§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I beg to move.That—After the somewhat exciting three-quarters of an hour that we have had, I come to the relatively peaceful subject of Private Members' time, which I hope will not take as long as the two statements which have just been made.
- (1) Government business shall have precedence at every sitting;
- (2) The following provisions shall have effect as respects public Bills;
- (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 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 House 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;
- (3) The following paragraph shall have effect in substitution for paragraph (4) of Standing Order No. 7: —
- (4) Any Member who desires an oral answer to his question may distinguish it by an asterisk, but notice of any such question must appear at latest on the Notice Paper circulated two days (excluding Sunday) before that on which an answer is desired:
- Provided that questions received at the Table Office on Monday and Tuesday before 2.30 p.m. and on Friday before II a.m., may, if so desired by the Member, be put down for oral answer on the following Wednesday. Thursday and Monday, respectively.'
(4) Whenever the House is adjourned for more than one day, notices of questions received at the Table Office at any time not later than 4.30 p.m. on either of the two last days of adjournment shall be treated as if either day were a day on which the House were sitting at 4.30 p.m. and the notice had been received after 2.30 p.m., and notices of questions received at the Table Office at any time not later than 4.30 p.m. on a day before the penultimate day shall be treated as if they had been so received on the penultimate day; (5) 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; (6) The following paragraph shall have effect in substitution for paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 1;—
- (2) The House shall not be adjourned except in pursuance of a resolution:
- Provided that, when a substantive motion for the adjournment of the House has been proposed after 10 p.m. Mr. Speaker shall, after the expiration of half
94 an hour after that motion had been proposed, adjourn the House without question put.' (7) 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 at the commencement of public business to he decided without amendment or debate, to the effect either—
- (a) 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 '; 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 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 '."
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated yesterday, the Government will need in this Session all the available time of the House if the important Measures foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech are to be dealt with in the present Parliamentary Session. We shall, however, hope to provide opportunities for Debates on matters which are of general interest to the House as a whole, as was 95 done in the last Parliamentary Session, and we propose in the interests of Private Members to safeguard the half-hour Adjournment at the end of every Sitting, not only after Exempted Business or when the Rule is suspended, but after a Division or Divisions which may occur at the interruption of Business. On this matter, I am obliged, and I am sure that the House as a whole is obliged, to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) for having drawn attention to this point. The half-hour Adjournment has proved itself to be a most valuable institution and it is anomalous that it should be eaten into by Divisions which may happen to be taking place at the end of Public Business. Otherwise the Motion before the House is substantially the same as the Motion which was passed in the early part of last Session, except on three points, to which it is perhaps right that I should draw attention.
First, the present Motion omits the provision which allowed new Clauses to be moved on Report without notice. This was primarily a war time facility, and was justified by the need for urgency at that time and by the difficult circumstances under which the House was proceeding. But it is felt that in present conditions its advantages are outweighed by its inconveniences, and that Members should be given time to consider new Clauses, which may be long and elaborate. We propose therefore to abandon the provision whereby new Clauses can be brought up on Report without notice.
Second, we have inserted in paragraph 3 of the Motion an amendment of Standing Order No. 7 requiring two days' notice for oral Questions. This follows a recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure, and the new Order was agreed to by the House on 22nd March, 1946. We continue with the new Order, but there is this new point, that a provision is made for what are known as "expedited Questions," so that when the House is sitting a Member can hand in the Question at the Table Office before 2.30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and before 11 a.m. on Fridays, and receive an oral answer on the following Wednesday, Thursday or Monday respectively.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for the correction. Members can hand in Questions at the Table Office before 2.30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and before 11 a.m. on Friday, and receive an oral answer on the following Wednesday, Thursday and Monday, respectively.
Paragraph 7 continues the power to suspend the Rule without notice, for either an unlimited or limited period of time, but we propose only to ask the House to give us the power to move the Motion without notice at the beginning of Business. Last Session this power was not used except on a comparatively small number of occasions, but we think that in the general interests of the House it is desirable to retain it. On the other hand, it may be inconvenient to Members if it is possible to move the suspension in the middle of a Sitting, with the consequential interference with the arrangements already made which this may entail. Therefore, we provide that when the Government wish to suspend the Rule, they should be required to do so at the beginning of the Sitting, so that Members may know where they are for the rest of the day as regards the sitting of the House.
It falls to me, as it did last year, to explain more fully why, on Private Members' time generally, the Government, after careful consideration, have come to a conclusion which, in the nature of things, is bound to be unwelcome to a number of hon. Members, but not all hon. Members. First, I should say a word about the views expressed on the subject La the third Report of the Select Committee on Procedure, which was published last Friday. The Government have not yet of course had time to give all the proposals in this important Report the; full study which they require, and it would be out of Order to refer to its other recommendations today. On Private Members' time in general, the view of the Select Committee on Procedure is that facilities for Private Members to initiate business should be restored as soon as possible. This question is one of practical possibilities, and I shall hope to satisfy the House that, as a purely practical matter, it would be out of the question to restore Private Members' time in the present Session of Parliament. I am sure that all sections of the House will agree with me when I say that the fundamental 97 point is whether on balance this would be in the national interest, even if we were to try to do it.
We start with the prospect in this Session of a reduced amount of time being at our disposal. We have had a very long Session after the General Election— exceptionally long. We are starting the new Session rather later than is customary, and I hope that it will be more like the normal length. We shall enjoy the full advantages in saving pf time from the new Standing Committee arrangements, but none the less we shall need all the available time if we are to get through the legislative programme and if provision is to be made for what may be called "Opposition" time. The only other alternative would be to add still further to the pressure on the House by lengthening the Session, and I feel sure that this would not be desirable. In short, Private Members' time can only be restored at the expense of either or both the legislative programme and what one may call "Opposition" time. As it is, I can assure the House that the legislative programme is the result of very drastic pruning. It has been a tight squeeze, and the Government are satisfied that it could not be reduced in any way without serious prejudice to the national interest.
Theoretically, as I have said, Private Members' time could, as an alternative, be provided at the expense of the time which is traditionally at the disposal of the Opposition—Supply Days, Debates on the Address and the like—for use in the discharge of the historic function of the House in supervising and criticising the policy and administration of His Majesty's Government. I should, of course, be happy to consider any proposals which the Opposition might make in this connection, but speaking personally, I should be sorry if we ever came to the position where substantial inroads were made into the time set aside for these essential Parliamentary purposes in order to enable time to be devoted to Private Members' Bills and Motions. I am sure that if I were a Private Member, I should take the same view. It is a relative matter, but in my opinion Debates on Government Bills and Debates on occasions allocated to the Opposition give the Private Member far more valuable opportunities than are provided by what is usually meant by the term "Private Members' time." These, along with Question time, Standing Com- 98 mittee proceedings and Adjournments are the occasions on which the Private Member can most directly influence the shaping of policy and administration, and can make a contribution on the practical issues, great and small, of the day.
It is no use, therefore, considering the restoration of Private Members' time, in the narrow sense of the term, in relation to an ideal bat non-existent situation. As a practical matter, it cannot in any case be done for the present Session. We have a very heavy and important programme of legislation before us, and I ask for the good will and cooperation of the House in giving up Private Members' time again, so that we can get this through and have the time for the general and other Debates upon the policy and administration of the Government, which are necessary if the House is adequately to fulfil its responsibilities to the nation. In the Gracious Speech, we have a programme of legislation which, in the judgment of the Government, and in the judgment, I think, of the great bulk of the nation, is urgently necessary in the national interest and is of the highest value to the public well-being. We cannot get that legislation through if material inroads are made by restoring Private Members' time.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, may I ask for your guidance? The argument has now been used that there is, and that there is general agreement that there is, extreme urgency for each of these proposed Measures. Would it be in Order to traverse that argument and prove that that was not so?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman has made only a short statement. I do not think it would be in Order to traverse it in any detail, but I think it might certainly be contradicted.
§ Mr. Morrison
I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. Member that I have no intention of developing the point.
§ Mr. Morrison
I must say that the Opposition have the most extraordinary sense of humour I have ever witnessed in my life. I cannot easily imagine the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) really making a good joke at all.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
May I, perhaps, help the right hon. Gentleman's imagination, by reminding him that when he addresses the Chamber and there is laughter, some of the laughter may be of the kind described by the French poet, when he said that he laughed to avoid weeping?
§ Mr. Morrison
I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman has resumed his customary pose as the most serious, learned, and able representative of Cambridge University. All I said was—and I did not expect that it would lead to all this trouble—that in our opinion, and in the opinion of the great majority of citizens of the country, this legislation 9hould be passed. It is quite clear that the legislation outlined in the King's Speech could not be passed if we were to restore Private Members' time. In these circumstances, it is my duty to ask the House to agree that this Motion shall be passed whereby the Government in the laborious Session which is to come will have command of the time of the House, as the Government did in the first Session of this Parliament.
§ Mr. Stephen
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman say something about the right of Private Members to introduce Bills under the Ten Minute Rule?
§ Mr. Morrison
I did not propose to say anything about that now—although I agree that it is relevant—as the Report 'of the Select Committee has only just been received. The Government will, of course, give consideration to all the Committee's proposals. If, in this Debate, the issue is pressed I will seek to say something more, but I thought it not quite right to make extended comments at this stage as the Report has only just been received.
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Although I stand at this Box as a representative of my colleagues on these benches, I speak from another point of view as well—as a member of the Select Committee about which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was so extremely reticent, and also as one having some experience of the procedure of this House. I am not so much a denunciator of the right hon. Gentleman to-day as an appellant to him, and I hope that, after having heard my speech and others in all parts of the House, he will alter the rigid attitude which he has taken up in introducing this Motion.
100 All of us who know the right hon. Gentleman know that he has better feelings beneath the varnish of political expediency, and it is to those better feelings that I want to appeal today. I do not wish to say anything wounding, but for a man of the right hon. Gentleman's great Parliamentary position, as one who can sway argument and turn a vote, he has seldom put up a more feeble performance than the speech he has just made in support of this Motion. He gave no justification whatever for the Government introducing the Motion, and, as I shall show by quoting a speech he made when we last discussed this matter, what he is doing in essence is in conflict with the contingent promise that he made to us on that occasion. I believe that a great many Members in all parts of the House do not agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. While no end could disagree more fundamentally than I with Members opposite on political issues, or political morals—though I hope we are in agreement on moral questions in their narrower sense—there is such a thing as a integrated feeling on this question which is above party differences in this House.
I submit, with great respect to you, Sir, and to the House, that that feeling should most distinctly come into operation in this case. It is not a case of hitting, or supporting, or handicapping the Government; it is a question of confirming what I consider to be the integral rights of the House of Commons. Our appeal for consideration is infinitely greater than at any previous time by reason of the support given to our case by the Select Committee, part of which I shall quote in a moment or two. Yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the Committee of which I have the honour to be a Member. May I take this opportunity, in a sentence, of paying tribute to the Chairman of that Committee who, for the moment, is Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means, for his admirable chairmanship? Surely, it is a somewhat slighting way, or, to use a vulgar phrase, rather a question of "wind in the stomach" to show gratitude to the Committee by immediately rejecting one of their most important recommendations. It is a curious way of showing gratitude, yet that is exactly what the Government have done. The question of the Committee comes into the picture when we are con- 101 sidering the speech just made by the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that when he comes to answer the Debate he will explain why he has altered his attitude. The right hon. Gentleman, when replying to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), who has taken the most valiant line on this matter, as, in a much humbler way, I have done—I have attacked Government after Government, including Governments of which I was a nominal supporter, over the policy of Private Members' time—said, last year: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 be 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 feel that that is the right course of action. I think it is right in any case, because the country expects out of this Parliament five years of hard labour, to be carried through with proper efficiency…And I now call attention to his closing words:coupled with the maintenance of all the essential rights and principles of Parliamentary Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th August, 1945; Vol. 413, c. 170.]I take that phrase to mean Parliamentary Government in its widest sense, not Parliamentary Government in the sense of merely helping the Government, but Parliamentary Government in the sense of helping Parliament to express its views properly on the subjects which come before Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman was singularly reticent about the Select Committee's Report. As the Report came out on Friday last, and some Members may not have had a chance of studying it, let me read the words of paragraph 47:Until the beginning of the 19th century the whole of the time of the House was at the free disposal of every Member, whether a member of the Government or not, and the only time allotted to Government business was the two days a week which by courtesy the House allowed it. In the Reformed House of Commons the demands of the Government for time began to increase, and from 1846 onwards when the Government's allocation of two days 102 a week was converted by Order of the House into a formal right, the Government has steadily increased its share of the time of the House. The process was completed in 1902, when Mr. Balfour brought in the comprehensive scheme for regulating the whole of the time of the House…I would call the attention of the House to part of the next paragraph, which is really important:The great merit of Private Members' time is that it provides opportunities for raising subjects and introducing Bills for which for one reason or another neither the Government nor the Opposition is willing to find facilities out of its own share of time…That is the answer to the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, that the Opposition were being afforded full time. Of course they are not. I do not think the statement will be greeted by jeers, when I say that the views of Front Benches as to how time should be allocated are not always the same as those of back benchers. It is no answer to say that the Opposition are being given full facilities, nor is it an answer to say that there is always a half hour's Adjournment.
It then goes on to say—and I would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman particularly to this:Consequently, so long as Private Members' time is in abeyance, if may be impossible to raise subjects and to introduce Bills which may have considerable support in the House and the country. Your Committee recommend that facilities for Members to initiate business should be restored as soon as possible.Here was a committee with a majority of Members supporting the Government: a committee based largely on Members of the House, having experience of the House; a committee, which, as the Report shows, was singularly unanimous, because in the Report it will be seen that there were only two Divisions. I have sat on many Select Committees, and I have never known a committee which was less divided on essentials. Yet the right hon. Gentleman dismisses the Report of this Committee without a word of apology. He does not attempt to answer the arguments put forward in the Committee's Report. I could quote many other things in this Report dealing with Private Members business. In paragraph 47, we suggested a very excellent way of alloting Private Members' time. I once again invite the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman when he replies, to give some consideration to the Report and more reasons for rejecting it than he has done in his introductory speech.
103 There is one matter in connection with Private Members' time which should be realised. Prior to the period of Irish obstruction in the eighties, a Member of the House had a right at any time to move the Adjournment of the House, and, until the worst days of Irish obstruction, it was not misused. There was no question of your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, having to say whether it was a matter of urgent importance or not. Any Member could move the Adjournment of the House. Then as a result of the misuse of time by the Irish Nationalist Party who prevented all Government Business for one week by moving the Adjournment of the House, the modern rule was brought in. We have shown how the opportunity of moving the Adjournment of the House has gradually narrowed down from precedent to precedent and we recommend its restoration. I do not want to over emphasise the point but I maintain that one of the most valuable protections of the rights and liberties of speech of hon. Members has been taken away (a)by the fact that the Government of that day had to get the House, in the 188o's, to repeal the Standing Order allowing Adjournment on any occasion, and (b)that the rule as it stands today has gradually been narrowed down from precedent to precedent. This is one of the many things which should be taken into consideration before the House passes this Motion.
I want to make a few general observants or aphorisms on this matter. When we have had previous Debates it has seemed to me that the Press and the public have not paid as much attention to the issues as is desirable. I say that the issue involved in this Debate goes to the very root of Parliamentary democracy and affects the whole functions and traditions of this House. I make this affirmation, and I shall be glad to hear if any hon. Member controverts it when we come to the general Debate. I think that the Press and the public should realise that this House cannot be the democratic assembly which it should be, if, year after year, for seven whole years now, the Government control all the time of the House, with one or two small exceptions [Interruption.]The hon. Gentleman is very frequent with his interruptions, but there was a time when no man in this country complained more bitterly of the way in which the Government took up the time 104 of the House, than the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). I must confess that I was astonished to see him in the somewhat unusual role of a valiant soldier supporting the Government on this occasion. I had looked upon him as one of those men of independent views and eccentric demeanour which we, in the Opposition, so much value.
Everyone would suppose, from hearing the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that the Opposition or anyone who opposes this Motion was asking for something which was going to hamper the Government in carrying out their programme. Surely, that is not so. Surely, the Government can pass through their business without being hampered. It is not a question of those who are opposed to the Motion asking for something which affects decisions. Everyone knows that the Government, with their enormous majority, can always get their wishes carried out in the House and always carry a vote. What the Government are trying to prevent is discussion, and nothing else. It is not a question of legislation. There is no question of Private Members' Bills being able to pass through this House while the Government have a majority and know how to do their job, if the Government do not want them.
We hear a great deal of talk and constant cliches in the speeches of hon. Members opposite, where they claim that the great merit of this Government is that the common man is coming into his rights. So far as the common man is represented by back benchers in the House of Commons, the Government have done everything they can to deprive him of every right which he possessed until 1939, and in a way in which no other Government have done. It is illogical for hon. Members to say that this is Parliamentary freedom, when they support a Government which takes from a Private Member his inherited and inherent rights which he has always enjoyed in this House in time of peace, except on very rare occasions. The essence of democratic freedom is the right to discuss. Nothing is more valuable about Private Members' time than the fact that it gives the unpopular Member a chance of raising an unpopular subject. One thing which I have always supported in this House is unpopularity. I believe most firmly in unpopularity. Whenever I have heard 105 an oration being made in this House, or anywhere else, about a right hon. Gentleman and have been told that he did not have an enemy in the world, I have said to myself, "That is why his political career was such a failure." I know of no more valuable quality in democratic life than for the unpopular Member to be able to raise an unpopular subject. There are dozens of such examples in Parliamentary history.
Plimsoll, aided by his colleagues, got into serious trouble, but he got the famous Plimsoll mark instituted for ships. Perhaps the best example of all was a friend of mine, Henry Labouchere, who was of immense value in this House. When I first entered the House, I was warned against him because he had given me a drink in the smoking room, and I was told that he was one of the most dangerous Members in the House. He did most valuable service because he dug up the substratum of hypocrisy which is part of the soil of this country, and in patches, is part of the soil of this House. He gloried in personal and political unpopularity to that end. We want more Henry Laboucheres in the House today, and more people who are prepared, perhaps when it is a day when only 20 Members are present, to move Private Members' Motions on Wednesday evenings, and more Members who are prepared to come down, year after year, to get a place in the ballot for Private Members' Bills. Having gone into this matter and had the highest advice in the shape of evidence from witnesses in all parts of the House and outside, we come deliberately to the conclusion that Private Members' time should be restored. I say in conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman has given most inadequate reasons why the Report of our Committee should be rejected by the House.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I am glad to have had the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, immediately after the noble Lord. I might perhaps reply by saying that I am not wholeheartedly in support of the Government on this Motion.
§ Mr. Stokes
However, I shall disappoint him at once by saying that I am going to vote for them on this Motion, for the very simple reason that although I am, just 106 as much as the noble Lord, a guardian of the rights of the Private Member, I appreciate what is at stake. I made a speech on this very Motion at this time last year, when I warned the Lord President of the Council that if he dared to come here again and do this sort of thing he would find me his implacable opponent, and that he would find a large body behind me to support me in the Lobby against him. What has happened since then, after a year has passed? After six years of war, after time to discover, even more clearly than we knew before, the deplorable state in which the Opposition left the country after years of misgovernment, we have not been able to go as far as we would have wished in introducing new Measures. We have had to introduce those Measures which we considered absolutely essential. That being so, I appreciate the appeal which the Prime Minister made yesterday, and which the Lord President of the Council has made today, bad though I thought some of his arguments were as to why we should once more be forbearing in our attitude on this matter and allow the Government to take Private Members' time I do not think the Lord President put up a very good argument in defence.
I agree with the noble Lord that the alternatives which he offered, of half an hour on the Adjournment and the opportunities for extra Debates, were not good enough. The half an hour for the Adjournment Debate is totally inadequate. I rarely rise in the House without wanting to speak for half an hour myself. Therefore, it makes it extremely difficult to allow the Government time to reply. It is impossible in half an hour for an hon. Member to introduce a Debate, for other hon. Members to take part in it, if they wish, and for a Government statement in reply. It really is not good enough to say that we should be satisfied because the Government have been generous enough to arrange that we should always have half an hour for the Adjournment Debate. I hope the Lord President of the Council, when he speaks again—or whoever winds up this Debate—will give us some categorical assurance that between now and this time next year—
§ Mr. Stokes
We have heard that story from the Tories for the last 50 years. I 107 am prepared to be a little tolerant of my own Government, however intolerant I was with the Opposition in years past. I am agreeable to continue my tolerance for another year. It is better to be told that I am twice wrong than to have to withdraw my words yet again next year, and I do ask the Lord President to give the assurance which he did not give last year—although we asked for it—that he will seriously consider the Report of the Select Committee, and that he will recognise the right of Private Members. Goodness knows, if he was on the other side of the House he would be the most earnest challenger of an attack on those rights.
§ Mr. Stokes
The right hon. Gentleman says he would not, therefore I have misobserved him, because I had always thought he was. I hope he will not disappoint me in his answer tonight, but that he will seriously consider it, and give us some assurance that, though he may not find it possible or desirable to revive the ordinary 1939 conditions, at least opportunities shall be increased whereby Private Members really can do their job, not as representatives of any one constituency but as representatives of the people of the country.
§ 3.55 P.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
The Government's case is, first, that they have a very heavy programme. I submit to the House that that in itself is not a sufficient reason for dealing, I will not say lightheartedly but briefly and without sufficient and good arguments, with the cherished procedure of this House and the cherished rights of Private Members. If the Government have a heavy programme it is for them to find time to adjust the Sittings of the House, and, if need be, to ask the House to sit longer, rather than to deal a severe blow against the liberty of Private Members, with which is bound up the liberty of the subject. There are two mitigating factors since last year. Last year, in moving the Motion, the right hon. Gentleman pleaded that he had two Budgets and two Finance Bills to fit into the Session. He has only 108 one Budget and one Finance Bill this year. That excuse is, therefore, no longer a valid one. As a result of the Government taking the advice of some hon. Members, they have had a Committee on Procedure. Clearly the effect of that Committee must be to expedite Government Business. The whole purpose of the Committee is to shorten Procedure, and thus give more time to dealing with this heavy programme.
Another way in which a heavy programme can be carried through is by the Government Front Bench encouraging its back benchers to give it less support. When I sat on the other side of the House it used to be a matter of, I will not say honour, but of good practice and discipline, not to make needless speeches in support of the Government merely for the sake of pleasing one's constituents. This new Parliament is composed of so many young men without previous experience—I do not say that in any disparaging sense at all—and they somehow feel they must match their speeches against those of the Opposition. In previous Parliaments, there were two or three Opposition speeches to one from the Government side. [An HON. MEMBER: "Never."] That always was the case. I am speaking with some little knowledge of this House, in which I have sat for over 20 years. It is now the case that hon. Members opposite feel they are not putting up a good show unless they get up on every possible occasion to support the Government. I can assure them that that is quite unnecessary. Unless there is some fresh or new point, it is quite unnecessary for them to get up and do that, one after the other. No doubt older hon. Members opposite can explain that to them, and thus make much more time available.
I have been wondering whether there is really another reason behind this doubt and anxiety on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. Is he afraid that the 200 or 300 new, bright and intelligent young men who have joined him will bring forward too many good ideas? Will the Foreign Secretary be embarrassed by Debates upon certain aspects of foreign affairs with which his own back benchers do not agree? It cannot be true that all wisdom is on the Government Front Bench. I think some wisdom might be found in other parts of the House, even on the Government back benches. It 109 seems to me a pity for this vigorous new Parliament, with so many young men in it, to be denied the opportunities which are provided by Private Members' time, of bringing forward new ideas and fresh proposals.
There are distinctive proposals made from the back benches in Private Members' time of a kind which never come from Governments. They are on matters which are either so controversial or so difficult, that Governments put them off because they dare not touch them— matters which touch the lives of our people, like divorce. Divorce is a very good example of what I am dealing with. Governments have shirked that subject because it divides the people and there is a great leaning both ways. Yet, in our hearts, most of us realised that reform was needed, but it did not come until Private Members raised the issue in Private Members' time and brought in a Private Bill.
There are other matters affecting small sections in our community for which the Government cannot be expected to find time. In my time in this House with the assent of all parties I have had two little Bills for the blind community passed under the Ten Minutes Rule. Both these Bills did some good to a few score thousands of people. They would never have been passed by the Government, because the group concerned was a small one. This Parliament should represent not only the small man but small groups of people; and it should talk not only for the great masses of the people, but also for the small interests, and the small groups. We get these represented in Private Members' time. Older Members of this House will call to mind even some great Measures that have been advocated and in some cases passed into law as a result of Private Members' time. Miss Rathbone first brought to our notice by her persistent use of Private Members' time the valuable children allowances which have now been adopted by all parties. Mr. Willett first brought the suggestion of daylight saving before the House in a Debate in Private Members' time, 40 years ago. It is a matter of historical interest that the Leader of the Opposition, who was in the Government at that time, replied for the Government to that Debate and voted for the proposal, though it was not carried until the war came. In 1914 a Member 110 of this House called Mr. Wardell brought in a Motion to interest the House in the wellbeing of the blind community generally. Out of that Motion, which was carried, came a Committee of Inquiry, and later in 1920 the Blind Persons Act, which was a charter for education and training for that group. One could go on finding examples of how valuable things have been done in Private Members' time. I therefore ask the Government to reconsider their arbitrary, overriding Motion in this matter. Let them give fuller consideration to the question of the reintroduction of the Ten Minute Rule. I think that that was a most admirable institution, for it did enable individuals to bring forward bright, new good ideas. Though the introducer of a Bill could talk for only ten minutes on his proposals, yet some of those Bills found their way on to the Statute Book in a short time, while others were the beginning of the education of public opinion on matters which had not otherwise reached the stage when anything like unanimous legislation would have been possible.
Apart from all these arguments, which I venture to think add up to a very powerful case against the Government, the right of the Private Member to be heard, and the right of the Private Member to initiate matters, goes a long way back into our history. It is only in comparatively recent years that Governments have begun to take, first, a little of the Private Members' time, then some more of the time, and now all of the time. If, after having been deprived of our time for six years of war, and then for another year, it should now become an established practice to come down here and in half a day's Debate take away one of the most cherished and valuable of our liberties, I think it will be a blow not merely against the Members of this House, but also against the liberty of the subject. I ask the House to accept no compromise in this matter, but to vote against the Government if we cannot persuade them to alter their minds.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I was rather surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House refused to accept the compliment which the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) was trying to pay him. The hon. Member for Ipswich suggested that the right hon. Gentleman was better as a Parliamentarian 111 than as a member of the Executive. Not only do I regard the Lord President of the Council as a very able head of any office but I too have always thought him better as a Parliamentarian than as a member of an Executive, and very much more proud of being a legislator than of holding any office. But he has refused that compliment at which, as I say, I am rather surprised, because the right hon. Gentleman loves the House, loves the cut and thrust of Debate and loves our discussions.
What is the point at stake today? The Government introduced a similar Motion last year when I protested against it, as did the hon. Member for Ipswich. But we did realise then that this was a new Parliament following upon six years of war, during which time all legislation for the benefit of the people of this country had of necessity to come to a stop, and we could pass only absolutely essential Bills. We knew that there was also the tremendous task upon the Government of turning over from war conditions to peace conditions. We did feel then that, having made our protest, it was probably right in the interests of everybody that Private Members should for another 12 months forgo their inalienable and ancient rights which have been in existence since the beginning of the House of Commons. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should be bringing in such a Motion again this year, because the urgency that existed last year is not here today. The Government have admitted themselves that they have cut down and pruned their programme. Do they really fear that their life as a Government will come to an end this year? Are they so pessimistic about their position, that they do not contemplate having another three years to place on the Statute Book those measures, for which they have been elected?
There is much more at stake than has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. Because of our peculiar methods of adapting our Constitution it is not always understood that here sitting in the House, at one and the same time are Members of the Executive and Members of the Legislature. The Executive are sitting on the Front Bench, and they are Members of the Legislature, but the Legislature and the Executive are distinct and one of the principal duties of the Legislature should be to keep a jealous and careful eye on the actions of the Execu- 112 tive. It has always been the case. On two famous occasions there have been clashes, because the Executive was taking away from the legislators powers which the Legislature felt should be in its hands. The greatest of these occasions, of course, was when King Charles I tried to govern this country without the assistance of Parliament. Parliament then had not only to resolve the argument by words and discussion; it had to resort to the sword, in order that the interests of the people might be safeguarded. One of the fundamental duties of the Legislature is to keep a careful watch upon the Executive. Another point is that they have the right to initiate legislation. We had an instance only yesterday when, as has happened now from time immemorial before we deal with the Gracious Speech from the Throne—which is really setting out the programme of the Executive and telling the House of Commons what they propose the House of Commons should do at the dictate and will of the Executive—we insisted upon our right of initiating legislation by giving a First Reading to the Outlawries Bill. As the noble Lord pointed out, until the beginning of the last century the Executive could take the time of the House only by the courtesy of the House, and then for two days only. Otherwise the House occupied itself with such matters as any individual Member liked to bring forward. The value of that has been referred to time and again, and we all know of innumerable instances where private legislation has been accepted.
But it goes far deeper than that. It used to be a favourite motion for discussion in debating societies, and even in this House itself 40 or 50 years ago, that a certain thing "had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished." I feel that what has been happening over a whole series of years is that the power of the individual Member—and, indeed, of the legislative body as such—has steadily diminished, is diminishing, and ought to be increased. The fundamental liberties of the people are our concern and it is our duty to protect them on the Floor of this House, against any Executive, however powerful it may be. In time of war, because of the necessity of strengthening its power, the Executive takes a gradual grip of that power and does not release one bit of it. Since 1914, we have had more and more Orders in 113 Council rather than fuller and freer discussion in this House. Certainly over a period of half a century the power of the Executive has increased, and it is still being increased. That is exactly what the Lord President of the Council is asking us to do when, in fact, the power of the Executive ought to be curtailed, and that of the Legislature increased.
Last year, as I have already stated, we made our protest here against the diminution of the power of individual Members. I even suggested to the Lord President that there should be a conference, and he did consider for a little while whether he would not restore a portion of the rights of Private Members—namely, the Ten Minutes Rule. Having considered it, he said that for that Session he regretted that he was unable to do so, but I understood, as I am sure everyone else understood, that the privilege was being taken away only for that Session. Today he again says that he will listen, but can I have any faith that he will give way to arguments and protests? If the Motion goes to a Division on the lines suggested by the Lord President, I shall find it my duty to go into the Lobby against it, not only on behalf of my fellow Members on these benches, but as a Liberal believing in the liberty of the person and the spiritual right of the individual.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
When the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was speaking I noticed that he used one very remarkable argument. In order that there should be no mistake I made a note of some of his remarks. He said: "It is not a question of the Government not getting their programme through. With their majority they can always do that. What they want to do is to curtail discussion." I suppose it might be possible for the Government to get through this great legislative programme that we heard about yesterday in less time than has been allotted to it 'in this Session. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, it might be possible to move the Closure frequently and compress that programme into less time, but only at the cost of curtailing discussion. The reason why this time is wanted, is precisely to get this programme through with proper discussion.
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Gentleman has been good enough to refer to me, 114 but I am afraid that he did not appreciate my argument. I regret that I did not make myself plain to his very clear forensic mind. I meant that the Government's object was to curtail discussion of unpleasant subjects brought up in Private Members' Motions and Bills. That is the object of the Government, and I charge them with it.
§ Mr. Paget
"Curtail discussion of unpleasant subjects." Surely the basis of opposition to Government proposals is to raise what from the Government point of view are unpleasant subjects. It is precisely in order to give the Opposition adequate opportunity to criticise the Government Measures, that this time is required. I should have thought that that was fairly simple, but it does not seem to be so to the noble Lord. To get back to the basis of this matter, hon. Members on this side of the House were not returned, and did not come here, to ride their own particular hobby horses. What we came to do was to carry through a massive programme of legislation—to carry through, by democratic means, a revolution. That is what we are going to do, and we do not intend to be prevented from doing it. At the risk of quarrelling with my very good friend the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) let me say here that if the Government, at the beginning of next Session as at the beginning of this Session, require time in order to put through that task for which they have been returned, we shall make it our business to see that they have that time.
Apart from that, I should like to say a word or two about the way in which Private Members' time has been used in the past, because I do not think that it has been used very profitably. What happened was that first a Private Member's Bill was selected by Ballot. I do not think that that was a method which succeeded very often in bringing out those Bills which most merited consideration, although it occasionally did so by pure chance.
§ Mr. Paget
It was the Member who was selected; the Member had the Bill, and therefore, in effect it was the Bill that was selected. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Let us not quibble over oddments of that sort. The next point is that, owing to the 115 procedure on time, the Bills were not judged on their merits. They were not accepted or rejected, very largely, according to the will of the majority of the House. It was just a question of luck and lack of controversiality which provided the time to get them through. Further, owing to that same time system, the Bills were not very good Bills because the promoters had to accept proposals and Amendments which they knew to be bad and mischievous proposals, and which the majority of the House very often thought were bad and mischievous, simply in order to placate a minority who would otherwise have talked the Bill out. The great job in getting a Private Member's Bill through was to persuade people not to talk it out. Indeed, the hon. Member the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) had to accept a series of most mischievous Amendments to his Matrimonial Causes Bill, Amendments of which he intensely disapproved, merely because that was the only method of placating the minority who otherwise would have talked it out. That is not a very useful method of using Private Members' time.
I certainly hope that, when we get back to the days of Private Members' time, whether that be next Session or some time later, some better method will be adopted. I would suggest that Private Members might present their Bills for consideration to a committee, which perhaps might be formed by the Chairmen of Committees, who would select the Bills—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member must not develop that argument, but should return to the Motion which is under discussion. The question whether we should have a selection committee to deal with Private Members' Bills can be postponed until some future time.
§ Mr. Paget
I am sorry. Sir, that I went into the matter. I was trying to say that I hoped that when Private Members' time does come back it will not be wasted in a series of drawn matches and talked out Bills but will be used for the useful purpose of arriving at decisions, whether favourable or unfavourable, to the Bills concerned.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh O'Neill (Antrim)
The Motion will, of course, be passed by a 116 very large majority. Nevertheless, in spite of the speech to which we have just listened, I cannot help feeling that a large number of Members on that side of the House have very great misgivings about the Motion. The Leader of the House said that in the opinion of a vast majority of the electorate the legislation now proposed by the Government must be carried through. Every Government always thinks that their legislation is vital. The idea of taking Private Members' time nearly two years after the end of the war is, in my view, going far beyond what is necessary. After all, the only occasion when this House functions as a free assembly is when it is considering Private Members' business. Otherwise, the party machine operates and Members vote as their whips tell them. There is no free vote. Whereas, every vote on Private Members' business is a free vote. It is most undesirable that Parliament and the Legislature should be turned into nothing but a registering machine for Government decrees.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not forget that there are Independents in this House.
§ Sir H. O'Neill
The Independents vote sometimes one way and sometimes another; but that does not affect the point I am arguing.
§ Sir H. O'Neill
When we had Private Members' business in operation, it consisted mainly of Private Members' Motions and Private Members' Bills. With regard to Private Members' Motions, the Government are saying that the Adjournment half hour is sufficient. I do not think it is sufficient. After all, when a Private Member brought forward his Motion there used to be two opportunities during that day, which was usually Wednesday. One Motion was discussed from about 3.45 until half-past 7, and the second from 7.30 to 11 o'Clock. Therefore, there was a real discussion upon the Motions. Now, under the mere half hour which is given for a discussion upon the Adjournment, it is impossible for any serious matter to be fully developed.
In many respects Private Members' Bills gave even greater scope for the successful use of Private Members' time. The 117 hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was labouring under a misapprehension about Private Members' Bills. There were always two kinds of Private Members' Bill. One was introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule and could become law only if there was no opposition at all. A Member could get up and merely say "I object," and the Bill was never heard of again. To suggest the reintroduction of the Ten Minutes Rule and nothing else does not carry us very far. The Rule gave no chance of a Bill becoming law unless it was unanimously agreed to by every Member of the House of Commons. I do not think that the reintroduction of the Ten Minutes Rule will help very much.
The other kind of Private Members' Bill was introduced on a Friday and got full time. If it passed its Second Reading, it went to a Committee where it was fully discussed. In my recollection two very important Bills were passed in that way. One has already been referred to, the Matrimonial Causes Bill of the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). The other was introduced by the right hon. Lady who is now Minister of Education, the Hire Purchase Bill. I happened to be the Chairman of the Committee upstairs through which that Bill passed. The right hon. Lady conducted the Bill through with great skill until it became law. It was generally agreed to be a very useful Bill. It was not a Bill that had to be agreed by everybody. It came under the Friday Private Members' Bills.
§ Sir H. O'Neill
So far as I know, it was always up to the Member in charge of the Bill to move the Closure. If he carried the Closure, he could probably carry his Bill. I do not think there was any question of talking out a Private Members' Bill any more than there is of talking out a Government Measure. The war has been over for at least 18 months. The time has come when Parliament should be allowed to function once again as a free assembly and Private Members' time should, at the earliest possible moment, be reintroduced.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Edwards (Bedwellty)
I support the Government today. They are doing a very sensible thing, not only sensible for this Session but for all Sessions in the future. I have been here a long time and have had experience, and I always did look upon Private Members' days as two days simply wasted. The Motions were very often nothing but pious hope, and unless they were accepted by the Government nothing more was heard of them.
§ Sir C. Edwards
The Motions were often talked out. I have never known more than two Private Members' Bills get through this House in many years. There have been two or three but not very many because it depends on whether the Government give time or not for the Bills to be discussed. If the Private Member's Bill is introduced again, it ought to be a condition that the Government should give time for it to be discussed in the House. I have known more Bills talked out by the late Lord Banbury than anybody else I have known. He came to this House religiously on a Friday to talk Bills out. He used to say that if a Bill was important or raised an important point, two or three hours on a Friday was insufficient time for it. Lord Banbury was often left on his feet to talk a Bill out. It was time wasted. We used to have to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule night after night in order to get the Government business through in order that these other days, which I still call a waste of time and do not want to see reintroduced, might be given to Private Members. I look on it simply as a waste of time and hope it is not going to be reintroduced.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
I should like to begin by saying that I am interested in this matter from three points of view. In the first place, I am a Private Member. And by definition I am a Private Member who must always remain a Private Member, for an Independent does not take office. So that my interest in this matter is really a long term interest as a Private Member. Secondly, I am interested as a Member of the Select Committee on Procedure, which has had this 119 and related issues before it in these last several months. Finally, I am interested in it as one who values the traditions of Parliament as a living organic entity.
This is not a small issue. What is involved here is not a mere matter of whether Private Members are to have a few days more, or a few days less, of Parliamentary time in a given Session. What is involved here is the nature of the relationship between Government and the House of Commons, the issue of what the House ought to be, and of the functions which it ought to discharge. And it is with that wide issue rather than the narrow point of view as to whether we are going to have xor ynumber of days that I am concerned in intervening in this Debate. But, first it is necessary to reply to some of the arguments which have been advanced by the Lord President of the Council and others in support of the Motion to take all Private Members' time.
First of all, the Lord President struck a note which slightly jarred upon me. He began by saying that the Government would always be willing to afford time for Debates on issues in which the House was obviously interested, and by saying that he intended to soften and abate our opposition to the Motion before the House. If there is one hon. Member of this House who is not to be softened by that particular plea, it is I. For I have had the experience of getting a Motion signed by nearly 300 hon. Members asking for a Debate on something, and finding not only opposition expressed by the Lord President when I made my request, but contumely poured on me for having the temerity to ask for it. Therefore, of all hon. Members in this House, I am not the one to be influenced by the argument that the Lord President will allow us to discuss what we want to discuss.
His next argument was that the Government are extremely busy. That is true. The Government have a large programme on their plate, which very naturally they want to carry through, and, says he, "If we do not get Private Members' time, to that extent the progress of the Government's programme will thereby be impeded." That is a perfectly fair argument, but I would like to examine it a little closer. If that is an argument for taking away Private Members' time, I know of no point in the history of Parliament during the last 300 years where Private 120 Members' time might not have been taken away on exactly similar grounds.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Surely, the hon. Member has sufficient acquaintance with the history of this country to know that the situation that now exists demands a greater volume of legislation than ever before?
§ Mr. Brown
I know of nobody who states the obvious with more impressive-ness than the hon. Gentleman who has just intervened. As a matter of fact, I was about to make that precise point. I was about to say that the Parliamentary history of the last three centuries has been one of a steady widening in the scope of the sphere of the State. A few centuries ago the State concerned itself very little with the life of the private citizens. It concerned itself with a few—
§ Mr. Brown
Perhaps the hon. Member would not mind correcting me after I have finished. I should have thought it was the veriest commonplace, looking at the history of the last three centuries—I should not have thought this could have been disputed, even by a historian—that as feudal England gave way to mercantile England and mercantile England gave way to industrial England, the scope of the State, the number of points at which it touched the life of a citizen, grew and grew in overwhelming volume. I prefer the obviousness of my Communist colleague to the still greater ignorance of my Conservative colleague. The State now touches the life of the citizen from before he is born until he has died, and at every point in between. And there never will be a Government in Britain, from this time on for evermore, which will not be in the position to come to this House and say that they are extremely busy and that if they do not take all Private Members' time, to that extent the progress of their legislation will be impeded. What we are invited to do by the Lord President is to accept the Motion upon grounds which, if they be valid, would permanently deprive this House of Commons of all Private Members' time.
The Lord President says that if he gives the House Private Members' time, it is bound to be taken away from something else. It must either be taken away from the Government's legislative time, or from 121 the time available to the official Opposition. I want to make this point, that one of the biggest values of Private Members' time is that it gives an opportunity for bringing forward issues which neither the Government nor the Opposition would want to bring forward. Here is an error into which hon. Members of both sides fall. They imagine that the only people in the House are the Government and the Opposition. The position occupied in this House by Independent Members is ignored. They represent neither the view of the Government, nor the view of the Opposition.
There is another reason why we want Private Members' time, and that is that this House grows steadily less and less free. There was a time, prior to the late 17th century, when the party system fastened itself on this country, when Parliamentary debate in this House could influence issues, and when men could vote in accordance with their views without having to worry about whether the fate of the Government depended on the way they voted. It is only since the coming of the party system in Britain, and with the development of the hierarchy of the Whips, with the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility, the doctrine that a Government cannot survive unless it carries a majority of the House with it on almost everything—it is only with the coming of that situation that speech has ceased to influence votes in this House. Today, if ever by any chance we are allowed a free vote, it is so rare that that very circumstance itself is the occasion of great remark. I have been in this House altogether for some six or seven years at different times, and, upon my soul, I cannot remember more than two or three free votes of the House in the whole of that time.
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Gentleman says I always voted the wrong way. That may be so, but an essential part of the doctrine of freedom is freedom to be in error. And if the hon. Gentleman's point is that we ought never to be allowed to be free to vote unless he is satisfied that we shall vote the way he wants, that is not freedom at all. That is the very antithesis of freedom. But I suspect that it corresponds very closely with the Lord President's conception of it. The 122 less free this House becomes, the more of its time is monopolised by the Government, the more it becomes an instrument for ratifying decisions taken by Government—and that, broadly speaking, is the main function of the House today, the ratification of decisions already arrived as by Government—the more that is true, the more vital it is that we should hang on to such few remaining rights as Private Members of this House possess.
I want to add my voice to those of others who have drawn attention to the kind of issues on which Private Members' time has been of enormous advantage to the people of this country. Governments differ in political complexion, but they are at one in desiring to dodge awkward problems if they can. Some 140 or 150 years ago in this House there was a problem which no Government wanted to tackle—the problem of slavery. Slavery in Britain at that time was a vast vested interest. It was tied up with the shipping interests of Bristol and Liverpool, which transported the slaves. It was tied up with the alleged maintenance of our national economy. And no Government wanted to touch it. It required the devoted efforts of one independent Member of this House to make England alive to the issue of slavery. I refer to Wilberforce.
I would like to remind hon. Members that again and again in English history the repository of the conscience of England on some great moral issue has been some awkward man who would not be shut up by either side of the House, and who could not be at ease and at peace until he had achieved some reform upon which he had set his heart. Slavery was a first-class example of that. The work of Plimsoll, on the Plimsoll line, was another. In our day there are at least two issues that I could refer to which Governments have dodged. One was the Divorce Bill introduced by my colleague the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). Divorce is political dynamite. It involves religious prejudice on one side and the other, and so long as Governments could dodge the problem of divorce they did so. It required the efforts of an independent Member of this House, using Private Members time, to wake up the House of Commons and England on that particular issue.
§ Mr. Bowles
Is it not the case that after the Second Reading of the Matrimonial Causes Bill the Government then took over the Bill?
§ Mr. Brown
I am not denying it; what I am saying is that Private Members' time again and again has impelled Governments into doing something which by themselves they would never have done. There is today a great moral issue in this country which this Government want to avoid. I refer to the issue of the closed shop. I will not argue its merits today, because I should be out of order in so doing, but I shall not be out of order, I suggest, in saying that if ever there was an issue upon which a Government have equivocated, evaded, dodged, and done everything they could to avoid stating plainly where they stood on an issue, we have had it from this Government on this matter. For a year I have been plugging away at the closed shop in this House. When I started I was alone. I am not quite so lonely now as I was then, and I think I shall be still less lonely as the days go by and as the significance of this issue is realised.
§ Mr. Brown
This represents the level of political intelligence brought to bear by the Parliamentary representative of a considerable political philosophy. I submit that this Government would like to dodge that issue and if I can use Parliamentary time and Private Members' time to prevent them from dodging it, I intend to do so.
For all these reasons I think that we should resist this Motion. Wherever else the closed shop operates, we do not want a closed shop against Private Members of this House, I see in this attitude to Private Members' time exactly the same restrictive tendency that I see in the attitude to the Press inquiry, just the same tendency to restriction that I see in the closed shop, the same tendency to make life difficult for anybody who does not conform to what is laid down for us as the mould and pattern of orthodoxy. This 124 is part of what I regard as an extremely sombre and sad trend in the fife of our nation at the present time, and therefore, for my part, I shall try to resist the taking of Private Members' time.
I would like to conclude by saying that last Saturday, at the Lord Mayor's banquet in London, there occurred, I am told by those who witnessed it, a remarkable and very significant event. As the House knows, it is the practice there to propose toasts designed to enable various leading Members of the Government to reply, a toast to the "Ministers of the Crown," to enable the Prime Minister to reply, a toast to the "Judges," to enable the Lord Chancellor to reply. And so on. There was delivered there the strangest speech I can ever remember to have read or heard of. After the toast had been given to "His Majesty's Judges," the Lord Chancellor rose to respond. He spoke for something less than half a minute, and what he said was:My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, the English Bar is the inheritor and the trustee of a great tradition of independence. We have fought for that independence against kings. We have defended it against kings. And we are ready today to fight for it against the Executive.He then sat down.
§ Mr. Brown
No, time was not up. Now, if those words mean anything at all, uttered in those circumstances by that particular Member of the Government, they mean that this issue is a thing which is not merely worrying Members of Parliament like ourselves, but is worrying people in very high places indeed. I want to remind the House that the rights and privileges of Members of this House were won against the kings, they were defended against the kings, and we ought today to be ready to defend them against the Executive. The particular right I want to defend today is the right to a very limited, but enormously valuable, proportion of the time of this Parliament for hon. Members to discuss, not what the Government want us to discuss, but what we ourselves feel ought to be discussed in the public interests of the people of this country.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I regret that two other Members of the Select Committee on Procedure, 125 who have already spoken in the Debate, besides the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) who was also a Member, are not now in the House. I also was a Member of that Committee, and I want to make it perfectly plain that I do not regard the Motion moved by the Lord President of the Council as a rejection of the Committee's Report. The Committee recommended on this matter— and I do not discuss other matters—that Private Members' time should be restored as soon as possible. I think that in the minds of most of us, if not of all, it was perfectly plain when we came to that decision that it would not be possible this Session, and our recommendations were made on that quite clearly expressed basis. I suggest that that appears quite clearly from the paragraphs in the Report dealing with the matter, especially in the part where we act in advance of the restoration of other matters and recommend that consideration should be given to the restoration of a right to move Bills in short speeches after Question time under what is called the Ten Minutes Rule.
I want to contest with the hon. Member for Rugby the suggestion, which is often expressed, and always inherent, in every speech he makes in this House, that his speeches and votes in this House are free in a sense that mine are not. It is not true. My speeches in this House, and the speeches of my hon. and right hon. Friends, and of hon. Members on the other side of the House, are every bit as free as his. If we consent to work in a team, to work together and follow collective decisions—and we do not always do that—we do it voluntarily. It is a voluntary acceptance of a voluntary discipline, and we are free to reject it, and some of us do reject it. When the hon. Member for Rugby makes his quotation from the Lord Chancellor's speech at the Guildhall—I do not know whether he is right, or not, but, assuming he is correct for the purpose of the argument—is he suggesting that a speech like that, made in the presence of the Prime Minister and other colleagues in the Government on a public occasion, is an indication that this Government is going to interfere with the freedom of anyone? It is a plain declaration of independence by a Member of the Government on behalf of the judiciary of which he is the head. What in the world is the 126 hon. Member complaining of? [AN HON. MEMBER: "The closed shop."] The judiciary has always been a closed shop.
I approach this matter as one who is as interested as anybody in the rights and privileges of the Private Member. I think it is a mistake to use the words "Private Members' time" because all time in this House, apart from time taken up by Members of the Government Front Bench, is Private Members' time. Every bit of it. What is involved in this matter is not the right of Private Members to have their proper share of time, but the question of the right of Private Members to initiate subjects for discussion, which is a quite different thing. I echo and support the remark made by my right hon. Friend who was once Chief Whip of my party, and I hope that when we get back to the days when time is restored to Private Members to initiate legislation, we shall find some better way of utilising it than the old method of ballots for Motions and for Bills on Fridays.
I can imagine nothing less calculated to serve the objects that those of us who are interested in this matter have in mind than a simple, uncritical, restoration of the old Wednesday afternoon and the old Friday. How many hon. Members ever had the chance to avail themselves of those occasions? First, the time was allotted in the only way available in circumstances which were very illogical and unfair, by a simple lottery, not a ballot like the ballot of an election, but like throwing dice, or turning a card, or taking a number out of a hat. If an hon. Member were lucky enough to get in, how far did it take him? He could move a Motion on a Wednesday afternoon, but that was the end of the matter, whether it was carried or it was defeated. He could introduce a Bill on a Friday and, if he got through with it, as one rarely did, he was completely at the mercy of the Government as to whether he could proceed any further. We are asked for a restoration of that on the plea that the liberty of the subject is taken away and that a great moral issue is involved.
Even if the system had none of those disadvantages, on how many occasions were the Motions or Bills, so chosen, the free choice of the hon. Member? Everyone knows that the party machine on both sides used to supply hon. Members with 127 Motions which they would like them to move and with Bills they would like them to introduce. To a great extent these Wednesday afternoons and Fridays were not Private Members' time at all, nor the initiation of discussion or legislation by Private Members, but simply further opportunities for the Government on the one side, or the Opposition on the other side, to use Private Members for the furtherance of portions of common policy which they desired to have done in that way, rather than in some other way. I think the time ought to return some day when Private Members, acting completely independently of caucuses, parties. Treasury Benches, and Chief Whips offices, should have the opportunity of themselves initiating discussion and legislation in the House. But I hope when it comes we will find a very much better way of doing it than by going back lock, stock, and barrel to those Wednesdays and Fridays which we had of old.
I have one other point to make. The noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and I differ a great deal, in the House and elsewhere. But I think he will agree with me that on the Select Committee, though we sometimes differed, we very often found ourselves in agreement, and many Members of the Committee were with us on those occasions. I agree with him that the Committee worked without party bias of any kind. He said in his speech something about choosing popularity and doing useful work in the House of Commons. I suppose, in a humble way, I am not altogether ignorant of the gentle art of making enemies any more than he is. I agree with his general point about it. But I wish to say, most seriously, to those people who desire individual Private Members to perform to the full the moral obligation which they undertook when they came here at the choice of the citizens, that if they want to discharge it conscientiously, it is much better to do it in the ordinary course of day to day activity in the House of Commons, on the business as and when it is introduced, than to limit their conscientiousness to those occasions on which the party Whips are not there. One can do it much better that way. What is important is that one shall influence the course of events, conscientiously, according to the way one thinks one ought to be influenced. One cannot do that only on 128 Wednesday afternoons and Fridays, even if we had that time restored. The way to do it is every day on ordinary Government business.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
That is exactly the argument for not going to church, is it not— that one is so good on week-days that there is no need to go on Sundays?
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not think so at all. It is not the same argument as that for not going to church. It is the argument—which I think the hon. Gentleman would accept—of those who say that it is not enough to go to church on Sundays only.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am saying that it is far more important that those obligations which are undertaken should be discharged every day, in relation to the business which is actually being done, when one is called upon to decide whether one supports or opposes the Government, or whether one will support one's party in Opposition or not. That is when the Private Member makes his influence felt far more than those other occasions for which so much is claimed. If a Government, if a Chief Whip or caucus or the authorities in any party, were ever to take the view that Members should be limited in their privileges as Members of the House, that they should not put Questions to Ministers, or make particular speeches or propose Amendments, even Amendments to the Address, if it were ever thought that Members ought to be prevented by their party allegiance from doing that, then I think we should get serious interference with the real rights, duties and obligations of Private Members of the House of Commons. If we ever had a situation in which things were determined, not by free discussion and free vote on the Floor of the House, but by decisions taken outside, there would indeed be something of which to complain. All that is not involved in this point. That is why I say that the honest Member of Parliament will take his own responsibility for what he will say and do in the House, when he will say it and how far it is wise and right to press it. That is a decision which every one of us must face a dozen times every day, if we are to do our duty as Private Members of the House of 129 Commons. I think that is far more important than arguing whether, on a particular occasion or for a particular period, there shall be a ballot for Private Members' Motions and Bills, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
§ 5.5 P.m.
§ Sir Stanley Holmes (Harwich)
I wish entirely to disagree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in his statement that Bills which have been introduced by Private Members on Fridays have often been given to them by the Government. If one goes through the lists of such Bills in times gone by, that view will be found to be entirely erroneous. Some valuable Measures have been put on the Statute Book as a result of Private Bills. One or two have already been referred to. There was that of the Minister of Education in regard to hire purchase. Then there was the Bill on divorce introduced by the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). Another was referred to by the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) as having been introduced by the late Miss Rathbone. That was the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act. Perhaps I might be allowed to say that I was the Member who introduced that Bill. I agreed with Miss Rathbone on the question, and when I drew first place in the ballot, in 1938, she asked me if I would introduce a Bill of that nature, and I was happy to pilot it through the House. Another Bill which should be mentioned in this connection, which has, I believe, proved a great blessing and has been a source of great enjoyment for the people of this country, and which was introduced and carried through by a Private Member, was the Summer lime Act. All these show that the idea that good Bills can be introduced only by the Government of the day is entirely mistaken, and that a very fine crop of legislation has resulted from the rights of Private Members to introduce Bills.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is not the hon. Member making the mistake of supposing that the Daylight Saving Act was passed on the initiation of a Private Member? In fact, did it not always fail, until the Government took it up in 1916?
§ Sir S, Holmes
It was introduced by a Private Member and adopted by the Government. I think the truth of the matter is that the Government eventually 130 found the time for that Private Member to carry the Daylight Saving Bill into law.
The second point I wish to make is that not only have many valuable Acts been placed on the Statute Book by Private Members, but that the experience of introducing and piloting a Bill through Parliament is valuable to the Private Member. Take, for example, the right hon. Lady the Minister of Education. I am sure that the experience she had in 1938 or 1939 of piloting through the Hire Purchase Act, having to conduct all work herself in Committee upstairs, and on the Report stage in the House, was invaluable to her in training her to be a Minister of the Crown. It is surely the only way in which Private Members on the back benches who, as the older Members disappear from the front benches, eventually take their places, can learn the art of Parliamentary government and Parliamentary procedure. Furthermore, if Private Members who come to this House —and there are probably more new Members in this House than in any Parliament since that of 1906—find that they are merely expected to be voting machines, that they are asked, especially if they are on the Government side, to speak as little as they can, and are expected to vote just as they are told, it will be found, in the first place, that a lot of the Members who might become good Parliamentarians will become sick of the whole thing, because they are not given enough interesting work to do. It will also be found that people outside, who have not already entered Parliament, and would be valuable Members, will refuse to stand for election because the whole thing is in the hands of the Government and the Private Member has little opportunity to take part. For those reasons I oppose this Motion.
I want to give another reason which, so far, has not been referred to, and which is that some relief should be given to the Ministers of the Crown who have Departments to look after. All of them are being overworked. The House should realise the amount of illness among Ministers during the past 16 months, two outstanding cases being those of the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Education, who throughout this time have been pursued by bad health. The former Secretary of State for War was absent for a long time, and the present Secretary of 131 State for War, when he was at the War Office under his predecessor, was away for some weeks. The designate Minister of Defence was ill for some time, the Secretary of State for Scotland was away from the House for months, and the Minister of Food was away for a considerable time immediately after he took office. We observed when the National Health Service Act was before the House that the Minister of Health was addressing us under great physical pain, and during discussion of the Finance Act the Chancellor of the Exchequer bore visible signs of not being too well. When we remember all these illnesses during the last 12 months, we begin to wonder whether we have not been governed by a Cabinet of crocks. I suggest that if the Government were to give Fridays to Private Members, as all of us desire, then all the Departments would be relieved of work to a certain extent, and there might not be so much breaking down in the health of overworked Ministers. For those reasons, I hope that the Lord President of the Council will reconsider this matter.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I wish to say at the outset that I also speak as a Member of the Select Committee on Procedure. There are really two issues before the House today though the Debate has traversed a very wide field. There are two issues and they ought not to be confused. The first is whether Private Members' time in normal conditions is a good thing or a bad thing, or in other words, is it a desirable application of Parliamentary time? The second issue is whether under present conditions, whatever we may think should be the case in normal times, Private Members' procedure should be suspended for the period of this Session. With regard to the first question, I gather opinion is divided both among those who I imagine will support and those who will oppose the proposition. I was disappointed at the indication which the Lord President of the Council appeared to give about his attitude towards Private Members' time under general circumstances. A great many speeches have been made from both sides of the House in support of the view that Private Members' time, as we had it in the past, is a desirable feature of our Parliamentary institution. Evidence has 132 been given before the Select Committee of notable Acts passed by this House as a result of the initiative of Private Members, Measures introduced and passed only because that initiative was available to Private Members.
It may well be said that the amount of Parliamentary days devoted to Private Members' time in days before the war was disproportionate to the results achieved and that the net result did not justify the time thus spent. That is an issue which, no doubt, will be debated when we return to normal conditions, but I think it worth while to put on record in this Debate that the attitude of the Prime Minister on this subject was made clear in his speech yesterday when he said:…we should like in due course to get back to the days of Private Members' time and Private Bills…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 32.]The argument given by the Prime Minister for the Motion now before the House was that we have not yet got back to normal times. Speaking for myself as a Member of the Select Committee on Procedure which discussed this, not in relation to what was appropriate to the present Session but what is appropriate to normal conditions, I should like again to remind the House that the Select Committee, after hearing a great deal of evidence about this and kindred topics, came to the unanimous conclusion that Private Members' time as a principle of our Parliamentary procedure should be restored. A question open to legitimate discussion, is what form it should take—whether it should be on a Wednesday or a Friday, whether more time should be given to Motions and less time to Bills, or more to Bills and less to Motions. Those are matters of detail about which I venture to hope that the Lord President of the Council and his colleagues, when they come to consider the report of the Select Committee, will give due weight and bear in mind the observations of the Prime Minister yesterday.
The other matter, really the only matter which is relevant to this Debate today, is whether we should concede to the Government their request that Private Members' time should be abolished for the purpose of this Session. I support the Motion because, in my view, although Private Members' time in normal circumstances is a desirable, essential and cherished feature of our Parliamentary institutions.
133 we must also remember that this House of Commons exists primarily for the purpose of reflecting the will of the people. We do not live in normal conditions. We live in the very difficult, uneasy time of transition from war to peace. We have a great deal of legislative leeway to make up and there is a great deal of social reform which the country awaits and which ought to be placed on the Statute Book as soon as possible. The legislative programme of the Government would be impeded seriously if the normal facilities of Private Members' time were available in this Session. On that ground, I have no doubt that the House will support the Motion. The only other observation I wish to make is with reference to what was said by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). He rather suggested that the arguments put forward today in support of this Motion would enable His Majesty's Government on any future occasion to propose a similar Motion and ask for the support of the House. I do not share that view. I think that on every occasion in every Session—I hope this will be the last—where a Motion of this kind is proposed by the Government, it is necessary for the Government spokesman to make out a convincing case showing that there are emergency conditions prevailing and that there are abnormal circumstances which make it just in the national interest to deprive Private Members of their ordinary rights.
§ 5.20 p.m.
Mr. Pick thorn (Cambridge University)
I hope I shall not be very long, because I have only been out of the Chamber for two minutes since 2.30 p.m., and I very much want to get out of it now. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will not be too censorious if I do not behave as well about staying after my speech as I hope I generally do. I have another hope to express. I hope that I may, without immodesty, claim two qualifications for addressing this Assembly on this topic. The first is, and I think that those of my political opponents who were present in the last two Parliaments will agree when I say this, that I have always taken the strongest view for the back benches, as against the Front Bench, or a Front Bench, whether composed of hon. Gentlemen opposite or of hon. Members on these benches, and that therefore, if I now take that back bench line, it is by no means a 134 party reaction against His Majesty's present Administration.
That is one of my qualifications for addressing the House. I think I have a second. It is that Private Members' time, in this particular sense, has always seemed to me much less valuable, as compared with other Private Members' rights, than it has seemed to most of the champions of Private Members It seems to me that what matters most to Private Members is that they should have—I know the we cannot have every one of the 500-odd Private Members expecting to address the Chamber in every full-dress Debate—but that any Private Member should have a reasonable and fair prospect of being able to play his part on the great occasions—on the occasions of the big things that matter, between the Government and the official Opposition, that they should get their fair chance on those occasions, seems to me a far more serious value than their getting their own time on Fridays or Wednesday afternoons or whatever it may be.
Therefore, I am not one of the fanatics on Private Members' time in the narrower sense, and I hope that that may be a little excuse for me addressing hon. Members, even if I do so at some length, because, on the matter of length, apart from my own desire in the matter, to which I have already alluded, I hope I may be forgiven for saying that it seems to me that, if ever there was an occasion on which Private Members were entitled to speak as numerously as they like and at as great length as they choose, this is that occasion, and even to think of the Closure, or of anything resembling the suggestion that enough Private Members have spoken on this issue, or have spoken long enough, seems to me to be landing us in a most hopeless metaphysical paradox. The question is: Shall Private Members have the right to discuss, and, on that matter, surely, Private Members should be entitled to discuss at what length they choose?
I ask the House to reflect upon one great and general topic before I come to the more particular topic. I hope I am not generally too pompous or too much inclined to "Skibbereen Eagle" language, using great big words for quite trifling occasions. No one of us criticises himself very skilfully, but I hope I try to avoid that danger, and I hope, therefore, that right hon. Gentlemen opposite 135 will think that it merits some attention when I say to them that, in a sense which I hope shortly to make clear, this is the; most important question which can come before the House during this Session. Let me try to make that clear. We too easily tend to assume that, by a dispensation of Providence, we in this island, not pushing any one idea to its logical conclusion, receive the reward that we may always expect, in really important matters, to make the best of two mutually incompatible propositions. That is a very dangerous presumption. We do, at least sometimes, come very near to bringing it off, but do not let it be too easily assumed that we are going to bring it off now. I do some of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite the justice of supposing that they are honest when they say that they wish to see Socialist control, if not ownership, of all economic arrangements, and, at the same time, wish to see the maximum of personal liberty and Parliamentary control of public affairs. I do some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the justice—I think to the majority, on the whole, I pay the compliment that they mean it when they say it, but I would not pay one of them the compliment that he knows what it means when he says it, that he can sit down and explain how these, in theory apparently incompatible, objects are to be simultaneously made good. It is an extremely difficult problem—
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
Does the hon. Member think that there is no hon. Member, other than himself, in this House who can understand the reason for this proposition?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I think the number of people capable of understanding what I have just said, in this House, is rather higher than the number of people who are capable of giving proper attention to atomic physics. This general and rather philosophic proposition, to which I have been calling the attention of the House, is very closely twinned, if not to a quite immediate, to a more nearly practical problem; that is to say, can a party of Social Democrats, which necessarily becomes a large party as habitual, dyed-in-the-wool, boiled-in-the-soul Oppositionists, who always necessarily have 136 enemies upon their left, that can blackmail them and over-call them all the time —can such a Social Democratic Government continue to exist for more than a very few years?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
That question seems to me to be wholly beside the Question before the House. I understood that the hon. Gentleman rose to move an Amendment, of which he gave notice.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I rose, upon advice, to make a speech upon the general question, and, at the end of my speech, to propose a comparatively slight Amendment, and, with respect, I propose now to show, what I think already a good many hon. Gentlemen opposite have seen, the immediate relevance of what I have just said in a general way. May I also say this— that I did ask for Mr. Speaker's guidance, when the Lord President of the Council went into a series of very general historical propositions, whether the same licence would be allowed to those on this side of the House. Every time, and this is now the second—the only two occasions they have had, so their score is at present 100 per cent.—every time the Government propose to cut down Private Members' rights—and I beg them to believe that I feel sure that I should say this even if I were myself a Socialist—every time they do that, they make it the more likely that the paradox which they are trying to carry into reality will prove to the people outside to be obviously impossible, and that the people outside will either wholly reject the Liberalism in them and go Communist, or reject the Socialism in them, and swing back to the Right. I beg them to believe that this matter, both in the long run and in the comparatively short run, is a matter of the very greatest importance.
I would put another general consideration, with your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The other one is this—that parties of the Right, when in office, under modern conditions especially, when parties of the Left are closely allied to an industrial organisation, which has a high measure of independence and power—parties of the Right in office continually have to watch their policy, however big their majority may be, not merely to consider their own benches, but to carry the acquiescence of the Left along with them 137 The other way round, when the Left is in office, it continually finds itself in the necessity of relying upon the support of the Right for the primary duties of Government: when it comes to foreign policy, law and order, dealing with squatters, and so on, they find it difficult, however big their majority, to be sure that their majority will support them and not break in their hands, and they count upon the Opposition.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
On a point of Order. I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member unduly, but he has raised two very important and very interesting general issues—the relations between Left and Right and the impossibility of reconciling Socialist planning with individual freedom. Shall we on this side, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if we are fortunate enough to catch your eye, be allowed to reply to these two points?
§ Earl Winterton
Further to that point of Order. May I point out the very wide Ruling given by Mr. Speaker when the point was raised whether the Lord President was entitled to refer to legislation? Mr. Speaker said that he was entitled so to do, because this raised the whole question of what the House should do in this Session.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That may be, but I cannot, of course, say what Ruling may be given from the Chair on any future question. I certainly think that the hon. Member is extremely wide, both of the general question before the House and of the particular one on which I understood he rose to move an Amendment.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I rose to move, and intend to move at the end of my speech, an Amendment which I do not propose to move at the moment because it would restrict the Debate and, therefore, my right to speak. I am acting entirely on what I thought was the convenience of the House and with respect, of the Chair. I was advised that I should be in Order in making a general speech on the Debate, and intimating in my last few paragraphs the particular Amendment I intend to move, and I shall do so all the quicker the less I am interrupted, though I enjoy interruptions very much, and am grateful when the other chap takes the trouble to produce the force to move the ball, and allows me to decide the direction.
138 I pass to the special question before us. We may be—and I beg right hon. Gentlemen opposite to believe my honesty when I say this—in a more serious mess in a year's time than we are in now. I am afraid that if I had to bet, I should bet that we shall. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite ought really to begin to get away from the sort of back draught or hiccoughing after the electoral banquet—the boasted majority, the popular mandate to pass this, that and the other Measure, the proclaiming of happiness ever after, and all that. They ought to get away from that, and realise that they have a heavy legislative programme because it was their decision that it should be so heavy, and that there is no reason why it should not be cut down. Many hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know what it is that the Government are asking them to give up in this matter. One of the difficulties of politics is that, just as outside nobody under the age of 30 remembers what a normal world was like, similarly in this House many, perhaps most, hon. Members do not know what the normal Parliament was like. The account given by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was the most absurd travesty of what the thing was like. Private Members opposite ought to think twice before they vote away the birthright of Private Members for the second time. The first time was immediately after a General Election when there was something to be said for it, but today it comes very near to going the whole way and giving the Government a freehold in the matter. Indeed, a superannuated Chief Whip on the other side said he thought it would be a very good thing if we never had Private Members' time back again. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, unless I misunderstood him, although I listened very carefully.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I listened to the speech and got quite a different impression. I thought the hon. Member was saying the same as I said, that if we got Private Members' time back we would not get it back in that form.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Nothing interests me more than what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) says, but I cannot always confine my attention to that. I was trying to recall what the right hon. Member for Bedwellty (Sir C. Edwards) said. That is what I thought 139 he said, and I warn hon. Members opposite it looks as if the thing is fairly endemic in their Whips office; it did not boil up the day before yesterday because they suddenly found that they had to nationalise road haulage. If they are not very careful, they will see it go for ever; and if they do, that will be a long step towards convincing the world that Socialism and liberalism—I do not mean in the party sense, but liberalism with a small"I"—in the sense in which the world generally thinks Englishmen generally liberal, if they are not very careful they will go a long step towards persuading the world that Socialism, in any sense, and liberalism, in that sense, are incompatible. I can think of nothing more likely to do harm to this House, and if it was my business to look after hon. Gentlemen opposite, I could hardly think of anything more likely to do harm to them.
The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council told us that all the Select Committee did was to say this ought to be done when it was practically possible, and he said it is not practically possible—it was practically impossible. I think that that argument brings wholly into Order a detailed discussion of every Measure proposed in the Gracious Speech from the Throne, because in order to maintain that argument it is necessary to prove that each one of these Measures is practically necessary and, what is more, practically necessary within the next ten months; unless one can prove that, one is not entitled to use the only argument which the Lord President did use. Therefore, I think it would be in order to go through the Gracious Speech, line by line, and criticise every suggestion of it, and if I were feeling a little stronger I would try that. As it is, I will merely indicate the general line I should take in such a case. It is this. It is not true—and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know it is not true—that most of their legislative programme either in the last Session or in this Session is immediately necessary.
The hon. Member for Northampton told us that what the Government were doing was carrying out the revolution, and we are entitled to disbelieve that its measures are not immediately necessary to make sure that England should be a little safer, and that English men and women should 140 get a little better food and clothing than they have had in the last seven years. Anything that can be done to ensure those purposes, I quite agree ought to take precedence over Private Members' time, but not anything that cannot be shown to have that precedence. I suggest that, in the Gracious Speech, there are only two things of which it can be plausibly argued that they are of that nature—the matter of conscription, whichever line one takes, for or against conscription, it is a matter of practical urgency, either to get rid of it or to get a permanent system. And secondly, although I do not think the Government have an agricultural policy— the Gracious Speech shows no sign of one —it is practically urgent that there should be an agricultural policy and not merely a machine for enforcing a policy by dint of pegging prices up and down, which is all they have got at present.
Those two things, I agree, are immediate practical necessities, and if right hon. Gentlemen opposite were to say that they proposed to give us all so much time to discuss those things—whole weeks of Second Readings and, perhaps, a week of Resolutions before Second Readings, and so on, everything to be taken in Committee on the Floor of the House, and if they said that these matters were so important that it was necessary to focus the attention of the British public on those things—if they were to say those things and that, therefore, they could hardly hope to do more than get those things through, and deal with the immense questions of policy—for instance, how long is it since we discussed Palestine, and for how long should we discuss Palestine if His Majesty's Government really want to know the diverse and joint mind of this House?—if they were to say that those things must take up so much time that they must have Wednesdays and Fridays too, then I should think they were making a very strong case and I do not think that any pressure from my own Whips would take me into the Lobby against it.
But when it is for vague things—for things which, however good they may be in pursuance of a theory, however desirable they may be in order to accomplish a long-term revolution, things which nobody can pretend are going to give a them more warmth in the next year or two or an ounce more food or another 141 handkerchief—things of no such sort —then I say that for a Socialist Government to tell us that things of doctrinaire or long-range sort are more important than the restoration after seven war years of something like the normalities of discussion in this House, why then where they take that line they run a very serious risk indeed of finding themselves rejected as being hopelessly inconsistent and insincere in the line which they are taking.
I come, lastly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear.] If hon. Gentlemen indicate their disapproval of me, I can assure them that it leaves my withers, whatever they are, unwrung, and I can assure them that I am quite capable of going on, and I am prepared to go on until the Lord President comes back, and say all these things again in his presence.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I propose now to draw at least near to a close. This is not necessarily my final paragraph but, at least, my final chapter, and I therefore begin again with the word, "Lastly." I am glad it went well that time.
Lastly, I am extremely loath to grant the Government any of what it asks for on this occasion. I am the more loath because of what has been said by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. I am sorry to observe that, apparently, he could not tolerate me any longer, or perhaps he could not think of any more good interruptions. What he said about the Select Committee rather strengthens my view I am always rather dubious how much one should say outside concerning what might be regarded as the domestic feelings or proceedings of a Select Committee, but I am bound to say that the impression he gave to the Chamber was not the impression which I had, Of course, I do not thereby accuse him of bad faith. I have almost no reliance whatever upon my own memory, and I also know very well indeed how, after a slight lapse of time, two or three people can report the same conversation in wholly different terms, although they are all honest and quite intelligent. But I did not get the impression which he got, that there was unanimous feeling on the Select Committee that this was merely a pious hope for some future distant date. Nor do I think any such gloss can be put, as he tried to put, on the words actually 142 used in the Report, I do not think he was right about that.
I am very unwilling, therefore, to give up any of what we are now being asked to give up. I am very sorry the Lord President is not here; I think we ought to have had him in charge here. I think we ought to have had some sort of chance of hoping that something we said might possibly have some effect upon him. It ought to have been possible that he might give us our Amendment, or half our Amendment, or some kind of promise, but it is not very much use addressing the Front bench as it is at present constituted, agreeable though it is, regarded merely as a spectacle. I should be extremely reluctant to give up what was recommended by a large majority of the Select Committee, which did not conduct its operations in any party spirit at all, we all tried, and I almost think almost all of us tried with 100 per cent. success, not to be partisan. I think if hon. Gentlemen opposite ask the chairman, as a Member of their own party, in private, he will bear me out in that. I am very reluctant that we should give up any part of what the Select Committee recommended that we should have, but I am prepared to believe that at this stage for the heads of Government at short notice to give up time which they were reckoning they were going to take, might land them in inconveniences which no Opposition, or no federation or Private Members, could reasonably expect the Government to face. Therefore, with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to make a half-way suggestion although I do it unwillingly. I should like to make the half-way suggestion that we give the Government what they are asking for up till Christmas, and that after Christmas we be allowed our Fridays on the terms recommended by the Select Committee. I believe you have a copy of the Amendment, Mr. Deputy Speaker—
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
On a point of Order. I want to know if this proposed Amendment will now curtail the discussion to the merits of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
For the time being, while the Amendment is being discussed, the discussion will naturally be confined to the terms of that Amend- 143 ment, but the House will later have an opportunity of returning to the general Debate.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Devonport)
On a point of Order. Will it not be impossible for Members speaking afterwards to deal with the main portion of the hon. Member's speech if, in fact, we have to confine ourselves to the Amendment which he is proposing at the end of a very long speech? Further to that point of Order, would it not have been better, in the inerests of the whole House, if the hon. Gentleman was going to propose an Amendment, that he should have confined his speech to the Amendment, instead of making a full speech before it?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
When I called upon the hon. Member, I assumed that he was proposing to move and to deal only with the Amendment. He is within his rights in dealing with the general question, but I called him for the specific purpose of moving the Amendment.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I thought I had made it perfectly clear; and it cannot be improper for me to say that nobody would be less willing than I, in any way whatever, to take advantage of the Chair; and, following my conversations with the Chair, I think I have conformed exactly to the advice which I received from the Chair.
§ Mr. Driberg
It seems to me that if some hon. Member on this side of the House catches Mr. Deputy-Speaker's eye now, he can deal with the Amendment which the hon. Member is moving but he cannot answer the interesting argument which he has delivered.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
There are always disadvantages about the methods of Debate. This is one with which we are all fairly familiar. I have no doubt at all that my speeches would be very much better If they were composed by, or if the scenarios were written by, somebody from Fleet Street who could do it better than I. In fact, I have had to take advantage of the ordinary procedure in this House and to do the thing as well as I can. I have done it, and if I am not interrupted any more I will now finish it off.
§ Mr. Stokes
Then may I interrupt the hon. Gentleman on a point of Order? Surely we are being put in an impossible position. Would it not be more in accordance with the procedure of the House for the hon. Gentleman to finish his speech and not to move the Amendment, but to move the Amendment later, so that it will be possible to continue the discussion on what he has been saying in general Debate, instead of getting it muddled up with the Amendment?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not mind which way it is done, but I understood this was the way it should be done. Therefore, I think it is now my duty to suggest the actual words which would be necessary to give effect to what I have said.
I beg to move, in line 2, at the end, to insert, "until the Christmas Adjournment."
This would involve a further Amendment in line 3, at the end also, to insert the words" until the Christmas Adjournment."
§ Earl Winterton
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Would you accept a Motion to report Progress? I call your attention to the absence of any responsible Minister. The Lord President has been out of the Chamber, and no Cabinet Minister on the Government Front Bench has been taking notes, or taking any interest in the proceedings. Will you accept a Motion "That the Debate be now adjourned?"
§ Earl Winterton
With great respect, and without in any way controverting your Ruling, may I say that again and again such a Motion has been accepted by the Chair when the Minister in charge of the Debate has been absent from the House, and when he has deputed nobody to take any part in the proceedings or to take notes? There are very strong precedents for it.
§ Mr. Bowles
In view of the prolonged absence of the noble Lord himself, he does not know how long the Lord President has been absent.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Has it not been the constant practice in this House for Ministers belonging to the Conservative Party to be absent in similar circumstances? Consequently, is there any reason why there should be an Adjournment of the Debate, when the usual practice in the House has been followed?
§ Sir I. Fraser
Can you indicate, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether there is any change in the attitude of the Chair to the acceptance of the Motion which my noble Friend has moved? I have been a Member for a number of years, and in a great many Parliaments, and there have been frequent occasions upon which this Motion has been moved and accepted. It is, after all, a safeguard, not only to enable the House rightly to call upon Ministers to do their duty, but also to require Ministers to pay proper respect to the House.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman has now come into the Chamber, so that the occasion for the proposed Motion has now passed.
§ Mr. Gallacher
On a point of Order. Is it consistent with the discussion that is going on that Private Members who assert their independence should be demanding that the big boss against whom they are all protesting must be present?
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
May we have your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? Am I not right in thinking that the practice of the House, as declared in the Manual of Procedure, has hitherto been that Motions of the kind proposed by my noble Friend are accepted unless the Chair is of opinion, positively, that they are an abuse of the Rules of Order of the House? If that is so, are we to understand that normally speaking the Chair will so rule positively?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is not within my competence to give any general Ruling of that kind. All I have said is that, at the moment within my discretion, I am not disposed to accept the Motion.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
May I ask for your guidance, Sir, with regard to the discussion of the Amendment? As I understand it, the effect of the Amendment is that Private Members' time shall be taken away till Christmas, and that after that it is to be restored. As it is proposed to take that time away till Christmas, would it not then be in Order to discuss the question of taking away Private Members' time at all?
§ Mr. Lipson
In view of the fact that it is proposed, even in the Amendment, to take away Private Members' time up to Christmas, would it not be in Order for hon. Members fortunate enough to catch your eye to discuss whether it is right or wrong to take away Private Members' time at all?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think, speaking without notice, that the discussion must be confined to the question whether or not the prohibition shall last only till the Christmas Adjournment or later.
§ Sir T. Moore
Does not the whole issue really remain to be debated in the House? The Amendment moved by my hon. Friend makes no difference to the issue as stated, or to the principle which we are debating. Therefore, it seems to me that those of us who desire to speak on the broad principle concerned are clearly in Order in speaking on the somewhat narrower issue raised by the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I indicated that when the Amendments were disposed of, the House would come back to the general Debate, and that would be the best occasion on which to have a general discussion if the House so wished.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
I am one of the very few people taking part in this discussion who have never enjoyed the advantages of Private Members' time. I want to assure the noble Lord, to begin with, that it must not be taken for granted that the party on this side of the House is composed of people who blindly accept from their leaders anything that they are told. On this side of the House I, and many others, have been watching very carefully what has taken place during the past 12 months. We were very concerned 147 about the loss of Private Members' time, not because we felt we were losing something that we had never enjoyed, but because we were watching developments in other countries, which took place with disastrous consequences, where parties overruled the Legislature. Therefore, we had to keep our eyes open to see the kind of developments that were likely to take place.
I wish to say this to the Leader of the House—and there is nobody in this House or in the Labour Party who has a greater respect for the Leader of the House, for his good judgment and his ability—[An HON. MEMBER: "Looking for a job?"] I am not looking for a job. Unfortunately, there are always plenty of others for that. I want the right hon. Gentleman to answer a few questions on this matter First, is it not the case that since we are now dealing with Socialist legislation in this House, which was never dealt with in the same period in the past, we are dealing with a class of legislation which has an economic basis of a kind of which there was very little in the past, and that, consequently, next Session the Government can come forward with an even greater claim to take all the time, than they have today? This is not a party issue. It is a business proposition. Obviously, if the Labour Party—and I am supporting the Labour Party, and the programme on which we fought the Election—is going to bring in another series of nationalisation Bills next Session, then we shall require more time to discuss them. These are bigger questions than those of the disestablishment of the Church, or Home Rule for Ireland; but hon. Members had their Private Members' time when those were discussed. These questions are more important. I want to know—and this is the crucial point—if we give up Private Members' time, does it mean the thin end of the wedge to giving up independence as Private Members of the House of Commons?
§ Mr. Scollan
That is the point. I hope every Member here realises—especially the new Members—that we were elected on a party programme, but that that did not mean that we came here to hand over the whole of the rights and privileges of the ruling Legislature to somebody else. I 148 am going to support the Government, but I want to know that the Government know exactly where they are going. I want to be absolutely sure they know what they are doing.
We know that the State machine of this country was not designed or built for the purpose of absorbing new plans on the lines on which we are building. We know that our hon. Friends on the other side spoke more truly in the Election than they knew, when they said that the amount of legislation passed through this House could not be assimilated by the State machine. That is true. It was passing through too quickly. We passed 84 Bills in the last Session. What we must admit is that the various Departments that had to administer those Bills were unable to do it. [Laughter.]Hon. Members laugh but they must not crow too soon. Why were they unable to do it? Because certain Ministers and certain Departments were afraid of the wrecking criticism of the Opposition, instead of standing up to them and saying—[An HON. MEMBER: "Poor rabbits."]—that they required 10,000 more civil servants to do the work. Hon. Members are laughing too soon, for this reason: that when all this work is done by the State, and done on a properly organised plan, it requires less people to do it than it does when it is done by private enterprise.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Can we now have something on the Question before the House as to whether the prohibition is to last until Christmas or later?
§ Mr. Scollan
Certainly, Sir, with pleasure. I am asking these questions because we are being asked to give up the right that Private Members had in this House, that we have never enjoyed since we came into it. I want to know from the Leader of the House why, if it was necessary to give this up in the first Session, it is necessary to give it up in the second Session? Will it be necessary to give it up in the third Session? I want him to see it from this angle. The business, as outlined in the King's Speech yesterday, is not half as much as that outlined in the previous one. There is no question about it. Read the two speeches and you will see that. The amount of legislation put through in the last Session was far greater than that which the House is being asked to put through this Session. There is no question 149 about it, and for that particular reason I ask whether, in the next Session, we are going to get a smaller slice of the programme? I hope we are not, and that we are not going to go back on "Let us Face the Future," even if that means loss of Private Members' time. We came here, according to the British Constitution, as Members representing constituencies, not a party. That is the point. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is too subtle."] An hon. Member thinks this is too subtle. I am afraid he is too subtle to deal with it. I want him to face the issue of whether we are here as Private Members as well as party Members.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
Did not the hon. Member find that out at the Labour Party conference this morning?
§ Mr. Scollan
I was not at the Labour Party conference this morning. There is no rule binding anybody in the Labour Party who has a conscientious objection to a particular decision.
§ Mr. Scollan
Even Amendments to the Address. The less people know about the Labour Party the more they criticise it. I want to ask the Leader of the House, on the particular point about being a Private Member of this House and a party Member of the House—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but that question really does not arise on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Scollan
I was going to ask for guidance as to how to vote. I am very sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but, you see, I am here in a dual capacity. The Constitution of the country says that I am a Private Member of the House of Commons. Then the party says, "You are a party Member of the House." How am I going to vote here? I am going to ask the Leader—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There may be, and, I am sure, will be, other occasions when the hon. Member can solve that problem. We cannot solve it here on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Scollan
Am I not in Order in asking the Leader of the House in which 150 capacity I should vote? I will leave that point. I do want to say this seriously. I was very forcibly struck by the contribution of the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) on behalf of the Select Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He was speaking on behalf of the Select Committee; that is what he said. [Interruption.]Then he was speaking as a Member of the Select Committee. He put the point of view of the Select Committee on the whole question of Private Members' rights. I expected it to be called Members' private rights. He put the whole case. I then discovered that there were three other Members of the Select Committee, and that no two of them could agree as to what exactly they had put in their report. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] It is not nonsense. The hon. Member should read the speeches.
§ Earl Winterton
As the hon. Gentleman quoted me, perhaps he would allow me to make this observation. The Committee were absolutely unanimous in the particular part of the report to which I referred. How, therefore, can he say that they did not agree in what they said?
§ Mr. Scollan
If the noble Lord reads the speeches tomorrow he will be struck by the divergence of opinion in all four of them. I listened to every one of them. In the first place, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) entirely disagreed with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). [An HON. MEMBER: "He always does."] He said so; the two speeches cannot be reconciled at all. Obviously, in the final analysis, they were all agreed on the preservation of the rights of Members. I want to know from the Leader of the House if the Government will give the House an opportunity to discuss that report, and to arrive at a decision, and, if so, when, so that we may then be able to reconcile the desire of the Government for Private Members' time instead of the ordinary time. I want to make this point in all seriousness: I am of the opinion that if the Government would confine themselves to the time originally allowed to them, it would give the Departments a better opportunity of keeping up with legislation. There is such a thing as gorging the House, and not being able to masticate what the House has already been doing. [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak 151 for yourself."] I am speaking for myself. [Laughter.]Evidently the "Yes-men" at the back see something to laugh at. I challenge any Member of this House, from the Leader right down, to get up and explain the 84 Measures passed last Session. While I shall support the Government as a Member of the party, I give the honours of the Debate to the noble Lord as a Private Member.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
The hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) has delighted the House with his speech and also, I think, stirred in many of our hearts a feeling of sympathy for him, because he is obviously in very considerable doubt. He wonders where the Leader of the House and the Government are leading the party, but I am wondering why he is over there. A Member who, before he goes into the Division Lobby, wants to know what he is voting for ought really to be among the Independents, and not a member of a party. The hon. Member was right in asking for what we shall be voting when we go into the Division Lobby tonight, because there has been a great deal of confusion. We have been told that we are only voting to give up Private Members' time for this Session, as the Government want us to do, or to give it up until Christmas, as the Amendment suggests. I think it is perfectly clear from the arguments used by the Leader of the House in bringing forward this Motion that it is the intention of any Government over which he has any influence that Private Members' rights should be taken away for all time, because the arguments which have been adduced by him can be made to apply to any Government. I, therefore, think it is important that we should recognise the issue.
The hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) was, obviously, very unhappy about the Motion, but he consoled himself by saying that we shall not do this when we get back to normal times. Does anybody think that any Government holding the views put forward by the Lord President of the Council with regard to Private Members' time will ever admit that times are so normal that they can afford to leave Private Members with their rights? Indeed, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, how are we ever to get back to normal times unless 152 we bring back the conditions which existed when times were normal? Surely, one of the conditions was that Private Members of this House had certain rights, and, therefore, by taking away those rights we are creating a position of abnormality.
The Leader of the House justified the Motion by arguing that the Government have a heavy programme of legislation. That we would grant, but then he went on to say that this legislation was urgently and immediately necessary. He is quite justified from his point of view in stating that, but I think that he ought to remember that those of us who hold a different view are also entitled to say so. And there are a great many people in this country—I am not sure that they are not in a majority today—who, if they were asked whether it was necessary in this Session, after what took place last Session, to have a further spate of new legislation, or if instead we should have better administration of Government Departments, who would, I think, say that what the country needs now is for Ministers to spend more of their time in seeing that their Departments are well administered and less time in bringing forward new legislation. I believe that the best interests of the nation as a whole would be served if that were done.
I confess that I find it difficult to reconcile either the Motion, or the Amendment, which goes some way towards granting what the Motion seeks, with the principles for which this Government stand. I thought that this Government claimed to represent the small man, the common man, the under-privileged—the under dog. In these days those phrases perfectly describe a Private Member of Parliament. Therefore, these proposals to take away privileges from Private Members which they have previously enjoyed and give them to the Government amounts to working on the principle that to him who hath shall be given, but from him who hath not even what he hath shall be taken away. That seems a strange doctrine, a strange principle, for a Government which claims to champion the under-privileged and the unrepresented.
Every hon. Member of this House, when he becomes a Member of Parliament, inherits a very great tradition. There are certain rights and privileges which previous Members have enjoyed, and which 153 he receives, as of right, as a new Member. I maintain that it is his duty to see that he hands over those rights to those Members who will succeed him, and that, to my mind, is the issue which is at stake on this Motion. It does not appear as if one would gain very much by making an appeal to the Government to make concessions over this matter, but I do appeal to Private Members to assert themselves, because this is something which is quite above any party; it is a question of the rights of the House itself. Hon. Members are not only the heirs, but the guardians and custodians for the time being of the rights and privileges of Private Members. I believe that if we vote them away tonight we shall be voting them away for all time. There was a case for this Motion last year, but if we repeat the surrender we shall find that we have given away the whole of the position and that the pass has been sold. Therefore, I would ask hon. Members in this matter to preserve their independence and see that, in the Division, they do not vote away their rights and privileges.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I am in a little difficulty in intervening at this stage in the Debate, because there had been a fairly wide Debate before the Amendment was moved, and, as you, Mr. Speaker, have pointed out, the place to deal with that, if it is to be dealt with, is when we get back to the main question. We shall see how we go, because it may or may not be necessary for me to give an answer. The issue now is that, whereas the Government propose that Government Business shall have precedence at every sitting during the whole Parliamentary session, the Amendment, moved by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), proposes that Government Business shall have precedence not during the whole Session, but up to Christmas. That is the real issue before the House, and is the issue with which I have to deal. This involves a curious compromise with sin, and as the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) was seeking to make clear, really affirms that it is legitimate to take Private Members' time up to Christmas. I should have thought, in view of the general arguments of the Opposition, that it was a sinful thing to take Private Members' time at all, at this stage and in this Session, and I really cannot understand 154 why they are now moving that we should take Private Members' time up to Christmas. If they let us take it up to Christmas, then it is affirming that it is legitimate to take up Private Members' time, and the only difference between the Opposition and us is not whether we should or should not take Private Members' time, but whether we should take it up to Christmas or for the whole Session.
I am very sorry to see the Opposition falling from grace in this rather shameful way. I should have thought that any Member wishing a clear-cut resumption of Private Members' time would vote against this Amendment. I cannot understand any Member falling for this pettifogging Amendment, which itself is a miserable compromise with sin, and is typical of the state of confusion of mind which comes out of Cambridge University.
§ Earl Winterton
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are plenty of precedents for this? It has been done again and again Why should he treat this as a vast joke?
§ Mr. Morrison
I am not treating it as a vast joke, but as a very grave retreat from principle and a flirtation with sin. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, the father of the House, of all people, should encourage his hon. Friends to play with sin, when he himself has spent a long time today denouncing the very sin which he is now advising should be put up with until Christmas. I cannot follow this.
From the point of view of the Government, it seems to us that it would not be wise to pass this Amendment. The Debate on the Address will probably last until the middle of next week, and it is only a few weeks to Christmas. It would be embarrassing to the launching of the legislative programme if Private Members' time was resumed on Wednesdays and Fridays after Christmas. The Standing Orders provide that Motions can be debated on Wednesdays, and legislation on Fridays. I can assure the House that if that were done, it would completely embarrass this legislative programme, and we could not carry it through. That is all right for the Conservative Party, because they do not want the programme to be carried out, and would like a lot of it to be scattered and thrown overboard. I follow that, and I understand 155 it, and they are perfectly entitled to that point of view, but from the point of view of my hon. Friends on this side of the House and the Government, we regard this legislation not only as due, but overdue. I wish some of these things had been done by the Coalition Government, or by the Conservative Government before the war, but they were not enlightened enough. They waited until we came, and now we have come we must move, making progress consistent with good legislation, which we have done all the time. The question is whether the legislative programme is going through, or whether the material part is going overboard. I hope that the House will see to it that it goes through.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
The line of approach of the Lord President, in the speech he has just made, leaves the real question at issue in complete darkness. This Amendment is a very good touchstone of the Government's intentions, and this is a very suitable time to test their intentions. The real question at issue is this: Are we ever to have Private Members' time at all? The right hon. Gentleman, far from giving us any indication that we shall ever get Private Members' time back, has said that we cannot have it this year because of the extent of the legislative programme. He has never said that the legislative programme will be smaller next year, or the year after. Quite clearly, there are two lines of thought in the party opposite. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and the right hon. Member for Bedwellty (Sir C. Edwards) clearly thought that we should never have it, and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) were prepared to give up their rights only as a temporary measure. It is very relevant on this Amendment to ask this question: If it is not Christmas, when is it to be? If the right hon. Gentleman were to say that Christmas is not convenient but that Easter is convenient, there would be room for compromise. May I direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the words unanimously used by the Select Committee, on which sat a majority of Members of his own party?Your Committee recommend that facilities for Members to initiate business should be restored as soon as possible.156 There may be a difference of opinion as to when it is possible, but the right hon. Gentleman tried to slide away from the real point by using his argument about sin. What we want to know from the right hon. Gentleman is his estimate of when it will be possible to restore these facilities in whole or in part. If he is going to leave it where it is, knowing there is this conflict of opinion in his party, a great many will suspect that he agrees that Private Members' time should never be restored so long as there is a Socialist Government in Office. Does he, or does he not, agree about that? I think that he was very perfunctory in the way in which he dealt with it at the start, and also during his second intervention.
I rather suspect that the right hon. Gentleman has moved some distance away from the old theory—it was more than a theory; it was a fact—that all Members of this House are of equal status, and that the mere fact that they are members of the Executive, and sit on the Bench opposite, neither improves nor detracts from their status as Members of the House of Commons. There is, of course, as has been pointed out by at least one Member, another view which has been growing in many countries, and is growing here, namely, that there is some difference in quality between a member of the Executive and an ordinary Member of the House of Commons. I hope the right hon. Gentleman's views are not coloured by any impression of that kind, but as he has given us no real argument to controvert the views of the Select Committee, I cannot help feeling that there is something of that sort somewhere in the background.
I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to indicate what he is prepared to accept if he is not prepared to accept this Amendment. If he will not do that, then I think that many Members on both sides of the House will have the very uneasy feeling when we go into the Lobby that tonight we shall be giving away one of the great rights of the Commons of Great Britain for an indefinite time to come. I hope that no Member of this House will be left in doubt about that, and that the right hon. Gentleman, with the leave of the House, will add something of a more reassuring character to the speech he has already made.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness)
The Lord President of the Council is an extremely astute debater, and we always enjoy listening to the debating points with which he meets Amendments of this kind. Not the least facetious of his observations, if I may say so with respect, was when he accused the Opposition of being prepared to sin until Christmas, and then being prepared to tread the straight and narrow path afterwards. I am informed that when a person enters an inebriates' home the initial treatment which is given to him is to let him have as much as he likes of the drink to which he has been accustomed. The Lord President is still somewhat intoxicated, not with strong waters, but with newly acquired power. In the last Session the right hon. Gentleman was given the same amount of drink as he was accustomed to in the London County Council, complete and absolute power, and my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) has now suggested that the dose might be slightly reduced. I understand that that also happens in an inebriates' home when the patient has been there some time. The first step towards his convalescence is a reduction in the amount of stimulant or alcohol.
I put this to the right hon. Gentleman in all good temper: In the last Session the Government got 84 Bills by extremely strenuous leadership. But is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied that Fridays were usefully employed during last Session? We used to get a number of minor Measures—and I say that without disrespect—and frequently Government Business was disposed of at lunch time, or shortly afterwards. There then followed Adjournment Debates which were sometimes lengthy. Has not the time come for Fridays, at least, to be restored for Business initiated by Private Members, rather than for Adjournment Motions, which do not get one anywhere in particular? I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) is on the other side of the Atlantic, because I am sure that if he were here he would have made a forceful and useful contribution to our discussion. He might even have produced another half a dozen Measures which he was prepared to place before us.
I suspect that the Lord President's real reason for resisting the proposal to restore 158 the rights of Private Members is not what may be initiated from these benches; it is fear of what may come from behind him the Bills which may come from Members who want to make an honest attempt to carry out some of their election pledges, some of the things which they promised to the electorate in the midsummer madness of July, 1945. Nothing could be more embarrassing to His Majesty's Government at the present juncture, than a cascade of Socialist proposals coming from behind them. I suggest to Members opposite that it is they who are being handicapped by the Government's proposal, rather than the innocent Opposition. It is they who are to be deprived of the right to try to carry through some of the promises they made only 16 months ago, and which are still remembered by their constituents. I want to plead with the Leader of the House, who has a great deal of experience of Parliamentary machinery, that hopelessly to overload this House and Government Departments is not to get the best legislative results. Last Session, we were driven very hard indeed. I do not think there will be any argument about that.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am not quite sure whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman is addressing himself to the Amendment. It deals only with the period until the Christmas Adjournment, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman can only talk about that period.
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
Yes, Sir, but the House was overdriven both before and after Christmas last Session. This Amendment seeks to limit the taking of Private Members' time to the period before Christmas. I am endeavouring to argue that to take the whole of the time of the Session would be to overdrive the House as it was overdriven last Session, with the result that the best legislative work would not be done. The right hon. Gentleman was not always with us during our long Sittings, but I am sure that he knows, as Leader of the House in touch with back benchers, about the extraordinary amount of weariness which descended on the House by the time we got to July, through taking the whole time for Government Bills. May I reiterate a question put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hill-head (Mr. J. S. C. Reid)? If not now, when are Private Members' rights to be 159 restored to the House of Commons? Have we really become a rubber stamp Assembly in this year 1946?
§ Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite
Have we really become, in the words used by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) a year ago, Lobby fodder? If so, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that even the patient, marching troops are entitled to a little respite and recreation. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he can get his Bills, and also give a crack of the whip to the Private Member. This may be a compromise with sin, but plenty have done that in the past. "Get thee behind me, Satan," after six nights a week, is quite a good motto. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is human enough to see the force of that argument. I do not think that he is either rigid in sin or virtue. Very few of us can claim that. If he is not going to concede the whole issue, if he must have time, there are many precedents for that. But there are very few precedents indeed for the whole of Private Members' time being filched in two successive Sessions in time of peace.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
The Lord President of the Council is a great compromiser who loves to jockey one position with another, and use a compromise as a basis of expediency. Here is a demand made by the House that he should make a concession as regards Private Members' time up till
§ Christmas. He has rejected that. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. Reid) mentioned Easter. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether Private Members' time could not be restored at Easter? That is half a year from now. The prospect of removing all Private Members' time appals the House. Even the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), with his general support of the Government, talked about the prospect of a restoration of Private Members' time. He was a member of the Select Committee, and helped in the preparation of the unanimous Report of that Committee. His complaint, and that of other hon. Members, was that the elaborate procedure of Private Members' time was not one which we ought to restore. Some hon. Members think that Private Bills are not quite appropriate in the old form. Others think that the method of choosing by ballot might be changed. If the right hon. Gentleman were to agree to Easter, as the date for the reconsideration of this matter, an appropriate Committee could be constituted to consider in what form Private Members' time might be restored. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who, as I have said, is an arch-compromiser, will give consideration to that proposition.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)
rose in his place, and claimed to move,"That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 312; Noes, 159.163
|Division No. 1.]||AYES||[6.40 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Berry, H.||Chamberlain, R. A.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Champion, A. J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bing, G. H. C.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.|
|Allighan, Garry||Binns, J.||Clitherow, Dr. R.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Blackburn, A. R.||Cobb, F. A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Blenkinsop, A.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Blyton, W. R.||Coldrick, W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Boardman, H.||Collick, P.|
|Austin, H. L.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Collindridge, F|
|Awbery, S. S.||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Collins, V. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Colman, Miss G. M|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Bramall, Major E. A.||Cook, T. F.|
|Baird, J.||Brook, D (Halifax)||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.|
|Balfour, A||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'wall, N W.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Brown, George (Belper)||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Barton, C.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Cove, W. G.|
|Battley, J. R.||Buchanan, G.||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)||Burden, T. W.||Daggar, G.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Daines, P.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Callaghan, James||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Carmichael, James||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Benson, G||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Kirkwood, D||Sargood R|
|Davies, S. O (Merthyr)||Lavers, S.||Scollan, T.|
|Deer, G||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Scott-Elliot, W|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Leslie, J. R.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Diamond, J.||Levy, B. W.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Donovan, T.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Logan, D. G||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Longden, F.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Dumpleton, C. W||Lyne, A W.||Silverman, S. S (Nelson)|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||McAdam, W||Simmons, C. J|
|Dye, S.||McAllister, G.||Skeffington, A M.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||McEntee, V La T.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Edelman, M.||McGhee, H. G||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Mack, J. D.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McKinlay, A. S.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, SW.)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||McLeavy, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Solley, L. J.|
|Ewart, R.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Farthing, W J||Mallalieu, J P. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington, E.)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Stamford, W|
|Follick, M.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stephen, C.|
|Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Foot, M. M.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Stokes, R. R.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mathers, G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mayhew, C. P.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Medland. H. M.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Gallacher, W.||Messer, F.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gilzean, A||Montague, F.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Glanville, J E (Consett)||Moody, A. S.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Gooch, E. G||Morgan, Dr. H. B||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Morley, R.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Thurtle, E|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Tiffany, S|
|Greenwood, A W J (Haywood)||Mort, D. L.||Titterington, M F|
|Grey, C. F.||Moyle, A.||Tolley, L|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Murray, J. D||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)||Nally, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gunter, Capt. R. J||Naylor, T. E||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Guy, W. H.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J (Wycombe)||Nicholls, H R. (Stratford)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hale, Leslie||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brentford)||Walkden, E|
|Hall, W. G (Colne Valley)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Walker, G. H|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Oldfield, W. H.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Oliver, G. H||Warbey, W. N|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Orbach, M.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Haworth, J.||Paget, R. T.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paling, Rt. Hon Wilfred (Wentworth)||Weitzman, D.|
|Harbison, Miss M.||Pargiter, G A||Wells, W. T (Walsall)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Parker, J.||West, D G.|
|Hicks, G.||Parkin, B. T.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J|
|Hobson, C. R||Paton, Mrs. F (Rushcliffe)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Holman, P.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Horabin, T. L||Pearson, A.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|House, G||Peart, Capt T F||Wigg, Col. G. E|
|Hoy, J.||Perrins, W||Wilcock, Group- Capt C. A. B|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Wilkes, L.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Popplewell, E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)||Pritt, D. N.||Williams, D. J (Neath)|
|Irving, W. J.||Proctor, W. T||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pryde, D. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Janner, B.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Williams, W R. (Heston)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Randall, H. E||Willis, E|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Ranger, J.||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Rankin, J||Wise, Major F J|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Rees-Williams, D. R||Woods, G S|
|Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)||Reeves, J||Wyatt, W.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Reid, T (Swindon)||Yates, V. F.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Rhodes, H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Keenan, W.||Richards, R.||Zilliacus, K|
|Key C W.||Robens, A.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr, E||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kinley, J.||Rogers, G. H. R||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Kirby, B. V||Royle, C||Mr. Hannan|
|Aitken, Hon. Max.||Hare, Hon. J H. (Woodbridge)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Harris, H. Wilson||Osborne, C|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Peake, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Baldwin, A. E||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pickthorn, K.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hogg Hon. Q.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hope, Lord J||Prior-Palmer, Brig. D|
|Birch, Nigel||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Ramsay, Maj. S|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow, C.)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Bower, N.||Jennings, R||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W||Renton, D.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Keeling, E. H||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Kerr, Sir J Graham||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Lancaster, Col. C.G||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Brown, W J. (Rugby)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr Rolano|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Ross, Sir R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Salter. Rt Hon. Sir J A|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A. (S'flr'n W'ld')||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Byers, Frank||Linstead. H. N||Shephard, S (Newark)|
|Carson, E||Lipson, D. L.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Challen, C.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smith, E P. (Ashford)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W S||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Smithers, Sir W|
|Clarke, Col. R. S||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Snadden, W. M|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Cole, T. L.||Lyttelton Rt Hon. O||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O|
|Conant, Maj. R J. E||McCallum, Maj. D.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||MacDonald, Sir M (Inverness)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Macdonald, Sir P (Isle ol Wight)||Strauss, H G (English Universities)|
|Cuthbert, W N||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon J (Moray)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sutclifle, H|
|Dodds-Parker, A D.||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Taylor, C. S (Eastbourne)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr P W||MacLeod, Capt. J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A (P'dd'tn, S.)|
|Dugdale, Maj Sir T. (Richmond)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Duthie, W S||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Thorneycroft G. E. P (Monmoutn)|
|Eden, Rt Hon. A.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Touche, G C.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marples, A. E.||Vane, W. M. F|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr Sir G.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Fraser, Sir l. (Lonsdale)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Fyfe, Rt Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Walker-Smith, O.|
|Gage, C.||Medlicott, F.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Mellor, Sir J.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Molson, A. H. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M J.|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'xe)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Glossop, C. W H||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Glyn, Sir R||Morrison, Maj J G. (Salisbury)||York, C|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Young, Sir A S L. (Partick)|
|Gridley, Sir A,||Mullan, Lt. C. H|
|Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gruffyd, Prof. W. J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Mr. Drewe and|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Nutting, Anthony||Commander Agnew|
§ Question put according, "That those words be there inserted."164
§ The House divided: Ayes, 159; Noes, 312167
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||6.53 p.m.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max.||Challen, C.||Gage, C.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Clarke, Col. R. S||Gammans, L D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Gates, Maj E. E.|
|Baldwin, A E||Cole, T L.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)|
|Barlow, Sir J||Conant, Maj R. J. E||Glossop, C W H.|
|Beamish, Maj. T V. H||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Glyn, Sir R|
|Bennett, Sir P||Crowder, Capt. John E||Gomme-Duncan, Col A G|
|Birch, Nigel||Cuthbert, W. N||Gridley, Sir A.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col D C. (Wells)||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Bower, N||Dodds-Parker, A D||Gruffyd, Prof W. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr P W||Hannon, Sir P (Moseley)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Dugdale, Maj Sir T (Richmond)||Hare, Hon J H (Woodbridge)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Duthie, W. S||Harris, H. Wilson|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Eden, Rt Hon. A||Harvey, Air-Comdre A V|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Head, Brig. A H|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Fletcher W. (Bury)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Foster, J G. (Northwich)||Hogg, Hon Q.|
|Butler,Rt. Hon R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Fox, Sqn.-Ldr Sir G.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Byers, Frank||Fraser, Sir l. (Lonsdale)||Hope, Lord J.|
|Carson, ft.||Fyfe. Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Medlicott, F.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Mellor, Sir J.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Jennings, R.||Molson, A. H. E||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Morrison, Maj. J G. (Salisbury)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Nicholson, G.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)|
|Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Noble, Comdr- A. H. P.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Linstead, H. N||Nutting, Anthony||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Lipson, D. L.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Osborne, C.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Pickthorn, K.||Touche, G. C.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McCallum, Maj. D.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight)||Prior-Palmer. Brig. O.||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Raikes, H. V.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ramsay, Maj. S.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|MacLeod, Capt. J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Renton, D||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Manningham-Buller, R. E||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland||York, C.|
|Marples, A. E.||Ross, Sir R.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Marsden, Capt. A.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Sanderson, Sir F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Mr. Drewe and|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Clitherow, Dr. R.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Cobb, F. A.||Gallacher, W.|
|Allen, A C. (Bosworth)||Cocks, F. S.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S|
|Allighan, Garry||Coldrick, W.||Gibbins, J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Collick, P.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Collindridge, F.||Gilzean, A.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Collins, V. J.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Colman, Miss G. M||Gooch, E. G.|
|Austin, H. L.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cook, T. F.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb' well, N.W.)||Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Grey, C. F.|
|Baird, J.||Corvedale, Viscount||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Balfour, A||Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J||Crossman, R. H. S.||Gunter, Capt. R. J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Daggar, G.||Guy, W. H.|
|Barton, C.||Daines, P.||Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)|
|Battley, J. R.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hale, Leslie|
|Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hardy E. A.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Benson, G.||Deer, G.||Haworth, J.|
|Berry, H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Diamond, J.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Binns, J.||Dodds, N. N.||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Donovan, T.||Hicks, G.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Holman, P.|
|Boardman, H.||Dumpleton, C W.||Horabin, T. L.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Durbin, E. F M.||House, G.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Dye, S.||Hoy, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E, M. (L'pl, Exch'geJ||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Edelman, M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwollty)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Irving, W. J.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Janner, B.|
|Buchanan, G.||Ewart, R.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Burden, T. W.||Fairhurst, F||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Farthing, W. J.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Callaghan, James||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Follick, M.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Foot, M. M.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Champion, A. J.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Keenan, W.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Paling, Rt. Hon Wilfred (Wentworth)||Stokes, R. R.|
|Kinley, J.||Pargiter, G. A.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Kirby, B. V.||Parker, J.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Kirkwood, D||Parkin, B. T.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Lavers, S.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushclifte)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Symonds, A. L.|
|Leslie, J. R.||Pearson, A||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Levy, B. W.||Peart, Capt. T. F||Taylor, R. i. (Morpeth)|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Perrins, W.||Thomas, J. O. (Wrekin)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Platts-Mills. J. F. F.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Logan, D. G.||Poole Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Longden, F.||Popplewell, E.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Lyne, A W.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Thurtle, E|
|McAdam, W||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Tiffany, S.|
|McAllister, G.||Pritt, D. N.||Titterington, M F.|
|McEntee, V. La T||Proctor, W. T.||Tolley, L.'|
|McGhee, H. G.||Pryde, D. J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Mack, J. D.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Turner-Samuels, M|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Randall, H.E.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Ranger, J.||Vernon, Maj. W F|
|McKinlay, A. S||Rankin, J||Viant, S. P|
|McLeavy, F.||Rees-Williams, D. R||Walkden, E.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Reeves, J.||Walker, G H|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rhodes, H.||Warbey, W. N|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Richards, R.||Watkins, T. E|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Robens, A.||Webb, M (Bradford, C.)|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Robertson, J. J (Berwick)||Weitzman, D.|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Rogers, G. H. R||Wells, W T (Walsall)|
|Mathers, G.||Royle, C.||West, D. G.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Sargood, R||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J|
|Medland, H. M.||Scollan, T.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Messer, F||Scott-Elliot, W.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Middleton, Mrs. L||Segal, Dr. S.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Mikardo, Ian||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A||Wigg, Col. G. E|
|Mitchison, Maj. G. R||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A.B|
|Monslow, W.||Shawcross, C. N (Widnes)||Wilkes, L.|
|Montague, F.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Moody, A. S.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Willey, F T (Sunderland)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B||Silverman, S. S (Nelson)||Willey, O G (Cleveland)|
|Morley, R.||Simmons, C. J||Williams D J (Neath)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Skeffington, A. M||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Williams, Rt Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mort, D L.||Skinnard, F. W.||Williams, W R (Heston)|
|Moyle. A.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Willis, E.|
|Murray, J. D||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wills, Mrs E. A|
|Nally, W.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Naylor, T. E.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W)||Wise, Major F J|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Snow. Capt. J W||Woods G S|
|Nicholls, H R. (Stratford)||Solley, L. J.||Wyatt, W.|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F E (Brentford)||Sorensen, R. W.||Yates, V. F|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Soskice, Maj Sir F.||Young Sir R (Newton)|
|Oldfield, W. H||Sparks, J. A||Zilliacus, K|
|Oliver, G. H||Stamford, W|
|Orbach, M.||Stephen, C||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paget, R. T||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
§ 7.5 P.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid
I beg to move, to leave out line 4.
I do not propose to repeat any of the arguments on the main question. I shall limit my remarks to what is relevant upon this Amendment. The House will remember that there are two methods of introducing Bills. The first is merely to present a dummy at the Table, and then have the Bill printed, but the Bill cannot go any further if any hon. Member objects at any stage. I think there is some value in restoring that privilege. We have heard a good deal this afternoon—and I do not propose to repeat it—about the way in which Private Members, starting with little or no support, have been able gradually to rally public opinion round them 168 until a large body of support has compelled attention to the particular problem. If there are facilities for having the Bill printed, it gives some help in spreading what is believed to be the gospel of a new idea. Therefore, there is some help to be obtained from the mere printing of a Bill. That, of course, was not done away with for any reason of saving Government time, but to save labour and materials during the war scarcity. I really cannot think that now, 18 months after VE-Day, there is such a severe scarcity of labour or materials that the privilege of haying Bills printed cannot be restored.
The more important point is the restoration of what is commonly called the Ten Minutes Rule. On this matter I would direct the attention of the Lord 169 President of the Council to the findings of the Select Committee, which recommended that:Facilities for Members to initiate business should be restored as soon as possible, and in any case the provision of Standing Order 10, which enabled Members to bring in Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule, should be made available again.'I do not propose to reopen the question whether further facilities would endanger the Government programme. It is perfectly clear that restoration of the Ten Minutes Rule could not possibly endanger the Government programme. All it would do would be to take 20 minutes, or half an hour if there was a Division—that is, half an hour at the outside—off the time available for a Second Reading or Committee stage. As most Committee stages now go upstairs the effect really would be to take half an hour off the time available for the Second Reading or Report and Third Reading of a Bill. I cannot believe that that would be any serious drain on the Government's time. This is a most useful method of directing public attention to a particular problem. It cannot be worked out in 10 minutes, but the gist of the matter on a comparatively simple Bill can be put forward within the 10 minutes. It is done at the best time of day for publicity—immediately after Questions.
My recollection is that there was almost always a very good House to listen to the two statements, and very frequently a fairly large Division. Indeed, my recollection is that the topics which were raised in those Bills were such that hon. Members wanted to listen to the arguments, because otherwise they would have been in very great difficulty to know which way to vote. Hon. Members made up their minds from the two statements, from the one side and the other, and voted accordingly. It was a free vote in almost all cases. And it ought to be a free vote in such circumstances. A good deal has been said about Members of the House of Commons losing their freedom of judgment. This is a very good and easy way of preserving at least the elements of that freedom and giving occasional opportunities for exercising it. I do not wish to read the whole of Standing Order 10, but part of it says:On Tuesdays and Wednesdays…motions for leave to bring in bills…may be set down for consideration at the commencement of public business. If such 170 Motions be opposed, Mr. Speaker, after permitting, if he thinks fit, a brief explanatory statement from the member who moves and from the member who opposes…may, without further debate, put the question thereon, or the question, that the debate be now adjourned.I do not remember whether that latter Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned" was frequently put, but the Main Question was very frequently put and the ten minutes is merely the time which Mr. Speaker was in the habit of allowing under this Rule to permit a brief explanatory statement.
If the right hon. Gentleman really does favour the restoration of Private Members' rights, and if his only reason for refusing is the pressure of Government Business, then I do not think he can hesitate to accept this Amendment. As I have said, it makes no appreciable inroad into Government time and no difference at all to the amount of business which they can get through the House. Therefore, if the ostensible reasons which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward are his real reasons, I feel that he must accept this Amendment. Certainly, if he does not, it will be going against the unanimous view of his own followers who sat upon the Select Committee, and also, I am sure, against the views of a great many others who have some appreciation of, and love for, the traditions of this House and to whom, I am sure, I can give the credit of being as keen as we are to preserve the traditions and rights of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled. I move this Amendment not only with a hope, but an expectation that the right hon. Gentleman will accept it, because I think that if he does he will be putting himself right with the fairly numerous Members of this House who are very much disturbed at the way in which he treated earlier Amendments.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has put the case, as he sees it, very clearly, and I am sure we are all obliged to him for the clarity with which he has explained the purpose of this Amendment. The position of the Government is that we have only just received the Report of the Select Committee. As I have said, it was published only last Friday, and I have not had an opportunity of consulting my colleagues about this or any other proposal made in that report. I am bound to in- 171 form the House that, so tar as this Session is concerned, I do not think we should be wise to adopt the proposal. The Government will, of course, take into account this recommendation and any others in the Committee's Report and give them the fullest consideration as soon as we can. In due course we will then consider these matters in relation to the possibilities of the situation.
I only wish to say this upon the merits of the proposal. It does sound somewhat attractive that this little concession might be made, but I am bound to say from my experience that there is a considerable element of unreality about it, although that is not necessarily fatal. Although it is difficult for Members who have not been here a long time to know, this is my recollection of what happened before the war. A Member with a little Bill or a big Bill had it printed at the public expense. A day was appointed—one of these days referred to by the right hon. Gentleman—and at the end of Questions he moved the Bill. It might be that he would receive "leave to introduce" without further trouble and in a great many cases there was a ten minutes' reply.
But I am not sure that this business of ten minutes for a Bill and ten minutes against, had not a little of the touch of the local parliament rather than of the Westminster Parliament about it sometimes. The Motion for "leave to introduce" was then either carried or rejected, and there, in practically every case, the Bill stopped.
There may have been some exceptional cases, although I do not remember them, where, by some good fortune, such a Bill went through further stages by general agreement. As a matter of fact, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) knows, I introduced such a Bill myself under the Ten Minutes Rule. There was a most curious situation in which the London County Council wished to promote a Private Bill for the rating of land values. I thought it would have to be a Private Bill, but when, after the Council had taken all the trouble to get the Bill printed, and had spent money working out the technicalities, they presented it to the authorities of the House, those authorities declared, "This cannot be a Private Bill." The Council had, as 172 it were, wasted its money, out I was determined that they should not, and I had the Bill printed at the expense of the authorities of the House as a Public Bill and brought it to the House—a fat Bill of considerable substance—and asked "leave to introduce" under the Ten Minutes Rule. Mr. Herbert Williams, as he was then, who was always willing to do battle with me, opposed it, and that was the end of my legislative baby.
That is what happened sometimes. In other cases '' leave to introduce '' is given and then there is no further progress. It is a matter of doubt whether it is worth all the trouble of printing these Bills when, in the practical legislative sense, it is almost certain that nothing effective will happen. Another possibility of trouble is that Members sometimes went to the Departments to ask for some help in drafting their Bills. At the moment I can assure hon. Members they would get no such help. The Departments are having enough trouble drafting the Government's Bills. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This Government take trouble about the drafting of their Bills. If some previous Governments had taken more trouble with theirs, we should not have had to bring in so many amending Bills. But this question of asking for assistance in drafting Private Bills was a side wind of trouble then, and I only put that prima facieissue of doubt that there is an element of humbug about the Ten Minutes Rule. It is rather unreal and rather deceiving Members. It is not even a good carrot to put before the donkey's head. I doubt whether it is worth while but, as I have said, we will certainly give it fair consideration as far as we can. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] We all suffer, on both sides of the House, from the difficulty of being fair sometimes. Let us be gentlemen and admit it. We will give the matter consideration in the light of the observations of the Select Committee on Procedure, and come to a conclusion which will be announced to the House in due course. But I do not think it will be wise to take this action during the present Session. After all, it is possible to spend 35 minutes on these Bills at the end of Question time and allowing for possibly three-quarters of an hour for the Leader of the Opposition to conduct some row he is running on a particular day—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It has happened, I say with great respect. It happened in 173 connection with the question of the iron and steel industry when he put supplementary questions for almost a solid hour, ft is no good hon. Members being sensitive. The right hon. Gentleman does his knocking about and he must take a bit back. If we are to allow for him, and his bits of fun at the end of Questions— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The right hon. Gentleman is a great asset to the Labour Party and if we are to allow for the possibility of his going off the deep end now and again, as he did today and then running around for another 35 minutes, hon. Members are not going to have time for the proper Debates of the House, or adequate time for the proper consideration of the Bill.
I put these first impressions before the House, having said that we will consider the proposals of the Select Committee, and will add the observations made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. As we have had a Division which settled the main principle and the question of where we are going, perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
The answer given by the Lord Privy Seal is very disquieting. It shows a predilection against the granting of Private Members' time. He put up quite a different case from that which he put up previously, and which was at least arguable. That case was that too much time would be occupied by Private Members' Business. The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt on this occasion to put forward that argument at all. It is rather surprising to find a right hon. Gentleman in his position saying, when commenting on the findings of a Select Committee of this House, that there is an element of humbug about them. That was the right hon. Gentleman's stricture upon one of the findings of the Select Committee. I suggest that it was most improper for the right hon. Gentleman to make such a commentary on the findings of a Select Committee of this House.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
That is a very naughty attempt on the part of the hon. and learned Member to put me into a state of conflict with the Select Committee. I only said what I did about the Rule itself. The apparent substance of the legislative progress achieved by it indicated, I said, 174 that there was an element of humbug. I was not accusing the hon. and learned Gentleman of humbug—I never would —and I certainly was not accusing the Select Committee.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The right hon. Gentleman cannot escape from his words in that way. I accept his own account of his meaning. He says that in this Rule there is an element of humbug. The Select Committee think the reverse. They think that this is a very good Rule and that it ought to be restored as early as possible. When the right hon. Gentleman says that he regards the Rule as humbug, he is saying that what the Select Committee is recommending is humbug. He cannot escape from that conclusion.
The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to deal with this question of time. He made one or two rather feeble efforts to add in a little extra time. He said that if the Leader of the Opposition was going to take up 35 minutes and other hon. Members 35 minutes, that would be too much time. That is not a proper answer when dealing with the question whether the Ten Minutes Rule should be put into operation or not. If the objection is not on the ground of time, what is the objection? The burden is on the right hon. Gentleman to produce his objection. This Rule is an old-established practice of the House. It is not for those who are putting forward the Amendment to- prove their case. It is for the right hon. Gentleman, who is trying to prevent the Rule from being revived, to prove that it is undesirable to do so. I submit that he has entirely failed to prove it. Indeed, he did not seriously attempt proof. He took up a little time with some humorous anecdotes about the London County Council. They were irrelevant. He made no attempt to deal with the arguments put forward by my right hon. and learned Friend.
If only hon. Members opposite had not been whipped into a state of semiconsciousness, they would realise that this is not a party matter. If they vote against the Amendment, they are virtually voting for their own Parliamentary excommunication. If they think that is what their constituents sent them here for, I fancy that when they go back to their constituents they will be advised to the contrary. It is a complete misunderstanding of the functions of Parliament. One does not want to go into the history 175 of Parliament now, but Parliament meets with the dual function of transacting the King's business and of representing to the King the grievances of the people. It is an ironical thing that the party of the people should be the first party in peacetime to take away that right from the people and to devote the whole of its attention to what is rightly called the King's business but is the Government's business. Hon. Members are depriving the people of the right of their grievances being expressed on their behalf. That is what they send their representatives here to do. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to have more sense of their responsibility than to deprive themselves of their opportunity of so doing. Hon. Members are elected to this House to represent the grievances of their constituents and to take every possible opportunity of doing so. They should not begin the Session by voting in such a way as to deprive themselves of that right and their constituents of their privileges.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
When, as sometimes happens, friends of mine abuse the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in my presence, my reply is always the same; it is: "I have rather a weakness for the old ruffian, for, whatever else he is, he is a good House of Commons man." I am sorry that he has taken up this attitude tonight about a very precious House of Commons privilege. Hon. Members have acquired, in the course of the last two years, the token right—it is, little more than a token right —of raising matters on the Adjournment for half an hour. They cannot discuss matters of legislation. It was indeed a precious consolation to all Private Members to feel that, if the worst came to the worst and they were feeling very strongly about a certain piece of legislation, they could have a run for their money for ten minutes by bringing it forward.
The right hon. Gentleman did less than justice to himself when he brought up the intervention made by the Leader of the Opposition as a reason for depriving the House of the Ten Minutes Rule. It was one of the most illogical things. I daresay he meant it as a joke, but it lowers his prestige in the eyes of the House. He has a high prestige. He is a good Leader of the House. I say that. In conversation with me he once said something like 176 this: "Nothing gives me greater pride than the feeling that, in one or two ordinary matters, I have added to the procedure of this House and have done one or two constructive things in that regard." Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman remembers the conversation. My own achievements have been very minute compared with his. I beg him to give way a little to that sentiment, and to give us back, not our eleven days, but our Ten Minutes Rule, which is a most valuable token and symbol.
I have never introduced a Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule in my life. I did propose on one occasion to try to bring in a Bill of Attaineder under the Ten Minutes Rule, but I found that that would not be allowed so I did not attempt to do it. In case the right hon. Gentleman should be frightened I promise that I will not try to introduce a Bill of Attaineder against him. Knowing that he is a good-natured fellow and has a profound sentiment for the Privileges of the House, I ask him to grant us this one right. I feel that I am deprived of my rights, when I know that never during this Session of Parliament could 1, on my own, initiate a discussion referring to legislation. It is a serious position. I know that the right hon. Gentleman thinks he is as sincere a lover of liberty as anyone else. Let him give us this symbol, this token. If he does, I am sure he will not regret it.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)
The Leader of the House has told us how he introduced a Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule because it could not be introduced in any other way. He told us that he was able to do it in this way. What he is now doing is to deny to hon. Members the freedom of liberty that he had to introduce a Bill under that Rule—
§ Sir W. Wakefield
It may be that it was slaughtered by a Tory majority, but the right hon. Gentleman had his opportunity for ventilating what was in that Bill. Is not one of the main purposes of this House that Private Members shall be able to ventilate the grievances and guard the rights of their constituents or minorities in the country by means of Bills or in 177 any other way? The very fact that the Lord President has used the opportunity which he now denies to us is one of the reasons why he should grant to Private Members the right of introducing a Bill in that manner.
The Lord President of the Council said that his Bill was trampled upon but, no doubt, arguments were made on either side which gave somebody some satisfaction, and that again is one of the purposes for which hon. Members are here— to speak out and to have arguments put forward, and refuted, if need be. It is really a matter of principle at stake, because there cannot be any shadow of doubt that by reintroducing this Ten Minutes Rule the Business of the Government can in any way be affected. The Lord President cannot say that the legislative programme as outlined in the King's Speech can be affected one iota by the reintroduction of the Ten Minutes Rule, and the fact that he will not give way on this shows his determination that, at all costs, one more bit of freedom and liberty is to be taken away from this country. It is a bit of freedom and liberty, and a Select Committee strongly recommended that it should be restored to us. Is not this but another indication—typical of what is happening all over the country —of the slide on the downward slope to totalitarianism?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is rather wide of the subject we are discussing. The hon. Member must not pursue that argument.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
I was using that argument by way of illustration to show that if the Lord President was not on that slippery slope downwards, he would have agreed to this very reasonable Amendment. I hope the Lord President will think again and, bearing in mind the liberties that he enjoyed, be noble enough to restore to us—after this war, which I thought was fought for liberty—the liberty and freedom which he enjoyed in much happier times.
§ 7.35 P.m.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I asked the Leader of the House earlier today what he was going to do in this matter. I am sorry that the Government have not at least made some concession in respect of the possibility of Private Members introducing Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule. From a long experience 178 here, I agreed with the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) who said something to the effect that he had not very much regard for the way in which Private Members' time had operated during the past. That has been my experience also. The proceedings of the last Session when Private Members took part in Debates in which the fate of the Government was at issue, were of far more importance than Debates of the sort we used to have on Wednesdays and Fridays. The right of a Private Member to introduce a Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule does, however, give hon. Members certain opportunities of influencing legislation and of concentrating attention on particular grievances in a way they cannot otherwise do.
I myself introduced two Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule. One was a Bill to increase the old age pension to £1 a week. Of course, it did not get through. Hon. Members above the Gangway saw to that all right. But at least it helped to concentrate attention in the country on the needs of the old people. I am not boasting when I say that the introduction of that Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule had a certain amount to do with the agitation which led to an improvement in the condition of the old people. The other Bill I introduced dealt with rent restriction. It applied to shopkeepers. After the last war, shopkeepers' rents were going up, and they had no protection. I had no more success with that. There were too many interests in the House concerned with exploitation in rent, but the Bill was useful for bringing forward such a matter.
I hope that when the Government consider this Report more fully, the Lord President of the Council will give consideration to the possibility of restoring this right to the Private Member, in some degree. I cannot see that the programme of Business which the Government have on hand will be delayed if three or four Bills are introduced in one day under the Ten Minutes Rule. The necessary protection could be introduced. I think the Government are right in going forward with a big programme of Business, and there is in that more opportunity for more discussion by the Private Member, and more opportunity of his influencing the legislation of the country than there has been in the past. I feel very strongly on this 179 matter. I do not intend to vote against the Government, in view of the statement of the Leader of the House, but at the same time I cannot see myself going as far as entering the Lobby to reject an Amendment for its reintroduction when I regard it as something which is of real value to hon. Members and their constituents by enabling them to draw attention, through the legislative machinery, to reforms that are necessary.
§ 7.39 P.m.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
I am rather disappointed at the way in which my hon. Friend—I hope he will allow me to call him so—the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) ended his speech. He led off by buoying up my hopes that he was going to conclude by saying that he would go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment so ably moved by the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid). I am all the more disappointed when I recollect that the first Division in which I ever took part, in November, 1931, was on a Motion by the then Government—under Mr. Ramsay Macdonald—to take Private Members' time for the whole of that Session. It was resisted by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) who is now Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. I hope my hon. Friend will realise how very disappointed I was when he wound up by saying that he would be content to accept the Lord President's assurance.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think we are getting a little wide. We are not at the present moment discussing the taking of Private Members' time; we are discussing whether or not Bills other than Government Bills may be introduced. That is the point, and it is a small one.
I was fully aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but I thought that as my hon. Friend had made allusions to Private Members' time I might be allowed to make that one point. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in moving this Amendment, very well stated the reason why we, on this side of the House, think that the Lord President should accept this very minor proposal to give at all events ten, twenty or thirty minutes a day two or three days a week, during 180 which a Private Member would have the chance of putting forward, in legislative form, any view in which he or she may be interested. The Lord President gave an assurance that this would be considered, and the hon. Member for Camlachie rests content with the Lord President's assurance. I very much hope that when the time comes the right hon. Gentleman will accept this very modest proposal. I have been much distressed during the Debate on this Amendment, to note the docility exhibited by hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches with regard to this proposal. When we were debating 15 months ago the proposal to take all Private Members' time, last Session, hon. Gentlemen opposite, so many of whom were entirely new to the ways of this House, were forgiven by us for not fully grasping the significance of the privileges and rights which they were giving up. Today, I am sorry to say, we have had one or two speeches on the main Question and on the earlier Amendment, which show that, after 15 months, hon. Members are content to have whittled away what little remains to them of opportunity for putting forward in legislative form matters in which they and their constituents are specially interested.
Older Members of this House well know the value of the Ten Minutes Rule. They at all events, and I should hope that this would apply to hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches too, will not be beguiled by the description given by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House of the Bills introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule procedure. As the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) pointed out, the Select Committee put forward a suggestion that the Ten Minutes Rule at any rate should be restored as soon as possible. The right hon. Gentleman has said on behalf of the Government that he will favourably consider this. I hope that he will be as good as his word. I, for one, I am sorry to say, am not prepared to accept this. My right hon. and learned Friend has pointed out that very little time could be wasted. The Leader of the House tried to make great play with the suggestion that a great deal of time might be wasted, and went on to introduce a rather irrelevant matter about what happened a week or two ago when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) saw fit, as Leader of the Opposition, to 181 put a number or questions following a statement by a Member of the Government, because he felt that it was a duty to the country to do so. I only hope that the reluctance of the Leader of the House to accept this proposal because he feels that it will waste time means that in this Session a good deal of the controversial legislation which is to be presented will be taken in Committee on the Floor of the House. I conclude by saying that I shall certainly support my right hon. and learned Friend in the Division Lobby in endeavouring to restore the Ten Minutes Rule to all hon. Members of this House.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
The right hon. Gentleman is charged with the job of getting as much legislation as possible through this House and in doing so his motto is, most clearly, "It is the muzzled ox that treadeth out the corn"—the corn of legislation In his view it is clearly the muzzle that matters, because every word he has let drop, not only on this Amendment but previously, has been concerned with muzzling more and more every Member of this House. I, as a new Member, have been astonished at the line he has taken. I have seen this performance going on now month after month, this air of pseudo-fairness in admitting that hon. Gentlemen opposite have their rights and their privileges, but that to me is now a danger sign. Whenever that air of fairness, that dropping of the voice, that is the prelude to some new form of insincerity—
§ Mr. Speaker
The general question is not open to debate. We are debating a definite Amendment which deals with the introduction of Bills, and that only.
§ Mr. Fletcher
The Ten Minutes Rule, which I gathered we were debating, has given to many a new Member the hope that he would have all the privileges and rights other Members have enjoyed. It is distressing that he is no longer to have— as long as the present Government exist— the opportunity afforded by the Ten Minutes Rule. I believe that if in this country we had the plebiscite, and could use it, and it was put to every person in the country whether privileges should be restored or not, there would be one perfectly clear answer. It is because I have that conviction, and because I believe 182 hon. Members opposite would find the answer most unpalatable, that I wish to support very strongly this Amendment which would restore to us a right we enjoyed in the past. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will realise this If he does want an easier passage for a great deal of legislation, it will be for the benefit of every Private Member and of the Government to allow such privileges as have existed in the past, and which will not take up very much time—he has been exceedingly unconvincing on that point—by accepting this Amendment.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing, East)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will favourably consider accepting this Amendment. I gather from what he said that he rather regarded it as a somewhat frivolous Amendment. However, I do not hold mat view but have come to the conclusion that, under the Ten Minutes Rule, many Bills have been introduced to the House which have given not only the House, but the public, an opportunity of weighing the pros and cons of the thoughts which animated the minds of the hon. Members responsible. I recall many years ago—the right hon. Gentleman was not, I believe, a Member of this House at that time—in fact, on 1st May, 1928, that under the Ten Minutes Rule I introduced a Bill, entitled, I think it was, "Shops (Sunday Trading Restriction) Bill," to restrict the opening of shops and trading on Sunday. Although it got its Second Reading, it did not find its way on to the Statute Book during that Parliament; I introduced it in, the next Parliament, and it did not find its way on to the Statute Book on that occasion. But that Bill laid the foundation of a Bill, subsequently introduced by the Government as a Government Measure, which incorporated all the points which I had put into my Bill and found its way on to the Statute Book I think that is a clear indication that the Ten Minutes Rule is of inestimable value to back benchers and I hope that this privilege will not be treated or swept away lightly. I hope that hon. Members who vote, if they do vote, against the Amendment will appreciate that they are voting away their own rights and privileges, rights and privileges which this House until recent days has always had and which we should do our utmost to see restored as soon as possible.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
|Division No. 3.]||AYES||[7.53 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||MacMilian, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Ewart, R.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Allan, A. C. (Bosworth)||Fairhurst, F.||Mallaliau, J. P. W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Farthing, W. J.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Manning, Mrs. L (Epping)|
|Attewell, H. C||Follick, M.||Marshall, F. (Brightsids)|
|Austin, H. L||Foot, M. M.||Mathers, G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mediand, H. M.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Messer, F|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Gaitskell, H. T N.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Gallacher, W.|
|Baird, J.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Gibbins, J.||Mitchison, Maj. G R|
|Barstow, P. G.||Gibson, C. W.||Monslow, W.|
|Barton, C.||Gilzean, A.||Montague, F.|
|Battley, J. R||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Moody, A. S|
|Beattie, J. (Balfast, W.)||Gooch, E. G.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Graenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Morley, R.|
|Benson, G.||Greenwood, A. W J. (Haywood)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Berry, H.||Grey, C. F.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mort, D. L.|
|Binns, J.||Gunter, Capt. R J.||Moyle, A.|
|Guy, W. H.||Murray, J. D.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Hairs, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Nally, W.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hals, Leslie||Naylor, T. E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hall, W G. (Colne Valley)||Niehol, Mrs M. E. (Bradford. N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||O'Brien, T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exeh'ge)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oldfield, W H.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Haworth, J.||Orbach, M.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paget, R. T.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paling, Rt Hon. Wilfred (Wentwortk)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Harbison, Miss M.||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Brown, T. J. (lnoe)||Hewltson, Capt. M.||Pargitar, G A.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Hicks, G.||Parkin, B T|
|Buchanan, G.||Hobson, C. R.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rusholme)|
|Burden, T. W.||Hotman, P.||Paton, J (Norwich)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Horabin, T. L.||Pearson, A.|
|Callaghan, James||House, G.||Peart, Capt. T F|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Perrins, W.|
|Champion, A J.||Hoy, J.||Platts-Mllls. J F. F.|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.||Hubbard, T.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Popplewell, E|
|Clitherow, Dr. R.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hynd, H. (Haekney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)||Prill, D N.|
|Collick, P.||Irving, W. J.||Proctor, W. T|
|Collins, V. J.||Janner, B.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jay, D. P. T.||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Jeger, G (Winchester)||Randall, H. E|
|Cook, T. F.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Ranger, J.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Rankin, J|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, M.W.)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Rees-Wiiliams, D. R|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Reeves, J.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Keenan, W.||Reid, T (Swindon)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Rhodes, H.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Kinley, J.||Richards, R.|
|Daggar, G.||Kirby, B. V.||Robens, A.|
|Daines, P.||Kirkwood, D.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lavers, S.||Rogers, G H. R.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Royle, C|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Leslie, J. R.||Scollan, T.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S W.)||Levy, B. W.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Davies, S O. (Merthyr)||Lewie, J. (Bolton)||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Deer, G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shacklaton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A|
|Diamond, J.||Lipson, D. L.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Logan, D. G.||Shawoross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Donovan, T.||Longden, F.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lyne, A. W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||MoAdam, W.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||McAllister, G.||Simmons, C. J|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||McEntee, V. La T||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Dye,s.||McGhee, H. G.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mack, J. D.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||McKinlay, A. S||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McLeavy, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)|
§ The House divided: Ayes, 288; he Noes, 135.185
|Solley, L. J.||Tiffany, S.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C.A.B|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Tilterington, M. F.||Wilkes, L.|
|Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Tolley, L.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Sparks, J. A.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Stamford, W.||Turner-Samuels, M.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Stokes, R. R.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Walkden, E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Stross, Dr. B.||Walker, G. H.||Williams, W. R (Heston)|
|Stubbs, A. E.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Willis, E|
|Summerskill, Or. Edith||Warbey, W. N.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Symonds, A. L.||Watkins, T. E.||Wise, Major F. J|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Weitzman, D.||Woods, G. S.|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Wyatt, W.|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||West, D. G.||Yates, V. F.|
|Thomas, John R. (Dover)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)||Zilliacus, K|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thurtle, E.||Wigg, Col. G. E.||Mr. Collindridge and|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Grimston, R. V.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Aitken, Hon. Max.||Gruffyd, Prof. W. J.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon R||Harris, H. Wilson||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Baldwin, A. E||Head, Brig. A H.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hogg, Hon. Q||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Hope, Lord J.||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hudson, J- H. (Ealing, W.)||Renton, D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hutchison, Col J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Bower, N.||Jennings, R.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Boyd Carpenter, J. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr Roland|
|Braithwaite, M.-Comdr. J. G.||Keeling, E. H.||Rose, Sir R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Linstead, H. N.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Byers, Frank||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cole, T. L.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stuart, Rt. Hon J. (Moray)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Moimouth)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Drewe, C.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Touche, G C.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marples, A. E.||Vane, W. M. F|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A. D||Marshall, S. H (Sutton)||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Medlicott. F||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Mellor, Sir J||Ward, Hon. G R.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwioh)||Molson, A. H. E||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Mullan, Lt. C. H||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nicholson, G.||York, C|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Osborne, C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Peaks, Rt. Hon. O||Sir Arthur Young and|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
Now that we have finished our compromising frolics with sin, we come back to the direct issue of trying to oppose sin. In that conflict of view I would like to say a few words. After the Lord President's speech, it is quite obvious that there is a strong parallel between the 186 people of the country today and this House of Commons, in that a very considerable section of both have no conception of their prewar freedoms. It is true to say that very few people under 25 years of age in the country have ever known any other existence except one of controls, of coupons, of shortages and restrictions of every kind, whereas in this House less than one-third of the Members 187 have had any personal experience of the rights of Private Members. If the remaining two-thirds had read the Select Committee's Report they would have had a very shrewd idea of the dangers they were bringing on themselves in going into the Lobby tonight.
The issue as I see it is a direct one between the Executive and this House. The House can prevail if it has the will and the courage. That I doubt. At all events it is right that the arguments and the facts should be clearly stated before we actually go into the Lobby, and before the House makes up its own mind. We have been told time and time again, and I do not intend to repeat, exactly what this broad issue is about. When we had the right to ballot for Motions on Wednesday on any subject, I well remember that a very dear friend of those of us on this side of the House, Lord Apsley, who was successful in the ballot, proposed that we should discuss the weather. That did not find quite the necessary support on which to raise a Motion, although it was a topical issue at the time. On Fridays, Private Members had the right by ballot to choose Bills on any subject of local, national or international interest. There was a naive Member of this House, Sir Geoffrey Mander, who on one occasion, in a hopeful, optimistic frame of mind, introduced a Bill entitled "Peace" based on the weird idea that one could produce peace by Act of Parliament. But the ballot did give Members an opportunity of ventilating and bringing, not only before the Executive, but the country at large, some vital views on subjects of importance to the country as a whole.
It is true that almost all Governments —whether stupid, short-sighted or unintelligent—dislike these rights which Private Members used to possess and that for a number of reasons. On two days they cut into the scope of ambitious Ministers who want to have their names in the limelight by foisting departmental legislation on an often unwilling and un-receptive public. The second reason is that they force the Government of the day to take their stand on controversial or contentious issues, which are sometimes very inconvenient, even though these matters are of great importance to the people. Thirdly, they enable the public to become properly informed of the issues 188 raised. That is now impossible, because when the half hour's Adjournment Debate takes place it is often so late that the national newspapers have already gone to press, and the issue is left unpublished. Those are reasons for the dislike of the Executive to these old customs.
As has already been pointed out by the hon. Member for Harwich (Sir S. Holmes), they also give the Government an opportunity of testing out or forming judgments upon back benchers in their capacity of Ministerial hopefuls. The mere fact that a Member has to pilot his own Bill through all its stages, develop his own arguments unsustained by a powerful Government Department behind him, gives him not only tremendous knowledge and experience, but a tremendous interest in the House. You, Mr. Speaker, know how difficult you find it, with the best will in the world, and with the kindest of hearts, to call more than 12 Members in a single day's Debate. What happens is that a Member who wants to make his contribution to the House, who is keen and anxious to take part in the Debates of the House, who has devoted considerable care and research and time to composing an anticipated speech, and is then not called, is first disappointed, then disillusioned and finally frustrated, and gives the whole thing up, and the House is generally the loser. So these Private Members' rights also give hopeful Members, ambitious of office, useful experience.
Finally, it gives the public, with no chance through their Ministerial representatives of sponsoring legislation in which they are interested, an opportunity, through Private Members, to bring before the House questions of outstanding public importance. Whatever justifications there are for the Government in wartime, taking up Private Members' time—and there are many—there is no justification for a peacetime Government being placed in the same position. These were liberties which we gave up voluntarily, and we ultimately fought so that we might recover them. It would be a bad day for this House and for the country if we had to fight again, and continue the fight, to recover the freedoms we surrendered only in the country's hour of greatest peril. I suggest that when the Lord President of the Council fulfils his promise to review the recommendations of the Select Com- 189 mittee he should consider that if Friday were given for Motions and Bills alternately it would satisfy most of the Opposition on this side of the House, or at any rate, until the Government have got this creeping bug of nationalisation out of their system and can once more view the whole broad field of public requirements more reasonably.
In my effort to comply with your suggestion, Mr. Speaker, I have had to curtail the number of points which I wished to make. I would however say very modestly, as an excuse for my intervention, that I was lucky enough during my time in this House to introduce eight Private Members' Bills and see them safely on to the Statute Book. I believe— at any rate, I hope—that, as a result, a great number of people benefited to a considerable extent. I think perhaps my efforts in that direction have been brought to an end now, but there are many other hon. Members able to carry on the torch, provided the Lord President gives them the power. I would like to see my colleagues on both sides of the House given these privileges which would result in benefit if only to small sections of the community. Also I would like to see other small sections of the community which otherwise might be unrepresented being given an opportunity for similar benefits. That is the reason for my plea today.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I realise that we have many hon. Members who wish to speak on subjects on which they will be able to speak as soon as this present Debate is over; and I would not intervene if I did not think that the question before the House was one of the most important which we shall have to consider in the whole of this Session. I believe that the conflict really is between two different views of Parliament. I think that we shall go into the Division Lobbies at the end of this Debate each side no doubt thinking that the other side are extremely wrong, but I am fairly confident in making the prophecy that no hon. Member present at this Debate, and looking back upon it some years hence, will have any doubt that, at any rate, the Debate was important. One of the reasons why I was determined to speak in this Debate if I could was the absence of a great friend and colleague who, if he had 190 been here, would certainly have intervened. I refer to the hon. Gentleman the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). He happens to be on public business on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not here very often."] An hon. Member makes an interjection. I do not quite know what the relevance is except that perhaps he wants me to be rather longer on my feet than otherwise I should be. I very much doubt whether the hon. Member if he is here for 100 years will accomplish one-tenth of what has been accomplished by the junior Burgess for Oxford University. [Interruption.]
§ Earl Winterton
May I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the constant interruptions by hon. Gentlemen opposite when my hon. and learned Friend is making a perfectly proper speech? May I ask you, Sir, if he may have the protection of the Chair?
§ Mr. Speaker
I hope this Debate will come to a conclusion very soon. I suggest that the fewer the interjections that are made, the better will be our progress.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I was not going to let the hon. Member get away with that comment on an absent Member without defending him. While I know I have your protection, Mr. Speaker, where necessary, I assure hon. Members opposite that I am prepared to go on for as long as necessary, and to tell the House what I mean to tell the House. I shall say what I have to say, whether hon. Members opposite are able to benefit from it or not. The hon. Gentleman the junior Burgess for Oxford University made such use of Private Members' time that he placed on the Statute Book an Act of Parliament where previous Governments of all complexions had failed. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), in the course of a speech which showed a complete and utter ignorance of our procedure at the time with which he was purporting to deal, said that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University had been compelled to accept a 191 number of bad Amendments of which he disapproved. As one who served on the Committee that considered that Bill, and also as a close personal friend of the junior Burgess for Oxford University, I say that I know that is not true. The hon. Gentleman did not accept and would never have accepted an Amendment which he believed to be bad. Whatever hon. Members may think of the Act—it is possible to approve or disapprove—there is no Member of the House who has studied the facts who does not think that his achievement in placing that Act on the Statute Book was a very remarkable achievement indeed.
If I particularly desire to speak in the absence of the hon. Member, the admirable speech of the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) contained so many of the things in which I believe that I can omit a great deal of the remarks with which otherwise I should have had to trouble the House. I think we have to consider not only what we are asked to give up but the use which will be made of the time when it has been given up. On the first point as to what we are to give up, I agree largely with what was said by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University and by some hon. Members opposite, that Private Members' time is not necessarily the only or the best opportunity for back benchers to make a contribution. One of the times when I found myself in agreement with some hon. Members opposite was when they challenged the absurd claim made on behalf of one or two Independents that somehow an hon. Member is less independent if he is a Socialist, a Tory or a Liberal than if he calls himself an Independent. That, of course, is complete nonsense. Independence, in any sense that matters, is a question of character and does not depend on whether one has found a number of colleagues who substantially agree with one's views. On that question I agree with what has been said by hon. Members in many quarters of the House.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) is not in his seat, because, while he was speaking on the right side today, as he so often does, I think some of his claims were so egotistical and foolish that they ought to be answered. He seemed to think that everything good that happened either in the 18th or 19th century was the work of an 192 Independent. He seemed quite ignorant of the fact that Wilberforce and Shaftesbury were Tories. It seems to be regrettable that even when he is making a good point he should be so convinced of his knowledge of history that he omits to refresh his memory on the matters on which he is talking.
The great claim made for the Government for taking Private Members' time is the claim made today by the Lord President, and made, I think, yesterday in the far more persuasive and reasonable speech of the Prime Minister—the claim of the need of a great legislative programme. The real basis of my objection to taking the whole time of Parliament for the Government is that they have an entirely wrong conception of Parliament if they think that its only business is legislation. That is a completely wrong view of the functions of Parliament, and one of the ironies of the situation is that, when the Government have taken all the time for legislation, we shall find, a year hence, I am afraid, that some of the most necessary legislative steps have not been taken. Two or three days ago, the Court of Appeal drew attention to what they said was a crying shame, which will continue until a remedial Act is passed and will become more serious when some legislation of the kind now adumbrated is put on the Statute Book Yet we do not find—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and learned Member must not anticipate the Debate on the King's Speech on this Motion.
§ Mr. Strauss
I apologise, Mr. Speaker. The point I am, I think, entitled to make is that, even as far as legislation is concerned, we are asked to give up Private Members' time without any assurance that the time given up will be used for the most urgent legislative Acts. Let me say on that point, and I feel confident that this is in Order, that last year, when this claim was made for taking Private Members' time, there was no experience on which to act. This time there is experience. Something is known of the time given up and how the Government used that time.
I am going to give one or two examples from the past, because I am afraid of the same thing happening again in the future if this Motion is carried today. Let me give an example which does not concern legislation, but a matter on which I am certain every hon. Member of this House 193 desired that a Debate should take place, no matter what his views upon that question were. Last May, a statement of great importance to all our constituents was made by the Minister of Labour. It concerned the conditions of call-up for the Armed Forces. All interested in education, in apprenticeship, in a university career or in the maintenance of compulsory military service at all had innumerable questions on which they desired a debate. It was obvious that the postbag of every one of us showed that certain questions needed to be discussed in this House. From that day to this, there has been no discussion. The Lord President, whose absence I very much regret, took the view that, if we wanted a debate, we could do one of two things. We could put down a Vote of Censure, which we did not want to do, because we had no fundamental disagreement with the Minister of Labour, or we could use one of our Supply Days, which we did not want to do, because we wanted to reserve them for more controversial matters.
I am sure that it is in the interests of the whole House that Parliament should be held in great respect by the people. If it seems that the Government do not respect the House of Commons, the House will not get much respect outside. Respect for Parliament is not today so common that we should lightly allow anything to decrease the respect in which this House is held. The Lord President of the Council, in one of his interventions today, made the extraordinary claim that the drafting of Bills before they were introduced was good. It has been quite notorious that the Coal Industry Nationalisation Bill, for example, at the time of its introduction was in a very imperfect state. It is the duty of this House to improve legislation, but one of the things which I very much regretted was that, in the Debates which took place in the House in return for the Private Members' time given up, we experienced, again and again, a Minister getting up at the end of the day and scarcely attempting to answer the points of criticism which had been made from all quarters of the House, and even sometimes from his own back benches.
Let me give another example of the use made by the Government of the time of the House when they have the whole of the time. I shall not deal with this matter 194 in detail, but only in two sentences. Take the question of the American Loan and the associated agreements, which were acutely controversial and of immense importance to the future of this country and the whole Commonwealth and Empire. For that whole question, and that of the associated agreements, the House was given two derisory days in which to consider the whole subject. Does anybody think that that is the way to make Parliament respected, either in this country or abroad? If they do, I assure them that they are making a profound mistake. There was no such urgency on the other side of the Atlantic. But the most important fact was that no Minister of the Crown even expressed his regret. Of all the foolish boasts made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the worst is the boast of a record output of Acts.
§ Mr. Strauss
Does the Communist Party wish to intervene? As I thought, it has not got its instructions. Not only is legislation not the only business of the House, but, even if it were, it might occur to some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen that the quality of legislation is at least as important as the quantity. To boast of a record output of Bills is rather as if a cook boasted, "I have turned out a hundred puddings, not one of them eatable." The Leader of the House, when referring to the opportunities of debate, actually rebuked my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for having put a large number of questions about the preposterous announcement of policy on iron and steel.
§ Mr. Speaker
That remark concerns the question of Government policy. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman has been getting very near to the line of irrelevance for some time.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am very sorry, Mr. Speaker, and I will certainly try to avoid that, as I am very anxious not even to appear to transgress your Ruling. [Interruption.]I promise to close as soon as I can. [Interruption.]If the Communist Party wishes to get up, I will yield. Otherwise perhaps I will be able to finish my remarks in a few minutes. We are asked to give up all Private Members' time, notwithstanding the fact that good use has 195 admittedly been made of Private Members' time in the past, and notwithstanding the fact that a Select Committee of this House has made a recommendation in precisely opposite terms, and has made that recommendation unanimously. I am sorry that the noble Lord apparently let one sentence of that Report pass without detecting it, because it seemed a little contrary to his admirable speech this afternoon. The sentence in question pointed out that Private Members' time might be used for the discussion of eccentric Bills. Why not? It is not for the extreme Left to complain that people are not in the centre.
I should not mind so much if I felt quite confident that the Government would use the time they gained in order to deal with legislation which is most urgently needed and further would not treat legislation as though it were the only matter that concerned this House. Everything that is of great interest, especially when it is of controversial interest, to our people ought to be discussed here. I do not welcome the great additional power which is given to outside bodies when things are not discussed here. I do not care to what party an hon. Member belongs; I believe he should want this House to be the most important assembly.
§ The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the House being given all sorts of opportunities. I doubt if there will be many people outside who read this Debate who will not bear in mind the outside bodies to which the Government go secretly before they come here. [An HON. MEMBER: "Keep to the point."] I think I am keeping very much to the point. I thank that portion of the House which has listened to me, and I am glad that a portion of the House which did not wish to listen to me has had to do so. [Laughter.]I am even glad to see that some quarters of the House are so near to developing a sense of humour. For all the reasons that I have given, I shall go with confidence into the Division Lobby against these proposals. Those hon. Members, who today are so satisfied that this thing that we are discussing is unimportant, will find that their own ex-chief Whip was being prophetic when he stated that he would sweep away Private Members' time, not only for this next Session, but for all Sessions.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 116.
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Silverman, S. S (Nelson)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mathers, G.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Medland, H. M.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Messer, F.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Guy, W. H.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Mikardo, Ian||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Hale, Leslie||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Monslow, W.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Montague, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Moody, A. S.||Solley, L. J.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morley, R.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Haworth, J.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H- (Lewisham, E.)||Stamford, W.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Mort, D. L.||Stephen, C.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Moyle, A.||Strauss, G R. (Lambeth, N)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Murray, J. D.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Hicks, G.||Nally, W.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Holman, P.||Naylor, T. E.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Horabin, T. L||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Symonds, A. L.|
|House, G||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Hoy, J.||Noel-Buxton, Lady.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hubbard, T.||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, l. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Oliver, G H||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Orbach, M.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)||Paget, R. T||Thurtle, E.|
|Irving, W. J.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Tiffany, S.|
|Janner, B.||Palmer, A. M, F.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Pargiter, G. A.||Tolley, L.|
|Jeger, G (Winchester)||Parker, J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Parkin, B. T.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Palon, J. (Norwich)||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Pearson, A.||Walkden, E.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Walker, G. H.|
|Keenan, W.||Perrins W.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Key, C. W.||Plaits-Mills. J. F. F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Weitzman, D.|
|Kinley, J.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Pritt, D. N.||West, D. G.|
|Lavers, S.||Proctor, W. T||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Pryde, D. J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Levy, B. W.||Randall, H. E.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Lewis, A. W.O. (Upton)||Ranger, J.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Rankin, J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Reeves, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Logan, D. G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Longden, F.||Rhedes, H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Lyne, A W.||Richards, R.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|McAdam, W.||Robens, A.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|McAllister, G.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Willis, E.|
|Mack. J. D.||Royle, C.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Scollan, T.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Scott-Elliot, W.||Woods, G. S|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Segal, Dr. S.||Wyatt, W.|
|McLeavy, F.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Yates, V. F.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Captain Michael Stuart and|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Cole, T. L.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Gridley, Sir A.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Grimston, R. V.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Gruffyd, Prof. W. J.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Davidson, Viscountess||Harris, H. Wilton|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V|
|Birch, Nigel||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hogg, Hon. Q.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Bower, N.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Duthie, W. S.||Jennings, R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Keeling, E. H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffr'n Wld'n)||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Law, Rt. Hon. R K.|
|Byers, Frank||Gage, C.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Carson, E.||Gammans, L. D.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Glyn, Sir R.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Osborne, C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|McCallum, Mai. D.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Strauss, H. G (English Universities)|
|MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight)||Pickthorn, K.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Poole O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Maclay, Hon. J. S||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Raikes, H. V.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Manningham-Buller, R. E||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Marples, A. E.||Renton, D.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Marsden, Capt. A.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Medlicott, F.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr Roland||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Mellor, Sir J.||Ross, Sir R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Sanderson, Sir F.||York, C.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Mullan, Lt. C. H.||Smithers, Sir W.||Mr. Drewe and Major Ramsay|
|Nicholson, C.||Snadden, W. M.|
§ Main Question put accordingly.
|Division No. 5.]||AYES||[8.45 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Corlett, Dr. J.||Hastings, Or. Somerville|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Corvedale, Viscount||Haworth, J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cove, W. G.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Anderson F. (Whitehaven)||Crossman, R. H. S||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Attewell, H. C||Daggar, G.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Austin, H. L.||Daines, P.||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Awbery, S. S||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hicks, G.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Holman, P.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Horabin, T. L.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||House, G|
|Baird, J.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hoy, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Deer, G.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Diamond, J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Dodds, N. N.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rushplme)|
|Barton, C.||Donovan, T.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Battley, J. R.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hynd, J. D. (Attercliffe)|
|Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.)||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Irving, W. J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Janner, B.|
|Benson, G.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Berry, H.||Dye, S.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwelliy)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Binns, J.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Jones, P. Asteriey (Hitchin)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Keenan, W.|
|Boardman, H.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Key, C. W.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Ewart, R.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Farthing, W. J.||Kinley, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Kirby, B. V|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Follick, M.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Foot, M. M.||Layers, S.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Levy, B. W.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Gallacher, W.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Buchanan, G.||Ganley, Mrs. C S||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Burden, T. W.||Gibbins, J.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Gibson, C. W.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Gilzean, A.||Logan, D. G.|
|Champion, A. J.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Longden, F.|
|Chetwynd, Capt. G. R||Gooch, E. G.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Clitherow, Dr. R.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||McAdam, W.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Greenwood, A. W.J. (Heywood)||McAllister, G.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Grey, C. F.||McEntee, V. La r|
|Coldrick, W.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Collick, P.||Gunter, Capt. R. J.||Mack, J. D.|
|Collindridge, F.||Guy, W. H.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Collins, V. J.||Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Hale, Leslie||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||McLeavy, F|
|Cook, T. F.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
§ The House divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 117.
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Proctor, W. T||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Pryde, D. J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Thomas, John. R, (Dover)|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Randall, H. E||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Mathers, G.||Ranger, J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Medland, H. M||Rankin, J||Thurtle, E.|
|Messer, F.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Tiffany, S.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L||Reeves, J||Titterington, M F.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Tolley, L.|
|Mitchison, Maj. G. R||Rhodes, H.||Tumlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Monslow, W.||Richards, R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Montague, F.||Robens, A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Robertson, J. J (Berwick)|
|Moody, A. S.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Royle, C||Walkden, E.|
|Morley, R.||Scollan, T.||Walker, G. H|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Scott-Elliot, W.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Segal, Dr. S.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mort, D. L.||Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Moyle, A.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.||Weitzman, D.|
|Murray, J. D.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Wells, W. T (Walsall)|
|Nally, W.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||West, D. G.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Simmons, C. J||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|O'Brien, T.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B|
|Old field, W. H.||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir B. (Rotherhithe)||Wilkes, L.|
|Oliver, G H.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Orbach, M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Paget, R. T.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Snow Capt. J. W.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Solley, L. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Parker, J.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Willis, E|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Sparks. J. A||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Stamford, W.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Pearson, A||Steele, T.||Woods, G S.|
|Peart, Capt. T. F.||Stephen, C.||Wyatt, W.|
|Perrins, W||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Platts-Mills. J. F. F.||Stross, Dr. B.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Symonds, A. L.||Captain Michael Stewart and|
|Pritt, D. N.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Mr. Popplewell|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P G.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Amory, D. Heathooat||Gridley, Sir A.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gruffyd, Prof. W. J.||Noble, Comdr. A H. P|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Harris, H. Wilson||Osborne, C.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. O. C. (Wells)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Pickthorn, K|
|Bower, N.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Fogle, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Jennings, R.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Keeling, E. H.||Raikes, H V.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Linstead, H. N.||Ronton, D.|
|Byers, Frank||Lipson, D. L.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Carson, E.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Lueas-Tooth, Sir H.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Cole, T. L.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||MaoDonald, Sir M. (loiverness)||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Maolay, Hon. J. S.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Drewe, C.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marples, A. E.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Gage, C.||Medlicott, F.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Gammans, L. D.||Mellor, Sir J.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Molson, A. H. E.||Vane, W. M. F|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Moore, Lt.-Col Sir T.||Wadsworth,|
|Walker-Smith, D.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)||young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Ward, Hen. G. R.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Wheatley, Colonel M. J.||York, C||Major Conant and Major Rams: y|