imposed upon the people of this country. We could then hear the case put up by the Government and we could realise the value of their case. If, on the other hand, they say: "We have a tremendous majority, it is hardly worth while our paying attention to you and we are going to sweep these duties through without any argument," that will not be in the best interests of democracy. For these reasons, I support the Amendment, believing it to be in the interests of Parliament.


The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment have made out their case with some force, but may I remind the House of the exact extent of the change and some of the reasons why it should be made? At the present time you can include in one Ways and Means Resolution the renewal of more than one existing duty, and you can include in one Ways and Means Resolution the imposition of more than one new duty relating to commodities of a similar character, but by the practice of the House and the Rulings of past Speakers you cannot include in one Resolution new duties relating to different commodities. The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment dealt with the wisdom of past years and asked us not to break away from past traditions, and speakers on the other side have done the same. I do not accuse them of having been driven by the exigencies of opposition to oppose the change, but I submit to them that it is not always the wisdom of past years that ought to guide present years. Against the wisdom of past years I put the present occasion and all that the present occasion brings with it. Even my hon. Friends who are supporting the Amendment are not free from the charge of breaking away from the wisdom of past years, seeing that they supported Lord Snowden's Budget of 1931 in which taxes which were not to come into force within the year were imposed.


Yes, and you protested very loudly about it.


I did not hear any protest from the Liberal party or the Socialist party. They all supported Lord Snowden in the Lobby. The justification for the Motion is the changing times in which we find ourselves and the necessity for keeping our procedure flexible. It is a new situation and its newness consists in this, that we have got Imperial action unified but we have not got imperial machinery unified. We have, in a sense, to legislate in Imperial matters, although we are the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The new duties that we are proposing to put into force are far more than a, matter that concerns us alone. We have to bear that fact in mind, and that is the justification for the change in procedure. It is all very well to say that the wisdom of our ancestors is always right, but there comes a time when you should change it, and one ought to be very careful, certainly the Liberal party ought to be very careful, not to look too much at the past. It seems to me that the Liberals are rather inclined to cast their eyes back too much. A change is necessary because circumstances have changed. As to the point that hon. Member ought to have a chance of speaking and voting on each separate duty, I apprehend that that chance will come on the Committee stage of the Bill. This is only a Ways and Means Resolution. All the duties must be included in a Bill. Then hon. Members will be given the opportunity of expressing their views upon each individual duty. Nothing would destroy the House of Commons more completely than failure to move with the times. We have to keep our procedure fluid and we have to adapt it to new circumstances. Although I support and always shall support the Rules of the House there comes a time when the Rules ought to be modified, and I think this is such an occasion.


I do not think that the Government should abject to an Amendment of this sort coming from the Opposition, because the Opposition are here to oppose any legislation put into force by the National Government, but I do think that the Government have every right to resent an Amendment of this sort when it is moved by hon. Members opposite, some of whom have had the privilege of serving in the National Government. I should like to have heard a few remarks from the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). The right hon. Gentleman got in at the last General Election, as I understand, by telling the people in his division that the position of this country was so grave that he had to give up his own political views and that he stood with the full confidence of the Government of which he was an undoubted ornament. What is the position to-day? The right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Government at a time when the Ottawa Conference was a well-known fact, and he must have been fully alive to the importance attached by the Government to the negotiations at Ottawa. The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment must also have been fully aware of the grave issues at stake. To my mind it is an amazing thing to find that those who were fully aware of the necessity for the Government dealing with these important matters as expeditiously as possible should give their support to a blocking Amendment of this sort. The right hon. Member for Darwen at the last General Election had the support of many members of the Conservative party——


That is not so.


I remember the attitude a the Conservative party in that division and the importance that was attached to the measure of support given to the right hon. Gentleman by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council.


As the hon. Member has challenged me across the Floor of the House, may I point out that the Conservative party in the constituency refused to follow the advice of the Lord President of the Council. They polled their full strength against me within 600 votes, almost exactly the same as at the previous election; and my majority was over 4,000.


I do not want to challenge any personal statement of the right hon. Gentleman. All I say is that members of the Conservative party favoured the candidature of the right hon. Gentleman and that he had the support of many Conservatives. I hope the House will show by a large majority the opinion they have of an Amendment which, coming from the quarter it does, is wholly unjustifiable.


I ask the House to bear with me for one moment while I endeavour to make it even clearer than it is why members of the Conservative party should accept what may appear to be at first sight a somewhat revolutionary motion and a departure from the usual procedure of the House of Commons. If the long list of varied duties constituted a part of the ordinary Finance Bill of the year and had been merely put down with other duties on the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government there would be no justification whatever for departing from our ordinary procedure. Outside this House there are a variety of interests which are affected by one or more of these duties and those interested, who think that their industry is going to be seriously injured by the imposition of a duty, have been making an appeal to individual private Members to oppose the duty on their particular article. As an example, I give the House an appeal which has been made to me in the case of the new duty of 10 per cent. upon linseed. If we were perfectly free, and if that proposal were made on the decision of the Government itself, without any previous negotiations with the Dominions, I cannot conceive that we could possibly agree at any stage, either on the Financial Resolution or in Committee, not to have an opportunity of putting the case of the National Seed Crushers Association before the House.

Why is it that we do not insist at this stage on having an opportunity of discussing each one of these new duties? The reason is obvious. It is that the Ottawa Agreement as a whole greatly exceeds the importance of the incidence of any particular duty. It is obviously the first and paramount duty of supporters of the Government to support the quickest possible procedure for carrying the Ottawa Agreement as a whole into effect. Even so, I cannot but admit that I view with some misgiving the removal from this House of these taxing matters, but when I hear that for the next three weeks we are to debate the various stages of these proposals I wonder why we should spend three weeks at all. We are only here to register an Agreement, which I believe is one profoundly in the interests not only of the trade of this country and of every part of the Empire but in the interests of the world as a whole. And we are only here to facilitate and register that Agreement. Therefore, it is as well for those outside, who may think that their particular trade may be injured, should understand why we do not take an opportunity which is ordinarily taken of voicing the views of all sections of the public and of their particular constituency. If we were simply to register our votes against the Amendment in silence without giving our reasons I feel that we should be misunderstood and that this House might be considered by the people of this country as being an antiquated and useless institution.


I hope the House will not be misled by the specious arguments addressed to it by that section of the Liberal party which is represented by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). The issue is really an extremely simple one. It is not one of departure from precedent in such a way as to constitute an attack on the liberties of the House. After weeks of negotiation at Ottawa our representatives came to an agreement embodying the imposition, on both sides, of a great number of duties. Those who are opposing the Motion dislike the Ottawa Conference and dislike the agreement which has been arrived at. They feel, however, that their views are not the views of this House or of the people of the country, and, having failed in their frontal attack, they are now trying to achieve their purpose by means of small saps and mines. They very well know that the Ottawa Agreement has to be taken as a whole, and that they cannot say, "We will or we will not have a duty on cod liver oil. We would like a duty on castor oil." [Interruption.] When I interrupted the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) I said that the negotiators at Ottawa had been very considerate to his section of the party by admitting castor oil free.


It is not free.


I understood that castor oil was free; but if not we must be prepared to swallow that duty with that on cod-liver oil. But to come back to the point we are discussing, it is a simple one. Hon. Members must either approve or disapprove the Ottawa Agreement. If they are going to sap it and mine it and say, "We will not have this duty and that duty," they are going to knock it all to pieces. The House of Commons and the country are not going to allow the Ottawa Agreement to be knocked to pieces, and we want to get on with the work that we were returned to do, which was to enter into an agreement with the Dominions and to get on with it, as one of the main hopes of solving unemployment. We all have a great deal of sympathy with the working man who has not an opportunity to earn his living, yet whenever we try to do something which will enable the working man to get a job and protect his industry in this country, and get him fresh places where his goods can be sold in the Dominions, we have these futile and technical objections raised with the object of holding up the work which we have in hand. I know that the House will not be misled, but it is high time that we said that we approved the Agreement and that we are not going to discuss the duties in detail. They have been dealt with very meticulously already. We have full particulars of them before us. We approve what the Government representatives have done at Ottawa, and we are going to carry the proposals into law at the earliest possible moment.


On the 9th May, 1921, when the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was Prime Minister, the then President of the Board of Trade, now the Lord President of the Council, moved a Financial Resolution which had the effect of imposing duties on some dozens of articles. They were all in one Resolution. They commenced with glai3s and finished with the manufacture of fermentative processes, which seemed to be appropriate. The Board of Trade subsequently found some 6,000 items to he included in this Resolution. It seems a little late in the day, therefore, to state that it is improper to include more than one article in one Resolution.


I wish to say a few words on this subject, though I must apologise for intruding on the domestic quarrel on the other side of the House. There are times when I feel almost inclined to be grateful even to the National Government for what it does. This happens to be one of the occasions when I feel so disposed. What has been the main case made out by the supporters of the Government for this Resolution? Broadly speaking it is that the circumstances under which we are met together are such as to demand exceptional arrangements. Speaking for myself I am most interested in this precedent which is to be established by the. Government here, for succeeding Governments may find that there are exceptional circumstances and may argue that the circumstances are so exceptional as to justify exceptional procedure of this sort. I trust that when that time comes hon. Members opposite will not begrudge us the opportunity of availing ourselves of the instruction which to-day they are so kindly offering to us as to how to proceed.

While there are special circumstances connected with these Resolutions from Ottawa, the Government must not forget that the House itself, in its very nature and constitution, this afternoon presents a special circumstance. It is Not good enough and not quite satisfactory to tell us that because there is in the House an overwhelming majority that presumably is in favour of the tenor of these Resolutions, therefore the rest of us ought not to avail ourselves of the opportunity of discussing them. After all, we have been returned to this House too; we represent constituencies, and we are entitled to put our point of view either for or against the Resolutions. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to submit that the Government ought not to deprive every single Member, supporter or opponent, of a full opportunity of discussing each item separately as it is presented to us in these Resolutions.

4.0 p.m.

I am all in favour of the argument used by the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) in favour of flexibility, having regard to the changing circumstances. I myself, and I dare say many other hon. Members, have long since been convinced that the procedure of this House requires overhauling in many respects. I should be heartily glad to participate in any well-considered scheme for altering the procedure of the House when opportunity comes, but I do not think we should do that under the cloak that is at present afforded to the House. If we are to discuss the ordinary procedure, let us do it by all means, and we shall all make our contributions to the discussion, but this is not the day for debating that. For my part, therefore, I am in hearty accord with the view that we should move with the times, and if any hon. Member feels disposed in the future to table proposals in that direction I shall be very glad to examine them. But hon. Gentlemen opposite on the Liberal benches are in a different position. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment did so on the ground that he objected to the imposition of a tax. A conundrum presented itself to me as he spoke. When is a tax not a tax? Was the imposition of the cut in unemployment benefit a tax or was it not? I am prepared to argue that, although it was not a tax, it was, in point of fact, a financial imposition upon the persons concerned. But the hon. Member opposite supported it, and, for all I know, will support this on the only ground that the Government of the day is concerned in these Ottawa Agreements. Was not the cut in the teachers' salaries advanced on this ground? Although not in strict legal phraseology a tax, it was a tax, and, therefore, it seems to me that the hon. Member opposite ought not to say that that was the ground, for he has long since allowed the horse to leave the stable. Still, one must rejoice in the fact that the hon. Gentleman has turned his face towards the light: While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return. I welcome the hon. Member's return towards redemption.

A real point made in support of the Government is that these proposals should be accepted at once, because they have a beneficial effect upon the unemployment situation. But that is begging the question. There are many of us in this House who are prepared to argue with the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) as to whether, in point of fact, there is any real value in the point of view of employment in these proposals. He may argue, quite rightly, from his point of view that there is something, but then we question it, and, if we do question it, surely we have the right to put our point of view, and not accept it merely at the ipse dixit of the hon. Member opposite. Therefore, our position might be summarised in this way: We have no objection to the desire of the Government to expedite business in so far as that business is for the good of the nation, but we object to this revolutionary proposal being used for this particular purpose. When the time comes we can suggest a good way of applying this revolutionary practice to real legislation.


I am most anxious to remove the impression that the Government desire to burke discussion in any way. It is open to any hon. Member in this House to discuss in detail any of the duties that are mentioned in the Resolution. My hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) rather suggested that he did not know what the duties were, but they are, in fact, enumerated in the Resolution, which will be discussed by the House, and to which amendments can be moved by any hon. Member who desires it.


Will the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that there will he no guillotine in discussing each one?


My hon. Friend would be perfectly entitled to present any view he may have if any such proposal were made, but it has not yet been made, and therefore he can hardly expect me to deal with a hypothetical question.


The hon. Gentleman said that we should be able to discuss each duty in detail, and we should like to know if that will be the case?


Certainly. I do not think that any hon. Member acquainted with the procedure of the House will dispute that. He can have my assurance that he can raise any of these duties separately in the course of discussion, and, of course, he may put down any Amendments if he wishes to do so. The object of the rule is that the House should not be compelled to come to one single decision on a number of various and varying issues. Here, of course, there is only one issue—shall we or shall we not implement the Agreements reached at Ottawa? That, I think, any reasonable person

will admit is quite a, natural standpoint to take. The Government stand by these Agreements as a whole, but they do not deprive any Member of the House of the opportunity of saying whatever he may desire, and, of course, the Government will be very pleased to hear whatever arguments are brought forward on any specific point.


Will the hon. Gentleman answer my point? What does he estimate the proceeds of these taxes will be, and will an abstract be given to the House in the form of a White Paper?


It has never been suggested that a further White Paper should be issued. Two Blue Books have been published, but, if the hon. Gentleman wants any specific statistics on the subject which it is within my competence to obtain for him, I will do so with pleasure.


It is the customary practice.


If my hon. Friend will speak to me and will tell me on what points he desires information, I will give it to him either publicly or privately.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 69.

Division No. 305.] AYES. [4.7 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Buchan, John Culverwell, Cyril Tom
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Burgin. Dr. Edward Leslie Dalkeith, Earl of
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Burnett, John George Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles Caine, G. R. Hall- Davies, Maj.Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Davison, Sir William Henry
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Denman, Hon. R. D.
Apsley, Lord Caporn, Arthur Cecil Denville, Alfred
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cautley, Sir Henry S. Despencer-Robertson, Major.J. A. F.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Dickie, John P.
Atholl, Duchess of Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dixey, Arthur C. N.
Atkinson, Cyril Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Doran, Edward
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Drewe, Cedric
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Duckworth, George A. V.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Christie, James Archibald Duggan, Hubert John
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Clarke, Frank Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Clayton Dr. George C. Dunglass, Lord
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Eady, George H.
Blindell, James Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Eden, Robert Anthony
Bossom, A. C. Conant, R. J. E. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cooke, Douglas Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cooper, A. Duff Elliston, Captain George Sampson
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Copeland, Ida Elmley, Viscount
Broadbent, Colonel John Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cranborne, Viscount Entwistle, Cyril Fullard
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Crooke. J. Smedley Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y) Cross, R. H. Essenhigh, Reginald Clare
Browne, Captain A. C. Crossley. A. C. Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Fermoy, Lord Liddall, Walter S. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Fleming, Edward Lasceiles Lindsay, Noel Ker Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham.
Fox, Sir Gifford Lloyd, Geoffrey Reid, David D. (County Down)
Fraser, Captain Ian Locker-Lampoon, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd.Gr'n) Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Fuller, Captain A. G. Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Ganzonl, Sir John Loder, Captain.J. de Vere Remer, John R.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Gledhill, Gilbert Lymington, Viscount Ropner, Colonel L.
Gluckstein, Louis Halle MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Rosbotham, S. T.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Ross, Ronald D.
Granville, Edgar McConnell, Sir Joseph Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas McCorquodale, M. S. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Waiter
Grimston, R. V. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Runge, Norah Cecil
Gritten, W. G. Howard Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. McKie, John Hamilton Salmon, Major Isidore
Gunston, Captain D. W. McLean, Major Alan Salt, Edward W.
Guy, J. C. Morrison McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Magnay, Thomas Scone, Lord
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Maitland, Adam Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Hammersley, Samuel S. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hanley, Dennis A. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Harbord, Arthur Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Hartington, Marquess of Marsden, Commander Arthur Slater. John
Hartland, George A. Martin, Thomas B. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-In-F.)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Meller, Richard James Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Millar, Sir James Duncan Smithers, Waldron
Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Milne, Charles Soper, Richard
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Hornby, Frank Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Horobin, Ian M. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. Westmorland)
Horsbrugh, Florence Moreing, Adrian C. Stewart, William J.
Howard, Tom Forrest Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Stones, James
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Stourton, Hon. John.J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Morris-Jones. Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Moss, Captain H. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Muirhead, Major A. J. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.
Hurd, Sir Percy Munro, Patrick Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Nall, Sir Joseph Tate, Mavis Constance
Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Taylor,Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Templeton, William P.
Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Normand, Wilfrid Guild Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Jamieson, Douglas Nunn, William Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Jesson, Major Thomas E. Oman, Sir Charles William C Train. John
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. Williams G.A. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Palmer, Francis Noel Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon
Ker, J. Campbell Peaks, Captain Osbert Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Kimball, Lawrence Pearson, William G. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Kirkpatrick, William M. Peat, Charles U. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Penny, Sir George Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Knight, Holford Percy, Lord Eustace Wells, Sydney Richard
Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Perkins, Walter R. D. Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Peters, Dr. Sidney John Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Leckie, J. A. Purbrick, R. Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Leech, Dr. J. W. Pybus, Percy John Withers, Sir John James
Lees-Jones, John Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Womersley, Walter James
Leigh, Sir John Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Ramsden, E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Lewis, Oswald Rankin, Robert Sir Victor Warrender and Lieut.-
Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Cripps, Sir Stafford Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)
Attlee, Clement Richard Curry, A. C. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Banfield, John William Daggar, George Groves, Thomas E.
Batey, Joseph Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Grundy, Thomas W.
Bernays, Robert Edwards, Charles Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Briant, Frank Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd)
Brown C. W E. (Notts., Mansfield) Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Harris, Sir Percy
Buchanan, George Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Hicks, Ernest George
Cape, Thomas Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Hirst, George Henry
Cowan, D. M. Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Holdsworth, Herbert
Janner, Barnett McKeag, William Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Jenkins, Sir William Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Thorne, William James
John, William Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Tinker, John Joseph
Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Wallhead, Richard C.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Maxton, James Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Milner, Major James Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Kirkwood, David Nathan, Major H. L. White, Henry Graham
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Owen, Major Goronwy Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Lawson, John James Parkinson, John Allen Williams. Edward John (Ogmore)
Liewellyn-Jones, Frederick Pickering, Ernest H. Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Logan, David Gilbert Price, Gabriel
Lunn, William Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Rothschild, James A. de Mr. Russell Rea and Major Sir
Murdoch McKenzie Wood.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, notwithstanding the practice of this House according to which a number of new duties relating to different commodities may not be imposed in a single Resolution, the Resolution 'Imposition of Duties in fulfilment of Agreements and Announcement made at the Imperial Economic Conference held at Ottawa,' standing on the Notice Paper in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a Resolution to be moved in the Committee of Ways and Means, may be moved in the form in which the Resolution stands on the Notice Paper, or in any modified form, and the Question thereon may be proposed from the Chair accordingly.