§ Major HILLS
I beg to move, in page 17, line 4, to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "four."
I move this formally for the purpose of asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept a Motion to report Progress. This is a very late hour to take a question of this sort. I am not responsible for the lateness of the hour, for I have only made one short speech in the whole day. I suggest it would be treating the Committee with greater fairness and consideration if the right hon. Gentleman would allow me to move to report Progress, so that we may have a chance of discussing it At a more reasonable hour.
§ 11.55 p.m.
Naturally, hon. Members who are interested in their own Amendments are a little resentful if other hon. Members who are interested in other Amendments insist on speaking upon them, and I do not think that the right hon. and gallant Member can complain that the programme has not gone through as quickly as was expected, nor can we reasonably ask the Opposition to maintain the arrangement which was arrived at earlier this evening owing to the unexpected delay on an earlier stage of the Bill. I hope that the Committee will be able to finish Clause 25 before we rise. As regards the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Member may I point out that the question which is raised has been thoroughly discussed on more than one occasion during the various stages of the Budget. I have nothing new to say upon it, and I can hardly think that the right hon. and gallant Member has anything new to say.
§ 31.56 p.m.
§ Major HILLS
I shall not ask the Committee to discuss the Amendment. May I remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that power can be used unfairly. The Government with their immense Majority can do what they like, and, if it is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman that 1429 we do not report Progress, I must bow to it. On the other hand, the Committee stage of the Finance Bill is the recognised time for discussing important questions, and, although there may have been discussions on this subject at other stages of the Budget, it is within the right of any hon. Member to put down Amendments. I should have thought that the Government would have given a fair chance for the discussion of an Amendment which stands in the name of one of their supporters at a reasonable hour. Since they will not do that, I shall ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 11.57 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I beg to move "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I desire to put before the Committee the view of the Opposition on this matter. It is perfectly true that the arrangements which were made have broken down because supporters of the Government have desired to discuss the Finance Bill; and they are entitled to do that. It is now twelve o'clock. Months ago I took the line that as far as the Opposition are concerned we would do our job in the best way we could and that we would never take the line that we are here merely to oppose or obstruct the business of the Government. The point we are up against to-night is that a very important Financial Resolution is to be taken. We want to discuss it even if it is only for a short time. We thoroughly object to our friends being kept here till it is too late to get home at any reasonable time or without considerable expense, and I press the Chancellor of the Exchequer to let us report Progress now. We shall do our best to expedite business on Tuesday and Thursday, and it ought not to be too much to expect supporters of the Government to do the same. Some one said to-day that we objected to hon. Members opposite speaking. It is not that at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to go to the Economic Conference, and we must get through this business in order that he may be free to do so. Circumstances being what they are, that is reasonable. On the other hand supporters of the Government ought to feel that they are called upon to do some- 1430 thing. I am not finding any fault with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury or with Ministers. Circumstances have arisen which have brought us to this, and we should face it, and say that we shall do the job on Monday and Tuesday, even though there is one more Clause to be dealt with then.
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)
I find myself in some difficulty because owing to what took place earlier in the evening the proceedings were held up. I had consultations with the Leader of the Opposition and with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), and they agreed with me that we should go on to the end of Clause 25. Since then there has been no obstruction certainly, and we have done our best to expedite matters. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will probably be prepared to report Progress now, provided we can get this business and what was arranged, by a reasonable time on Tuesday. But it may be impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to keep that bargain on Tuesday afternoon and evening without sitting very late indeed. Under the original programme I allotted a very full afternoon's work indeed to that day, but now, if three additional Clauses have to be taken we may find exactly the same difficulty arising on Tuesday night. The right hon. Gentleman did say at Question time to-day, could I not keep the Government supporters quiet sometimes. If there is additional work to be done on top of what was planned I might even fail, with all the good will of my party towards me.
§ 12.3 a.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The right hon. Gentleman is always delightfully reasonable, and that is how he gets his way. If this business is too much to squeeze into the time available let us meet on the Monday after Whitsun. We have been told that this is very important business and that hon. Members wish to discuss it. Let us take a day out of our holiday. I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to cross the bridge next Tuesday until we get to it.
§ Captain MARGESSON
I agree to the Motion to report Progress. I do so in view of the appeal, so courteously made 1431 by the right hon. Gentleman to the Government, and his assurance that he will do his best—as I shall do my best—to complete the programme on Tuesday afternoon.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.