Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £6,600,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Works, Buildings, Repairs, and Lands, including Civilian Staff and other Charges connected therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937.
§ 12.51 a.m.
I have no intention of keeping the Committee for more than a few minutes, except to take the opportunity of submitting to you, Captain Bourne, that the way in which the main Vote A was rushed through at the end of the discussion was a pity from the point of view both of supporters of the Government and of those who oppose the Government. It is the biggest increase in any Service, for it is very nearly 100 per cent. increase in a new Department which is hardly understood in the country, namely, the Royal Air Force. I do not think, with great respect, that the Committee should allow itself to be hurried through so tremendously on such an important subject as the one which we have been discussing. I know that many of my friends—I have no knowledge of what was the desire on the Opposition side—who are fully in support of the Government's programme, never had a chance of submitting their speeches 401 because the Chair called on the Under-Secretary to conclude the Debate.
The right hon. Gentleman is now criticising my conduct. He cannot do that. I would point out that I said at the beginning of this Debate that if we had a wide discussion on Vote A it was on the understanding that the next Votes were not discussed. As the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee raised no objection to that, I assumed there was no desire to discuss the matter further.
On a point of Order. To what extent is the House as a Committee committed to an agreement of that nature with the Chair?
The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
The House is committed absolutely. I put the Question and waited for an appreciable time to see if anybody in the Committee raised any objection, but no hon. Member did so. Honourable understandings in this House are invariably carried out.
§ Sir I. FRASER
With all respect, Captain Bourne, is it not within your recollection that you said that if a wide discussion were agreed to on the Vote, you would not expect that discussion would take place on another particular Vote.
The hon. and gallant Member is quite correct. I said if a wide discussion took place I should not expect another discussion, and I looked round the Committee and waited to see if any objection was raised in any quarter. No objection was raised whatsoever.
§ Sir I. FRASER
With all respect, did you suggest that there should be no discussion on any subsequent Vote?
I rather thought that I indicated it. I think it was generally understood that would be so if we had a wide discussion on Vote A. Therefore I did not rule strictly, and I would remind the Committee that I could have ruled out half the discussion if I had not thought it was the understanding that the remaining Votes should not be discussed.
Question put, and agreed to.