HC Deb 28 June 1937 vol 325 cc1757-64

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Sir A. Lambert Ward.]

9.43 p.m.

Mr. Morgan Jones

Some of my hon. Friends are very much interested in the next Order on the Paper—the Inheritance (Family Provision) Bill—which is down for consideration on Report. It is a Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Hull (Mr. Windsor) and I think the Government ought not to have moved the Adjournment, at this stage, when an hour and a-quarter remain to us, without giving an opportunity for its consideration. This is one of the Tare occasions on which private Members have an opportunity of proceeding with a Bill of this kind. The Bill has already been before a Committee upstairs and I understand that all the Amendments which have been put down to it are in the name of one hon. Member. That being so, we think the Government ought to have allowed us to proceed with the consideration of that Bill, which deals with an important subject and interests a large number of people. It would have been a gracious thing on the part of the Government to have refrained in the circumstances from moving the Adjournment at this stage.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward (Treasurer of the Household)

The Bill referred to raises controversial issues and although the business has terminated to-day rather earlier than was expected, it was an understood thing that the consideration of the Bill would not be taken to-night. In those circumstances it would be unfair to hon. Members generally to allow it to be proceeded with at this stage.

Mr. Jones

On what authority does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that it was understood that the Bill was not to be taken to-night? All I understood was that Government business was not to proceed beyond a certain point, but there was no understanding about what other business was to be taken if Government bosh ness lapsed earlier than was expected.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Kelly

I am surprised at the statement of the hon. and gallant Member that there has been some understanding. Those who are backing this Bill are determined to make an effort to get it through, and I am sure that not one of them has come to any understanding with anyone even to defer the Bill. I think it is only fair that, the statement having been made that some understanding has been arrived at, we should be told who is responsible for this assumed understanding. This is a Bill which has been before the House time and again, and it has been objected to, and now that we have an opportunity to get it through, we are told that the House must be adjourned. I understood the hon. and gallant Member to say that it was a contentious Bill, but there was only one Member opposing it, and who had Amendments down to it, throughout the whole time in Committee. That does not look like contention, and I hope the House will not adjourn without giving an opportunity for this Measure to be discussed, and perhaps other Measures as well.

9.47 p.m.

Mr. Goldie

As one who is strongly opposed to this Bill, may I congratulate the Government on the strong line which they have taken in this matter? What in fact happened earlier to-day was this, that at the conclusion of questions I certainly understood that the later Orders would not be taken, and that is the sole reason why those Members who think as I do are not present now. I think it would be wrong that at this late hour such a highly controversial Measure should be taken.

9.48 p.m.

Miss Rathbone

I submit that this Bill, if any private Member's Bill, has a claim on the attention of the House. It is within the knowledge of those who sit on the Government Front Bench that a petition was presented to the Government only the other day praying for facilities to be given for this Bill. That petition was signed by not far short of a clear majority of the Members of this House, including those who belong to the Government itself. There was something between 200 and 250 signatures to that petition. Therefore, the Bill is clearly one in which the Members of the House take a very great interest, and as one who sat on the Standing Committee which considered the Bill, I say that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) was right in saying that the opposition to it in the Committee was practically negligible. On one occasion an hon. and gallant Member put down something like 20 Amendments to the Bill, but he did not succeed in getting a single Member of his own or any other party to support one of those Amendments. I think that shows the strength of the opposition to the Bill. So far as I know—and I think I know as much about this Bill as most hon. Members—the opponents can be counted on the fingers of one hand, or almost certainly on those of both hands. I think it is about time that the Government gave an opportunity for this Bill to he considered. We have still an hour and 10 minutes before the ordinary hour of adjournment, yet we are asked to adjourn now without considering this Bill.

9.50 p.m.

Captain Margesson

I should not like the hon. Lady to base her case on false premises. It has never been the claim of the Government that this is a question of time. It has always been that we cannot take private Members' Bills before eleven o'clock at night without giving due notice that we are going to do so. Obviously there are a great many Members, who may take one view or another, who cannot be present if——

Mr. Benn indicated dissent.

Captain Margesson

The right hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that what I am saying is true, and indeed he has himself been in the Whips' Office and must know that always, when the Government move the adjournment before eleven, private Members' business is not taken because private Members are under the impression that it will not be taken. Therefore, it would not be fair to them, because Government business has come to an end, to say that we will take a private Member's Bill of which no notice has been given. The procedure which we are adopting has been adopted for years gone by.

Mr. James Griffiths

In reply to a question this afternoon as to why the Eleven o'Clock Rule was being suspended, the Prime Minister said that it was a precautionary measure. He said that the Trade Marks (Amendment) Bill would not be taken, and surely that indicated that all the other Orders might be taken if there was time.

Captain Margesson

The hon. Member is surely mixing up Government business with private Members' business.

9.52 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that the Eleven o'Clock Rule is suspended and that we can stay all night if we like? Surely, if the Government cannot supply the House with business when we have so many hours before us, we may be allowed to supply ourselves with our own business. Therefore, in view of the fact that we have until six in the morning if we like, we should be allowed to take this Bill now.

Captain Margesson

The Eleven o'Clock Rule was suspended only for Government business.

9.52 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher

The Eleven o'Clock Rule is suspended, and I suggest that in view of the fact that the Government cannot supply us with anything to work at, we should be allowed, through the courtesy of the Government, to discuss this Bill.

9.53 p.m.

Mr. Benn

The case is briefly this: Private Members have very few opportunities for getting legislation through this House. First of all, they have to ballot even to get a place on the few Fridays available, and then they have to run all the risks attendant on the Standing Committee and so on. It is very rarely that they get their Bills as far as the Report stage, which this Bill, introduced by an hon. Friend of mine, has reached. It is a fact that if the Government would permit it, this Bill might now be taken and voted upon, or even partially debated and the Debate adjourned, but we might at least have a Debate on this Bill in the House. The reason that that is not being done is that it is inconvenient to the Government, whose followers have all gone home.

Sir J. Haslam

Oh, no, they have not.

Mr. Benn

Except, of course, some of the most important.

Sir J. Haslam

Thank you very much.

Mr. Benn

The Chief Whip said that I know very well from old experience that it is customary to warn your own followers what business is coming on. That may be so, but at the same time the fact that the organisation of the Chief Whip's Office, which has nothing to do with me, is defective, and that they have not been able to keep their men here, is a very poor reason for preventing my

hon. Friends from debating this Bill. This Bill is to be defeated, not on its merits, but because the Government have seen fit to suppress the only chance which it has of being discussed in the House at all. On these grounds, I am sure that many hon. Members in this House will feel that the Chief Whip is not giving, at any rate, the latitude to private Members that they very rarely get, and I ask him to withdraw the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Mr. Patrick

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the promoter of the Bill is here?

Mr. Benn

Several of the backers of the Bill are, I understand, in the House.

Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."

The House divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 71.

Division No. 242.] AYES [9.55 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Patrick, C. M.
Albery, Sir Irving Goldie, N. B. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Aske, Sir R. W. Gridley, Sir A. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Assheton, R. Grimston, R. V. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Guy, J. C. M. Ramsbotham, H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Hannah, I. C. Ramsden, Sir E.
Boulton, W. W. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bracken, B. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Remer, J. R.
Butcher, H. W, Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Rowlands, G.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Hopkinson, A. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Salt, E. W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Hulbert, N. J. Samuel, M. R. A.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hunter, T. Scott, Lord William
Clarry, Sir Reginald James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Keeling, E. H. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A
Colfox, Major W. P. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Kimball, L. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cranborne, Viscount Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Crooke, J. S. Leckie, J. A. Spens, W. P.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C Liddall, W. S. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lipson, D. L. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Cross, R. H. Little, Sir E. Graham- Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Crowder, J. F. E. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Titchfield, Marquess of
Culverwell, C. T. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Warrender, Sir V.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Markham, S. F. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Duncan, J. A. L. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Ellis, Sir G. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wragg, H.
Fildes, Sir H. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Fleming, E. L. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Mr. James Stuart and Lieut-
Furness, S. N. Munro, P. Colonel Sir A. Lambert-Ward.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Nall, Sir J.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Bellenger, F. J. Cocks, F. S.
Adams, D. (Consett) Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Daggar, G.
Adamson, W. M. Bromfield, W. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Ede, J. C.
Barr, J. Burke, W. A. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Rowson, G.
Gallacher, W. Lathan, G. Sexton, T. M.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Lawson, J. J. Silkin, L.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Leslie, J. R. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Logan, D. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Lunn, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Harris, Sir P. A. McEntee, V. La T. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) MacLaren, A. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Maclean, N. Tinker, J. J.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Mander, G. le M. Viant, S. P.
Holdsworth, H. Marshall, F. Watson, W. McL.
Hopkin, D, Messer, F. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Jagger, J. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
John, W. Nathan, Colonel H. L. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Naylor, T. E. Young, Sir R, (Newton)
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Oliver, G. H.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Paling, W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Kelly, W. T. Price, M. P. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.
Kirby, B. V. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)

Adjourned accordingly at Three Minutes after Ten o'Clock.