HC Deb 11 November 1936 vol 317 cc866-7
45. Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS

asked the Prime Minister whether he proposes to give facilities for the discussion of the Motion which appears on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and other hon. Members; and if so, when?

["That the representatives of the unemployed hunger marchers be heard at the Bar of the House in support of their Petition, which was presented to the House on Monday, 9th November, and which sets forth certain demands on behalf of the unemployed."]

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The object of this Motion is to enable the unemployed marchers to set forth their grievances at the Bar of the House. I do not doubt that the marchers hold their opinions strongly and sincerely, and I should not wish to challenge the right of appearance at the Bar of this House, if it should appear, by however slender an argument, that grievances or the remedies for grievances had not been properly considered in Parliament. The discussion of grievances is, however, the primary duty of this House; and it is one of its greatest attributes that on all matters of common interest it enables every shade of opinion to be freely expressed. The subjects with regard to which the marchers desire to make their representations, and particularly the family means test, have been debated on many occasions. I do not believe that to hear the marchers at the Bar would add anything to the information of the House, and such a procedure would appear to be an admission of the inadequacy of Parliamentary representation which I, for one, would sincerely deplore. In these circumstances, I regret that I cannot see my way to give facilities for the discussion of the Motion.


May I ask the Prime Minister to reconsider that reply, in view of the fact that the King's Speech contains no proposal for dealing with the ills of the depressed areas except one Measure, which is included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill and the provisions of which the Chief Commissioner has said are quite inadequate to deal with the situation? In fact, I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, that there is a feeling of grievance in all these areas that, whatever they may do, the condition of the areas is being neglected, and they ask to appear before this House so that they can be satisfied that this House understands their grievances.


I much regret that I cannot see that the substance of that question affects the answer which I have given. All these matters will he debated, probably at length and properly so in this House, and the principle, to which I adhere, of the answer which I have given is not, in my opinion, affected by that.


In view of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will ask leave at the end of Questions to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the refusal to-day of the Prime Minister to grant any facilities whatever for the unemployed hunger marchers to voice their grievances to himself, the Cabinet, or the House.

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