§ 6.20 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I beg to move,That during the present Session:(1) Government business shall have precedence at every sitting;(2) The following provisions shall have effect as respects public Bills:134
- (a) no Bills other than Government Bills shall be introduced;
- (b) whenever the House is adjourned for more than one day, notices of amendments, new clauses or new schedules (whether they are to be moved in Committee or on Report) received by the Clerks at the Table at any time not later than 4.30 p.m. on the last day of adjournment may be accepted by them as if the Mouse was sitting;
- (c) notices of amendments, new clauses or new schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before a Bill has been read a second time;
- (d) a new clause may be moved on Report without notice, notwithstanding anything in Standing Order No. 37;(3) Whenever the House is adjourned for more than one day, notices of questions received by the Clerks at the Table at any time not later than 4.30 p.m. on the last day of adjournment may be accepted—
- (a) if received before 4.30 p.m. on the penultimate day of adjournment, as if they had been given on that day at a time when the House was sitting, and
- (b) if received thereafter, as if they had been given on the last day of adjournment at a time when the House was sitting;(4) For the purposes of this under the expression "day of adjournment" means a day on which the House is not fitting, not being a Saturday or Sunday;(5) Paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 1 shall have effect as if all the words after "clock" were omitted and the following words were substituted therefore—or, if proceedings exempted as hereinafter provided from the operation of this Order are under discussion at or alter the hour appointed under paragraph (3) of this Order for the interruption of business, half-an-hour after the conclusion of such proceedings, Mr. Speaker shall, adjourn the House without question put.(6) The following paragraphs shall have effect in substitution for paragraphs (8) and (9) of Standing Order No. 1:(8) A motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown, either with or without notice and either at the commencement of public business or at any time thereafter, to be decided without amendment or debate, to the effect either—
- (a) That the proceedings on any specified business be exempted at this lay's fitting from the provision of the Standing Order 'Sittings of the House'; or
- (b) That the proceedings on any specified business be exempted at this day's sitting from the provisions of the Standing Order 'Sittings of the House' for a specified period after the hour appointed for the interruption of business.(9) If a motion made under the preceding paragraph be agreed to, the business so specified shall not be interrupted if it is under discussion at the hour appointed for the interruption of business, may be entered upon at any hour although opposed, and, if under discussion when the business is postponed under the provisions of any Standing Order, may be resumed and proceeded with, though opposed, after the interruption of business.Provided that business exempted for a specified period shall not be entered upon, or be resumed after the expiration of that period, and, if not concluded earlier, shall be interrupted at the end of that period, and the relevant provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of this Standing Order shall then apply.(10) Provided always that not more than one motion under paragraph (8) may 135 be made at any one sitting, and that, after any business exempted from the operation of the order is disposed of, the remaining business of the sitting shall be dealt with according to the provisions applicable to business taken after the hour appointed for the interruption of business.The House will remember that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already informed hon. Members that it would be necessary for the Government to ask Private Members to forgo their rights to both Bills and Motions on the days, now, I am afraid some years ago, which were provided for under the Standing Orders of the House. It falls to me as Leader of the House to propose this Motion and to try and persuade hon. Members to give up their time to the Government because of the very heavy legislative programme which is outlined in the Gracious Speech which the House has been discussing. It is, of course, the case that all Governments from time to time, sometimes in war and sometimes in peace, have had to ask the House to agree to the Government taking all the time and to set aside the rights of Private Members in that respect. All Governments have done so, whether Conservative, Liberal, Labour or Coalition, at some time or another, and the reasons have varied. During the war years, when all our energies were engaged upon matters occupied with the successful prosecution of the war, we were working under exceptional circumstances, and throughout the war Private Members were asked to give up their time. That was a sacrific which hon. Members made, if not altogether cheerfully, without, I think it can be said, serious complaint.
No Leader of the House can relish the task of moving this Motion, but however much the Government regret having to ask Private Members to forgo their rights and surrender their time, I must frankly tell the House that, having carefully examined the programme, I feel that this course of action is inevitable and essential. As those right hon. Gentlemen who have been responsible from time to time for the management of the Business programme of the House will know, a large proportion of the time of the Session is mortgaged in a way that is unavoidable, unless in exceptional circumstances, for essential and routine Business. Time has to be devoted quite properly to the Debate 136 on the Address. There is the Business of Supply, which normally has 20 days devoted to it, though we did not have 20 days, as the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) will remember, in the last Session of the last Parliament owing to circumstances we all understood and talked about. Supply has to be provided for, the Budget and Finance Bill must be dealt with, and this Session we must allow for the possibility of two Budgets and two Finance Bills. There has to be time for special Debates from time to time, and the House must have Recesses in the Summer, at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun.
If we were to allow for Private Members' time we should have left only something like 50 to 60 days for the Government's legislative programme. That is totally inadequate for the programme which the House has been and will be discussing. There has been a General Election. We are refreshed from an appeal to the people. There is no doubt about the will of the people on the necessity for things being done adequately and with expedition. We have a mandate to carry out and we shall have a considerable programme of post-war reconstruction to carry through. Some of that reconstruction programme was, indeed, agreed to by the war Coalition Government. We may need legislation to deal with the housing problem. The end of the war and the transition period may bring problems which will throw up the need for legislation at any time. The undoubted will of the people is, and the demand of the country is, that these problems shall be dealt with adequately and with proper expedition. We would ask the House to assist us in this matter, and our first request is to Private Members to give up the facilities for which we ask. We need the time, and, as the Prime Minister has already informed the House, we shall, beginning in October, have to ask the House to sit regularly on five days a week. So much for the taking of Private Members' time.
I would now refer to some other provisions in the Motion. We propose to continue the arrangement made on previous occasions in the interests of Private Members which safeguards the right to raise matters on the half-hour Adjournment at the end of Business. In earlier years it was often the case that when 137 the House sat beyond the normal hour for the interruption of Business, either because of the Rule being suspended, or because of exempted Business, hon. Members who had got the Adjournment lost their opportunity to raise grievances. We feel that this would impose a hardship, especially if we take Private Members' time, and, as hon. Members are being asked to give up that time, we think it proper, and I am sure the House will agree, that that right should be safeguarded. There may be occasions, when the House sits unduly late, when hon. Members will not pursue their Adjournment rights; but that is their business and the business of the House. We think the right should be safeguarded to the fullest practical extent.
The Motion also continues various arrangements, some of which were made in 1939 to meet the general convenience of the House. That is to say, it is proposed that Amendments to Bills and Parliamentary Questions may be sent in on days when the House is not sitting. The Motion also proposes that the House should continue the power to suspend the Rule without notice and to suspend it for a limited period of time, so that, as we go along, the convenience of the House can be met as to the length of sitting on particular days. I hope the House will agree to continue the arrangements I have indicated, which, I think, were for the general convenience of hon. Members in all parts of the House, and will, I think, assist also in the despatch of urgent Business. I need not assure the House, I hope, that the right of hon. Members to debate and criticise the actions of the Government and all aspects of policy, certainly all important aspects of policy, is a right and liberty to which this Government pays the highest respect. Many opportunities occur in the course of normal business for debate, criticism or even attack upon His Majesty's Government. There are a good many facilities under the ordinary Rules of the House. We regret that the legislative programme requires us to ask the House to give up Private Members' time, but I think the House will see that, in the circumstances which now face us, it is essential for us to do so. I therefore hope the House will agree with the Motion.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
While I, and I think my hon. Friends on 138 this side of the House, fully accept that the Government have a heavy legislative programme, I am bound to say I was rather concerned with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the general treatment, if I may so describe it, of Private Members' time. May I first deal with a point in which I am in complete agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, that is, in what he said about the half-hour Adjournment Debate and the new arrangements we made in the last Parliament?
I think, so long as Private Members have not their previous rights, it is clear that that particular privilege must be kept. What I would wish the House to consider for a moment is the position of Private Members' time in general. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that during the war we did take Private Members'time—I was Leader of the House for a large part of the time and had the responsibility of asking them to forgo it, and they did so with complete generosity and with very little complaint. However, I think that that put a burden of responsibility on the Front Benches to restore as much of that time as they can, if not all of it, as soon as possible. The fact that the House accepted this so well before puts an obligation upon us to try to accommodate Private Members as much as we can.
What worried me particularly was that in the right hon. Gentleman's statement there was nothing to indicate how long this position was to obtain. If the right hon. Gentleman had said, "I have a heavy programme but I will review the position again a little later, perhaps at the end of the year," or something of that kind, I should not have been so much shocked. But he seems to say, "We have got a great mandate from the people, we have a great deal of legislation, and we must ask Private Members to give up their time." That is quite another proposition, and frankly I would ask the Government to think it over again. I will give one or two reasons. Speaking yesterday the Prime Minister referred to the evolution of our Constitution and, I thought, spoke with great wisdom and very appositely about it. But it is very much the same with regard to the evolution of our Parliamentary practices. There is no doubt that anybody who had been long in the House knows well that in the balance of Parliament, Private Members' 139 time, on all but the most abnormal occasions, plays its part just as Question Time, which has become a completely unique institution which we enjoy—Ministers sometimes only relatively—as part of our Parliamentary system. So far as I know it is part of no other system, and it is one which, even during the war, when questions of security were always before us, we were able to maintain.
My plea to the Government, therefore, is that, as nobody would think of depriving us of Question Time, we should think again in respect of Private Members' time before we agree to part with it, as it were, as a matter of principle. So far as I can judge from what the right hon. Gentleman said just now, it is to be for a more or less indefinite period. May I make one other point, though I am not at all sure that it is for me to make it, because I do not know that I should show myself solicitous for the opportunities of hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Gentleman did not very clearly explain it, but the position is now quite different from what it was in the last Parliament. It lies, of course, with the Opposition to choose the subjects to be debated on Supply. To-day that is our privilege, which of course we shall, as an Opposition, normally exercise. There are now no great war Debates, thank God, as there were in the last Parliament, during which hon. Members could raise any point and during which Mr. Speaker allowed us a very wide latitude. I do not know whether it is my business to say so, but hon. Gentlemen opposite will have infinitely less opportunity under this arrangement than was the lot of all Members of the last Parliament.
I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's point about the pressure of Business, and we accept it, but I would ask him to give us some assurance that the position is not to be continued indefinitely. I would like to ask the Government, and I think it is a reasonable request, to tell us that they will review the matter before the end of the year, and that they will then come before us with some proposal which gives Private Members a fuller opportunity than they will have under these restrictions which, as I have explained, will be greater on Private Members than they were during the war and during the life of the last Parliament.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Will my right hon. Friend explain what he means by the end of the year—does he mean the end of the calendar year?
§ Mr. Eden
Yes, of course. That was what disturbed me in what the right hon. Gentleman said. I understood him to mean that this proposal was to cover the whole of this Session. I submit that that is too long a period, and that he should make the request to cover only until the end of the year, and then undertake to reconsider it and see what can be done to accommodate Private Members. That would go some way to meet our anxiety. I am not making this statement in any captious fashion, as the House can perfectly well see, but I do believe that all of us who believe in Parliamentary institutions have a special responsibility, as I said earlier, to keep our Parliamentary balance. I am equally certain that Private Members' time and Private Members' Bills and other discussions have, in days gone by, played a great part. If we were to lose it now, we should be making a mistake and should regret it later.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Sir Alan Herbert (Oxford University)
I rise with some reluctance to make my annual protest against this Motion. I say with reluctance because, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, like all of us I am most anxious that this new Government should start their difficult voyage with a fair wind and a willing crew, and also because of the disarming and characteristic manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed this Motion. I do not however, believe that I should be wasting the time of the House, especially that of the new Members whom we are delighted to see here, if I tried to make them see first of all what their rights mean, and secondly how keenly, how sincerely, how passionately, some of us old hands revere and value those rights, having seen them in operation and having done their best to use them.
A man called Samuel Plimsoll, who wrote the Plimsoll line on all the ships of Britain, began his great career of reform by producing—unsuccessfuly, it is true—a Private Member's Bill in this House. The hon. Lady, one of the Members for the Combined Universities (Miss Rathbone) also began I know not how many of her fine movements in Private Members' time, and the hon. Lady the 141 President of the Board of Education has also done great work in that field. If I may be personal, and I shall only be personal to point a public moral, I believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will remember the maiden speech which I delivered ten years ago on a Motion similar to that which is now before the House but with very much less excuse. I believe the right hon. Gentleman will remember that speech, which was a most improper maiden speech, and one which I do not recommend as a model to any hon. Member, because he alone of all the swells, with his characteristic generosity, followed me out of the Chamber, marched me up and down the passage, and paid me a few quite undeserved compliments. Then he relaxed and used this characteristic observation: "Call that a maiden speech?" he said. "It was a brazen hussy of a speech. Never did such a painted harlot of a speech parade itself before a modest Parliament." As has happened once or twice since then, the right hon. Gentleman was right, and I blush for shame when I think of the things I said on that day.
I am not boasting, but I am trying to tell hon. Members what is the scale of these things that we are asked to throw away. I brandished in my hand that day an old, tattered Private Members' Bill, passed on like a half-lit torch from Private Member to Private Member for 25 years, and I said I was willing to introduce that Bill the following and all succeeding Fridays. I said, "I swear that before this Parliament is out, this Bill shall become law." In two years, by the grace of God, by the good will and the hard work of Private Members, and also by the helpful assistance which I received from His Majesty's Government—but most of all because of the existence of Private Members'time—that impious vow had been carried out, and the Bill became part of the lives of scores of thousands of our citizens. They found that, for good or ill, their lives had been altered by the provisions of that Measure. That shows the scale of the powers which we are asked so lightly to throw away.
And this is the practical point. If the proposal to take Private Members' time is carried then all the things in the Bills that I have here—there are 11 of them—and the proposals in Bills of other Private 142 Members will not be done at all, because they are the kind of matters which are either too difficult or too dangerous for Governments. Either they find the thing too big or too small to be undertaken by them. I wish good luck to the great schemes for the material comfort and advancement of the people which are set forth in the Gracious Speech, but man does not live by bread, or even Beveridge, alone, and even if all the great schemes of the Government are brought to fruition there will still remain a vast area of our national life which will remain untouched, and will not be touched until Private Members get their time again. I do not know whether anybody has calculated—I expect the Fabians have—how much will be added to the sum of human happiness by the socialisation of the Bank of England. It may well be that the agricultural labourers will shout the glad tidings from hedge to hedge. It may well be that many of my old friends among the Surrey dockers will never "go slow" again once they are assured that we are going to socialise the Bank of England. It may be that in years to come we shall see the whole face of society better and brighter because of this tremendous event. We cannot tell, but what I am sure of is my Bills and the Bills of other Private Members. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but ten years ago they learned not to laugh so readily. There will be Bills which some hon. Members opposite may wish to introduce—this is not a party Debate, because we are all in this These Bills which I have in mind will make a much earlier impact on the lives of the people, will have a greater and earlier welcome among the homes of the people, and will add much more quickly to the happiness of the people; and, after all, that is the purpose for which we are here.
There is another point to which my right hon. Friend referred. I do not share his diffidence in referring to it. I am sorry for many of my hon. Friends opposite. Many of them have come here in justifiable triumph, eager to show what they are made of, but they will be made to realise the restrictions of party. And there are too many of them. The most enthusiastic, complimentary and eloquent speech in favour of a Government Bill coming from any one of them will be as gall and wormwood to the Chief Whip, 143 who has to get his business through. Their elaborate and ingenious Amendments, even if called by the Chair, will not always be welcomed by their own side. [Laughter.] I am serious. I am not being funny. I foresee a lamentable sense of personal frustration among many of them at the end of the Session if this Motion goes through. But on a private Wednesday or a private Friday all is different. The Private Member is a man again. He can stand on his own feet and say "Boo" to the bosses and the Party Whips.
Private Members' Bills also bring about a charming camaraderie between the Members of one party and another. I had most ample support from Members of the party on the benches opposite for the Divorce Bill which I introduced, and I shall always be grateful for it. On such occasions Members of all parties get together. If I were to introduce a Bill to abolish the decree nisi I feel sure it would find a great many supporters on the benches opposite. As I have said, it brings about camaraderie. There is no better education for a young Member than to take a regular part in the proceedings upon private Bills,
Lastly, these Standing Orders which we are asked to suspend are part of the great apparatus of Parliamentary freedom for which we have been fighting. What was the first thing we did this afternoon? I went out because I thought I should be tempted to make what might be called a "brawling interruption." We gave a First Reading to the Outlawries Bill, a most extraordinary proceeding. It is a Bill not recommended or introduced by any Member, it is not printed, and it is quite impossible to find a copy of it in the Library. I am not laughing at it. It is a very serious thing. The purpose of that queer procedure was to establish the right of this House to discuss what it likes quite apart from the programme of legislation laid down in the Gracious Speech.
This Motion is taking away a right which we laboriously established this morning. Hon. Members opposite are against monopolies. Do they suggest that the Government have a monopoly of wisdom? I am sad about this. I have worked very hard. Hon. Members may laugh at my little Bills, but I believe 144 they will be a little more popular with a great many people than some of the proposals which will later be laid before us. I presented them in due order at the Table yesterday. I am not quarrelling with your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but you said that they must not appear on the Order Paper. But look at what this House is doing to me after all the things I promised to my constituents, and all the things I have promised to the constituents of other hon. Members. I get a hundred letters a week, not from my own constituents but from poor people who are worried about their divorces. [Laughter.] There is no laughter about this. They write also about the Poor Persons' Procedure. I have a Bill here dealing with the provision of legal aid and assistance for the poor. That is something fundamental, but there is not a word about it in the Gracious Speech. What am I to say to all those people who write to me? I must tell them to stop sending their letters and to save their stamps, because I can do no more to help them if this Motion goes through; I might just as well be a Member of the German Reichstag or a stuffed exhibit in the Natural History Museum. If the House will not have my Bills on the Table I cast them on the Floor, as a monument to Parliamentary liberty and a challenge to despotic power.
I am sorry to have to adopt this tone, but it is essential to make hon. Members realise just what they are doing. Having said that, I should like to end on a milder note. All I am asking for is more or less what the right hon. Gentleman asked for. I should like this first bone of contention to be disposed of amicably, but in due proportion. I should not like there to be any vote at all—not for my sake, but for the Government's sake. I would suggest that some later speaker should propose that the Debate on this Motion should be adjourned, and that the usual channels should be consulted; and not only the usual channels but Private Members also, because I am rather tired of the usual channels giving away our rights. I suggest that we should get together and try to arrange some sort of compromise. We might have six Fridays instead of 12, or alternate Wednesdays and Fridays. I would not be unreasonable, but we ought to have something given to us to keep our rights alive. I ask most earnestly 145 that the Leader of the House should consider this suggestion. I would agree to almost anything, but this blank and absolute arrogation of the rights of Private Members I cannot stand, and if mine is the only voice in the House I shall cry "No" to the Motion. If this Motion is accepted to-day I believe that next year the right hon. Gentleman will come forward with some other reason why Private Members' time should be taken, and not only in this Session but in all the Sessions. If we give way now we may lose something that is vital, fundamental, and precious in the life of Parliament, whatever party reigns.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
In listening to the speech of the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) one was almost driven to the conclusion that what he was really asking for, to carry through his campaign, was a permanent Sitting of the House every day throughout the year. If every hon. Member were to bring forward 11 Bills, the hon. Gentleman's situation would not be met by rejecting the Motion which has been moved by my right hon. Friend. I was very much touched by the solicitude which the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and the Junior Burgess for Oxford University showed for Members on this side of the House. I assure them, as a person who has not always obeyed the party Whip, that there are many hon. Members on this side of the House who realise the importance of Private Members' rights. We have fully considered the situation. We realise that in doing what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House asks, we are giving up, for this period, something which is very important for us. We know that the large number of new Members are going to be delayed having the exercise which the Junior Burgess is so anxious to give them. But we have realised still more the importance which the country attaches to our getting on with our work.
We have endured six years of war. Never during that whole period have I heard the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington or the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) comply in any form whatsoever with the desire of some of us in the Opposition for a little extra time. We sat, permanently, short weeks of three days a week. There is vital legislation which must be put 146 through following a period of war. People expect things to be done. The Government are asking us to agree that Private Members shall give up their rights for a short period of one year. [Interruption.] It can only go on for one year because it must come up for consideration again next Session. I submit that it is the feeling of the country that Private Members should give up their rights on this occasion, but that we who may be regarded as the rebellious back-benchers should make it clear to our own Front Bench that we do not propose to tolerate a second Motion of this kind.
§ Mr. Stokes
I cannot be responsible for the mental capacity of the hon. Member. If he does not understand what I mean, I can only tell him I mean what I say. I say emphatically to the Leader of the House that I and my friends who are known as the more rebellious section of the Party are entirely with him in his proposal and hope he will get the Motion to-night, and that the Government will push on with their programme boldly and forcibly and get it through in the quickest possible time, which is what the people want.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
The rights of Private Members, which I have heard defended by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House from time to time, are among the most important constitutional rights in this country. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) said there are important Measures waiting to be dealt with, that the country expects those Measures to be dealt with, and that the Government should be given every facility to deal with them. I readily agree with that. But I am sure that one can have no greater regard for the welfare and freedom of the country than that which is shown by having regard for the rights and freedom of the House, which cannot be separated from the rights and freedom of the country. Those rights are what we 147 have in substance fought for in this war. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said he was prepared to experiment. I think that was a very fair offer to the Government. We are willing to concede that this shall be done for a period of three months and that it should then be reconsidered.
I think something further should also be done. Are hon. Members to be allowed to introduce Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule? The Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) said he has 11 Bills ready. Are there to be opportunities for such Bills to be introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule? There are very important issues which could be drawn to the attention of the Government in Private Members' Debates and to which the Government might otherwise pay no attention. Let me give an instance of something which it would be very difficult for the Government to find time for, but which could be very usefully ventilated even by a discussion under the Ten Minutes Rule; I refer to the position of juvenile courts in this country. That is a subject which I do not suppose any member of the Government will raise during the next year or the next three years, but Private Members, if afforded the time to do it, could call the attention of the Government to special points in connection with juvenile courts. It is in this way that Private Members, because of their special knowledge, are able to serve the interests of the country in a way which the Government cannot do. We are the custodians of the rights of our constituents, we are the representatives of our constituencies, and thereby we represent the country. The tendency in modern times is to concede that right to the Government and for the Government to concede it to the Executive, and the Executive to the Departments. Hon. Members should take the earliest opportunity to register a protest against that development. In making this protest, I do not do so for a party or an individual; I ask for the right of every Member of Parliament to represent his constituents effectively. That is not a right we would like to throw away. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House will find it possible to make a concession on this matter, that he will give an assurance that it will be considered in three months' time, and that 148 he will make a concession with regard to the Ten Minutes Rule.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Captain Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I wish to add my protest to those of other hon. Members who are objecting to the Government taking Private Members' time. During my time in the House, I have heard similar speeches to that made by the Leader of the House from different Parties, my own included, usurping the traditional rights of Private Members for a period of time. The excuse put forward has always been the same. It is always the pressure of Government and public Business, and I have never yet heard any other excuse. When I first came to the House I was in a very similar position to that of a good many hon. Members opposite, except that they are in greater numerical strength now than we were in 1924. There were at that time 250 new Members and I was one of the youngest. We had a feeling of frustration which I am quite convinced hon. Members are now going to have. Nevertheless, we had Private Members' time. We had the Ballots for Bills and the fact remains that some hon. Members did draw a place under the Ballot.
I remember that on one occasion. I drew a place and I remember the Leader of the House being very grateful to me for the Bill which I introduced. I was told that I had drawn a place in the Ballot and the Whips came to me and gave me their lists of Bills which they suggested should be introduced, but, being rather rebellious, I said "No. I am not going to introduce your Bill; I will find a Bill of my own." I thought I could find a subject that was worrying my constituents most, and, in that way I could relieve an anomaly which was worrying both me and my constituents. I found that, in my constituency, there were far too many toll bridges and roads, so I said "I want to abolish tolls on bridges and roads."
I went to the Private Bill Office and asked if anybody had ever introduced a Bill to abolish tolls on bridges and roads. They scratched their heads and said "Yes, we think that in 1895 an hon. Member did so, but we do not believe it was a very large Bill. The Bill was only a one-Clause Bill." I said, "I want something better than that," and they told me the best thing to do was to go to the Ministry of Transport. I went to 149 see the Minister's Secretary and told him the kind of Bill I wanted, and he said, "Oh yes, we know all about that." He told me that the Minister was already engaged in preparing a Bill and had intended to put the abolition of tolls in his Bill. He had, however, decided not to do so because it would be too controversial, and, as he did not have a full majority in the House, he did not want to do anything that might delay his Bill. I said to him, "Help me with my Bill, and I may be able to help the Minister." We got the Bill drafted and introduced into the House in Private Members' time; it got its Report and Third Reading in one day, and it was the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman was very pleased to incorporate in the Road Traffic Act.
I apologise for introducing the personal element, but it is important that this matter should be understood. I remember the last occasion when this question was raised the right hon. Gentleman, who spoke on behalf of the War Cabinet, gave an assurance that it was only a war-time measure, that the matter would be reconsidered, and that there was every possibility that, when hostilities were over, Private Members would have their time; restored to them. Now, it amazes us to come here and find this Government, which proposes to introduce a new era in freedom and democracy, asking us to accept a Motion which is most objectionable. If we are going to deprive Private Members of their time in this House, what chance have they of expressing themselves? I join with the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) in warning hon. Members and in asking them to join with us to-night in protest against this arbitrary action of the Government, whose first act in their new administration, is to rob Private Members of their rights in this House, to do so without giving any time limit. I have never yet heard the Motion moved in this form. "It was always for a limited period and subject to review later. I want to know if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to give me the assurance I ask for. If he does, for my part, although I object to it very strongly, I am prepared to accept the Motion without a Division. On the other hand, if he intends this to be permanent for the whole life of this Session, I shall wholeheartedly oppose it, and go into the Division Lobby against him.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
There are two things about the speech of the Leader of the House which strike me. The first is what he has proposed, and the second is his ground for proposing it. And I am not sure that the second point is not even more important than the first. I am troubled about what he proposes, because he puts us in a very embarrassing position. If we vote against his Motion we shall be charged with impeding the legislative programme of the Government. On the other hand, if we vote for it, then we are sacrificing rights of Private Members which have taken many generations of battles with Governments to retain. I do not want to obstruct the Government's legislative proposals. I regard the Government's programme as a mildly Radical programme which I should like to see carried into effect, in order that we can then get on with the real job. I want to facilitate this programme; but I am not prepared to facilitate it at the price of surrendering rights established by this House, unless there is overwhelming reason for doing so.
For the last six years, we have had these Motions and there have been overwhelming reasons for them. And the House has, on the whole, acquiesced in them. What is the reason given to-day for this Motion? It is the extensive character of the Government's legislative programme. I want to tell the House that there never has been an occasion, there is not an occasion, and there never will be an occasion, so long as Parliament lives, when legislative speed will keep up with legislative need. There never will be an occasion in Parliamentary history when the Leader of the House of that day will not be able to give precisely the same reason for taking away Private Members' time as the Leader of the House has given to-day. I warn the House most solemnly that, if it gives the Government this Motion on these lines, it will never be in a position again to reassert the rights of Private Members—not if there is any logic in our proceedings.
The problem of how to make the legislative machine work as rapidly as public need demands, is a considerable national problem, and I know that the right hon. Gentleman has views about that problem. He has stated them in public, to the great disapproval of some hon. Members above the Gangway. He has insisted upon the 151 need of a considerable extension of delegated legislation, in order that the House may have more time to deal with the general principles of Bills that we want to get through. I have said in a book, which I heartily commend to Members of the House, and I have said in public, that those Members above the Gangway who attack the Leader of the House because of his suggestions for increasing the pace of Parliament, must, themselves, find other means of doing so if they do not like his way. I state that publicly, but, neither from above the Gangway on this side, nor from the Front Bench opposite, would I accept the view that the solution of the problem of making legislation keep up to date with need, lies along the line of depriving Private Members of the House of the very limited rights that they possess at the present time.
I would like the Leader of the House—if he will consider a suggestion from me—to tell the House that the Government have under consideration the general question of expediting the machinery of this House. I beg of them to treat this matter seriously. The very limited programme in the King's Speech will not be completed within five years unless something is done about the machinery of this House. I would like him to tell us that the Government intend to look at the whole problem within, say, a period of six months. There is plenty of material available. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) amongst others has put before Select Committees of this House substantial proposals for speeding up the Business of the House. I beg of the Leader of the House to promise that within six months the Government will look at the matter, and then bring forward proposals for speeding up the machinery. In the meantime we will forgo Private Members' time in order to give the Government an opportunity to consider the problem of speeding up the time of this House. I beg of him not to do this for the benefit of the education of the "new boys." They will be trained in adversity, by merely staying in this House, and what adversity does not provide, the Whips will. They have embarked upon a melancholy career, with a very high mortality rate. It is not a question of educating the "new boys "but of securing the 152 continuance of a principle. That principle is that the function of Parliament is not to act solely as a ratifying instrument for Measures proposed by the executive of the day—the Government. That is a fundamental principle of Parliament for which men have died in this country and one which we will not sacrifice on any consideration whatever. The reason given to-day, if held valid, will be held valid for all time. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to devote time to a speeding up of machinery. We will give the Government the Motion if they will do that, by suspending the operation of Private Members' time for six months, when they should restore it to us. Without an assurance that they will deal with the main issue, I believe that the Government will do more harm than good by their proposal, and I am certain that it will do more harm than good to the House of Commons.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Sloan (South Ayrshire)
I hope that this Motion will go through without any difficulty at all. It will be noted that very few hon. Members on this side of the House are prepared to take part in the Debate.
Mr. M'Kie (Galloway)
They do not understand what it is about.
§ Mr. Sloan
The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. M'Kie) understands this, as his majority was reduced by more than 6,000. I do not think that we should let hon. Members opposite have the whole of the show. It is obvious that they intend to hold up the Business of this House. This is their first attempt at obstruction.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. As one who has taken part in this discussion, may I ask if it is in Order for an hon. Member to accuse Members of this House of obstruction?
Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for the hon. Gentleman to qualify his withdrawal by saying that he has his doubts?
§ Mr. Sloan
The Government on this occasion are asking Private Members to give up their time so that they can get on with their programme. It is obvious that, if Government time is to be filched, the programme outlined in the King's Speech cannot be carried through. It is not good enough to say that the Tory Party have always preserved the rights of Private Members. One of the reasons is that they have never had any legislation worth while. What are Government to do? They have six years of leeway to make up. Just as in regard to housing there are six years of leeway to make up, there are also six years of leeway to be made up with regard to legislation. We have had six years of Coalition Government, with nothing but agreed legislation. All the work was carried on behind the scenes. Now we are getting down to business, and it is a very difficult matter. We have promised the people of the country that legislation will be carried through. That is the reason why these Government benches are so overcrowded that you cannot find a seat, and why the benches opposite are becoming denuded.
Why is it that hon. Members opposite attempt to impede the Government in trying to carry through legislation? Simply because they dislike the legislation in the King's Speech. We heard the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition say that if coal could be produced more cheaply and in greater quantities under nationalisation, he would favour it. Well, give us the opportunity of proving it. We will be able to prove to the people of the country that we can do this, but it is quite evident that hon. Members who are sitting behind the Prime Minister are going to do their utmost to prevent us from proving this to the people of the country. [Interruption.] I meant, of course, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and not the present Prime Minister. The mistake is quite understandable. I have been in public life and on public bodies since I was in my early twenties, and I have been in a perpetual minority so, being subject to that during the whole of my lifetime, it is quite understandable that I should make a slip now. However, it cannot alter the fact that hon. Members opposite, although they are not going to 154 obstruct our legislation, are going to do their best to kill time. They are doing it now.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) said that he would like to see the programme in the King's Speech carried through rapidly, but he would join with the people on the other side to prevent us from doing so. I suggest that the hon. Members would be serving the interests of their constituents far better if they would withdraw this pettifogging opposition, and agree to the Motion presented by the Home Secretary.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I should like to indicate, with diffidence, two slight differences I feel from most of those who have spoken hitherto in this Debate. I think that, in one sense, the importance of what is called Private Members' time is often exaggerated. I have often thought, with respect and affection, that my colleague from Oxford University exaggerated the importance of the old Wednesdays and Fridays. It is clear that they had, and could have again, a great importance, but I think it is habitually exaggerated. I think what is still more important for Private Members is that they should get, and Mr. Speaker, we can always trust you to see that we do get it, a fair share of time in Debates on Government Days. That is our fundamental right—our right that matters most, and which is threatened mainly by the fact that as the minor parties in the House get smaller and smaller, their leaders get longer and longer.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
But I think there is an importance in Private Members' time greater than that put by my colleague from Oxford or by anybody else, even including the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) with whose speech I very much agreed. It seems to me the Motion before us to-day is objectionable even more for the reasons upon which it is recommended, than for its substantive content, and for that reason I regret a little the suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman on my own Front Bench, and by others, that there might be some compromise in this matter. I believe that this really raises a question of principle upon which there should not be compromise. It is in the interests of Private 155 Members rather that this should be carried by a blunt majority against us, than that any part of it should be given away, and the reason I think that, I will try, with the indulgence of the House, to explain as shortly as I can.
With respect to the hon. Member for Rugby, I think his history was slightly mistaken. I do not assert this ex cathedra because I have not looked it up, but my memory of the books is that it is not true that there have been many generations of people who have fought for Private Members' time. I think the process was contrary. The fact is that Governments have been fighting for control of time ever since the beginning of the committee system at least or since the reign of Henry VIII. Governments have continually fought for more and more time. The Government had all of it during the war. They had all of it, I think, on one earlier occasion, and I think—again I have not looked up the books—only one. I will explain when that was in a moment. It is all very well for the Government to ask for all of the time when the reason for which the Government require the time is a reason imposed upon the Government by the conditions of the day. But in this case the Government themselves are making the conditions. It is futile for the Government to come before us and say that there is such, a heavy programme of legislation, that so much need of legislation has accumulated, as if it were something which God had sent them, like rain, although they had prayed for sun or snow. Their business, as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury reminded them and us earlier to-day, is to govern. It is not necessarily their business wholly to recast the economic and social arrangements of this country—[Laughter]—I do beg hon. Gentlemen opposite not always to laugh before they are quite certain of the implication of the laughter. It may sometimes—if I may say it without excessive patronage to the wholly inexperienced Members—land them in intellectual difficulties. Do they propose, do they suggest, that every time there is a swing of the electoral pendulum, the side that comes in ought to allow no rights and no time to the other side, in order that they may wholly alter all the economic and social arrangements of this country? Or is that a one-way 156 traffic? They had better be sure which they think.
§ Mr. Gallacher rose——
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Do wait one second. Hon. Members had better not slip into a habit of laughing before the sentence is finished.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is the hon. Member not aware that the electors voted for this programme, and the Government must carry out this programme? When the Tories get in, they never carry out any programme for which they are elected.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The hon. Gentleman is really too fortunate in the circumstances of his birth and in the surroundings among which he has been brought up. He has always at least his share of the speaking time of this House, and he should be grateful for geography and not interrupt merely to insert that kind of hustings point; but, since he has made it, permit me to say this to him. I am extremely interested to hear how specific and authoritative the electoral mandate is upon this occasion, because I remember well, when we were passing the Bills which made possible this Election, how we were told over and over again by hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen—some of them at this moment on that Front Bench—that this would be a rushed Election on a bad register and therefore of doubtful authority. I am interested to know why they have now changed their opinion. Perhaps later, in the smoke room, one of them will explain to me why. [An Hon. Member: "Yes, if you will give me a chance."] Does somebody want to talk to me?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that if this discussion continues, we shall get a long, long way from the Motion. I therefore suggest that the hon. Member had better get back to the Motion.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I was trying to explain why it seems to me that Private Members' time being taken for this reason raises a matter of great constitutional importance. It is because this is a reason which can always be created at the option of the Government. Because that reason has been given, the House ought not to give all the time to the Government. I shall very much regret any compromise in the matter, and shall very deeply regret it indeed if this Motion 157 is given to the Government without going to a Division.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich)
I do not propose to take up more than a few moments, but I think it would be helpful if the House heard on this occasion the voice of a new Member who is also a Private Member. I have been interested in the great solicitude which has been shown by those who have been opposing the Motion, about the fate which is likely to befall those of us who support the Government, and about the feeling of frustration we are bound to have as time passes. Those Members have assumed that those who have come into the House for the first time are necessarily ignorant of the Parliamentary and constitutional history of this House. I myself—and I think that in this I speak for every other Private Member associated with me on the Government benches—have as keen a sense of the great importance of the rights of Private Members' as any old Member in this House. We know the value of these rights of the Private Member, and we intend to do everything in our power to preserve them, because we realise their value.
But at this time we are faced with a definite choice. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) made his chief point that in our Parliament there is always the position which has been presented by my right hon. Friend who moved the Motion, that the necessities of Parliamentary Business require that the Government must take the whole time of the House. That may be true, and when those claims are made, it is necessary for Members at that time, and in the circumstances prevailing, to make up their minds on those circumstances as to whether or not they, shall support or oppose such a Motion. Here we have the position of having a Government programme which was completely explicit, a programme that left no room whatever for doubt, and which secured from nearly 12,000,000 electors in this country a mandate to do those things which the Government are now putting before the House. Those of us who support the Government are facing now a matter of priority, something with which we became very familiar during the war years. We are asked: Do we wish this programme, on which we fought the Election, to become law at the earliest possible 158 moment, or do we wish to dissipate a large amount of Parliamentary time on matters not related to this programme which Private Members may bring forward and which may be of great importance but which, nevertheless, are not part of, or related to, the programme that we were specifically returned to this House to produce?
In my constituency I fought on this programme; I was returned to do my utmost to put that programme on the Statute Book, and here and now, when I have to make my choice between preserving my Private Member's rights, or seeing that programme implemented, I, of my own free will—as I am sure the majority of Private Members of this House will—will give up my rights to help the Government put that programme through. That is where we stand on this matter, and that is why I propose wholeheartedly to support the Government Motion.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
It is my privilege to congratulate the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Paton) upon having come with great success and distinction through an ordeal which I and other former Members can well remember. I am sure that we all look forward to subsequent occasions when he will be able to give us the benefit of his opinion on other matters. I hope that the Lord President of the Council will be prepared to give some further consideration to the arguments which have been put forward, both from this side and also from Members like my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) who have shown in the past how much use can be made of Private Members' time. I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he did not mention the very great difference between the proposal which he is making now and the proposals which were made by the Coalition Government during the war. On that occasion, there was very little legislation to be passed. There were many opportunities for long Debates on the Motion for the Adjournment, and I think it was the general opinion of Members on both sides of the House that the Whips of the parties which were associated at that time did all they could to provide opportunities for discussions of matters which were of interest to many Private Members.
159 I was surprised that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who does not appear still to be here, denied that opportunities were given by the late Government for hon. Members of the Labour Party to raise matters in which they were interested. I clearly remember occasions when the hon. Member who then sat for Leigh was able to raise matters in which he was specially interested. That was the case during the war. Now we are told that five days each week are to be fully occupied by Government Business and that there is not to be the same opportunity as there was during the war offered by the Government to Private Members for Debates on the Adjournment or on the Consolidated Fund Bills when it was possible to arrange with your consent, Mr. Speaker, for matters of interest to Members to be discussed. I hope that the Lord President of the Council will consider having some informal inquiry among representatives in all parts of the House as to what would be the most satisfactory and convenient way in which Private Members could raise matters in which they are interested.
I found myself in agreement with one part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University. I have never thought Wednesdays and Fridays before the war were necessarily used to the greatest advantage. The chance of the Ballot very frequently meant that an individual Member, who might or might not be a crank, obtained an opportunity of raising some special subject in which he was interested, and in which, perhaps, mo one else in the House was interested. Members will remember how difficult it was to keep a House sometimes on a Wednesday or a Friday, and how often Measures were talked out. I did think that during the war, with the general good will of all parties in the House, very often the desire of hon. Members to raise matters, which did not arise on public Business, but which affected a large number of constituents all through the country, was best met by informal discussions and making representations to the Leader of the House through the usual channels. About nine months ago informal inquiries were made in all parts of the House as to whether there was a need for an inquiry into Parliamentary procedure. The general opinion at that time was that it would 160 be inexpedient for the late Parliament to raise that matter towards the end of its life, but I know there was, in many parts of the House, a feeling that this matter would have to be considered afresh by the new Parliament.
I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House to consider whether he cannot to-day give some sort of undertaking, such as was asked for by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), that this completely sweeping abolition of Private Members' rights shall be limited to a period of time, and that the Government will take into account the representations made to them not only from these benches but by independent Members on the other side of the House. I ask that at some time in the future he will see whether he cannot bring forward proposals which will give to Private Members an opportunity of putting forward the grievances of their constituents in matters in which they are interested and which do not arise on the business of the Government.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
I rise to appeal to the Leader of the House to make some concession to the representations which have been made to him. It would be a very great pity if the House had to divide on an issue of this kind, which is not a party issue but an issue which concerns the whole House. I suggest that if the Government were to make a concession, it would not mean a defeat for the Government or a lessening of their prestige, but would be a moral victory for the House as a whole. It has frequently happened in this House that Governments with large majorities have bowed to the will of the House again and again. It happened during the war when we had a Coalition Government, and it was possible then for the Whips, if they had so chosen, to have got a majority easily in the Division lobby, but they made concessions to what was obviously something which was above party and above the interests of any particular Government. Now the Debate has narrowed itself so much, that the issue between the proposal of the Government, and those who have put forward constructive proposals, is really very narrow. The Government have asked that Private Members' time should be taken for this Session only, but some 161 of us believe that, if we accept that today, it will be giving it for all time, because the same arguments will be applied later.
On the other hand, the constructive proposals have been first that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that the matter should be reviewed at the end of three months, and a further suggestion that it should be reviewed at the end of six months. If the difference between the two proposals is really so narrow as that, and if it is possible to get united agreement, is it really worth while for the Government to use their majority for the first time as a Government, on an issue of this kind. I, therefore, appeal to them most strongly to make some concession to the constructive proposals which have been made. It is clear that this matter is part of a much bigger problem. The Government have chosen what is the easiest way out, and that is really no solution to the proper despatch of Government business to take away Private Members time. There is much more involved in this matter, and it requires much more discussion. If the Government accept the proposal that time should be taken only for six months, and in the meantime, as suggested by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), have discussion on the whole problem as to how to make the best use of the time available for the despatch of Government business, I think they would be rendering a service to this House and also adding to their own prestige and gaining the confidence which they must hope to have from the people of the country.
§ 7.47 p.m.
Mr. M'Kie (Galloway)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) who has made such a constructive suggestion. I found myself much more in agreement with the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) who suggested we should not compromise upon this matter at all. When I listened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) suggesting to the Government that they should make a concession, I, with great respect to him, queried the wisdom of such a suggestion coming from the Opposition Front Bench. After all this is a matter which can be approached from more than one angle. It is a Pri- 162 vate Members' question; it is a House of Commons question, and it is most certainly an Opposition question.
As the hon. Gentleman who made his maiden speech chose such a controversial topic, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I take it that the House will pardon me in departing from the usual procedure in referring to it. The hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Opposition Bench accused us of taunting new Members with not knowing the Rules and procedure of this House. I am quite certain that I speak for all my hon. Friends who have spoken on this side of the House when I say that nothing was further from our thoughts than an intention to taunt new Members. But we have a duty to point out to all those hon. gentlemen and ladies what are their undoubted rights and privileges as Private Members, and I am indeed surprised that we have received so little constructive support from that side of the House. I hope we shall carry this issue into the Division Lobby and that some of the many new Members will be so moved by the force and cogency of our remarks that they will decide in this their first Division in this most ancient of all Parliaments—the Mother of Parliaments—to assert their undoubted democratic right on behalf of themselves and of those who sent them here, in some cases by very large majorities as the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) was good enough to remind us. A great deal has been said about the General Election. A great many things were said and done during the General Election, as always happens in every turmoil at the hustings, but I am perfectly certain that no one suggested at the hustings that he was coming here to support, on the very first occasion, the filching from Private Members of this House their undoubted rights and privileges.
A great deal has been said about Private Members' Bills. Very little has been said about the Wednesday evening Debates before Easter, when Members could bring forward Motions. I have been a Member of this House for many years, and I have always regarded the Wednesdays as providing much more fruitful topics for Debates than Private Members' Bills. Very often—I do not say this offensively—Members brought forward Bills, having looked about for the most controversial subject possible, and put all Members of the House, of 163 whatever party, to a very great deal of unnecessary correspondence, owing to the unpalatable nature of those Bills. But the Motions were very different. All Members who have been in this House for any length of time at all will agree that they very often produced Debates which reached the very highest standards of debating skill and eloquence.
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire has said that we must get on, do away with Private Members' time, and that he cordially supported the Government on this occasion, though he had been a naughty boy in the past. His remark was re-echoed by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who said, "We must get on. We have been sent here very clearly to carry out this great"—he did not use this word, "revolutionary"—"programme of social legislation to bring about a better world." That is quite all right; but if they think like that why did the Prime Minister tell us this afternoon we are going to adjourn until 9th October—six whole weeks during which there will not be a meeting of this House? Why? In order, the Prime Minister informed us, that the new Ministers might accustom themselves to the routine of their duties. [Hon. Members: "No."] Then my ears betrayed me. We will leave it to Hansard to-morrow. If the rights of Private Members must be taken away it is surely unnecessary for this House to adjourn for such a long period. I hope that when an appropriate moment arrives we, as an Opposition, will exercise our right to put down an Amendment to bring the House back, perhaps in the middle of September, and review the position as it then exists.
Speaking as a Private Member, I repeat, and I shall repeat it at all possible times, that those of us who are in opposition have our duty to the country too. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), speaking on the day of the election of Mr. Speaker, said words to this effect, that His Majesty's Opposition has undoubted duties also. We were not sent here to support Socialistic legislation, and we should be failing in our duty to our constituents if we allowed this opportunity to go without a very strong protest, and, I would hope, by taking this matter into the Division Lobbies.
No doubt the hon. Member will follow me and will give his views as to what he thinks should be done. The three speakers from the Government side said they must get on with the legislation. They have their duties to fulfil. We have ours too, because our constituents sent us here, with reduced majorities, no doubt, in many cases, not to obstruct, but certainly not to give facilities for the nationalisation which is proposed in the Gracious Speech. I am glad to see the Leader of the House returning, and I certainly hope that as the very minimum he will agree to the very mild compromise suggested by my right hon. Friend.
It is the duty of the Opposition to carry out its duty, when it thinks it is in the right interests of the nation so to do. That is what we on this side were sent here to do. I hope I shall not be accused of taunting if I say to hon. Members on the Government side—no doubt it has escaped their notice as they are not familiar with the Order Paper—that we allowed a Motion for the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule to be carried this afternoon without a Division. That should not become a practice. We shall have to keep ourselves well up to the mark, or those who sent us here will accuse us of the thing of which hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches seem so afraid, dereliction of our duty as Members—to use the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford of His Majesty's Opposition. I very much hope that the Leader of the House will make a concession. But I would much sooner see the blunt rejection of the Motion, and if opposition is pursued I will certainly support it by my vote in the Division Lobbies.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
I rise to support the very reasonable plea which my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has made. I have seen many occasions on which those who were speaking for the Opposition have made much greater demands or proffered much stronger requests to the Government than my right hon. Friend has done. It is a very reasonable request. No doubt my right hon. Friend has in mind the fact that he has 165 only recently turned from gamekeeper to poacher, so to speak. I must make one personal observation at the commencement. I have for many years taken a great interest in this question of Private Members' time. I think I have spoken on almost every occasion there has been a question of taking it. I feel on this occasion very much bereft of support. I feel I am standing almost naked here, because I have not had the aid of my two colleagues who have been so successful in pressing the claims of the Private Member—the Minister of Health and the Minister of Fuel and Power. The Minister of Health, who was present at the commencement of the discussion, looked almost, if I might say so in a political sense, like some lovelorn person at the speakers, arid he found it so difficult to avoid cheering their observations that he finally sadly left the House.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
May I say to the Noble Lord that the right hon. Gentleman has given me quite a lot of good advice as to how to resist the arguments of the critics of the Motion?
§ Earl Winterton
Naturally, when the principal poacher of the House turns into a gamekeeper he can give admirable advice to the right hon. Gentleman. He knows all the tricks of the trade. However, I do not wish to deal with this matter in a frivolous manner because it is a most important question. I wish to draw the attention of the House to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington said at the commencement. He made a sensible suggestion. It was not a compromise, as some hon. Members seemed to suppose. It is not really only a question of the rights of the Opposition but it is a question of the rights of the House as a whole, and my right hon. Friend made a reasonable suggestion as to how to get the Government and the House out of the difficulty they are in. I think they are quite entitled during the next two or three months to take the whole of Private Members' time, and nobody would be so irresponsible as to suggest that immediately after the conclusion of the war with Japan, when every sort of question presses for solution, every Private Member should have the same time as he has in peace-time. But when that period is over, at any rate before the expiry of the year, the whole 166 question should be reconsidered and there should be a fresh Debate in the House. On this point I would only like to add that I think that on that occasion there should be something in the nature of a free vote. The Government should put before the House what their proposals are and their difficulties if any—and no doubt they will have considerable difficulties—andit should be left to the House to decide what should be done.
The only other point I want to make, and on which I think I can claim I have the support of a good many hon. and right hon. Members, is this. The Lord President, who, if I may say so, in a former Parliament endeared himself to this House as one who understands Parliamentary procedure, who is a most devoted servant of the House and who showed himself to be a very real believer in the constitution of this House and in the privileges of Members, used a rather sinister term in the course of his speech. At least it had a sinister connotation. I took down his words. He referred to a very heavy legislative programme which the Government would have and he seemed to think that per se was a reason for taking away Private Members' time. If that is the case the logical argument is that any subsequent Government could say: "We have a very heavy legislative programme; we believe that programme is in accord with the feelings of the country and we propose to take all Private Members' time." I remember a Debate when this question came up in a very acute form. The Opposition to the Government said, "We do not mind how big a majority we have, but none of these things by themselves in the slightest degree detracts from the rights and obligations of Parliament as a body to have regard to the rights of Private Members. They are two distinct things." The right hon. Gentleman, who is very quick to realise the implications of a phrase or a statement, must realise that it is a dangerous thing to say that per se because you have a heavy programme of business you must take all the time of Private Members. It is different to the argument advanced during the war. Then the circumstances were different; one did not know when a sitting would be interrupted or destroyed, and one did not know if we would be invaded at any moment, and obviously the procedure is different from what it is in peace-time. This 167 theory which, I think, is being put forward for the first time in peace-time, that because the Government has a heavy legislative programme it is entitled to take up all the Members' time, is a dangerous theory to put forward.
Another point I wish to make concerns the argument advanced by my hon. Friend whom I am sure the House will congratulate on his new designation, the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir Alan Herbert). I cannot see any reason why the right of Members to bring in a Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule cannot be allowed to continue. It has been done away with in the Motion. In what way could that make an inroad on the time of Parliament? It is known that a Ten Minutes Rule Bill can seldom come to fruition. It may be asked: What is the use of asking for this opportunity under the Ten Minutes Rule if it means that the Bill does not come to fruition? The obvious answer is that Private Members in all parts of the House have different ideas on questions of legislation, ideas which no Government could have afforded electorally to take up. Under the Ten Minutes Rule, a Member in any part of the House can put forward views which would not otherwise be discussed. I am not attempting to decoy anybody into the Lobby against the Government, and I am not trying to entrap any hon. Members opposite, but I would say that if you want to encourage in a new Parliament like this fertility of ideas among the new Members, no matter to what Party they belong, you could not start off worse than by giving the impression that because the Government have a heavy legislative programme that is a reason for taking Private Members' time throughout the Session, and I earnestly ask the right hon. Gentleman not to compromise but to accept the solution which my hon. Friend has put forward.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The Debate has taken some little time, and I am not surprised because I agree the issue is one which is debatable by the House. If I may say so, I think the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was delivered in a very reasonable spirit, as was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). In between perhaps we have had a grada- 168 tion of speeches of varying spirit and of varying vigour, but it was to be expected that the Debate would proceed and there would be argument about it. The Noble Lord has said that he thinks—and so did the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown)—that the argument I adduced as to the weight of the legislation in the Session now beginning was a dangerous argument from the point of view of the rights of Private Members. If I may say so, the right hon. Member for Horsham did not get me right, because what I said was not that we have a heavy legislative programme but a legislative programme which was closely concerned with urgent problems of reconstruction with which the House must deal and with which the country expects it to deal. I think that perhaps is a little bit different. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington said that there was some omission because I had not indicated in the Motion any time limit, but that is not quite right. The Motion refers, as indeed it can only refer as an outside limit, to the Parliamentary Session. Therefore it is limited to the Parliamentary Session and, indeed, it must be, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) just reminded me.
Having got over his shock, he followed up the argument by suggesting that I ought to undertake to limit the period of the Motion within the Sessional time so that we would then have a fair start and could consider the situation at that time. He suggested three months or something about that period. It is far better that I should be perfectly straight and honest with the House. The situation in which the Government and Parliament are placed is that we have had six years of war. It is true that during that time the rights of Private Members have been taken away, but it is no less true that the motive for that was not merely a matter of saving time for Government legislation. It was, I suggest, mostly with the motive of saving the time of Ministers and of Government Departments in connection with legislation itself. The war situation was that the Parliament and the Government should concern themselves primarily with the prosecution of the war and, secondarily, with legislation, in so far as legislation was essential for what one might call the maintenance of the life of the 169 community and the prosecution of the war. There was, of course, discussion in the House, which the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, as to what the limitation of legislation from the Government would be during the war, how far it could be controversial, and how far it must be agreed legislation.
The consequence of all this is that much legislation which has to be carried in this Parliament, and some of it in this Session, might have been carried in the last Parliament if there had been enough agreement about it. Some useful and valuable legislation was passed—I do not dispute that for one moment—but it is the fact that because we were at war, because there was a Coalition, and because the war came first—I do not quarrel with the war coming first at all—there was an accumulation of social and economic problems which, if things could have been otherwise, we might have dealt with in part during the last Parliament—I am not trying to be controversial upon the point—but with which we must now deal in this Parliament. We face a situation in which the problems of this Parliament and certainly of this Session are such that the pressure upon Parliamentary time and upon the Government's legislative programme in relation to reconstruction will, in its own way, be as heavy, as urgent and as essential as was the pressure on the late Government in connection with the actual prosecution of the war.
I am the last to dispute that it was vital that winning the war should come first in the last Parliament. I thoroughly agree that that was so, because if the war had been lost, no problems of reconstruction such as we shall be discussing would probably have concerned the Government and certainly not the Parliament, which would in all probability have been abolished. The fact has to be faced that the problems of the transition from war to peace, the problems of reconstruction and the vast and complicated problems which we confront, this enormous task of taking the country from war to peace over a period of years, will tax the energies of the Government and, if I may say so, it will tax the energies of the Parliament as well. Therefore it seems to me that I should be engaging in hypocrisy if I were to hold out a prospect that in three months or so we could effectively reconsider this matter of the utilisation of Private Members' time.
170 This Session is going to be very fully occupied, whatever may be the case in future Sessions. Perhaps it is right that I should say this: the hon. Member for Rugby, and I think some other hon. Member, raised the point as to whether the Government were proposing to give consideration to the question of House of Commons procedure. I think the hon. Members hoped that, as a result, the Government would be willing to compromise upon the Motion now before the House. I do not want to deceive the House, and I do not think that is so. It may help the House if I say that it is the intention of the Government to propose to the House that a Select Committee on Procedure should foe appointed and that we shall ask them to consider, as a matter of urgency and to report on as soon as possible after proper consideration, the procedure of the House of Commons and its Standing Committees upstairs. I hope that the House will feet that that is the right course of action. I think it is right in any case, because the country expect out of this Parliament five years of hard labour, and they expect those five years of hard labour to be carried through with proper efficiency coupled with the maintenance of all the essential rights and principles of Parliamentary Government.
An able and eloquent speech was made by the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) and, as I would have expected, both from his previous orations and from an article in a Sunday newspaper which was most helpful to me in warning me what was to come. The hon. Member made a very interesting, witty, eloquent and quite relevant speech on the matter before us. I hope, by the way, that he has recovered his Bills. I cannot promise anything, but we never know. His luck may turn. In any case, if he does not want the Bills himself he might like to give them to somebody else who may want them. He referred to occasions of legislation initiated by Private Members which had been useful and valuable. I agree that on occasions that has been so, although I am bound to say they were lucky Private Members. There has been a plea that I should preserve the Ten Minute Rule. I did consider that, not without sympathy. It was put to me privately, by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. I did consider it, but it does seem to me that on this matter 171 we have to be clean-cut. We must face it quite frankly and make a clean decision about it. It is true that a statement was made in the midst of the last great war by Mr. Asquith, on 16th February, 1916. He put the principle of the matter quite clearly when you are up against this issue in the bald way that we are. He said that the country did not want a mass of Private Members' legislation to be put upon the Table, printed at the public expense, never to be discussed, and there for no useful purpose of any sort or kind. I am afraid——
§ Sir A. Herbert
May I suggest the useful purpose of having the Bills printed? Last year I proposed that there should be a First Reading only of a Bill and that they should then be printed. The purpose of that is that the Bills with their modest proposals would go out to the country and make their modest contribution to the common stock of knowledge and effort. It might be that some Bills would be taken up by the Government. That is one compromise possibly—let us have First Readings, let Bills be printed, and let no more happen. Good Bills might be taken up by the Government and other Bills would be discussed outside.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I see the hon. Member's point, but honestly I think there is an element of make-believe and farce about it. I am not accusing the hon. Member of make-believe at all, but about the procedure that he indicates. The Bill has to be prepared and it needs some assistance. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) has told the story of a Bill that he and I worked together on, and I was much obliged to him at the time. It is the case that on Private Members' Bills Members tend to go to Government Departments for counsel and assistance, and all that takes uptime. The situation with which we are faced, with a new Parliament charged with a mandate for heavy work on reconstructive legislation, which is just as vital for the well-being of the country as much of the legislation that went through during the war period, is such that we have to decide this as a straight issue as to whether we can have Private Members' time or not. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not object if I quote him on the subject also, because 172 there is more than one opinion about the value of Private Members' Bills. I would not go so far as the statement I will quote, but here it is as an alternative opinion to that of the Junior Burgess for Oxford University and to those opinions expressed by some Members opposite in respect of the legislative future of Private Members' Bills. In 1931, there was a Select Committee on Procedure on Public Business, and I find from the records that Mr. Barr, who was the Chairman of the Committee, put the following question to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition:I do not mean exactly Private Legislation, but Private Members' Bills which have been passed in the second or third week of November and are still, in March, 1931, not dealt with because they are piled up in one Committee.The official record goes on to say:Mr. Churchill: I am not very anxious to help Private Members' Bills. I have seen a great many of them brought forward, and in most cases it was a very good thing that they did not pass. I think there ought to be a very effective procedure for making it difficult for all sorts of happy thoughts to be carried on to the Statute Book.I do not want to commit myself to going quite so far, but I thought the right hon. Gentleman would forgive me if I read it as a corrective to some of the rather extreme and light-weight statements that have been made from the benches of hon. Members opposite. I naturally want, as Leader of the House, to handle the Business of the House in a way that gives the fullest and freest expression to our great Parliamentary work and our great Parliamentary institutions. These things can always be the subject of discussions from time to time through the usual channels or otherwise, but I am absolutely certain that it is right and that it is in the public interest, in the circumstances in which we are placed, that in this Parliamentary Session we must not only have an examination as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Rugby, of Parliamentary procedure—which certainly will not to be a hasty step, for it is overdue, if anything—but we must also have a Private Members' time in this Session if the work of the Government and of Parliament is to be carried on in a way that I think public opinion in the country expects.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for 173 reminding me of some fragments of discussion which I appear to have embarked upon 14 years ago in a Select Committee. I confess that I had not got the passage in my mind, and, but for the fact that the right hon. Gentleman used it, I might have committed myself to something which was apparently inconsistent. I would certainly have advised him to make the concession which would cost the Government nothing, that is, to say, "All right, we will take it for six months and at the end of six months we can see what the position is, and, if necessary, we will take the time for the rest of the Session." That would have avoided a Division on this question of Parliamentary procedure and the rights of Private Members. If at one stroke the whole nights of Private Members are taken away for an entire Session, which will last for 14 months from now, it may well be that they will never be restored. It would be a great pity if the whole of this great armoury, which dignifies very much the position of a Private Member in the House and emphasises his rights and dignities as against the purely delegate conception, which is a very dangerous one were to be lost, as it were, dropped down, at the beginning of this new Parliament.
I always have been afraid, and. have predicted, that one of the earliest acts of a Socialist majority would be to cramp and fetter the discussion and the rights of the House of Commons, not so much for the purpose of passing legislation—for that can often be expedited by other methods than riding rough-shod over the minority—but because of that dictatorial skin which is in the nature of the party and which we are accustomed to contemplate in a totalitarian State. One or two hon. Gentlemen on this side were so imprudent as to cheer what the Leader of the House has now mentioned to us of the intention to open up a Select Committee on Procedure, but I warn them that behind that lies all those ideas which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward in his speeches in the country for a sort of general Resolution of the House, and then Bills to be settled by officials outside and legislation by reference. I want to make it perfectly clear at this head stream, this little rill and spring of our Parliamentary Business in this Session, that the maintenance of the character, the freedom and the rights of 174 the House of Commons must ever be the care of the Opposition, and ought to be the care of the whole House.
I think that, as Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman would have been very well advised to take the perfectly easy and smooth working arrangement which has been put to him and so save us the trouble of dividing. As Leader of the House he ought to think not only of the Government Business and of his own side, but of the House as a whole. I think that nearly all who have been distinguished in that position have had that sense of Parliament. It was a very small thing to ask him to take his time for six months and then consider the position. I have often seen people try to ride rough-shod over the House, and I have often seen that they did not get very far, because what they gained on the swings they lost on the roundabouts.
I am sorry that the Session should have begun in this way. We are at the beginning of a very large issue, the object of which undoubtedly will be to make such a change in the procedure of this House that its character and its authority will be greatly weakened and lowered in the country. I would again urge the Government to let the matter remain for six months, and then, if the Government felt the necessity for taking Private Members' time, to come to the House again then. If I were the Leader of the House, I would not hesitate for a moment to do a friendly and courteous act of that kind at the beginning of a new Parliament and new Session.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
We have heard if specifically stated that Private Members' rights are no longer rights in the real sense of the word but that they are to be enjoyed only at the charity of the Government. I protest most vehemently against that. The right hon. Gentleman has not contented himself with making a case for this particular instance but has laid it down quite definitely, and it will be put on record that the rights of Members of Parliament do not exist as such, but only at the charity of the Government of the day.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 329; Noes, 142.177
|Division No. 1.||AYES.||[8.30 p.m.|
|Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)||Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Donovan, T.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Levy, Lt. B. W.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dumpleton, C. W.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Allighan, G.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Dye, S.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Edelman, M.||Longden, F.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Edwards, Lt.-Col. L. J. (Blackburn)||Lyne, A. W.|
|Austin, Sub-Lt. H. L.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McAdam, W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McAllister, G.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Ewart, R.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Fairhurst, F.||Mack, J. D.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Farthing, W. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Barton, C.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Battley, J. R.||Follick, M.||McLeavy, F.|
|Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)||Foot, M. M.||McNeil, H.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Belcher, J. W.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mallalieu, Lieut. J. P. W.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Benson, G.||Gallacher, W.||Marquand, Professor H. A.|
|Berry, H.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Gibbins, J.||Mayhew, Maj. C. P.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Medland, H. M.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Gilzean, A.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Glanville, T. E.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.|
|Binns, J.||Gooch, E. G.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Goodrich, H. E.||Monslow, W.|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Gould, Mrs. B. Ayrton||Moody, A. S.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Boardman, H.||Grenfell, D. R.||Morley, R.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Grey, C. F.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Grierson, E.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mort, D. L.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Moyle, A.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Guy, W. H.||Murray, J. D.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J.||Nally, W.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Hale, L.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Burden, T. W.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hardman, D. R.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Hardy, E. A.||O'Brien, T.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Harrison, J.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Orbach, M.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Haworth, J.||Paget, R. T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Chater, D.||Herbison, Miss M.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Hewitson, M.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Clitherow, R.||Hobson, C. R.||Parker, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Holman, P.||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Horabin, T. L.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||House, G.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Collick, P.||Hoy, J.||Pearson, A.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hubbard, T.||Peart, Capt. T. F.|
|Collins, V. J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Perrins, W.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Piratin, P.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Cook, T. F.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Janner, B.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Randall, H. E.|
|Daggar, G.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Ranger, J.|
|Daines, P.||Jenkins, A.||Roes-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Reeves, J.|
|Davies, A. E. (Burslem)||Jones, Maj. F. E. (Plaistow)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield||Jones, Maj. P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Robens, A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, C.||Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Key, C. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||King, Lt.-Col. E. M.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Deer, G.||Kinley, J.||Royle, C.|
|de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.||Kirby, Capt. B. V.||Sargood, R.|
|Delargy, Captain H. J.||Lavers, S.||Scollan, T.|
|Diamond, J.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Segal, Sq. Ldr. S.|
|Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Strauss, G. R.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Shaw, Mrs. C. M.||Stross, Dr. B.||Wells, Maj. W. T. (Walsall)|
|Shawcross, Cmdr. C. N. (Widnes)||Sunderland, J. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Shawcross, H. (St. Helens)||Swingler, Capt. S.||Whittaker, J. E.|
|Shurmer, P.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Wigg, Lt.-Col. G. E. C.|
|Silkin, L.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington).||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Simmons, C. J.||Thomas, T. G. (Cardiff)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Skeffington, A. M.||Thorneycroft, H.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Skeffington-Lodge, Lt. T. C.||Tiffany, S.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Skinnard, F. W.||Titterington, M. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Sloan, A.||Tolley, L.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Smith, Capt. C (Colchester)||Tomlinson, G.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Williamson, T.|
|Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Maj. L.||Willis, E.|
|Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Usborne, H. C.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Smith, T. (Normanton)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Wilson, J. H.|
|Snow, Capt. J. W.||Viant, S. P.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Solley, L. J.||Wadsworth, G.||Woodburn, A.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Walkden, E.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Soskice, Maj. F.||Walker, G. H.||Yates, V. F.|
|Sparks, J. A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Stamford, W.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)||Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.|
|Steele, T.||Warbey, W. N.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Stephen, C.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Stewart, Maj. M. (Fulham, E.)||Watson, W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES: —|
|Stokes, R. R.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Mr. Mathers and Mr. R. J.|
|Strachey, Wing-Cmdr. J.||Weitzman, D.||Taylor.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Haughton, Maj. S. G.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Allen, Sir W. (Armagh)||Head, Brig. A. H.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.||Herbert, Petty-Officer A. P.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Astor, The Hon. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Poole, Col. O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Lord J.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. N.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Hulbert, Wing. Comdr. N. J.||Renton, Maj. D.|
|Bowen, Capt. R.||Hurd, A.||Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. E. O. (Merioneth)|
|Bower, N.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. G.I.C. (E'b'rgh W.)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. J. R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Jennings, R.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Keeling, E. H.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Lindsay, Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull)||Shephard, Lt.-Col. S. (Newark)|
|Carson, E.||Linstead, H. N.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Lipson, D. L.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lloyd, Maj. E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lloyd, Brig. J. S. B. (Wirral)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Spence, Maj. H. R.|
|Cooper-Key, Maj. E. M.||Lucas, Sir J.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. O.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stoddart-Scott, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Studholme, Maj. H. G.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Digby, Maj. S. Wingfield||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Taylor, Vice-Adm, E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.||Mackeson, Col. H. R.||Teeling, Flt.-Lieut. W.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||M'Kie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||MacLeod, Capt. J.||Thorpe, Lt.-Cot. R. A. F.|
|Drewe, C.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Touche, G. C.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Erroll, Col. F. J.||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Foster, Brig. J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Ward, Group-Capt. The Hon. G. R.|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maude, J. C.||Watt, G. S. Harvie|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mellor, Sir J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Molson, A. H. E.||Williams, Lt.-Cdr. G. W. (T'nbr'ge)|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Morris, R. H. (Carmarthen)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon, Earl|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Nicholson, G.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nutting, A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES: —|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Major A. S. L. Young and|
|Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hon. J. H.||Osborne, C.||Major Mott-Radclyffe|
|Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
That during the present Session—
(1) Government business shall have precedence at every sitting;
(2) The following provisions shall have effect as respect public Bills:
(3) Whenever the House is adjourned for more than one day, notices of questions received by the Clerks at the Table at any time not later than 4.30 p.m. on the last day of adjournment may be accepted—
(4) For the purposes of this Order the expression 'day of adjournment' means a day on which the House is not sitting, not being a Saturday or Sunday;
(5) Paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 1 shall have effect as if all the words after 'clock' were omitted and the following words were substituted there for:—
'or, if proceedings exempted as hereinafter provided from the operation of this Order are under discussion at or after the hour appointed under paragraph (3) of this Order for the interruption of business, half-an-hour after the conclusion of such proceedings, Mr. Speaker shall adjourn the House without question put.'
(6) The following paragraphs shall have effect in substitution for paragraphs (8) and (9) of Standing Order No. 1: —
(8) A motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown, either with or with out notice and either at the commencement of public business or at any time thereafter, to be decided without amendment or debate, to the effect either—
(9) If a motion made under the preceding paragraph be agreed to, the business so specified shall not be interrupted
if it is under discussion at the hour appointed for the interruption of business, may be entered upon at any hour although opposed, and, if under discussion when the business is postponed under the provisions of any Standing Order, may be resumed and proceeded with, though opposed, after the interruption of business.
Provided that business exempted for a specified period shall not be entered upon, or be resumed after the expiration of that period, and, if not concluded earlier, shall be interrupted at the end of that period, and the relevant provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4) of this Standing Order shall then apply.
(10)Provided always that not more than one motion under paragraph (8) may be made at any one sitting, and that, after any business exempted from the operation of the order is disposed of, the remaining business of the sitting shall be dealt with according to the provisions applicable to business taken after the hour appointed for the interruption of business.'