HC Deb 03 July 1950 vol 477 cc37-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Finance Bill, as amended, may be considered immediately after the re-committal of the Bill and report thereof, notwithstanding the practice of the House as to the interval between the various stages of such a Bill.—[Sir S. Cripps.]

Captain Crookshank

We expected the Leader of the House to say something on this Motion because it is an unusual one. Last year—and the year before—a similar Motion appeared on the Order Paper and, as will be seen from the OFFICIAL REPORT of 6th July, I specifically asked him to tell us why it was being done in this way in view of the fact that there are well regulated stages of procedure for dealing with the Finance Bill, laid down largely as a result of what is called the Bowles Act. To interpose a re-committal stage and then go on with the Report stage certainly is not envisaged in that procedure. Last year I asked the Lord President to express the view that this was something quite out of the ordinary. He said We fully recognise that this is an exceptional instance and we would not wish the House to regard it as a precedent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1949; Vol. 466, c. 2166.] As he said that last year on a similar Motion, I should like, on behalf of my

hon. Friends, to hear from him this year why our well-established procedure is not being followed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Stafford Cripps)

This is really rather a technical point. Under one of the promises made during the Committee stage, about an adjustment of one of the rather complex Clauses dealing with the husband and wife legislation as regards Income Tax, it has been found that it is not possible to make the alteration promised unless the Bill is re-committed first and goes back to the Committee stage so that the alteration can be made. Then it could be dealt with on Report. It was obviously desirable that we should deal with it in that way. I am sure that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) will appreciate that there are exceptional occasions when, owing to the rather rigid regulations governing the necessity for re-committal, this has to be done. We ask him, therefore, to say that this is a suitable occasion.

Captain Crookshank

That is the speech which I expected would be made on the re-committal Motion, when I intended to raise the substance of that point. On this Motion I have asked why the normal procedure of the House was being abandoned. I thought that was a matter for the Lord President of the Council, though I accept the explanation of the Chancellor. If I have anything further to say, I will say it on the Motion to recommit the Bill, but I still invite the Lord President to tell us why this Motion is put forward. The right hon. Gentleman did say that this was not to be regarded as a precedent. I now ask whether the Lord President is establishing this as a precedent if it turns out in the course of the Committee stage of a Finance Bill that some alteration has to be made—the precedent being that the stages should be taken on the same day. There is no harm at all if the re-committal is on another day.

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

There is no question of furthering a precedent by this Motion, as far as I know. I gather that the main purpose of the Motion is to enable the Chancellor to carry out undertakings given to the Opposition during the Committee stage. That is something they want, and I am bound to say that I cannot see what the argument is about. I gather that this ought to be in accordance with the wishes of the Opposition.

Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)

Does not the Lord President realise that though this is in accordance with the wishes of the Opposition, that does not answer the point about the departure from procedure in taking the Report stage on the same day?

Mr. Morrison

This matter gets more mysterious than ever. If the purpose of the Motion is, on the whole, to meet the request of the Opposition, I really cannot see why there should be any grumbling about it, whether it is on the same day or another day.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

Is not it a rather curious position that the only way in which we can get the Chancellor to carry out pledges is by having a special Motion of this kind to change the rules of procedure of the House? I congratulate the Government on having found a method to enable the Chancellor to do this—I am sure that we all welcome it—but it is very bad that, year after year, we should deliberately break the regulations which were made to protect the interests of the House, especially those of the Private Member who has not got the information which is at the disposal of the Chancellor.

Question put, and agreed to.