HC Deb 30 January 1934 vol 285 cc201-3

I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the House. In the course of yesterday's proceedings on the Unemployment Bill, several important Clauses were not discussed, and I desire to ask whether it would not be possible for the Leader of the House, in his capacity as such, to have the whole question of the proceedings on the Bill reopened. In view of the fact that no time was wasted yesterday, and that several important Clauses, affecting large numbers of working people, were left undiscussed, is it not possible, having regard to the future discussions on the Bill, to have the whole question of the Guillotine and the allocation of time reopened?

The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)

I had no knowledge that this question was going to be asked. The point that the hon. Member raises is one that invariably occurs when any Bill is taken under the Guillotine. The allocation of time is always made with very great care, it is debated in the House, and it has been decided by the House that the allocation shall be made. In practice, when matters of any importance escape discussion during the Committee stage, that is very often corrected by those particular matters being discussed on Report. Certainly I can hold out no hope at this moment that reconsideration would now be given to what was decided by the House.


Then I would like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the rights of the House, whether, seeing that matters which are of vital importance, and affect the interests of huge bodies of people, have not been discussed by the House, you have any rights in this matter of safeguarding the rights of the House of Commons?


I take it that the hon. Member asks me that question on a point of Order. The matter is entirely out of my hands. The House of Commons itself has decided by a majority that the time of the House should be allocated in a certain way. I have nothing to do with the way in which that time is expended.


Is it the intention of the Leader of the House, in view of the large number of points that have not been discussed, and will not be discussed, on this Bill, to add to the time that will be available for the Report stage?


No; one must certainly wait and see. I would remind the hon. Member, who has not been a Member of the House for very long, that these difficulties have occurred ever since the Guillotine was first employed as part of the procedure of Parliament. They have been unfortunately, an inseparable concomitant of the Guillotine. The alternative that was found in the old days, when the Guillotine was not employed, was that discussion would often be carried to such a length as would make it perfectly impossible, with the amount of business which this House now has to do, to get legislation through.


In view of what happened yesterday, when no unnecessary time was taken up, could not the Government give us some reply on the question of extra time? It is very evident that the Bill has not been discussed as fully as it ought to be discussed, and the granting of more time is well worthy of consideration.


I spent a great many years of my life sitting where the hon. Member is now sitting, and I quite understand his feelings. But, also, he has sat on this side of the House, and he knows that it would be perfectly impossible for the Leader of the House, after a Bill has been started, to commit himself in any way on such a question.


Everyone who took part in the Debate realises that no time was wasted. We were only able to discuss two Clauses out of five. On Clauses 2, 4 and 5 there was no Debate at all. There is substance in the plea that is being made for reconsideration of the allocation of time.


There is always substance in these claims, as the right hon. Gentleman will remember when he had the good, or it may be the evil, fortune to sit on these benches. I take note of what has been said, but the Prime Minister is out of the House, and I cannot add anything at the moment to what I have said.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the experience of yesterday shows that in such an allocation of time as we have under this Bill there might be more compartments so as to ensure that every Clause has an opportunity at some time of consideration?

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