HC Deb 05 December 1947 vol 445 cc730-1

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 69.—(King's Recommendation signified.)

[Sir ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purpose of any Act of the present Session relating to local loans, it is expedient to authorise the remission of all arrears of interest due to the Public Works Loan Commissioners in respect of a loan to Alexander Fowlie and Mary Ann Fowlie."—[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]

1.12 p.m.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

After the rather provocative remark by the Financial Secretary on the previous Debate, we cannot let this Financial Resolution go. He intimated that the real reason why we are incurring this expendi- ture—and this is only a very narrow point indeed concerning Mary Ann Fowlie and Alexander Fowlie, who came from Aberdeen—has something to do with the Conservative Government of other years. He also used that rather stale excuse that everything that was done wrong at a certain time—in 1929 to 1931—was because the then Government had not an absolute majority. They had enough majority to put on the Closure on a great many occasions.

This is not a matter of policy. We could have raised it at considerable length on the Second Reading of the Bill. These debts are small debts, and no one blames the Government for them. But when the right hon. Gentleman tries to make out that we are to blame, it is completely unbecoming to his office. The right hon. Gentleman laughs. To make a provocative remark of that kind when we are trying in every way we can to get this Bill through fairly easily is unbecoming to his office. It would have been very awkward for the Government at this moment if we had divided on it. We have behaved very well, and all I would ask is that in future, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to get on with these things, not to provoke hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. It takes a lot to make me speak, and I only speak when I have something vital to say. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has, on this occasion, made use of reproaches which were unworthy.

So far as this small debt is concerned he has nothing to say about it, and I have nothing very much to say against it. Unless there is a Scotsman present who could give us real evidence of the character of these people, we might almost let this go. I would emphasise one thing. This is a comparatively small amount and the House of Commons is passing it, rightly, and giving a short time to it. It is a pity that the House of Commons does not give such careful consideration to the very much larger things with which it has to deal on some other occasions.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.