HC Deb 02 June 1949 vol 465 cc2334-50

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

When the House was summoned to another place, I was speaking in a spirit of real sympathy about the labours that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have to undergo while we more fortunate mortals were enjoying ourselves next week. I assure the House that the last thing we on this side want is that Ministers should become overtired. We think them pretty poor anyhow, and we tremble to think of the effect of adding physical exhaustion to mental insufficiency. Therefore, we recognise the arguments they have in support of this longer Recess. The reason for it, of course, is an incidental one, although no doubt it will be of help to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Parliamentary Recess is a close time for P.P.S.'s, and this period will give him a chance of restocking the now sadly depleted benches behind him.

Recognising as we do, however, the powerful arguments which the Government can adduce for this exceptionally lengthened period of the Whitsuntide Recess, we cannot help contrasting their action now with their attitude at the beginning of this Session. At that time we were told that the whole of the Parliamentary Session would be all too short for the legislative programme which faced us. We were given to understand that only by a miracle almost could we hope to get through in time; that only by a supreme effort on the part of hon. Members, only by superhuman ingenuity on the part of the Patronage Secretary, only by wholly unaccustomed brevity on the part of Ministers, would there be any chance of our concluding the Government's legislative programme in time for hon. Members opposite to be on the grouse moors by 12th August.

It was this pressure of legislative business, this impossibility of getting through in time, which was the foundation of the Government's case in their treatment of the Iron and Steel Bill. It was because of pressure of work in this House that we were told, first, that the Committee stage of the Iron and Steel Bill had to be taken upstairs and, secondly, that even the Report stage in this House——

Mr. Speaker

The Iron and Steel Bill is, of course, past and gone, and we cannot discuss it during the Recess.

Mr. Stanley

I certainly would not discuss the contents of the Iron and Steel Bill, Mr. Speaker. I am only calling attention to the grave miscalculation of Parliamentary time in the past which has led to the possibility of this Motion being moved now. I am also pointing out that if there had not been that miscalculation and if time had also not been used elsewhere, this Motion would have been unnecessary, indeed, impossible, because the House would have been spending its time in useful Parliamentary discussion rather than in prolonged holidays. Therefore, I repeat that it was this pressure of business which was the main reason for the treatment adopted on the Iron and Steel Bill—the main reason why what is by far the most important Bill, not of this Session but of this Parliament, left the House in the least satisfactory condition.

Following up that point, and still not referring to the contents of the Iron and Steel Bill, I would point out that this extra week's holiday is merely the culmination of a process, which we had every reason to note in the time between Christmas and Easter. Hon. Members will recollect that, despite the fact that the pigeon-holes of every Government Department were raided in search of legislation, despite the fact that the Chief Patronage Secretary was to spread out that legislation and so to manoeuvre it as to give the appearance at any rate of a political programme, allowing, as he often did, a whole day to the Second Reading of a Bill which was very simple and uncontroversial, on the days when Government Business was being taken, excluding Fridays and Supply Days which are under the control of the Opposition, there were no fewer than 16 days when the House before 10 o'clock passed either to Prayers or to the Adjournment Motion.

A rough adding up of the time which might have been available for Government legislation, which was, in fact, used for the Adjournment or for Prayers, gives a total of something like 60 hours. That obviously was a very pleasant thing for Private Members, for it gave them an opportunity they would not have had otherwise, but it did show the thinness of the Government legislative programme. What we assert is that, had those 60 hours been used for discussions on the Iron and Steel Bill, and if we added to that the 30 hours of Parliamentary time being dissipated by the Motion now before the House, there would have been available for the discussion of that Bill in this House another 90 hours of Parliamentary time. It is clear now——

Mr. Speaker

On the question of the Iron and Steel Bill, that was dealt with under a Guillotine, which was a decision of the House, and one must not criticise a decision of the House.

Mr. Stanley

I would not criticise a decision of the House, but what I am saying is that the decision of the House thus taken was arrived at by wholly false information given to it by the Government. It was arrived at in the belief that there was real pressure of Parliamentary Business in order to get through the legislative programme, when instead there were at least 90 hours available for the discussion of the Bill. We therefore assert that had the House known the true facts, as the Government at the time must have known, it might very easily have come to a different decision. It is quite evident now to us and to the country that the desire of the Government to curtail discussion on the Iron and Steel Bill was not in the least because they had not the time for the questions, but because they had not got the answers to those questions.

It is now too late to obtain for the purpose of any discussion on the Iron and Steel Bill, hours which the Patronage Secretary wasted and which cannot be restored. Therefore, let the Government have their extra holiday, but let the country also understand that on this occasion, perhaps for the first time in the history of Parliament, discussion on an important Measure has been deliberately curtailed not to save time but to save discussion. Let the country understand what to many of us has been obvious, the right hon. Gentleman's real idea of the function of Parliament is that Westminster should be a rubber stamp to Shanklin.

4.24 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Nobody would deprecate or deny the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) the opportunity to have his customary bit of fun. We have enjoyed his wit and humour, as we always do, even if it did go on a little bit too long. I propose to discuss the Motion, and not the Iron and Steel Bill Guillotine which—

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

Which is too embarrassing for the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Morrison

I am discussing the Motion which has been moved, and I am not discussing the other thing. As a matter of fact—and this may surprise the Opposition—the Chief Whip and I planned the programme in the hope that the Whitsun Recess would be extended by an additional week.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke


Mr. Morrison

It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has tried to engage in a little bit of heavy humour by saying we are going to have a busy week at Blackpool. We are. We are going to make the policy of our party, something that the Tory Party is not permitted to do. It does not matter whether hon. Gentlemen opposite go to Blackpool, Margate, Ramsgate or Southend, they will not be permitted to make a policy, for the policy will be imposed on them by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, if they want to see a really democratic, political process let them next week travel, if they can, by British Railways to Blackpool.

I gather that the right hon. Gentleman is not complaining and that he does not really object to the additional week. I have watched the House very carefully, as is my duty as the Leader of the House and as its servant, and my view is that the usual break at Whitsun is not long enough. I am inclined to think that the same is true of Easter. Reference has been made to holidays. It is really unfair to talk about these as holidays, because Members of Parliament have the duty of visiting their constituencies and coming into contact with their constituents. They have also to read and study to keep up to date on current knowledge. I commend that to all parts of the House. That is part of our work and duty, and, therefore, to lead the country to believe that hon. Members are going to vote themselves a nice long holiday, for which they are paid, is not fair to the House, nor fair to any party, and it is not true.

I have observed—here I may be wrong, of course—and felt that in past years, as the House got near to the Summer Recess and the end of July, there were certain signs in all parts of the House of a little strain and fatigue. I do not wonder at it. The House has worked very hard, and I do not believe that it is good for the House of Commons to get into a condition of strain and fatigue. It either leads to Members not being too lively or else getting a little bit short-tempered about the end of July. That is not good. It is a good thing for the House on this long stretch from Christmas to August to have an adequate period away from the House, during which Members can get into contact with their constituents, and, it may be, secure a certain amount of refreshment and relaxation which is quite necessary for the House. The stretch from Easter to the Summer Recess is a substantial one.

I admit quite freely that we on this side have an additional interest, in that there is a party conference which, as hon. Gentlemen opposite may have noticed, will keep some of us pretty busy. Therefore, it certainly will be no holiday for the Government and for many of my hon. Friends. I admit there is a little self-interest in it, but I do not think it is illegitimate for the House to have extra time. I admit that it is unusual at Whitsun to have this extra period, although it is the case that in 1935 the Easter Recess was as long as that which is now proposed for Whitsun.

I do not think it is unreasonable. I think it is for the good of Parliament that we should have this additional time and, if I had my way, I would not be averse to a little extra time at Easter. This has been a hard-working Parliament and the Opposition have been complaining that we are working the Parliament too hard, driving it too vigorously and wearing it out. Now the right hon. Gentleman says, "Why not wear it out more and work it harder?" There is no logic in the case that he has made.

That is the view of the Government—a reasonable view—and I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that now that he has had his little bit of fun, which has been shared by us all, we should all agree to what everyone wants, the Motion before the House. I think everyone would like the extra time and, apart from the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman, I think hon. Members should say "Thank you."

4.31 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

It was noticeable that the Lord President of the Council did not suggest for one moment that there was not sufficient work on which the House could usefully be employed if the House followed the custom of its predecessors for a great many years and had only a 10-day adjournment at Whitsun. He made no such suggestion. He admitted that because he was going to remake the policy of his party, certain hon. Members would be engaged elsewhere, but, with great respect to him, the first duty of a Member of Parliament is in the House of Commons, and the right hon. Gentleman has not faced the fact that there is a great deal of business which many hon. Members would like to discuss.

Every Thursday the Lord President stands at that Box refusing to allow time for the discussion of a large number of subjects which hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to discuss. A few minutes ago, on Business, he stood at that Box and refused four separate requests for time to discuss various matters. In face of that, the Lord President cannot say—and I give him credit, he did not say—that there was no work which the House of Commons could profitably be engaged upon, if it kept to its normal timetable.

There is one subject matter to which I ask the Lord President to turn his mind even at this stage. He knows that the time which was allotted for the discussion of Private Members' Bills, is so short that many of these Measures will, as he put it, be slaughtered. They include such Bills as the War Damage Bill in the name of the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Morley) and the two Measures mentioned at Question time today by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Symonds). It would be possible for the right hon. Gentleman at this stage, if he has not sufficient Business for the House of Commons, to enable those hon. Members who wish to do their Parliamentary duties to do them. He is under an obligation to do this because, when this very restricted time for Private Members' Bills was given, the restriction was justified on the grounds that there was so much Business that the Government intended to bring before the House and that Government Business would be interfered with if more time were given to Private Members' Bills. If the right hon. Gentleman desires to have his memory refreshed on that point, I would remind him of what was said by the Home Secretary on 18th January. The Home Secretary said: The Government will need all the time that remains in order to carry through legislation of which my hon. Friends on this side approve."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th January, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 91.] I am casting no aspersions upon anybody, but the fact that this Motion is before the House shows that that forecast was wrong and that the House came to a wrong decision on 18th January after the Government gave it inaccurate information. That information having been inaccurate and being now demonstrated beyond dispute to have been inaccurate, it is surely justifiable to urge on the right hon. Gentleman that that time should be restored and that some of this week which is being thrown away could be used for the Committee on the Floor of the House, if necessary, Report and Third Reading stages of Bills which many hon. Members on both sides of the House believe to be excellent Bills. No one knows better than the Lord President that they have not the slightest chance of becoming law with only three days remaining.

The Lord President is not treating the House fairly if in those circumstances he merely says that, as Government Business has fallen to a trickle, the House must sit less. Hon. Members on both sides of the House are interested in these Measures which they believe can achieve a considerable degree of social reform and advancement. It is utterly wrong for the Lord President in these circumstances to brush these Measures aside and give to this House, not a holiday, I agree, but a Recess far longer than any Parliament for many years has taken at this time of the year. I ask the Lord President to remember that if he does not want to legislate, there are still hon. Members who do.

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Nally (Bilston)

The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) specialises in speeches of an oily variety, and this afternoon he has been up to his usual form. It is a curious fact that in these matters, whenever the Government are proposing a Motion about holidays—and this applied in times past—invariably the Opposition object, but I am surprised in this case that the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames should object. He, with other hon. Members, including the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe), who I am sorry to see has just left his place, have had an extremely busy time on the Licensing Bill upstairs. I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would agree that to any Members of any Committee upstairs who undertake the responsibility of presenting day in and day out a case for the brewers of this country, it is obviously an extremely strenuous task.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for an hon. Member to imply, as has clearly been implied, that arguments which hon. Members have seen fit to address to a Committee of this House, or to this House, on a public matter are a case for any outside institution or organisation? Further, may I submit that observations of that character, with the perfectly clear implication conveyed in them, are not in accordance with the traditions of this House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I do not think I can altogether agree with the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). Observations of that sort are frequently made, and I do not think it can be said that they are out of Order, though not very relevant.

Mr. Nally

I am very sensitive to objections of that kind and I withdraw. All I would say in substitution is that there was a most uncanny and complete resemblance between the arguments used by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames and, by what is known in America as a "side kick," the hon. and learned Member for Brighton, and the duplicated brewers' briefs which some of us had the advantage of seeing. It was purely a coincidence and I accept that.

Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)

On a point of Order——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think any point of Order arises. It may be that the remarks of the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) were not, perhaps, in the best of taste, but I understand he has now left that particular point.

Major Lloyd

Further to the point of Order made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, is it not a fact that the taste of the remark was distinctly oily?

Mr. Nally

On matters of taste, if I am talking to my own colleagues I behave in an appropriate way, but unfortunately, when talking to the Opposition, taste is obviously the last thing one thinks of——

Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cockermouth)

On a point of Order——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There really cannot be any point of Order here. I hope that the House will allow the hon. Gentleman to continue, and that he in turn will confine his remarks to the subject of the Motion.

Mr. Nally

I was gratified that the right hon. Gentleman who opened for the Opposition, in what I thought was one of his usual charming, able, admirable and witty speeches—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oily."]—took a broad-minded view. From my studies, such as they are, of Parliamentary history, I well recall that on the matter of Parliamentary holidays there was a time, so I have read, in the Gladstone era when there was a great argument whether or not the House should continue the custom prevalent up to that time, of adjourning for Derby day, so that hon. Members could go and enjoy the Derby. It is right and proper to put on record that a very distinguished ancestor of the right hon. Gentleman, protested it was a very good thing that the House should adjourn for the Derby, and he was absolutely right. The family of the right hon. Gentleman have maintained that course consistently over a century of Parliamentary history.

The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right to refer to the interest he has in Blackpool. The right hon. Gentleman has a great interest in Blackpool. I once had occasion years ago to draw up a survey of the municipalities within a radius of 50 miles of Blackpool where land had been sold—[Interruption.] The point I was making was that if anybody is entitled to look with interest on the area round Blackpool it is the right hon. Member, for many reasons. It is perfectly true that we are to have a conference at Blackpool, and the Lord President of the Council was perfectly right to point out that it is a conference to which we go humbly, and that it is a conference——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are not discussing the conference at Blackpool, or anywhere else. We are discussing the question of adjourning until 21st June.

Mr. Nally

With great respect, Sir, I accept your Ruling. I can only point out that the right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate for the Opposition made, according to the brief notes I have here, three or four references to the Blackpool conference; and my right hon. Friend the Lord President also referred to the conference. The point I was making is that it is right and proper, in considering these matters, that we should bear in mind the fact that hon. Members on this side have regard to that democratic conference. The fact that the Opposition are relieved from that responsibility—and from having any responsibility to anybody whatsoever, let alone an annual conference—is not necessarily a case against the Motion which stands on the Order Paper.

It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman—and he is probably right—that it would give time to have a look at the question of Parliamentary Private Secretaries. It is true that in the days when the Opposition were in power Parliamentary Private Secretaries were appointed on the basis of whose nephew one was, and one appointed one's relatives. We have to do things in a much more business-like way in the present Parliament. It seems a reasonable proposition with which we are faced. We shall go about our business. The best hon. Members on the other side of the House and the best hon. Members on this side—all the Members on this side—will get in contact with their constituencies and there really seems no need for the right hon. Gentleman opposite to give vent to ersatz indignation. There will never be a time under the Labour Government when Parliament will return to the part-time occupation it was in the days when the Opposition had complete control.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

I understand that the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) is shortly to represent this country at Strasbourg. I hope that his remarks this afternoon will not be reproduced on that occasion. I hope he realises that when he goes there——

Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

On a point of Order. Is the House discussing the Strasbourg conference?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No, certainly not.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I was about to say that the hon. Gentleman will inevitably meet there an opposition not perhaps entirely different in character from the opposition he meets in this House. I hope that he will not then say, when representing this House and this Parliament, that taste is the last thing one thinks of on those occasions. I am sure we do not grudge hon. Members of the party opposite the short holiday they are to take in the North-West of England. From our point of view, the more they discuss their fantastic policy and make it public, the better we shall be pleased and the more service it will do us.

Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)

On a point of Order——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must ask the House to leave these questions of Order to the Chair. The noble Lord knows quite well that he must relate his remarks to the Motion on the Order Paper, and I hope that he and any other hon. Member who may speak will do so.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I am really trying to deal, point by point, with what was said by the Lord President of the Council and to make comments on the remarks which he brought to bear on the Motion to adjourn until 21st June. I was saying that we do not grudge this week's holiday to the Labour Party for that conference. It will do us a lot of good. I am surprised that so many hon. Members opposite will attend. I have made a simple calculation and it seems to me——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order! I have indicated my view to the noble Lord. He must know quite well that that question really cannot arise on this Motion. I have not had the advantage of hearing all the preceding speeches, but that is my view, and I must ask the noble Lord to comply with it.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Of course, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I absolutely bow to your Ruling, but I think it right to point out that the Lord President, in his speech in moving this Motion, did refer to the conference. I do not think I am going beyond anything he said in replying to the points which he made. However, I will not pursue that point. What we regret is that at this time, when the country is not really in a quiescent and agreeable situation, when menaces of every sort and kind are looming on the horizon, the Lord President of the Council and the party opposite should think fit to extend this holiday to a fortnight and grope back into the past for some precedent. As my right hon. Friend quite rightly said, there are no precedents. The only one which the Lord President could bring to bear for adjourning at this length was one in 1925, and that was in regard to Easter.

At this moment, when there are so many subjects to be debated and so many hon. Members time after time at Question time on Thursdays have asked that Debates should be brought forward; when there are topics, such as the situation in Greece, the situation in Spain, our export trade, and so on, which have not been discussed for weeks, if not months—at such a time the Government come along and say, "Let us clear out, let us take a holiday for a fortnight. Let us go to Blackpool for a week, and the other week hon. Gentlemen can go where they will." The hon. Member said they will go to their constituencies. No doubt many of us will go to our constituencies. We go sometimes nightly to our constituencies, and very often we go for the weekend. The main business of this House is to deal with the legislative programme and with the Motions which can be placed on the Order Paper. Many are placed there and many ought to be debated. It is intolerable that at this time of crisis in many spheres, the Government should suggest that we adjourn for a fortnight.

Mr. H. D. Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)

Did the noble Lord bear this consideration in mind during his extensive tour abroad while the House was sitting last year?

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I do not dispute for a moment that individual Members on all sides go abroad. When I have been abroad, I have frequently met hon. Members from the other side. I am very glad to see them when I am abroad; I do not know whether they are glad to see me. I do not dispute that individual Members, with the permission of their leaders and their Whips and the consent of their constituents, which is often obtained, are perfectly entitled to go abroad on visits. They do the country a great service by doing so. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. H. D. Hughes) himself has just been on a visit. I do not object——

Mr. H. D. Hughes

If the noble Lord can mention a single week when I have not been present in this House, apart from being absent on an official Parliamentary delegation—which is entirely different from a private excursion—I shall be very glad if he will put the facts before the House.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

If the hon. Member objects, either because he has not been abroad and I have misinterpreted the position, or because I have been wrongly informed, I withdraw. If he objects on the ground that he has been on a Parliamentary deputation, I do not think that his objection can be substantiated, because it is clear that anyone who goes on a Parliamentary delegation is perfectly entitled to go, and should go.

The point is that while individual Members can go abroad, the House as a whole—those Members resident in the country who comprise the vast majority—must and should come here and deal with the regular business of Parliament. I have made researches into some of the Debates during the last few weeks. I am sorry that my researches do not go back to the beginning of the year when the Lord President apparently decided in secret to plan for this fortnight. If we had known then, we could have recast the whole of our opinion about the progress of the Iron and Steel Bill and everything to do with it. But he has only told us today. I have looked back through the Debates during the past month. Some of them included very jejune business indeed. In 24 Parliamentary days from 4th April to 14th May, six of those days have comprised what one might call "poor stuff." Slender little Bills were dealt with for which provision could have been made by a suspension of the Rule for one hour at night. In all those days occupied by these Bills, we could have dealt with much more urgent Parliamentary legislation and discussed Motions which have appeared on the Order Paper.

The proposed holiday has opened up the whole situation as it affected the Iron and Steel Bill. If we had not had this 14 days' holiday, we could have had some of the Debates in one of those weeks and created a gap which we could have filled by taking the Iron and Steel Bill on the Floor of this House or allowing more days for the Report stage. Then the interests of our constituents and the good of the country would have been very much better served. I complain that the programme has been very badly devised since the beginning of this Session. The effect of the Guillotine upon the Iron and Steel Bill——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The noble Lord is again out of Order. It is not relevant to this Motion to discuss past proceedings in detail. The Motion relates to the future, not the past.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Our whole case for complaining against the length of the holiday is that vital business like the Iron and Steel Bill which affects the livelihood and freedom of everybody in the country has been unduly curtailed by the Guillotine——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the noble Lord will forgive me, I fully appreciate that argument. It is permissible, in passing, to mention a factor of that sort, but it is not permissible to go into detail and to argue the point, which is what the noble Lord is doing.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I do not propose to do that. Last week the Lord President of the Council said, on the question of the Adjournment, that the Opposition had wasted the time of the country on the Iron and Steel Bill. How he can maintain that when every single Clause in the Bill was allocated to a particular day by a business Committee over which the Government had control. I do not know.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not know whether the noble Lord has finished his speech, but he must not continue on those lines. He is discussing in detail matters which have no relevance to the present Motion.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

I end by saying that I endorse every word used by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) in his complaint about the length of the Adjournment. As the Chief Patronage Secretary is present, I tell him and the House that in my opinion the business of this House has been unwisely devised since the beginning of this year.

4.56 p.m.

Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)

I rise only to make sure that I have understood the Government's argument. It is a little difficult for me to make sure of this because, directly he spoke, the Lord President of the Council left the Chamber. I am not sure whether the Chief Patronage Secretary intends to reply to the Debate, but I presume that somebody on the Government Front Bench will clear up any doubts which may remain in our minds. As I understood the Lord President's argument, it was that the main reason why we should take a 14 days' Recess—and I think I have his exact words—was in order to enable the Socialist Party to decide on party policy. I think that I have quoted his words accurately.

In other words, it is in order to enable the Socialist Party to decide whether they are a Marxist party or a Social Democratic party. In order to enable them to decide that, we have to have a 14 days' Recess instead of a seven days' Recess. If that really is the argument, it seems to me a most incredible state of affairs. [Laughter.] I honestly cannot see that there is anything very funny about it. Seriously, if hon. Members think that it is funny that they are going up to Blackpool to squabble——

Mr. Carmichael

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is funny.

Major Beamish

Might I ask whether they do not think that it is more important to discuss the ever-deteriorating situation in Hong Kong? What about British interests in the Far East? I could name 50 important matters which have not been properly discussed this year. What we have from this Government is too much legislation and too little administration. I for one register my strongest protest against the way in which we have been treated. In default of a better reply from the Government, or in default of the situation being cleared up, I hope that we shall divide the House.

4.58 p.m.

Mr. J. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)

If the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) had not addressed the House the way in which he did, I should not have risen now. It was my intention to vote against this Motion. I have listened to the arguments both of the Lord President of the Council and of my right hon. and hon. Friend's. Obviously there are two parts to our duty. There is our duty in this House and our duty in the constituencies. Last week I had the benefit of visiting the constituency of the hon. Member for Bilston. I did not address any meetings there, but I suggest to the hon. Member that there is a very good purpose to which he can put this extra week, because if anybody was an absentee——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That question cannot be relevant to the Motion before the House, and I hope that hon. Members will not indulge in personal references. They cannot possibly have any relevance or any use in our present discussions.

Mr. Langford-Holt

I was only trying to point out that the hon. Member for Bilston indulged in what I must say was a characteristic speech, and that he, at any rate, has a very good purpose to which he can put this second week which we have now got.

Brigadier Head

Since we have lost an hour of our time, and hon. Members opposite have had their share of the time, may I ask whether there is any possibility of extending the Rule for an hour tonight?

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 21st June.