HC Deb 28 June 1933 vol 279 cc1484-7

May I ask the Patronage Secretary how far the Government propose to go to-night?


The Eleven o'Clock Rule is being suspended in order to obtain the Committee stage of the Supplementary Estimate; the Second Beading of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill; and the Committee stage of the Local Government and other Officers' Superannuation (Temporary Provisions) Bill. It is also proposed to take the Motions to approve the marketing schemes for pigs and bacon, and the Report stage of the Sea-fishing Industry Money Resolution, which items are exempted Business. The Government do not anticipate a late sitting.


With regard to the Supplementary Estimate, seeing that there has been an alteration of business, will the Secretary of State be in charge and be present to explain it?


If the Secretary of State is not able to be present himself, his very efficient Under-Secretary will be present.


Apart from that, may I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, seeing that business has been altered, whether it is not the first duty of the Secretary of State on an important Supplementary Estimate of this kind to be present to explain it, in view of the fact that there are certain differences in the circumstances from those in the last Debate in which he is involved?


I think that the House will understand that the Secretary of State is heavily engaged in the deliberations of the World Economic Conference, and I have no doubt that the Under-Secretary is perfectly able to explain what has taken place.


Could not the business have been adjusted so that the Secretary of State could be present, as he is involved in speeches which were made on the last occasion when this subject was under consideration, which seemed to run counter to what has taken place since? It is unfair both to the right hon. Gentleman and to other Members who took part in the discussion if he is not present. I am not doubting the efficiency of some other person, but a point was raised in the last Debate in which the Secretary of State was personally involved, and he is the only person who can explain it.


As the hon. Member knows, and the House must be aware, the World Economic Conference is engaged every day, and it is necessary to get the Supplementary Estimate in a short space of time. I have no doubt the Under-Secretary will be perfectly able to answer satisfactorily the point raised by the hon. Gentleman.


The right hon. Gentleman personally promised us on the last occasion that the House would not be asked again to deal with this matter until the Royal Commission had reported. Now the House is being asked to deal with the matter, although the Royal Commission has not reported, and the Minister himself ought to take personal responsibility for his failure.


That, obviously, is a point which must come out in the Debate, and which I am not competent to answer.


Is it not a Rule of this House which has been carried out by most Governments, that when a-Minister makes a statement from that Box, and it has to be altered, he himself should come to the House and state the reasons, and not get someone else to deputise for him? If he has to be present at the conference during the day, could not other business be taken now, so that this Supplementary Estimate might come on at night, when the Secretary of State might be here—in view of the contradictions which have arisen and, for which there may be a perfectly good reason?


Surely it is vital to the conduct of business in this House that the Rule should be observed that whenever a group of Members consider it important that a Minister should be here to explain his policy or his previous speeches, he ought to be here?

Major the Marquess of TITCHFIELD

Is it not well known in this House that an Under-Secretary's voice is always his master's voice?

Motion made, and Question put, That the Proceedings on Government Business be exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House)."—[Captain Mar-gesson.]