§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The House is very familiar with this subject. When the original Act; which this Bill continues, was introduced in 1941 there was considerable discussion upon it in the House. It then went before the Committee, and as a result certain recommendations made by that Committee were discussed and considered when the renewal Bill came before the House. The most important change that was made, as the House will remember, was that the number of certificates which could be issued under the original Act was limited to 25. The number of certificates at present issued is 21, but there are only 20 Members because my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Professor A. V. Hill) had two certificates; one was as member of the Advisory Council on Scientific Research and one was as member of the Ordnance Board, and so the number at present is 20.
1972 The House will not, I think, either expect or want from me any exposition of the principles of the Bill or the arguments that were put before it. I can state in a couple of sentences what was the result of the procedure under the Bill. It was to meet the case where the Prime Minister felt that a Member of this House in war-time—and it is a temporary Measure only—could usefully, either in this country or abroad, hold some office. Some are very important full-time offices and others are quite small, part-time affairs. But for this Bill the following dilemma might have arisen; either the Member could not have accepted the appointment and so put himself at the service of the country or he would have had to resign his seat. The certificate issued under this Act enables a Member, if he thinks it right to take the office, to make the suggested contribution to the service of his country without having, as a matter of law, to resign his seat.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)
Only a few sentences will be needed to explain the attitude of my hon. Friends with regard to this Measure. It is not one that appeals to us, we have never regarded this proposal as very satisfactory, but, during the peculiar circumstances of the war, we recognise that we have to put up with it. That expresses the point tersely. It is not a good plan that the Government should be able to employ Members of Parliament in offices of profit under the Crown, but, owing to the exigencies of present conditions, and as a purely temporary Measure, we are willing to accept it. There is only one thing I should like to say. The peculiarity of these proposals is that although they are all called offices of profit, in some cases there is no profit of any kind attached to them. The House will remember the Measure which had to be introduced for my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins) and which has been referred to as the "Arthur Jenkins Act." It relieved him of a responsibility incurred, unwittingly, by occupying an office which had brought him in not a single penny, although it was called an office of profit under the Crown. It has been pointed out to me that it is sometimes very embarrassing to a Member of this House if it is published in his own constituency and elsewhere, without any reserve, that he has accepted an 1973 office of profit under the Crown. Perhaps those who are responsible for sending out statements to the Press, and elsewhere, would take that into account and see that it is accompanied by some explanation showing what in fact the office is; otherwise, I am informed that individuals will be subjected to a good deal of annoyance by having that misconstruction put upon the part they are playing. With those few remarks, I support the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Granville (Eye)
Before we pass this Bill which is presented to us now as an annual—someone has described it as the Bill for forgotten men—I must say that I am rather surprised that the Attorney-General did not give us more of an explanation, not only with regard to the number of certificates issued but as to the nature of these appointments.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
It is the custom to review the appointments. One does not want, on each occasion, to examine each particular appointment, but this is the annual review of the situation, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman might have said something in defence of the appointments. This Government seem to do anything they like now because they are a Coalition.
§ Mr. Granville
I realise that when this legislation was first introduced there was a Debate on the subject and a good deal of it was gone into in open discussion. But this is the third year. We find ourselves year by year authorising these appointments under the certificate of the Prime Minister. As has been said, it may be the case that the appointments are published in the Press, but that does not give us a Parliamentary opportunity of discussing them individually in this House. I would have liked the Attorney-General to give us not only the number of these appointments but a description of them and the functions which the people who fill them are asked to perform. In fact, I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider issuing a list of all these Government appointments, where these Ministers are appointed, what work they are doing at the moment, what salary goes with these appointments and how long it is intended now to continue 1974 them. I understand that with regard to the disqualification certificate there is a limit, in the terms of the Bill, which has now become three years and next year will become two years and so on until it is dropped or renewed. But what I would like to know is whether there is a limit to the period of the appointment itself. May I give a simple illustration? Take the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rossendale (Sir R. Cross), who was Minister of Shipping in this House prior to his appointment to Canberra as I believe a Minister. Now I notice that he is designated High Commissioner, which puts his case on all fours with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald), who occupies a similar function at Ottawa.
It may be, as I have said, that this Bill will expire three years from now. I understand that these appointments were in the nature of emergency war measures. Does that mean that at the end of the European war they will cease in terms of the political appointment or in the terms of the disqualification certificate under this Bill? Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rossendale, who has now become High Commissioner in Australia, will have his appointment continued until after the Japanese war has ended? I would be glad of an answer on that point. Further, are these appointments now to be regarded as Civil Service appointments? Is this particular case to be regarded as an innovation or are these appointments to be regarded as political and ministerial, or are those who have been appointed to assume responsibility for the work which civil servants did before the war, when they were known as commercial attachés in foreign countries or High Commissioners in the capitals of the Dominions? Are the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rossendale to be regarded as Ambassadors within the terms of the Statute of Westminster? What is the relationship between the Governors of each State and the Governor-General in the Dominions who represents matters of the Crown and these political High Commissioners? I give this illustration in order that the Attorney-General may give us some information, because the whole position needs clearing up. We cannot go on year after year merely passing this Bill 1975 as though it were a new part of our political structure.
If these appointments are appointments as political Ministers, does it mean that they are authorised, either with the Governor-General or the Governors of the States, to discuss policy with the Governments in the various Dominions? But more important than that, surely, after three years, we have now reached a point when the constituencies of 21 Members are completely disfranchised by their absence. It is one thing at a time of anxiety of the kind we had in this country in 1940–1941, to do the best we can to overcome certain difficulties in Empire co-operation, before air transport was developed in the Commonwealth as it is at present, but it is quite another thing to go on year by year perpetuating what amounts to the disfranchisement of the constituents of these right hon. Gentlemen. I would like to ask the Government how all the questions that occur from time to time in constituencies are to be dealt with if they mean to continue the appointment of these political Ministers for instance after the end of the war with Japan. We are now in smooth waters, politically. The Government have a tremendous majority in the House. I do not know the exact number of right hon. and hon. Members who are directly or indirectly in the appointment of the Government—[An HON. MEMBER: "About 220."]—and I do not know whether it is a new conception of democratic politics during the war that the Government should have this fixed Majority always in their Parliamentary pocket as it were. But what is to happen if there should be a political crisis in this House? The life of the Government may depend on 21 votes, or even less, and if the Government take upon themselves the responsibility of disfranchising 21 constituencies is not that from their own point of view an unwarrantable risk for them to take? It is time the House got back now to the accepted principles of representative Government. If the Government are to establish this as a permanent feature of our Parliamentary life is it not a matter that ought to be considered by Mr. Speaker's Conference on Electoral Reform? It is not good enough to come here every year and introduce 1976 this disqualification Bill for the forgotten men and the 21 disfranchised constituencies. Surely the time has come not to give this Bill its Second Reading but to restore our democracy to its full Parliamentary responsibility.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I do not intend to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill; and I hope to be short and I hope not to be quarrelsome. I would appeal to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench, and particularly to the Attorney-General, to think again about possible methods of dealing with this Measure. It passed after a great deal of opposition—in consideration of the circumstances of the time, looking back, I think we may say a surprising degree of opposition—and only after all sorts of assurances about moderation and modification. It was a time of great crisis. Crisis is not a thing that can last for ever, and I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to consider whether we have not got now to a new sort of normality. We go on talking and thinking as if normality was the condition of things in 1938, and as if what we have at present were a temporary emergency. You can go on with that sort assumption for two, three or four years, but now we are in the fifth year. This is a kind of normality now—we have to regard the war situation as normality—and we ought to reconsider legislation of this kind with extreme care.
The Greeks had a proverb that the half is greater than the whole. I would ask the Attorney-General to consider whether it is not sometimes true also, that for a Ministerial speech 10 minutes might prove shorter than five. I do not mean to oppose the Bill, because I have not given notice to the Government, and clearly in the circumstances you cannot have this kind of arrangement pulled up with a round turn at 24 hours' notice. But an annual tenure sometimes tends to become a freehold unless now and then a warning is given, and I think this is one of the occasions when we ought to give notice that another year, perhaps, some of us will oppose the Bill unless we get some more explanation than we have had. I was surprised at one sentence which the learned Attorney uttered. Owing to the drafting of the Bill with references to one Act referring to another, in my hurry I have brought in the Act of 1942, whereas what one wants is the 1941 Act. My recollection is that 1977 the Prime Minister is called upon to certify that it is necessary for the prosecution of the war, or words to that effect. We seem to be slipping a long way towards regarding the word "necessary" as a very small word.
§ The Attorney-General
The words are "required in the public interest."If it is certified by the First Lord of the Treasury that the appointment of any person, being a Member of the Commons House of Parliament, is required in the public interest for purposes connected with the prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I think there is no legal difference between "necessary" and "required". What the Attorney-General said was that the Prime Minister could issue such a certificate whenever, in his judgment, some Member of the House "could usefully hold" a whole-time office or it might be even a part-time office. That is a very different thing from being requisite in the public interest, whenever the Prime Minister thinks it might be convenient. That the Government's principal legal adviser should have slipped into that degree of carelessness, as we are bound to call it, seems to be a very stern alarm to the House that it is time we watched this Bill. I do not want to go into the personal question. We all under-estimate the fitness of others for any official function, and probably every one of us over-estimates the fitness of himself for most functions. It would be importunate if we started going down the list and inquiring why it is requisite for the prosecution of the war that X is to be made commercial attaché at Lima while continuing to represent the populous borough of Mudborough in this House. I propose to leave that sort of question, but I think there are some rather difficult questions, and I think whoever moves the Second Reading of this Bill another year should come prepared to answer all questions which could be put by someone of a more offensive and more naturally independent nature than I have the fortune to possess. I think questions of that sort will before long have to be answered. I think there is one such question which can be asked without personal offensiveness even on this occasion. I think someone on the Front Bench may know the answer to it. Is it not true that a Member of the House having been appointed to one of these situations abroad, at the same moment 1978 there was either, in the possession of the Government, or it may be in the post, a certificate from the Prime Minister that it was requisite that he should continue to be a Member of the House, and in the Treasury or crossing that in the post an application by himself for the Chiltern Hundreds? If anything like that happened—and something like it evidently did happen—this Statute we are reviewing does not so much facilitate carelessness in the use of language, as make the use of language absolutely impossible: certificates cease to have any value whatever. We understand that the Prime Minister's full personal attention must be limited by an urgent order of priorities, but it is the business of the House to insist that the Prime Minister's advisers shall see that he is not betrayed by this legislation into using words in senses which none of us would think defensible in any other connection.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
I am unable to agree with the hon. Member below the Gangway that the absence of several certified hon. and right hon. Gentlemen from our deliberations is calculated to jeopardise the position of the Government. After all, we have a large array of certificated hon. Members present—certificated in another sense. That is not the body of the complaint at all. The hon. Member who spoke last directed attention to the vulnerable spot. It is that this proposal which has now become part of the Statute was conceived in a moment of crisis.
It was accepted by hon. Members as a temporary device. I cannot believe that when the matter came before us originally it was ever anticipated that three years hence we would be called upon to continue the system. The circumstances have undergone a considerable change since the proposal was first before the House. It appears that several of those who had come within the scope of these certificates have now become, in fact, not temporary, but permanent servants of the Crown. There is a case of recent origin to which I venture to direct attention, and, as with my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), there is no desire on my part to cast any personal reflections on any of the right hon. Gentlemen concerned. That is not my purpose. I am mindful of the case of the right hon. Gentleman the junior 1979 Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) who was and may still be—because the point has not been clarified—Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport. He has recently been seconded—that was the term used—to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
An appointment to an embassy abroad might be regarded as of a temporary nature. The ambassador may be recalled at any time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Madrid."] If I might digress for a moment within the bounds of Order I would suggest, very carefully and delicately, that there might be strong objections held by hon. Members to the presence of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) at Madrid, but that is not the point. The point is whether the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Government and country at Madrid should also have the privilege of being a Member of this House which he does not actually serve, at any rate in a practical sense, because of his absence. I leave that aside because I do not want to raise any of the political questions involved. I return, therefore, to the position of the right hon. Gentleman who was at the Ministry of War Transport and is now engaged with U.N.R.R.A. That surely is a different case.
§ The Attorney-General
It does not come under the Bill. There is no certificate and that appointment is not an office under the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman is in the service of U.N.R.R.A., so that he would not be affected by this Bill.
§ The Attorney-General
I resent that accusation and I hope the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it. I only intervened because I thought my hon. Friend would like to know that an appointment under U.N.R.R.A. would not come under this Bill. I was not objecting to his discussing it.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has asked me to withdraw. I said that it was a dodge. What I mean is this. The appointment certainly does not come under the Bill, but it means that the right hon. Gentleman's constituency is deprived of the services of a Member who may be on the other side of the Atlantic, 1980 in an organisation lasting for five or six years.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I was about to make a similar observation, without suggesting that there was any dodge about it. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend, with the consent of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), will acquit me of making any suggestion that there is any dodge behind the proposal. [Interruption.] I am entitled to express my opinion. When I see a dodge I know it. I have sufficient experience of hon. Members to know when to detect a dodge, and when to understand that no dodge is intended. I was about to observe that a rather serious situation is evolving. My right hon. and learned Friend says that the appointment of the right hon. Member for Oxford University to U.N.R.R.A. is not an appointment to an office of profit under the Crown. On the other hand, we subscribed £80,000,000 to U.N.R.R.A. this year. I find it difficult to see the distinction between an office of profit under the Crown and an office which is supported by the Crown out of funds provided by the Imperial Exchequer. While that is not necessarily a dodge, it shows a lack of understanding, and I should welcome a clearer explanation of the point from my right hon. and learned Friend. He ought to tell us explicitly whether the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Oxford University is an appointment of profit under the Crown or is excluded from that category because we give a grant of only £80,000,000 towards the funds of U.N.R.R.A. If my right hon. and learned Friend says that this appointment is excluded from this Bill, surely we are entitled to ask whether it is desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should retain his seat in this House and at the same time accept an appointment, with the consent of the Government, which excludes him for a long time from the deliberations of this Assembly. He has become, in fact, a civil servant in a permanent capacity. Surely in these circumstances we cannot agree to accord him the privileges that are ordinarily open to hon. Members. These points have to be cleared up.
There is the additional point raised by my hon. Friend below the gangway. Take the case of the right hon. Gentleman the 1981 Member for Rossendale (Sir R. Cross). He was a Member of the Government as Minister of Economic Warfare and Minister of Shipping before we created the Ministry of War Transport. He was sent to Australia as our representative there. The position was changed, but no notification was given to this House, and there is no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman is in precisely the same position as the High Commissioners for Australia, Canada and New Zealand who are resident in this country. The Governments of Australia, Canada and New Zealand did not accord to their High Commissioners the privilege we are according to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rossendale. [An HON. MEMBER: "The South African Government does."] The South African Government is peculiar in many ways. The point is that, in the circumstances, it is not right that my right hon. and learned Friend should push this Measure through the House without according to hon. Members an opportunity of reviewing the whole situation. It is not a light matter. While I would not go so far—it may not please some of my hon. Friends behind me, but we cannot please everybody in this world—[Interruption.] Well, I can accept criticism.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I would say to my hon. Friend that a little more balance would not do him any harm. After all is said and done, it is a very great privilege to be a Member of this House, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have to choose what they want. If they want to go abroad to represent this country they ought to disclaim the right of representing their constituencies in this assembly, and if they want that right, they must deny themselves the privilege of going abroad. It seems to me that, in all the circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman should say to us: "We will carry this on a little longer, but our intention is to review the whole situation, and give the House an opportunity of deciding what shall be done."
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
On a point of procedure. We did not start this discussion until an hour ago. Is it the intention of the Government to conclude this business to-day? If so, do they wish 1982 to do so after less than two hours' discussion of a very important matter, on which large numbers of Members wish to speak? Is it your intention, Mr. Speaker, to accept a Motion for the Closure?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman has no responsibility in that matter. In an hour's time I shall make up my own mind, having heard the discussion, and the responsibility for that decision will be mine.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
I certainly propose to follow the normal practice which is to see how the Debate goes. I very much hope that we can get the Bill. Some observations will be made on behalf of the Government before we ask the House to come to a decision.
§ Sir Stanley Reed (Aylesbury)
I should like to associate myself with the protest against the manner in which the Bill has been presented, although I would not like to say that the Attorney-General was rather casual in his presentation of it. I know that he is quite incapable of treating the House in any such spirit. I will ask hon. Members to recall to their memories the circumstances in which the Act was first passed. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) has said that the Bill was accepted with reluctance; I go further, and say that it was accepted with extreme reluctance. Hon. Members did so because the Bill was a breach of a tradition closely associated with the prestige of this House. Those who were present throughout the Debate will know very well that the unofficial title of that Bill was the "MacDonald Relief Bill." Since then, the Act has been used to cover 21 appointments.
I say, frankly, that if the Attorney-General was compelled to bring all those appointments within the terms of the Act, with all his legal knowledge and forensic ability, it would be difficult to satisfy this House that the strict terms of the Act had been observed. Hon. Members have 1983 said that one result of the passing of the Act was that constituencies have been unrepresented. If the Attorney-General will read the list of appointments which have been made under the Act, he will find that it is not a question only of representation of the constituencies; it is also a question of adding to the number of placemen.
If the Bill were pressed to a Division I should, without hesitation, go into the Lobby against it, as a protest first against the manner in which it has been placed before the House, and in the second place, against the use which has been made of it to cover appointments which were never contemplated when these exceptional powers were given to the Government of the day. I will content myself with asking the Attorney-General whether, in presenting the Bill another time, he can see that, before we are asked to renew the Measure, the House is made acquainted with every appointment that has been made under it, the reasons for the appointment, and the special reasons which have made necessary these exceptional measures.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
It is a measure of the way the House has been treated by the Prime Minister, that the Bill is in the hands of the Attorney-General. It is not a legal matter that the Attorney-General has to explain to the House. It should be for the Prime Minister to justify the Measure which he is asking the House once more to endorse, and under which he is able to disperse certain hon. Members of this House overseas, merely by issuing his certificate. It is true that the House has power to reject his advice, but hon. Members know that it is done on the Prime Minister's initiative. It is really that the Prime Minister is depriving the House and the country of the services at home of those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen whom he sends abroad. It may be alleged that that does not amount to much, but there is a suspicion in the minds of some of us that these appointments have been created—some of them did not exist before they were created by the Prime Minister—merely to get rid of hon. Members who have perhaps exceeded their term of office in his Government. However that may be, the Prime Minister is doing himself and the House an injustice 1984 in not attempting, either himself or through the Deputy Prime Minister, to get the approval of the House of Commons to a matter to which, if it is genuinely serving the public interest, the House would readily assent.
Why did the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and who usually supports the Government 100 per cent. raise his voice on this occasion and threaten to go into the Division Lobby against the Bill if a Division were called? It was precisely for the same reason which I have in my mind, that there is a danger of these offices of profit under the Crown being used, as the same method was used in Georgian days, as a method of bribery and corruption. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I say that advisedly, because if the Prime Minister really wanted the services of these hon. Members, he would have kept them as they were originally in his own Government. Think of the coincidence that the majority of these appointments are of Members of one political party only. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. I think I can show——
§ Mr. Bellenger
There is one hon. Member who belongs to my party, and only one, who has a certificate. I am not asking for any more certificates for any of my colleagues, but I think that if we were to take account of the Members of the Conservative Party who are serving under the Bill, we should find that they are in the majority. I think that the Prime Minister has to give the impression that he is not treating this House with contempt, but it would appear that, in giving to the Attorney-General the job of introducing the Bill to the House, the Prime Minister once again has ignored the feelings of a considerable number of hon. Members, and that is not helping on the war as it should be helped.
My hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) has raised a point in a manner that I, perhaps, cannot emulate; but I hope that the Attorney-General will be able to appease his susceptibilities about the junior Member for Oxford University. But if the position is as the Attorney-General has stated, namely, that the right hon. Member is no longer, or will presently no longer hold an office of profit 1985 under the Crown, what then is his position? Does he still continue to hold a certificate and if he does not and remains abroad——
§ The Attorney-General
I think the hon. Member would like me to tell him what I know about this. The right hon. Member to whom he refers never had a certificate. He was a Parliamentary Secretary and as Parliamentary Secretary he went out for a certain time to the United States. I understand, though I have not the details—I only know what I have heard in the Debate—he has now accepted an appointment under U.N.R.R.A. I do not myself think that an appointment under U.N.R.R.A. is an office of profit under the Crown, although the Crown makes a substantial contribution to U.N.R.R.A. His position would be the same as that of any other hon. Member who accepts an appointment or work, not under the Crown and which, of course, does not disqualify him. [Interruption.] I mean the legal position.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Since I raised the point, may I put this to my right hon. and learned Friend? If the right hon. Member is operating with an organisation whose funds are partly subscribed by the British Government, surely in that sense he has accepted an office of profit under the Crown? He will probably be paid a salary. From whom does he derive the salary?
§ The Attorney-General
Not in law. I am quite certain about that. Take a body like the League of Nations. A secretary employed in the League of Nations would not be an office of profit under the Crown in law. I am not saying that you cannot argue about it.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is not the Crown in fact a party to the appointment as distinct from the case of the League of Nations?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the position is quite clear now. So far as the Junior Burgess for Oxford University is concerned, he does not come under this Bill and his position therefore is not concerned.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of Order. Is his position really quite so clear as that? The illustration which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave just 1986 now of an officer appointed under the League of Nations would be perfectly clear, but surely an office under U.N.R.R.A. is an office to which the Crown is a party? The Crown is a party to the appointment, the appointment is made in agreement with the Government, and the Government cannot disclaim responsibility for the appointment. In those circumstances surely the right hon. Member would be the holder of an office of profit under the Crown.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is in error there if he will allow me to say so. I believe that under this Bill those hon. Members concerned have to have a certificate and the Junior Burgess for Oxford University does not need a certificate.
§ Mr. Neil Maclean (Glasgow, Govan)
Is this not a case where the Government can escape from the implications of the Bill we are now discussing by voting money to some other body, and then appointing Members of this House or individuals to occupy places on that body?
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. The custom of the House for a long time has been that on Second Reading, wide debate is allowed. The previous Ruling given was not merely that the Second Reading was confined within the limits of the Bill but that expression was allowed in a wide sense. May I put this to you, Mr. Speaker? While the right hon. Member we are discussing is not covered by the Bill, is it not perfectly in Order on Second Reading, because of one's desire to widen the scope of the Bill, to argue that he should come within the scope of the issue of a certificate? I put that to you, Sir, as a legitimate point of Order which has been upheld in the past, that while a Bill itself does not cover particular specific points, it is quite in Order on the Second Reading, but not on the Third, to argue its extension to cover a particular issue?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is always correct in his interpretation about Rules of Order. What he has said is true but it would not be in Order to discuss in detail the position of the right hon. Member the Junior Burgess for Oxford University. His case may be used as an illustration and left there.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
Would I not be in Order in moving the 1987 Adjournment of the Debate in order to give the Government time to get details and a full understanding as to how much is covered by this Bill?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member might be in Order, but the point is whether or not I would accept the Motion.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I must confess my line of thought has been somewhat disturbed if not entirely broken. [Interruption.] I would suggest to the House that, although I am the last to deny the force of any humorous remarks coming from my hon. Friend below the Gangway, I think the House ought to treat this matter with considerable seriousness, as indeed it is one of seriousness. The situation which has arisen in relation to the Junior Burgess for Oxford University is even more grave, I think, after the Attorney-General's explanation. If we accept the position, as I think we must, that the right hon. Member is not one of the certificate holders, this fact remains, that here we have a right hon. Gentleman elected to this House to represent his constituents who can calmly go off to America and seek an office which is not an office of profit under the Crown, in which we could perhaps assert that he was doing something in the interests of this country, he can go to an organisation not controlled by this country and the Crown and get a job there which may keep him out of this House and the representation of his constituency for a considerable time. I ask hon. Members opposite in all seriousness whether they think that that person is a fit and proper person as a Member of Parliament to represent his constituency in this House? I do not know what their views are but I do not think that is the case.
There is only one analogy which Members opposite may offer, that is, those Members who happen to be serving with the Armed Forces of the Crown. I think their position is entirely different. The serving Members of the House of Commons can, at least, say that they are taking part in the battles of this country with their comrades from the civilian population who happen to be serving with the Forces. They are undergoing great danger in the majority of cases, and therefore I think that as it has been the custom, from time immemorial, for Members of this House to serve with the Armed Forces of the Crown, we can 1988 accept it as sufficient reason why we should excuse them attendance in this House. But when it comes to a Minister accepting a civilian appointment abroad, I think we ought to draw the line. I would appeal to the fairness and honesty of Members opposite, who are just as much concerned, I believe, to give the appearance to the public—[Interruption]—I am much obliged for the hon. Member's interruption but I hope he will put his point of view in a speech, as I am doing—the appearance to the outside world that we are not reverting to the position which once prevailed, whereby the Crown or Ministers under the Crown could dispense offices of profit like this. We all know the situation which arose at that time with the place men to whom my hon. Friend opposite has referred. I ask the Government seriously to consider the inadvisability of pressing this Bill to a point to-day when they will perhaps force the House to go to a Division. If that situation arises, in spite of what my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) has said, some of us at any rate will have to go into the Lobby and record our disapproval of this Bill.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
I want to associate myself with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). The Attorney-General, in the main, has confined himself to speaking on Measures which dealt to a great extent with legal matters. This is not a legal Measure; it is primarily a House of Commons Measure, and someone of the standing of the Leader of the House ought to take charge of it. The Attorney-General treated us almost with contempt. Despite the lecture of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), to the effect that we must clothe our words with a good deal of niceness, I still think the House of Commons ought occasionally to allow its Members to say what they think. The speech of the Attorney-General treated us with contempt. He introduced this Bill, raising the gravest issues for the House of Commons, in a speech lasting less than five minutes. He dealt with none of the issues raised, and in his reply he made, I think, one of the worst statements of all. He said that in each individual case we could challenge it. That is true, but I put it to the Leader of the House, as a House of Commons man, that what the 1989 House does not want to do is to make this Bill a challenge to any particular man. That is what the Attorney-General asks us to do.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sure the hon. Member is mixing me up with someone else. I never said that. I think that when the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) was speaking, I pointed out that the certificates were all presented to the House; but I am sure that I never said that on each occasion the House could challenge it. I do not think that the House could.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Let me take up what the Attorney-General now admits. He said that on each occasion the certificate was set before the House. The excuse has been given that on each occasion it could be challenged. What the House of Commons does not want to do is to challenge each case, because then it is made a challenge to that particular Member. Most of the reasons which were given to the House at the beginning were attractive. The right hon. and learned Member for Ashton-under-Lyme (Sir W. Jowitt), whose job in the Government I am not quite sure of—I know his title, but I do not know his job—was in charge of, or was associated with, the original Bill. One of the reasons which he gave to convince those of us who have not the deep insight into political movements that he has—[Interruption.] It is the truth; there is no use our blinking it. One of the reasons he gave was that a large number of anomalies arise, and all sorts of things could be construed as being offices under the Crown, and, therefore, this Bill was needed. He illustrated this by referring to Members serving on committees such as salvage committees, etc. That may have been a reason for tiding us over, but it was no reason for allowing that temporary situation to become a permanent situation. Another reason that was given was that, in the interest of the war effort, this Bill was required for certain men whose ability was outstanding, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. M. MacDonald) and all the others, whom, in the interests of the unity of the nation and of winning the war, the House of Commons could not afford to lose, because the Government needed their advice. As the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) has 1990 said, that temporary situation has now passed. Let us take the case of Lord Burghley, who was the Member for Peterborough. He was given a definite appointment for the Government, and the Prime Minister issued his certificate. He showed the hollowness and the sham of it by resigning, and the Government went on without any change. Had the same thing happened in connection with any other Member, the position would have been the same.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, South)
Lord Burghley had a certificate when he was working in the Ministry of Supply. He resigned when he was appointed as one of His Majesty's representatives overseas.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Let not the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) become, like the hon. Member for Seaham, too much of an apologist for the Government. The position is as I said. A certificate for the job he was going to was granted, to bring him into the scope of the Measure, and Lord Burghley rejected it. Now we are faced with a situation which in the old House of Commons days would have been treated with scorn and derision. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Eve (Mr. Granville) about the 21 being necessary for a Division, because I know that if there was a critical time and the Prime Minister was in charge the Division would be postponed until he had got the 21 back. You have 21 persons, each in the service of the Crown and paid by the Crown, and at any date they are liable to be increased in number. As time goes on, they will not diminish. In pre-war days, this situation sometimes arose and frequently hon. Members received appointments in this country. I remember Lord Robert Cecil——
§ Mr. Buchanan
He or his brother—one of the Cecils. I remember him when he occupied a seat in the other House. On that occasion, he was given an appointment in this country. He could have carried on, I have no doubt and have served in the House to some extent, but, without any kind of pressure being made, he automatically resigned his seat. There was a good deal of discussion at the time as to whether he needed to do so or not, but he did it, and I say, quite frankly, 1991 that the situation now arising is one which—and I say this without criticism of the Attorney-General's few minutes' speech—might have been different in the days when we were divided into a Government and an Opposition. But really, when you have no Opposition in the official sense, it is all the more necessary that the Government should explain their Measures in full. In the old days, the Opposition would wring concessions from the Government. To-day, because you have no official Opposition, you are treating this House in a less serious fashion than you would otherwise have done. It is not proper, and it is not becoming of a great officer like the Attorney-General holding high judicial rank to do so. I do not say that in any derogatory sense, because the right hon. and learned Gentleman will hold distinguished office, but I say it was not becoming of him to do it.
§ The Attorney-General
I do not want to excuse myself to the House, but I would like to say that this is the third time I have been in charge of this Bill. Last year I made a short speech and only one hon. Member spoke. We thought it might suit the convenience of the House, which is aware of the purpose of this matter, if I introduced it shortly.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Last year, when you had no opposition, and at a stage of the war much more critical than to-day, some of us thought that the House should not unduly embarrass the Government and because there was no opposition you got away with it 12 months ago. To-day, political alignments are altered and opposition is inclined to grow. I ask the Government and particularly the Leader of the House—who, I think, in some ways, is doing his job as Leader of the House as well as any man in my 21 years here has done it—seriously to reconsider this Bill. Nobody can justify now the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. M. MacDonald). Not one single reason can be given. Nearly every hon. Member on the other side is a business man or is associated with business. Nearly everyone is associated with successful businesses. How did they do it? They run successful businesses and no one of them has any right in the House of Commons, in spending public money, to treat this House or the country less favourably 1992 than he would treat his own private business. That is what you are doing to-day.
If it was in your own business, and there was to be an expenditure of £5,000 or £10,000 a year, before you would agree to it you would ask for it to be justified. But what did you do here? You passed a Bill and you did not seek to justify it. How can you say that the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty is necessary either for the winning or losing of the war, or that he has got one inch of political standing outside that of the normal Member of Parliament? Can you make a case for his being specially treated? There may have been a case, perhaps, on political expediency, because he represented a party and it was necessary to keep that party quiet for the time being. That may have been the reason then, but to-day the reason has gone and the party has gone, and you have Ross and Cromarty unrepresented in this House. There are problems affecting Scotland and affecting the Highlands, and the district is unrepresented by its Member. In Lancashire, a seat called Rossendale, a prominent seat in that county, is unrepresented. Nobody is going to tell me that the Conservative Party to-day, after two or three years, cannot now produce somebody of great capacity to take that seat and fulfil the functions associated with it.
The reasons given for this are flimsy and not a credit to those who advance them. I want to warn the Leader of the House that one of the things which is causing great concern in this House is the increasing number of paid Cabinet Ministers, Under-Secretaries and other semi-officers of the Crown. I make no criticism of many hon. Members who bold original offices and all kinds of other things at the present time, such as Ministry of Information lectureships and B.B.C. lectureships, all of which bring profit to the hon. Member. I can speak freely, because I have never had any. I say, frankly, that a House of Commons that gets to that stage is not a good thing for this country or for the democratic people in it, and I ask the Leader of the House to review the whole situation, not merely the 21 hon. Members affected, but the whole question of holding office of the Crown, and I trust that the Government will take the necessary action thereon.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I think perhaps I have some justification for asking the House to listen to me for a moment or two because, when the original proposal came before the House I was then told—the Prime Minister was in charge—that we were going to desist from pressing it in the Division Lobby. Hon. Members will recall that we managed to secure the procedure which is now being continued in this Bill, by a protest in this House, because we insisted that this Bill should be an annual Bill and that the power should be renewed, so as to keep it all the time within the province of the House. We did that in difficult circumstances when many of us were bitterly criticised because we opposed the Government. It is only one of the small contributions to Parliamentary procedure which the critics have made from time to time in the course of the last three or four years.
I would like to say a word to my own Front Benchers in this matter. It is perfectly true that the Attorney-General had every right to suppose that he could clear up everything in this Bill by a few perfunctory sentences. Only a few perfunctory sentences came from the person in charge of the Labour Party. We can no longer rely—and this has been true for a few years—upon the representatives on this Bench to defend either Parliament or the principles of the party to which they belong, and the sooner this is stated the better. It is a disgraceful exhibition of incompetence on the part of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Government Departments are now being corrupted by big business, and the House of Commons is being corrupted by the Government. That is the situation. Question Time after Question Time reveals that the British Government and British politics are sinking as low as American and French politics.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to suggest that the House of Commons has been corrupted by the Government?
§ Mr. Bevan
With all respect, Mr. Speaker, I am saying—because the same sentence has been used three times by 1994 three different Members—that, of course, it corrupts the House of Commons. That is the whole point. Why is a certificate needed? A certificate is needed because of the constitutional position that Members of the House of Commons could not be appointed to positions of profit under the Crown. The whole point is to protect the House of Commons from corruption. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) is either boiling over with the lava of indignation or sunk in the quagmire of levity. There are 21 Members of this House of Commons at the present time concerned under this particular Bill who are drawing lavish salaries—(HON. MEMBERS: "No")—and expense accounts, and expense accounts are often better than salaries in these days. Do not let us have any nonsense. I can talk frankly about this. There are too many hon. Members who are having expenses accounts with the Government at the present time. So serious has it become that I cannot get from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury an account of the number of Members in this House on expense accounts. I wrote a letter to the Treasury asking how many persons were having these accounts and I received the reply of 21. I had difficulty in getting the number of persons who are Members of this House in the Armed Forces. I was first of all told that the Secretary of State for War did not know the figures. I had to persist. I cannot get from the Government the extent to which Members of this House are now receiving financial benefits from the Crown.
§ Mr. Bevan
No, Sir, I was specifically differentiating them. I said that I could not get from the Government an account of the number and the identity of Members of this House who are on expense accounts. The Government will not give the information. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) was in charge of the Air Cadets on an expenses account. There are a large number of regional commissioners and persons attached to Government Departments, and no one knows who they are. The Government are now using secrecy and subterfuge to pour out public funds in uncheckable fashion to Members of Parliament. If they want to understand why the House 1995 of Commons has sunk so low and they cannot get healthy and effective Debates, it is because they are buying Members of Parliament day by day.
§ Mr. Woodburn (Stirling and Clackmannan, Eastern)
On a point of Order. The hon. Member, or somebody else, made a suggestion that people who spoke at Ministry of Information meetings received expenses accounts which corrupted them.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I have spoken at several Ministry of Information meetings and on no occasion have I received any more than my own railway fare. Therefore I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is wrong of Members of Parliament to convey the impression to the public that Members of Parliament who speak for the Ministry of Information are corrupted.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I use the B.B.C. and I intend to use it again. B.B.C. speakers are paid and I challenge the hon. Member to say that he did not receive a fee, and I challenge him that he did not take it. Let him get up and say "No" to that.
§ Mr. Bevan
I made no statement about the Ministry of Information and I do not suggest for a moment that the fidelity of the hon. Member to the Government has been purchased. It is not necessary to buy it; it is there. I made no suggestion at all, and all I am saying—and the House must really be serious about this matter—is that it is a very dangerous state of affairs when a Member of this House cannot obtain information from the Government as to how many Members of the House are able to draw from public funds on expenses accounts when they are attached to Departments. Is not that serious? I have asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on two occasions and he has refused to give me the information. We do not know when a man gets up to speak. It used to be an old practice that when a man got up he had to disclose his interests. Some Members of this House have suffered public dishonour merely because they forgot to say it, but when a man gets up on these benches to support the Government you do not know what 1996 Government money is in his pocket. That is a very serious state of affairs.
The Prime Minister has been giving his certificates like confetti. He distributes them to relieve himself of political embarrassment. Take, for example, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Mr. Duff Cooper). He is always in office. Nobody knows why. He gets one office after another. He leaves them all with a worse reputation than when he entered them. He went out to the East and came back and made a report. Why is he kept in the Government—because he made a report on Singapore which they did not want to hear? When he came home, he was appointed to another job, in charge of the Prime Minister's Gestapo. He was made chairman of the Swinton Committee. You cannot ask how the money is spent without the Prime Minister becoming apoplectic. He got £5,000 a year for being in charge of the Swinton Committee—spying—not in charge of military intelligence but of civil intelligence. There are men in uniforms, thousands of them, drawing funds from this country and Members have not the remotest idea how much money is being spent or who is getting it. Furthermore, the right hon. Gentleman was appointed to North Africa. His services were so essential that he had to be sent to North Africa and got the Prime Minister's certificate. The "Evening Standard" reported two or three months after his urgent appointment that he had not yet taken up his duties because his villa was not ready for him in North Africa. Was there ever such obscene frivolity in the use of public funds?
Take the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). He has been in Spain. Does one single hon. Member seriously suggest that a member of the Diplomatic Corps could not do the job and do it even better? What has he got for us? He cannot even get ships out of the hands of the Spaniards. Does anybody in this House—I ask hon. Members on the other side—seriously believe that the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea as our representative in Madrid re-assures public opinion here or anywhere? As a matter of fact, his presence in Madrid is the cause of great anxiety to every informed opinion in Great Britain. [Interruption.] I will take a challenge at a by-election.
§ Mr. Buchanan
One of the certificates issued is to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Madrid [Laughter]—I mean the Ambassador. Surely the hon. Member has a right to ask that that gentleman should not have a certificate, and to show that he is unworthy of a certificate.
§ Mr. Bevan
The point I was striving to address myself to is that it is an extremely undesirable thing that Members of this House should be too much in the pay of the Executive. The power of the Executive to confer financial benefits upon Members of the House of Commons should be carefully scrutinised. It affects the very citadel of the British Constitution. It is the issue on which the biggest battles about the British Constitution have been fought, and we are throwing aside frivolously—[Interruption.] Really, the hon. Member should control himself.
§ Mr. Bevan
The situation is serious in this respect. If you go through the list of the Members of this House now, you will see that practically one-third of the House of Commons is associated directly or indirectly with the Executive—200 Members. Before the Government begins, it can reckon upon 200 Members supporting it in the Lobby because of financial interest or the expectation of financial interest. Ninety-six Members of the House of Commons—I went through the list yesterday—are directly in the Government. If you include Parliamentary Private Secretaries, it is two-thirds of the House. [Interruption.] I could prove conclusively that there are Parliamentary Private Secretaries who obtain considerable benefit.
§ Mr. McEntee (Walthamstow, West)
The hon. Gentleman makes rather serious charges about Parliamentary Private Secretaries that they receive financial benefits. If he says that, will he name them?
§ Mr. Bevan
I say that Parliamentary Private Secretaries receive services that are of financial value. [Interruption] I do not say all Parliamentary Private Secretaries. I say what is well known to Members of this House—do not be mealy-mouthed about it—that Parliamentary Private Secretaries, many of them, attached to Government Departments do obtain very valuable services.
§ Mr. Bevan
Hansard to-morrow morning will decide who is right, the hon. Member or myself. In my recollection, what I said was that the Government could rely on practically one-third of the House of Commons being attached to them directly or indirectly by financial benefit. The Tory Party cannot be expected to be angry about getting public money. We know that very well. That is the only interest they have in politics. That is the only interest they have ever had in politics. The only time when they can be relied upon to defend the purity of public administration is when they are afraid one lot of interests are getting too much against other interests. Then they intervene to stop anybody getting it. Look up their leader's past speeches because he said it long ago much better than I can say it.
With this I want to finish what I have to say. I say I should advise against this Bill being given a Second Reading to-day. I think it ought not to be given a Second Reading to-day, and that we ought to have a better opportunity of considering it. I say we have reached a very low point when the Attorney-General, without giving any justification for the Bill, can move it in a perfunctory manner, when a public Bill can be passed without proper examination and when 1999 Members of this House can be sent all over the world without the slightest justification. You cannot possibly have a sound, wholesome House of Commons unless the powers of the Executive are subject to very much greater check in this matter than they are at present. We ourselves ought to take every opportunity of making the Government justify the use of public funds in this manner.
§ Mr. Eden
I only want to intervene for a moment on account of the clock. I intended, of course, to reply to this Debate to-day but I am conscious that many points have been raised and I cannot do that adequately or fairly to the House in the time that remains. If it were agreeable to the House I suggest the Debate may continue until the usual hour and be resumed on the next Sitting Day after essential Business has been taken so as to enable me, on behalf of the Government, to answer the various points that have been raised more effectively than I can do with justice to the House in this very short time.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
On a point of Order. Could I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman regards the Public Works Loans Bill as essential Business?
§ Mr. N. Maclean
Will the right hon. Gentleman say if he will take the Courts (Emergency Powers) (Scotland) Bill as well on the next Sitting Day or will he leave it till next week?
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Someone who took part in the Debate congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his skilful leadership of the House. I consider the proposal he has just made is a very fine example of that. On more than one occasion I have given him my opinion on Friday Sittings; they provide an occasion for the Government to get rid of all their inconvenient little oddments. 2000 I warned him on two previous occasions in the House that the Debate on this issue could not be looked forward to as a mere formality and I am afraid I was right in that prophecy. I also approached the Treasurer of the Household on the matter and, if I had thought there was going to be so much feeling, I would have had effrontery to approach the Chief Whip himself. I used the usual channels to the extent I felt I was entitled to do, and I asked the Government to take this a little more seriously. In spite of my work, they sent the Attorney-General in, obviously insufficiently briefed. I hope he will not mind my saying that. I know he can do much better than he did to-day, I have seen him do it. I went to the Vote Office to ask for any White Papers that would be germane to this Debate, to find out who are the members of our legions of lost ones at the present moment, and particulars as to what they are doing. But there was not a thing in the Vote Office to guide the House. This is a serious business.
I do not want to follow the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) in the somewhat drastic job he has done to-day. I think, on the whole, the House of Commons is a pretty clean place, but I can see all the tendencies which, if they are not checked, could make it something different. It would be vicious if we continued this sort of thing. Now, in addition to the introduction of this legislation, after some Parliamentary education, there was a Select Committee upon it which sat over a period of weeks, presided over by a very respected Member of this House, now Lord Hemingford. We went into the constitutional issue. I was a member of that Committee and attended its sittings very assiduously, and we went carefully into all the points which raised the biggest constitutional issues connected with the status of Parliament. It was held at a time when it was very inconvenient to be in London, things were not comfortable, and general attendance at the House of Commons was not so usual then as it is now. But that Committee sat under these conditions and produced a Report and, while not enthusiastic, the general attitude was that this condition should only be maintained in the present circumstances and that it should be very temporary.
I want the House to ask itself if we have not now reached a stage when not 2001 only have external things become less pressing than they were, but when internal things, the definite work of this House, is becoming more and more important. In the period of time that will be granted in this Bill, there will fall to be made fateful, far-reaching and important decisions. That justifies this House in doing what it has the right to do, to say to its constituent Members, "Your service in this House is your primary duty. We thank you for what you have done in the far-flung parts of the Empire, we thank you for the various difficulties you have helped to tide over in these far-away places, but here, right in Westminster at the centre of things, is now the place where your services are wanted. Thank you very much, boys, but come home now." That ought to be the attitude of the House, and the Second Reading of this Bill should not be granted without some clear and definite understanding that the Government, who must be our executives in this matter, have a similar understanding as to the way in which the House itself regards it.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
I am sure the whole House will be thankful to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken for the moderate and wise way in which he has put a case which deserves to be put, in striking and painful contrast to the speech we listened to immediately before his. Serious and shameful charges were made in the course of that speech. We are not concerned to discuss them at length; it is sufficient to say that it must be obvious to the Government that they have produced a Bill which is open to criticism on quite different lines, namely, those which have just been put forward. Perhaps before answering, my right hon. Friend would give us some assurances to the manner in which this Bill is going to be administered in the future, for how long is it going on, how many appointments are to be made, is there a limit to those appointments, is there to be an inquiry as to the types of offices which are considered—a discrimination for instance, between those beyond the seas and those which enable a Member to work at home—and is there to be a distinction between the members of the Forces and others? Those are questions with which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will deal, without accepting for a moment the view of all those who criticise this Bill, or at all 2002 supporting the charges of a disgraceful nature.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
May I ask my right hon. Friend when he comes to reply to bear in mind that no fewer than 21 Members of Parliament are affected under this Bill. He indicated that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir Samuel Hoare) does not come under this the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir Arthur Salter) and others as well. Apparently, about one-thirtieth of the House of Commons is concerned and one is entitled, I think, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there is any limit, because one can visualise the membership of the House of Commons being posted away all over the place.
§ It being the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon the next Sitting Day.