HC Deb 13 February 1934 vol 285 cc1762-4
Mr. ATTLEE (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware, that in Committee on the Unemployment Bill, out of 19 Clauses already disposed of, eight Clauses, most of them affecting very materially the structure of the Bill, have been passed without debate; and whether, in view of the importance of this Measure and of the fact that it vitally affects large numbers of people in every constituency, steps will be taken to ensure the proper consideration of all its Clauses, and a definite pronouncement made on this matter before the resumption of the Committee stage next week?

May I say that in asking this question I am not pressing the Prime Minister for an immediate answer? I understand that there was some difficulty in the usual channels, and that he has only recently received the question. Moreover, he also replied on the subject last night. Perhaps, therefore, I might ask him for a reply in the course of a week, when he has had an opportunity of considering the matter.


It is quite true that I have had an unusually short notice for a question of the importance of this one, but I am prepared to answer it.

The principles of the Bill did of course receive very full consideration in the three days which were devoted to the Second Reading of the Bill, and the financial aspect received consideration in the Debate on the Money Resolution, which occupied a little over a day and a-half. I regret the circumstances mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, and can only repeat what I have stated several times, that, when the Committee stage is concluded, the Government will provide such time on Report stage as will ensure discussion of the really important points which have not been adequately dealt with in Committee. It is the Government's intention, when the time comes to allot the number of days which can be given to the Report stage, to consult the Opposition parties and representatives of supporters of the Government so as to work out a time-table in the most convenient form for the House as a whole.


May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the feeling, which is very widely distributed throughout the House, that some of these Clauses especially needed to be discussed in Committee, he will not consider the possibility of recommitting certain of the Clauses, particularly the financial Clauses, which cannot be discussed fully on Report? In view of the fact that it was the omission of the important Committee stage that impressed Members yesterday, and that a mere discussion on Report does not get over the difficulty, could not the right hon. Gentleman, before we resume the discussion of the Bill again next week, consider whether it is possible to make a statement with regard to recommitting certain of the important Clauses?


I should like to reinforce that suggestion, and to ask the Prime Minister whether he would not specially consider recommitting the Bill for the consideration of the very important Clause 18?


I think the House will agree with me that any statement definitely pledging the Government to any method of procedure in the matter at this moment would be quite premature; but I would say to the House that all the suggestions that have been made to facilitate business, and to carry the assent of the whole House on the business that has been done, will be considered by the Government before they take into consideration what is to be done on the Report stage.


The possibility of recommittal is not excluded?


I am afraid I really must confine myself to what I have already said.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he really understands that Clauses 17 and 18 are practically the heart of the Bill as far as Part I is concerned, and that he is not at all meeting us in this matter if he is merely depending on the Report stage? That will not do at all; the House wants an opportunity of discussing the principle of the Clauses.


In view of the fact that it is not possible to discuss Clause 18 in full on Report, would the Prime Minister undertake to give special consideration to the question of the possible recommittal of this particular Clause, in order to give the House an opportunity of considering it? It involves £115,000,000.




Really, I have answered. I have nothing to add to what I have said.

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