HC Deb 26 April 1934 vol 288 cc1890-2

May I ask the Prime Minister what business it is proposed to take next week and also what Orders it is proposed to take to-day?


To-day we propose to take the first five Orders. In addition to the first four Orders which concern the Report stage of the Budget Resolutions, we shall proceed with the Report and Third Reading of the County Courts (Amendment) Bill and the Motion to approve of the Bacon (Import Regulation) Order.

Before referring to the business for next week, may I say that the Government have given most careful consideration to the representations which have been made and have recommitted the Unemployment Bill in respect of the Clause relating to Treasury advances to the Unemployment Fund. One day will be given for the consideration of the recommitted Clause, and on that day it is also proposed to pass the time-table Motion for the concluding stages of the Bill. Five days will be given for the Report stage and one day for the Third Reading. Conversations are now taking place through the usual channels in order to draw up a time-table for the Report stage in the most convenient form for the House as a whole. I thought it would be convenient to make that announcement now.

As regards the business for next week it will be as follows:

Monday: Water Supplies (Exceptional Shortage Orders) Bill, Report and Third Reading; Shops Bill [Lords], Second Reading.

Tuesday: Consideration of a Timetable Motion for the concluding stages of the Unemployment Bill to be followed by the consideration of the recommitted Clause.

Wednesday and Thursday: Unemployment Bill, Report stage.

Friday will be the last of the Fridays set apart this Session for Private Members' Bills.

On any day, if there is time, other Orders may be taken.


Are we to understand that the Prime Minister does not propose to recommit Clause 37 of the Unemployment Bill which deals with the means test? We had no chance of discussing the means test in Committee, and it is far more important than the Financial Clauses. If this Clause is not recommitted, we shall have no chance of discussing the matter or of taking a Division on the question of whether the House wants the means test to be continued or not.


Before the Prime Minister answers that question, may I ask him to consider whether it would not be possible, instead of allotting five days to the Report stage to devote one of those days to taking Clause 37 in Committee? As has been pointed out, this is a matter of very great importance.


We have carefully considered and studied the Debates in Committee and the time taken in the discussion of the various Clauses. Clause 18 is the only one which we feel justified in recommitting, and that decision, in the ordinary way, has met with approval.


Will the Prime Minister not give further consideration to the matter seeing that we have had no chance of discussing this matter in Committee, and it has never been touched at all. The House ought to have an opportunity of discussing the means test.


I understood the Prime Minister to say that the Government had recommitted the Bill in respect of Clause 18. Surely the Government have no power to do that. Is it not for the House of Commons to do so?