HC Deb 23 April 1952 vol 499 cc419-685

4.12 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)

I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker, which I think is of real importance to the House. The House will know that there is a Standing Order, No. 41, which, among other things, provides that There shall be a committee, to be designated the business committee, consisting of the members of the chairmen's panel together with not more than five other Members to be nominated by Mr. Speaker. The quorum of the committee shall be seven. It is provided that the committee shall, in the case of any bill in respect of which an order has been made by the House, allotting a specified number of days or portions of days to the consideration of the bill in committee of the whole House or on report, divide the bill into such parts as they may see fit. … I submit that that contemplates that, when an allocation of time order is to be made, the business committee should be brought into it in order that both sides of the House may have a voice in deciding the allocation of time within the overall time limits of the allocation order. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) on Monday put to you, Mr. Speaker, a point in this connection and you were good enough to reply that you had not seen the Motion* which is about to be moved and that you would rather wait until you had. You added, Clearly, the Standing Order would operate unless there was a specific Motion before the House to waive it for that occasion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st April, 1952; Vol. 499, c. 47.] I submit to you that paragraph (h), at the end of the Motion, is hardly a specific Motion to suspend the Standing Order, and, moreover, I submit that it is elementary in common sense procedure that, if a new procedure is to be adopted in conflict with an established Standing Order, then the first thing to do is to suspend the Standing Order, and to suspend it under a separate and particular Motion, because this is a Standing Order which, unlike Standing Order No. 1, does not within itself provide facilities for its own suspension, but is a real Standing Order.

Moreover, there are two questions before the House. One is whether this * See Cols. 439–40. Standing Order should take its normal course and the other is the allocation of time order to be moved by the right hon. Gentleman. I submit, therefore, that it is a condition precedent to the Standing Order being suspended that the question should be put as to whether it should be suspended, and should be debated; and that it should not come in at the tail end of the general Motion.

On the question of dividing Questions before the House, Erskine May says, on page 391: As late as 1883 it was generally held that an individual Member had no right to insist upon the division of a complicated question. I venture to interpolate that this is a complicated Question. Erskine May continues: In 1888, however, the Speaker ruled that two propositions which were then before the House in one motion could be taken separately if any Member objected to their being taken together. Although this ruling does not appear to have been based on any previous decision, it has since remained unchallenged. I submit that these are two separate Questions—one whether Standing Order No. 41 should be suspended; and the other whether the House should proceed to an allocation of time in the manner proposed by Her Majesty's Government. For those reasons, therefore, I submit that the two Questions should be put separately; that this question of the suspension of the Standing Order should be put first; and that proper facilities should be provided for adequately debating this very important step for suspending this most important Standing Order before we proceed to the Allocation of Time Order which the Government have put upon the Order Paper.

4.18 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

Further to that point of order. I think it would probably be for the convenience of the House if I were to call your attention, Mr. Speaker, and the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the precedents which deal with this matter. In my submission to you, there are three quite different propositions which are involved in what has just been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison).

The first is that any Motion not in accordance with a Standing Order requiries, first, a Motion that that Standing Order be annulled. The second, which is quite a different proposition and has nothing whatever to do with the Standing Orders of the House, is that when any Motion of any sort is before the House, and which contains two propositions about which it is possible, or about which hon. Members think it might be possible, to vote one way in regard to one and another way in regard to the other—and in that we must always take into account the Liberal Party—then in those circumstances the Motion should be divided. Thirdly, even if that were not in accordance with the existing practice of the House, I put it to you that there have recently been certain changes in the practice of the House which make it very desirable that this Motion should be divided, irrespective of the fact whether such a Motion has or has not been divided before.

Perhaps I may very shortly refer you, Mr. Speaker, to the precedents which generally are quoted in any arguments in connection with this matter. The original Ruling of Mr. Speaker on this subject is a very ancient one, given as long ago as 1842. It arose out of a Motion to deal with the number of counsel who might be heard before a Standing Committee. On this Motion being brought up, it was pointed out that there was a Standing Order of the House which prescribed the number of counsel and Mr. Speaker thought it was necessary, first, to rescind the Resolution of the House to which the right hon. Baronet had referred before the Motion of the hon. Member could be put from the Chair. There was considerable discussion about whether, in fact, the Motion did or did not affect the Standing Order, and in the end the Motion was discussed. That principle has always been cited on the basis that if, in fact, a Resolution goes against the Standing Order in its entirety, then the Standing Order must be dealt with first.

It is quite true that in other Guillotine Motions there has always been a reference to the suspension of Standing Orders. These references, which are traditional in Guillotine Motions, are conditional upon and incidental to the Motion, for the Motion itself would be out of order if the Standing Order were still in existence. Then, in that case, the Standing Order must be first dealt with, and this comes out very clearly indeed in a Ruling of Mr. Speaker in 1912. At that time the Conservative Party submitted a point of order to a degree of length which I should never think of taking, and they called a great number of speakers of far greater legal weight than I am—

Mr. Peter Remnant (Wokingham)

Be fair.

Mr. Bing

—to debate the matter at very great length. Mr. Speaker ultimately was given an opportunity to rule on the matter, and he did then say, after the usual paragraph was read out which deals with Standing Orders, that he was of the opinion that the suspension of Standing Orders was an incidental matter which might or might not become necessary.

As I have said, by way of precaution it has to be put in, but if, of course, the whole purpose of the Motion is merely to substitute something in place of the Standing Order, then in my submission it is quite improper to enter on to the discussion of the matter until the Motion to rescind the Standing Order with which the Motion is incompatible is first put forward.

It is the duty of the business committee to deal with the allocation of portions of days. It is the duty of that committee to allocate all the times within which these matters are to be taken, and it is really very difficult for hon. Members to put down Amendments, because one then is in the position of having possibly to put down on the Order Paper an Amendment which may be in conflict with the Standing Order. The first Amendment of the day presumes the Standing Order is still in force. That is a very cumbersome method by which the House should approach the matter

The second point which I wanted to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, is this. Quite apart from the question of the Standing Order issue, if, in fact, the Motion raises two different questions, that Motion ought to be divided, and this is equally true of business Motions together with any other Motions.

I mention that because, I think by an oversight in Erskine May, there is a statement which says that business Motions are not usually divisible; but no authority is given for the statement; and, in fact, if one consults the precedents on the matter, one finds that in 1902 the other great Parliamentarian of the same name, Mr. Gibson Bowles, raised the question of the division of a Standing Order which said that consideration of the rules of procedure proposed by the Government, whenever set down, should have precedence on every day except Wednesday, and that the provisions of Standing Order 56 shall be extended to Tuesday and Friday.

Mr. Speaker very properly indeed ordered the two Motions to be set separately. They were both, of course, contingent upon each other, because the object of the original Motion was to allow to be taken on those days, which were allotted to Supply, matters which were not matters of Supply, and, therefore, some other days had to be provided, for it was, of course, essential to provide for Supply being taken on other days; but, nevertheless, despite the fact that they were so closely connected, it was ruled by Mr. Speaker then that they should be taken separately.

There is one further point which I think the House ought to take into consideration. There has been a recent change in our procedure and Parliamentary practice. I am not going to make any comment. Indeed, it is such a change that, if I wanted to make a comment on it of either blame or censure, I should have to do it by way of direct Motion. However, it is relevant to mention that there is a change in the amount of time in which it is possible to move a Closure, and it is very relevant to any Motion of this sort, because once the Closure has been moved, then the main Question can be claimed. If the present practice is correct, it so differs from past practice that really we ought to consider whether or not to split the Motion so as to avoid the sort of situation which may otherwise arise.

Let me give an illustration. In the six years in which the late Government were in power, the Closure was accepted in those whole six years only 147 times. At no time in a whole Session was the Closure accepted more than 37 times. That figure has already been exceeded in the few days this Parliament has sat. I am not saying, of course, that that is proper or not. I am not arguing that. I am merely saying this is a change in the practice of the House. It can be further illustrated, I think, by saying that in the 1950–51 Session, in which there occurred the second greatest number of Closures, they were mostly Closures in relation to the Finance Bill or to Prayers.

But this practice has grown up now in regard to quite other matters. Only four Closures were moved in the 1950–51 Session to anything other than Prayers or Clauses of the Finance Bill. So, quite clearly, there is a new approach. It may be a proper one; it may not be. It is not for us to discuss at this stage the questioin of how often a Closure can be accepted. If the Closure is accepted, immediately the main Question can be claimed, and you, Mr. Speaker, must in those circumstances cut out a number of other Amendments. That would be a thing which, in all parts of the House, we should deplore.

So, in my respectful submission to you, Mr. Speaker, this Motion should be divided into two, possibly into three parts: the first part would relate to the suspension of Standing Order No. 41; the second part, if you saw fit to divide it further, would be down to the question of the Committee stage; and then the third part would be dealt with later on. Whether you divide it into three or not, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that you follow what was done in 1912, because the Motion in relation to the Standing Order was not a divided Motion, but was divided into two parts, even though the part which dealt with the business machinery was purely incidental to the other matter that was involved.

It is quite true that, owing to the disorderly conduct of the party opposite in those days, the House was never able to come to a decision, and that after Mr. Speaker had twice suspended the Sitting, the matter was dropped; but the principle is clear, and although it is unfortunate that HANSARD was unable to report any of the Government speeches in regard to the point of order because of the number of interruptions, the principle quite clearly appears, if I may say so, from the interruptions. It is my respectful submission that, certainly on this Motion, we should take first the suspension of the Standing Order; and then we should consider whether or not the rest of the Motion should be divided into two parts.

4.29 p.m.

Mr. John Wheatley (Edinburgh, East)

In my submission, Mr. Speaker, there are two points that arise in this point of order. First of all there is the competency of the Motion; and second, the form in which the Motion has been tabled. I respectfully submit to you, on the question of competency, that in so far as this House has laid down Standing Order No. 41 as the normal procedure governing the guillotine procedure in Committee and at other stages of Bills, no alternative procedure can be substituted before that Standing Order has been suspended. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), has indicated the reason for that, but I would respectfully submit that it is incompetent as a matter of form to include in the Motion to supersede the Standing Order a sub-division which merely asks the House to supersede that Standing Order.

I quite concede that if all that stood between us and debating the Motion was a formal difficulty arising out of a Standing Order, it might be accepted that the suspension of that Standing Order could be included in the body of the Motion. On the other hand, when the whole purpose of the Motion is to supersede the existing Standing Order, it would not be competent to include it in the body of the Motion itself.

That is my argument on the question of competency. I submit that, in effect, this Motion is out of order because the Government did not seek to suspend, in the first instance, Standing Order No. 41. If we were to take this Motion in the form in which it appears and to debate it, what we would be debating in the first instance would be the alternative procedure; we would be discussing the Amendment to the proposed alternative procedure without having first got rid of the barrier to that alternative procedure, namely, the existing Standing Order. Looking at the very form of the Motion, one sees that the Motion tabled by the Government is quite incompetent from that point of view.

The second point relates to the matter of form. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has pointed out, there are precedents for the proposition that the House will not accept as a single composite Motion a Motion which contains a number of propositions on which there might be different points of view, and on which Members might wish to divide one way on one occasion and another way on a second occasion. I submit in this connection that there are not three but four different points embodied in this Motion. First of all, there is the fundamental point, the sine qua non of any further procedure, namely, the suspension of Standing Order No. 41. Secondly, there is the time-table and collateral procedure put forward as a substitute procedure.

Thirdly, may I draw your attention to this, Mr. Speaker? Paragraph (f) says: On an allotted day the Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House. Now may I draw your attention to Standing Order No. 24? It reads: In the case of grave disorder arising in the House Mr. Speaker may, if he thinks it necessary to do so, adjourn the House without putting any question, or suspend the Sitting for a time to be named by him. If a situation should arise through the conduct of Members on one side or the other, or as a result of the tactics employed by the Government in forcing through this Measure which is of great public importance, when you, Mr. Speaker, would think that in the interests of the House and decorum the proceedings should either be adjourned or suspended, you would be precluded by virtue of this Motion from so doing. That, of course, would be very objectionable, and yet that would be inevitable if this Motion were carried.

We must deal with this Motion as a single entity as it stands at the present time; we must either vote for it or vote against it. Some people might be prepared to vote for the suspension of Standing Order No. 41 and other people might be prepared to vote against it. If the Motion were carried, some people would be in favour of the alternative procedure and others might not be, but I should imagine that nobody with the interests of the House of Commons at heart—apart from those who have tabled this Motion—would be prepared to vote in favour of the suspension of Standing Order No. 24, which would take from you, Mr. Speaker, the right to adjourn or suspend the proceedings if the conduct of the House became out of order. That would be binding your hands and putting you in an impossible position and, apart from any other points, I think that we would wish to safeguard you from that embarrassment.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain to the House why the paragraph to which he now takes exception was included in the allocation of time Motion in 1947, moved by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood), and supported by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite?

Mr. Wheatley

First of all, that was in relation to procedure regulating a Committee upstairs.

Mr. Walker-Smith

With respect, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong there.

Mr. Wheatley

In any event, this to quoque form of argument gets us nowhere. The theme song of the Government in relation to these procedural matters would appear to be "Anything you can do I can do better." Unfortunately for them, in the light of experience it is turning out that they are doing it much worse. But whether it was right or wrong in 1947 is not a matter we are discussing at the present moment. I might remind the hon. Gentleman, if he needs reminding, that I was not here at the time that Motion was discussed.

Mr. Walker-Smith

That is obvious.

Mr. Wheatley

Well, it is a pity for the hon. Gentleman, because his education might have been a bit advanced if I had been.

Be that as it may, we are considering the question as it affects the House at the present time, and I and my hon. and right hon. Friends are exercised about this derogation of your powers, Mr. Speaker, which is embodied in this Motion, and accordingly I think we should be very careful before we pass this Motion. When we come to consider the actual Motion I am sure that, on reflection, many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would not seek to withdraw that power from you by suspending Standing Order No. 24.

Then there is the fourth point, which is contained in paragraph (g), which in effect enables the Government not only to apply the Guillotine but to put down other business for the same day; to apply the Guillotine to get the National Health Service Bill rushed through, and then to have other business rushed through in the time normally allotted to the National Health Service Bill. Hon. Members might feel that that, too, was objectionable.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps it would shorten the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument if I were to point out that there is on the Order Paper an Amendment dealing with that, to which we shall come in due course.

Mr. Wheatley

That is not my point, if I may say so with respect. My point is that this Motion is not in proper form, in that it contains a number of propositions, some of which might be acceptable to an hon. Member and others not acceptable. Accordingly, he would be in the very difficult position of having to vote either against the Motion as a whole or in favour of it, when he was prepared to vote one way in one respect and another way in another respect.

Mr. Speaker

I follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point, but could that not be cured by voting for the Amendment and then voting against the Motion?

Mr. Wheatley

With respect, we are dealing with a substantive Motion which eventually has either to be carried by the House or rejected by the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "As amended."] It may or may not be amended, but at the end of the day a person who had voted for an Amendment which had been rejected would find himself perhaps in the position of being in sympathy of one part of the Motion but totally out of sympathy with another part. Accordingly, he would be in the difficult position of not knowing whether or not he could vote for the substantive Motion.

Even giving the greatest latitude to the Government, and relating the proposed new time-table, the collateral procedure, merely as part of one Motion, we have at least four separate parts to a Motion on which there may be divided opinions.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch suggested to you, Mr. Speaker, that, following the precedent of 1912, you might see your way to divide up this Motion into its composite parts. May I make another proposition to you? It seems to me that this is so offensive and objectionable that the proper thing to do is for the Government to take the Motion away and come back with it in proper form; not to ask us to make a rapid selection at this time to try to break up this Motion into its appropriate parts, because that would be difficult for you to do at short notice.

It might be found, on reflection, that a hasty judgment had been made and a proper allocation and breaking up had not occurred. In the interests of the House, in the interests of procedure, and in the interests of the further business of the House, I think that it would be much better if the Minister of Health took this Motion away, gave it a little more consideration, and came back with it in proper form, in a series of Motions, the first of which would be to suspend Standing Order No. 41, the second to set up alternative machinery which would replace Standing Order No. 41, and the third to deal with the temporary suspension of any Standing Order which might come between them and the procedure they wish to follow.

On this point of order I have pointed out what I regard to be the deficiencies of this Motion and what the proper Motion ought to have been. If they come back with that, and particularly with Motions that do not include a Motion to circumscribe your activities in the Chair as Speaker of the House, charged with the duty of maintaining order and discipline and the prestige of this House, perhaps we would get on further with this business.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)

I only want to intervene for a moment because I thought I saw an hon. Gentleman opposite rise to make a speech. Is not the submission made by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), already complete and entire? Has it not been over-elaborated for political purposes by the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Wheatley), and ought not the House to pay to you, Mr. Speaker, the respect due to you in listening to your ruling?

4.44 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

I am always willing to receive enlightenment and to take part in it. If the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) will excuse me, because I know he would not like to go off on a bad point, and there has been some misunderstanding about the nature and scale of Standing Order No. 41, I will, if I may, try to elucidate it for the House.

This Order was passed. I think, in 1947, and it lays down a procedure which comes into operation as stated in paragraph (1) of the Order: … in the case of any bill in respect of which an order has been made by the House, allotting a specified number of days or portions of days to the consideration of the bill in committee of the whole House or on report. … In that case, the Order lays down that the work of splitting up the other hours into compartments should be done by this business committee which, according to paragraph (3) of the same Standing Order, has to report back to the House, and it is ultimately the House which decides the hourly compartments of the discussion. So it is not true to think that Standing Order No. 41 affects every allocation of time order; it does not. It only affects one class of order, namely, orders allotting a specified number of days or portions of days to the consideration of the Bill.

In that case, the business committee laid down by Standing Order No. 41 must be used to conduct the further subdivisions, if the Hosue follows me, in the matter.

The Motion now before us, and which I had not the advantage of seeing the other day when I was asked about it, follows the pattern of what has been called "Guillotine Resolutions," which have been considered by the House for more than 50 years.

It not merely lays down that the Committee stage shall be completed in one day or in a number of days, but it also fixes the various times by which various items of the Bill shall be completed. That is to say, the Motion itself says what it is proposed the House should agree to not only as to the number of days to be allocated, but as to the compartments.

It is, therefore, obvious that there is no necessity for any mention of Standing Order No. 41 in the Motion. The words have been put in. There are many Standing Orders which are affected and not mentioned. Standing Order No. 1 is intimately affected by this Motion we are to discuss. Standing Order No. 7, which regulates the time for Private Business, is affected but not mentioned, and Standing Order No. 9, in the same way, is also affected; so I take the view that the mention of Standing Order No. 41 in paragraph (h) of Part 3 is only put in, as the lawyers say, ex abundante cautela, and only put in through an excess of care. That being the position, it is not necessary to move to suspend this order which does not affect this particular type of Guillotine Motion, and, therefore, there is no point of order or separate question involved.

May I say a word on the other questions which have been put with great eloquence and learning by the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), that there are cases where it is proper to sub-divide the Motion? The House was told by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), that when a Motion was put in as one matter it might embarrass hon. Members who might want to vote on one part of it and others on another part. In this sort of Motion all this embarrassment could be avoided by the putting down and discussion of Amendments, and there have been a large number of Amendments put to this Motion which, I hope, at some time, we shall proceed to discuss.

Therefore, my Ruling on the point of order he made is that it is not necessary to make any formal suspension Motion for Standing Order No. 41. That is not necessary. Neither is it necessary to split up this Motion into separate Questions. The way of dealing with that is, as I say, by Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman was only able to give me short notice of the precedents he has quoted, but I have looked them up, and I find them different in my judgment on essentials from the situation with which we are confronted today. I need not go further into that. He referred in the course of his speech to an occasion when Mr. Speaker had to suspend a Sitting, and I hope that he will not take that as a precedent for the conduct of our proceedings tonight. I would consider, in answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Wheatley), that my powers in that respect are not impaired in the slightest by this Motion.

Mr. H. Morrison

May I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that presumably the Government in providing in paragraph (h) that Standing Order No. 41 should be suspended were convinced that it was necessary in order to proceed with these other Motions? I submit, with great respect, that they were right in contemplating the point, though they did it in the wrong way.

It is the case that Standing Order No. 41 clearly contemplated a new procedure in relation to Guillotine Motions, that is to say that there should be an all-party committee which should seek to reach agreement as to the compartmentation, so to speak, within the overall limit. Even on this Motion there is a case for it going to a business committee, because it may be that the division of time which the Government has put down is not acceptable to the Opposition.

I have always taken the view that, if a Guillotine is to be operated, the views of the Opposition matter more than those of the Government side. I took that view when I was in the Government, and I take it now. Therefore, Sir, I submit that if Standing Order No. 41 means anything, it means that we were contemplating this procedure, and that the first thing for the House to do is to decide whether or not this Standing Order should be suspended.

4.52 p.m.

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

May I make a submission to you, Mr. Speaker, in respect of this matter? It is always an extremely difficult question when the House has to consider its own authority for Standing Orders. This is a curious kind of assembly because it is its own master. There is no written constitution and, therefore, there is no one who can arbitrate about our conduct. We arbitrate about it ourselves. That creates a difficult and sometimes dangerous situation because, unless the Standing Orders of our proceedings are revered both by the Opposition and by the Government, the constitutional situation can quite easily give rise to anarchy and disorder.

It has always been considered by students of the British constitution, particularly by Redlitch and others, that the formlessness of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons is essential to protect its proceedings against disorders that might arise from its own sovereign powers. If it were possible for a court outside to construe our powers, that construction itself would maintain a degree of order in our proceedings. If, however, at any moment when it seems convenient to the majority of the House a certain Standing Order can be set on one side, not because that Standing Order is inconvenient or obstructive to the general conduct of the House, but because it is inconvenient for a specific piece of legislation. I am bound to say with all respect that such a precedent would be more disorderly than a local rugby football game.

If at any given time a majority can come along and say, "This Standing Order is inconvenient for us at this Sitting or for this purpose, therefore we will abolish it"—if that is where we are getting, then I suggest, not in a party sense at all, that we are getting into a most serious situation. There are many other Standing Orders in addition to this one, and in my opinion a Standing Order ought not to be set on one side in respect of the urgency of a certain Measure but in respect of its position in the whole of the Standing Orders in relation to the general business of the House.

That is precisely where we have got to on Standing Order No. 41. I am sorry I could not follow your Latin, Mr. Speaker—it is a disability which perhaps many of us share—nevertheless I am trying to follow the anglicised portion of your Ruling. I understood you to say that it does not apply here because, under Standing Order 41 (3) the matter still comes before the House. But the whole purpose of this was to enable an all-party committee to pre-digest the timetable in order to guide the House of Commons in the matter. The reason was the following. Everybody knows that, owing to the nature of our constitution, it is possible for a determined Opposition to hold up public business almost indefinitely. That is why the power of the Guillotine was taken. However, everybody always recognised that this power carried with it great dangers. They were mentioned in a leader in "The Times" the other day.

The Guillotine contains all the dangers of tyrannical majority rule and, therefore, to the extent that the Guillotine was being progressively used to curtail the rights of Private Members, remedial measures had to be taken to prevent it from becoming too tyrannical. That was why Standing Order No. 41 was evolved. This is one of the most cruel Guillotine Motions I have ever seen. If we look at the time given by the Guillotine Motion in the previous House—

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Member must excuse me, but he is now getting on to the matter of the subsequent debate, as to whether this is a good Motion or not. The only point with which I am concerned is the point of order which was put to me. It was put to me that we ought first to decide whether or not to approve the suspension, as it is called, of Standing Order No. 41. I have Ruled, I believe correctly, that it does not matter for the purposes of this Motion whether we do or do not. This is not the sort of Motion contemplated by Standing Order No. 41, and it is not affected by it. The question as to whether the Motion might have been drawn in such a way that Standing Order No. 41 applied, or would be forced to apply, is not one for me. I have to deal with the Motion as it stands. Therefore, on those grounds, I hope the right hon. Member will accept my Ruling.

Mr. Bevan

With the utmost respect, Mr. Speaker, I was on a point of order originally. I do not want to collide with you in this matter, and the House must respect your Ruling, but there are grave consequences involved. Our respectful submission was that these two things should be taken separately. This is not merely a consequence of looking at the Guillotine Motion, because some of us raised this with you on Monday last and, on first looking at it, you seemed to react in the sense that the Motions ought to be taken separately.

Mr. Speaker

I had not then seen the Motion. I made that perfectly clear.

Mr. Bevan

Neither had I, but it seemed to us to be self-evident, and on examination even clearer, that the Motion should be divided and that we should not be asked to come to a decision on the whole Motion quite independently of whether Standing Order No. 41 is in or out. I seriously suggest that if it is to be taken as a precedent that the annulment or suspension of any inconvenient Standing Order is to be allowed, and included in a general Motion of the Government, it is a recipe for anarchy. No one will have any guarantee beforehand as to what the Executive is likely to do.

I do not wish to continue this matter further, but I am certain that when this has been examined further by students of our constitutional practices, it will be regarded as a gross departure, and I warn the Members of the Government that if this goes on they will be setting a most dangerous precedent. Therefore, I seriously suggest that even now, Sir, you should give us an opportunity of discussing Standing Order No. 41 separately on a separate Motion.

Mr. Speaker

I have ruled that it does not apply.

Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)

Mr. Speaker, you have been quite extraordinarily patient this afternoon—

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke - on - Trent, South)

Reichstag.

Mr. Lindsay

—in permitting your Ruling to be argued, indeed, criticised. The question I wish to ask you is, is it not quite contrary to the best precedents of this House that the Rulings of Mr. Speaker should be subsequently criticised by hon. Member after hon. Member in complaint?

5.0 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

In this case, Mr. Speaker, you are in the position of a judge and we, of course, accept your judgment It might be for convenience, and judges have often said that to have a case properly argued before them is of the greatest assistance to them. If the Government had done their job in producing the opposite argument it might have prevented argument going on; but without in any sense challenging anything you have said I would ask you to consider this argument and also one particular precedent to which I desire to draw your attention. For that I am most grateful to the Table Office. It has only just been found and that is why I must apologise to you for not having given you notice of it.

The Motion before the House today is in the old form. Before Standing Order No. 41 existed the old form was in order; but, in my submission, the whole point of Standing Order No. 41 was to provide that a committee appointed by you should consider how the hours should be allocated within the days which the Government allocated, and if you compare the words of this Motion, in line 5— The remaining Proceedings in Committee shall be completed in one allotted day, and shall be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the following table"— with Standing Order No. 41, paragraph I, that paragraph provides a procedure which shall apply. This is what it says: … in the case of any bill in respect of which an order has been made by the House, allotting a specified number of days. Here is an Order allotting a specific number of days, although it does more than that, and what it does more is precisely—if I may use that word—inconsistent with Standing Order No. 41, which says that where a Bill allots a specific number of days (a) shall happen; but this Motion says that (b) shall happen, and that is why, in my submission, it does not fall within the class of case within which Standing Order No. 26 might fall—subsidiary or incidental matters that may or may not become necessary—because it sets down a procedure which is precisely the opposite and which is precisely the procedure which Standing Order No. 41 was introduced to abolish.

There is a direct conflict between the Motion and the Order. When that happens, in my submission—although I would regard it as regrettable to do so and I should want to say so—one must first get away from the Standing Order No. 41 procedure before one can consider an alternative procedure. The precedent to which I wish to draw your attention is the procedure which was instituted when great urgency was required owing to the action of international exchanges at the time of the abolition of the gold standard.

I should like to refer to the Notices of Motions of 4th June, 1931. A special and urgent procedure had there to be introduced. First, the Prime Minister moved that the necessary Rules and Orders should be suspended and he then proceeded to set down a Motion in terms very similar to those of the Motion today. He provided That the Committee stage, the Report stage and Third Reading of the Finance Bill (including any Financial Resolutions relating thereto) shall be proceeded with … and he set down the hours because everything had to go through in one day. He set down the Report stage, and that is how the matter was set out; but before he came to that he pursued the correct procedure of moving a Motion that the inconsistent Standing Orders should be suspended.

It was not then necessary to suspend Standing Order No. 41 because it did not exist. We have already had the suspension of Standing Order No. 1. We have just voted on that in order to hear this debate. Surely we should now have the suspension of Standing Order No. 41 so that the existing procedure for a Motion where a specific number of days is allotted should come into operation.

With regard to the problem of Amendments, when we come to the end of the Amendments—and it is the former conduct of the Government, who have rejected every Amendment on this Health Bill so far, which has really brought about this situation—what is the position when one comes to paragraph (h) of Part 3, which is the suspension of Standing Order No. 41? I should have thought there were many people who might, on the one hand, consider that it was necessary to confine the number of days for this debate but who, on the other, believed that the procedure under Standing Order No. 41, whereby an independent committee appointed by you should allocate the time, was the correct way of allocating the time.

I should have thought that our friends in the Liberal Party might come to that conclusion. When these Amendments are rejected and the Motion is put there is a real conflict between the Motion, which sets down this time-table, and the suspension of Standing Order No. 41 which provides a proper and independent machinery for the allocation of time. Therefore, upon the second point, that this is a complicated Motion, with different parts, upon which perfectly honest- minded people might wish to vote differently, I would humbly submit that upon both these grounds paragraph (h) should come first. In the event, there is an Amendment at the end to omit paragraph (h). Is it so very inconvenient for the House that we should have the omission of paragraph (h) at the beginning instead of at the end, in order that we cease to discuss the contentious Motion as to what has actually been decided.

Mr. Speaker

I really cannot allow this argument to go on too long. I have listened to everything that has been said and the answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is that there is nothing in the Standing Orders or the practice of the House which compels a Government to frame a resolution for the allocation of time to which Standing Order No. 41 must apply. Two courses are open to them. Either they can invoke Standing Order No. 41 by proposing to allocate certain days for the discussion of the Committee stage, or they can take out of the hands of the Committee, as they have done here, the further sub-division of the time.

If they do that, there is no power left in Standing Order No. 41 and I would point out, with all respect, that although we have all been talking about the suspension of Standing Order No. 41 paragraph (h) actually says: Standing Order No. 41 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to this Order. It does not say it should be suspended; in my judgment it is merely declaratory of the fact that as the work of Standing Order No. 41 is being done in the Motion, it does not apply. I think the matter is crystal clear and I think I should be failing in my duty if I allowed too much discussion on the matter. I hope the House will take my view of the matter. I have given it great thought.

5.10 p.m.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I beg to move:

That in the case of the National Health Service Bill the following provisions shall apply to the remaining Proceedings in Committee and to the Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading:—
1. Committee
5 The remaining Proceedings in Committee shall be completed in one allotted day, and shall be brought to a conclusion at the times shown in the following Table:—
Proceedings Time for conclusion of Proceedings
p.m.
Clause 1 5.0
Clause 2 8.0
10 Clauses 3 to 8, new Clauses, new Schedules and any other Proceedings necessary to bring the Proceedings in Committee to a conclusion. 10.0
15 2. Consideration and Third Reading
The Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in a second allotted day, and shall be brought to a conclusion at half-past Nine o'clock on that day.
3. General
20 (a) After the day on which this Order is made, any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill shall be the first Government Order of the day shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order.
25 (b) Any Private Business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, and any Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) on an allotted day shall on that day, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for the Adjournment of the House so considered may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
30 (c) In this Order any reference to the Proceedings on Consideration of Third Reading of the Bill shall include any Proceedings at that stage for, on or in consequence of re-committal; and in any Committee on the Bill, including a Committee to which the Bill has been re-committed (whether as a whole or otherwise), the Question that the Chairman do report the Bill to the House shall not be put, but the Chairman shall so report the Bill on the completion of the other Proceedings in the Committee.
35
40 (d) On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill or under this Order, nor Motion to postpone a Clause or Schedule (including a new Clause or new Schedule), nor Motion to re-commit the Bill cither as a whole or otherwise shall be made unless made by a Minister of the Crown, and the Question on any such Motion, if made by a Minister of the Crown, shall be put forthwith without any debate.
45 (e) For the purposes of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order, and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time so appointed, put forthwith any Question already proposed from the Chair and any Question necessary to dispose of an Amendment already proposed, and in the case of a new Clause which has been read a second time also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill, and subject thereto shall proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Minister of the Crown of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules), and any Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Minister of the Crown, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
50
55 (f) On an allotted day the Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
(g) Nothing in this Order shall—
(i) prevent any Proceedings to which this Order applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by this Order; or
60 (ii) prevent any business from being proceeded with on any day, in accordance with the Standing Orders, if the Proceedings which under this Order are to be completed on that day have already been completed.
(h) Standing Order No. 41 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to this Order.
It is indeed with great reluctance and regret—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—that I rise to move this Motion. We did not, as certain hon. Members have suggested recently, take any great pleasure in introducing the Bill to which the Motion relates. We regarded it as one of the unpalatable measures that must be taken if we are to prevent vastly more unpleasant things befalling us. Still less, as a student and lover of Parliamentary institutions, and one who, in the past, has been most jealous of the rights of Private Members and minorities—and who still is, in my position as Leader of the House—do I like this Motion.

I have protested against Motions of this kind in the past, and it may very well be that I shall have to do so again—[HON. MEMBERS: "Very soon."]—but we have reached a point in the Bill at which the Government would be failing to do their duty to the country if they were to shrink from the unpopularity of moving a time-table Motion.

Let me, first, very briefly remind the House of the history of the Bill. We introduced it because we believed that one of the most important ways in which we could help to make this country solvent was by reducing Government expenditure. I will not elaborate again—

Mr. Bevan

On a point of order. Shall we be allowed, in reply, to say whether the Bill is relevant to the solvency of the country? The right hon. Gentleman has given the reasons for introducing the National Health Service Bill. Will it be competent for us to reply to those reasons?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

That is what the whole debate is about. I gather. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Perhaps I have been misunderstood. I gathered that there was a Motion allotting time for the passing of the Committee and remaining stages of the National Health Service Bill, and I understood that that was why the Motion was being moved and that that is why the debate is taking place. Did I misunderstand?

Mr. Bevan

I accept your Ruling in this matter, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman started his speech by describing what he considers to be the relevance of the National Health Service Bill to the financial condition of the country. Shall we be entitled, therefore, to consider that?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not see how we can discuss the Bill. What I understand we are discussing is the Motion before the House. [Interruption.] Do give me an opportunity to finish what I am going to say. I understood that the right hon. Gentleman was giving his reasons why the Motion was necessary, and, no doubt, other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will give their reasons why they think that it is not necessary.

Mr. H. Morrison

I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman was taking the view that the merits and the reasons of the Bill and its alleged urgency were relevant factors to the Motion, and that you have supported him in that view. May I say that, so far as I am concerned, I accept that Ruling?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I did not support, and am not supporting, any view. I am stating the case as I understand it. There is a Motion before the House and, no doubt, Members on either side will give their reasons why it should be supported and why it should not be supported.

Mr. Crookshank

I am not proposing to discuss the Bill in any shape or form. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I was only saying that it was introduced as part of our economic measures and that that was one of the reasons for its urgency. We can discuss the Bill some other day. I am merely repeating the reasons which were previously adduced for the Bill. It received a Second Reading, on 27th March, by a majority of 25, so that its principles have, indeed, been accepted by the House.

As the Bill contains only eight Clauses, the Government had a right to expect that the acceptance of the principles went quite a long way, but it became clear during our discussions in the Committee stage before the Easter Recess that the Opposition were determined to delay the passage of the Bill as long as possible. I make no complaint about that. It is the Opposition's business to oppose and to do what they like to try to hold up Measures of which they disapprove. But they really must not be surprised if the Government take what measures are open to them to overcome those tactics, because the Government have a right and a duty to govern.

We began by allocating two days to the Committee stage of the Bill, and in view of the fact that a similar Measure introduced by the Labour Government in 1951 was only one day in Committee—

Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)

Because you were such a poor Opposition.

Mr. Crookshank

—two days was thought not unreasonable. But we recognised that a third day might be necessary and were ready to provide it, and we did so. After the first day in Committee, I offered two more days. I later suggested completing the Committee stage after Easter by allowing a further day. That would have made four days in all in Committee, which, by any reasonable standard, might have been thought to suffice for a Bill of this nature and length.

However, by the time we adjourned for the Easter Recess, after 21½ hours of debate in Committee, only five lines had been disposed of—[An HON. MEMBER: "Too many."]—and this on a Clause which merely extends to a very small minority—that is to say, hospital out-patients—a power to make charges which had already been conferred in respect of the vast majority of the people by an Act of Parliament introduced by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Some 21½ hours were consumed on five lines of the Bill, compared with 22 hours for all stages of the 1951 Bill, so the Government did not consider that this rate of progress was good enough.

Not only do the Government think it important to pass the Bill—and I have briefly said why—but they have other legislation which they also regard as important and intend to get through. The hon. and learned Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) made a contribution to this affair when he worked out the other day that at the present rate of progress it would take the House until 27th February next year, without rising at all, to get through the business which the Government wish to obtain. What was his remedy? His remedy was to move an Amendment to the Easter Adjournment Motion to bring us back one day later than the Government suggested. We doubted whether that suggestion or remedy was either adequate or helpful, and as far as this Bill is concerned we decided that there was no alternative to asking the House to pass a time-table.

There are many precedents, as the right hon. Member for Lewisham (Mr. H. Morrison) pointed out in moving a similar Motion in respect of the Iron and Steel Bill in 1948, when he said: There is plenty of precedent and eminently respectable precedent … for a Motion of this kind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1438.] And then the right hon. Gentleman regaled us on that occasion with a list of time-table Motions which had been moved by Conservative and Liberal Governments. Perhaps I can return the compliment and mention one or two moved by Labour Governments. Apart from the Motions in respect of the Town and Country Planning, Transport and Iron and Steel Bills, passed in the 1945–50 Parliament, there were also two such Motions—in respect of the Representation of the People Bill and the Finance Bill—moved by the Labour Government of 1929–31. Those two last are of special interest in view of the argument which has been advanced by a number of hon. Members opposite recently against this Motion and this Bill when they said that a Government without a large majority—60 has been suggested as a minimum by the hon. and learned Members whom we are now coming to regard as leaders of the Opposition in this matter—at one time they reminded us of Laurel and Hardy—should not introduce controversial legislation.

In the 1929–1931 Parliament, to which I have just referred, a time-table was moved for the Finance Bill as well as the Representation of the People Bill, although, so far from having the magic majority of 60, the Labour Government of that time were, in truth, a minority Government—

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me—

Mr. Crookshank

No.

As a matter of fact the argument these hon. and learned Members tried to put out, as pointed out by the comments of "The Times' on the subject, really means that unless a Government has a large majority it should not govern at all, but defer permanently to the wishes of the Opposition. That, of course, makes absolute nonsense of parliamentary government. They pointed in their letter—it is relevant to the arguments about precedents—to the splendid record of nullity achieved by the Labour Government of 1950–51 who dropped everything they intended to introduce. In view of the economic morass into which that policy of nullity has landed the country, I am surprised that it should be even suggested that the present Government should follow the example of their predecessors and deliberately do nothing.

Certainly, we have no such intention. We accepted office from His late Majesty with the firm intention of governing. We intend to clear up the mess which we have found and in that determination we have been strengthened and not weakened—[An HON. MEMBER: "By county council elections?"] We regard it as our duty to introduce whatever Measures are necessary, unpleasant although some may be, like this one, to restore economic health to the nation and we are not going to be deflected from that purpose by the windy threats which have been made largely from the back benches opposite.

A Government's need to introduce a Motion of this kind does not depend upon its political complexion at all, but upon its necessity to carry out its duty. Indeed, I find when I look back to 1914 that, giving evidence before the Select Committee when in opposition, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald opposed the Guillotine procedure, whereas in 1930–31, he introduced it as Prime Minister. I do not know what line the party below the Gangway will take on this matter today, but perhaps I might remind them of what Mr. Asquith said about the Guillotine on the Home Rule Bill in 1912: Whether we like it or not the Guillotine has become a necessary instrument—I may say an almost elementary and normal instrument—in our Parliamentary proceedings."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th October, 1912; Vol. 42, c. 556.] I do not go quite so far as that, but perhaps hon. Members of the Liberal Party do and, if they do, they will no doubt support us today. Those are the precedents I cite and the general reasons I give for asking the House to pass this Motion in order that we may get on with the Bill.

As to the Motion itself, it is in very simple language and completely self-explanatory. Practically all of it is in accordance with precedent. There has been some criticism—we have had it for about an hour this afternoon—directed to Mr. Speaker on points of order as to the inclusion in the Motion of the provision that Standing Order No. 41 shall not apply. Mr. Speaker has given his Ruling about that and, of course, there is no precedent because the Standing Order itself is very recent in origin. But the Government's reason for not adopting Standing Order No. 41 procedure in this case—Mr. Speaker made it quite clear that there were two procedures open to us—was because we thought it was inappropriate to apply this very cumbersome procedure to a small Bill such as this on which we have made some, although I admit not very much, progress.

As Standing Order No. 41 has been discussed already in such detail, perhaps some hon. Members who are new to the House might be interested to be reminded of the history of the Standing Order. The late Government, in the early days of 1945, set up a Select Committee on Procedure where, of course, there was a majority of Labour Members and a Labour Chairman. The Government brought before that Committee the idea of having a business committee, but the Select Committee on Procedure unanimously turned it down as being an unnecessary and cumbersome way of going about the business.

But that did not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, and the next year, while we were still sitting, he brought the proposal before the Committee again and for the second time—as I say it had a Labour majority and a Labour Chairman—it unanimously turned down the proposal. Yet, in spite of that, a year later the Government moved and got adopted in this House this new Standing Order, contrary to the views of the Committee they had themselves set up. Even at that stage, two Labour Members of the Committee, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) being one, voted against their Government on this issue.

So it is not surprising that there should be a view that the business committee, which is so dear to the right hon. Gentleman, is not likely automatically to be of use, although possibly it might at times be required and used. We have thought that it should not automatically be employed and this is a case in which, in our view, it is unnecessary to bring it into being. To suggest that the proposal not to apply Standing Order No. 41 is, as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said on Monday, gerrymandering the constitution for my convenience, is, clearly, absolute nonsense.

Surely it would be a very novel doctrine to try to make out that once the House had ordered something to be done, as, for example, in a Standing Order, the House cannot itself order something else to be done on another occasion. The House does not work in that way; we frequently suspend Standing Orders. We suspended one this afternoon before we entered upon this debate and in this Motion we suspend at least three Standing Orders in exactly the same way as has been done in past Motions, including those fathered by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

As for the rest of the Motion, we have allotted what seems to us, in view of the previous lengthy debates on the Bill—which, I repeat, secured us five lines after 21½ hours and three days in Committee—a not unreasonable time for disposal of the Committee stage and we have a whole day for Report stage, which enables points to be raised again, and Third Reading. As I said, it is no pleasure for us to have to come before the House with a Motion of this kind and, in doing so, I remember what the Leader of the Opposition said in the debate on the Address on 6th November last: The Opposition will be vigilant but not factious. We shall not oppose merely for the sake of opposition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 67.] We feel that they have fallen away from that high ideal and instead of those fine words of six months ago his hon. Friends, possibly without his approval for all I know, have done just what he said his party would not do. This Motion will at least enable them to get back on to the path their Leader indicated they would travel.

Mr. Paget

rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. and learned Member must sit down if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way.

Mr. Paget

On a point of order. When an accusation is made it is surely the custom in this House to give way if somebody seeks to intervene. That is what I ask. I submit that it is customary to give way, when challenged, when an hon. or right hon. Member has made an accusation.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Whether it is customary or not, that is not a point of order, as the hon. and learned Gentleman well knows.

Mr. Crookshank

It was not an accusation. It was a statement of fact. I was merely quoting what the Leader of the Opposition had said on 6th November. I said that I felt that hon. Gentlemen had fallen away from that high ideal. This Motion will at least enable them to get back on to the path which their leader said they would travel.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that my right hon. Friend's promise that there would be no factious opposition was completely broken in the House by the conduct of the Opposition. May I put it to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you or Mr. Speaker must, during that time, have taken part with the Opposition in the pursuit of factious opposition as the conduct of proceedings of the House is ultimately in your hands, and that the statement which the right hon. Gentleman certainly intended to be a reflection upon the Opposition is, in reality, a reflection upon you?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If I hear anything which I consider to be a reflection on myself I shall deal with it. I deprecate this raising of points of order which are certainly nowhere near being points of order.

Mr. Crookshank

As I said before, the Leader of the Opposition announced that the Opposition would be vigilant and not factious, and I am putting it to hon. Gentlemen in this House and elsewhere that to spend 21½ hours—three days—in Committee in dealing with five lines of a Bill is not living up to the high ideals with which they started, but is a falling away from them.

Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)

rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) must resume his seat.

Mr. Crookshank

I am sorry, but there is not really anything about which to give way to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. McNeil

Most discourteous.

Mr. Crookshank

These Motions are, of course, undesirable if they can possibly be avoided, we are all agreed on that. They are very unpleasant to have to introduce. They always generate a great deal of heat. We seem to be generating heat at the moment with every word we use. On the other hand, I should like hon. Gentlemen opposite to reflect on some very wise words which were used by the right hon. Gentleman who is sitting in the corner seat on the Opposition Front Bench, when he sat on this side of the House. Yes, it is you.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

It is not you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker; it is me.

Mr. Crookshank

I refer to what the right hon. Gentleman said—this was in 1948, on a similar occasion: If there is anything to learn from the history of the past few years, it is that where, owing to one cause or another, excessive discussion has brought Parliament into disrepute, Parliamentary democracy has suffered its most severe defeats."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1538.] We want to see no such defeats in our democracy here.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)

One thing that the right hon. Gentleman has not done has been to defend perhaps the most important single feature of this Motion, namely, the actual allocation of time. He has not gone through the provisions of the allocation of time. He has in no way sought to show that the time proposed to be allocated is reasonable or adequate for the work that remains to be done on the Bill.

What he has argued, when he has approached anywhere near that point, has been that because a certain amount of time has so far been taken on the Committee stage he is going to punish the Opposition—that is what it means—by deliberately giving them inadequate time for the rest of the Committee stage and the Report stage of the Bill. That is to say, the time he has lost on the Committee proceedings so far he is going to make up on the allocation of time order which is now before the House. I submit that that is an utterly wrong interpretation of such an order.

The allocation of time order should have regard to what has yet to be done on the further stages of the Bill; and to say that because three days of Committee time have gone two of those days, perhaps the whole of them, have to be deducted from the time for the remaining stages of the Bill is, in my judgment, utterly unreasonable, spiteful and cantankerous, and is an indication that the right hon. Gentleman is not fit to be the Leader of the House of Commons.

I take the view, and have always done so, that any Leader of the House of Commons, to whichever side he may belong, is not merely a representative of the Government. He has a duty to both sides of the House; he has a duty to minorities in all parts of the House, including minorities in his own party, and some are here who know that I was not unconscious of my obligation to the minorities of my own party when I was Leader of the House.

The office of Leader of the House is a very high and responsible one, and if its holder is not conscious of his great duty to protect the essential liberties and rights of the House and to have a sense of obligation to the whole House, Opposition as well as Government, he is failing in his duty. It is known among my colleagues that more than once, in the time of the Labour Government, I intervened to protect the rights of the Opposition when Departmental Ministers, not unnaturally, in their enthusiasm to get their business through, might now and again be inclined to forget those rights.

The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon has in no way functioned as a Leader of the House of Commons as a whole. He has functioned as a narrow, spiteful party instrument. He says, in effect, three days having been taken on the Committee stage, so, "Gentlemen of the Opposition, I shall take it out of you by this spiteful and bitter allocation of time order." That is what it comes to. Therefore his expression of reluctance and regret at the beginning of his speech was utterly hypocritical and utter humbug. There is no reluctance and regret in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. There is a sense of spiteful and vindictive pleasure at having brought in this Motion.

Captain Richard Pilkington (Poole)

rose

Mr. Morrison

Unlike the Leader of the House, I will give way.

Captain Pilkington

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Would he answer this point? Why did his own Government give only one day for the whole of their Bill?

Mr. Morrison

The answer to that is perfectly simple. That was essentially a restricted Bill. It was specific in its provisions, whereas this Bill is bigger and wider. And despite the traditional opposition of the Conservative Party to delegated legislation, it proceeds by way of delegated legislation, because the essence of the Bill is to be implemented by Regulation. Therefore, it is peculiarly natural and inevitable that a considerable number of Amendments should be put down in order to control what can and cannot be done within the Regulations. That is an easy question and simple to answer. I hope I shall get no more difficult questions in the course of this discussion.

The right hon. Gentleman says, presumably in answer to my hon. Friends in earlier discussions, that the Government, notwithstanding its small majority, has a perfect right to do everything it likes, and carry out its policy and programme in full. That is not very sensible from the point of view of a proper conception of political science. Governments have to take account of the nature of their majority and the voting in the country. We had to in 1951. We had to do so owing to our smaller majority for one reason, and we did for another, for the reason of a response to an expression of democratic view. But who is this Tory Government to use language of that sort?

How often did we listen to the flaming language of the then Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister, who used to add up all the Conservative votes and then add on top all the Liberal votes as if they were his private possession? I admit he has got to the point now when the five Liberal Members are nearly his private possession. We hope they will be all right today, as they have, in general, opposed this Bill. But time and again the right hon. Gentleman, who was then and is still, the Member for Woodford, used to argue, "We had so many votes, you got so many, the Liberals got so many." Then he collected the Liberal votes and added them to the Tory votes and said, "You have no right to do this, that and the other"—as if the country were governed by a referendum.

Now the right hon. Gentleman advances the opposite doctrine. He says they are entitled to carry out almost a Tory revolution, because they have a small majority. Not only are they in an electoral minority in the country, but they got fewer votes than we did alone. I make no claim about the Liberal vote at all. I have given up trying to explain exactly what it means, and I am not going to claim or guess about it. In any case, I am not as impudent, as is the Prime Minister, in trying to add other votes to our vote.

Our vote was bigger than the Government vote, and therefore the argument that they are particularly entitled to do anything they like in the way of a counter-revolution, or reactionary Tory policy, because they have a small majority, is another indication that the Leader of the House of Commons has no sense of the constitutional proprieties and ought to get out of the job as quickly as he can, because he is incapable of doing it—[HON. MEMBERS: "He is Minister of Health as well."] I know that he is Minister of Health as well, but at the moment I am referring to him in his other capacity.

The right hon. Gentleman says they are clearing up the mess they found. I wish they would devote a little more time to clearing up the mess they are making, because they are making a shocking mess, economically, politically and otherwise. Heaven knows, they ought to know that they are creating a dreadful mess—they have just gone through the county council elections. If that is not a mess, I do not know what is, and they ought to be very worried about it. They have gone through that experience partly—not wholly, because most of those victories are the consequence of the excellence of Labour local government administration—because of the incompetence of the Government and the mess into which they are getting.

This particular Guillotine, or allocation of time order, to give it its more civilised title, is, I think, the most brutal Guillotine Motion I have ever seen. I agree that Guillotines are not nice. I said so when I was the Leader of the House. Every Leader of the House or Prime Minister, when he moves a Guillotine Motion, says how sorry he is about it—only I was genuine, I really meant it. I did not say to the then Opposition, "We are going to be spiteful and take it out of you." I was not vindictive. I was genuinely sorry about it, and we really tried to give an allocation of time which was reasonable in all the circumstances.

This is a brutal Motion which is deliberately calculated to make utterly impossible any reason in the Committee or Report stages on the Bill. Let us see what time is allocated, and let us see what has to be done. Clause 1 is to be terminated on the first allotted day at 5 o'clock. Now Clause 1 is, I suppose, the principal operative Clause of the Bill, which is not unusual in legislative structure, and there are about 50 Opposition Amendments to that Clause still existing.

It may be argued by hon. Gentlemen opposite that these 50 Amendments are unnecessary; that they are put down for the purpose of obstruction; that they are frivolous and vexatious. They are nothing of the kind. They all raise issues of substance and real points of public policy, and there are 50 of them. No doubt they vary in importance and would vary in the amount of time required to deal with them. But the 50 are down on the Order Paper and there is much yet to do on this important Clause of the Bill.

How much time have the Government given us under this allocation of time order? Ninety minutes. One-and-a-half hours—[HON. MEMBERS: "Three days."] That is not a fair argument. To say that because three days have gone on the proceedings so far we will deduct three days from the remaining proceedings on the Bill is a preposterous argument more worthy of Hitler than of the right hon. Gentleman. We have 90 minutes left to deal with 50 Amendments, or such of them as would have been selected by the Chair.

That is an hour-and-a-half, if there are no Ministerial statements; if there are no business questions and no supplementary questions arising out of the business statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Or points of order"]—certainly, and if there are no points of order. After all points of order do arise, they have arisen absolutely legitimately this afternoon, and time has to be taken about them. Consequently, it is even possible and in an extreme case—[Interruption.] I do not wish to interrupt either of the hon. Gentlemen. I can wait.

Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)

rose

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman should not get up in that threatening manner and point so aggressively. It is not gentlemanly conduct.

It is quite possible that there may be statements at the end of Questions, possibly a Division on the suspension of the Rule, though that is not likely, because the allocation of time order has taken care of that Standing Order as well. Various things often arise at 3.30 p.m., and there may be Private Notice Questions as well. It may be half an hour, it may be an hour, and it is quite conceivable that even the whole hour and a half may have gone. I submit that that hour and a half is utterly, ridiculously and preposterously inadequate, and a sheer mockery of Parliamentary Government and democracy.

On Clause 2, they are somewhat more generous, though, heaven knows, not generous. They allow three hours for the whole of the proceedings on Clause 2. It cannot be argued by hon. Gentlemen opposite that three days have been taken on Clause 2, because Clause 2 has not yet been reached. Therefore, it is no good saying to us that, because we have already had three days on Clause 2, the Government are going to take it out of us. Clause 2 has not yet been reached, and to this Clause, which is of great importance to this Bill in the daily lives of the people and to their health, three hours is to be devoted to dealing with the whole of it.

What is it that we have to face on Clause 2? We have to face 40 Opposition Amendments, and, in our judgment, all these are legitimate Amendments and raise various points of substance on public policy, and, in so far as they are called by the Chair, they ought to be heard.

I would point out that in the latest list of Amendments there are three Amendments from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and they, of course, have a right to put down Amendments. These Amendments will be called before the first of the Opposition Amendments on Clause 2 will be reached, as far as I can see, and there are some other cases in which Government Amendments come before ours, so that it is possible that our Amendments on Clause 2 may not be reached at all. In any case, it is perfectly clear that the time given to the whole Clause—three hours—with 40 Amendments of ours on the Order Paper and three from the Government side, is another sheer mockery of Parliamentary decency.

The real truth is that the Government are so rushing things with this Bill that they are in a muddle and a mess. It is doubtful whether Ministers understand the Bill themselves, judging by their performances at that Box, and that, indeed, is one of the reasons why hon. Members on this side have had to speak with some frequency in order to help the Government to understand their own Bill.

My hon. and right hon. Friends who have been in charge for the Opposition and have spoken from this bench have had to teach the Government the facts of life about this Bill, and it is no good their complaining, because we have been helpful in trying to explain things to Ministers so that they could better understand their own Bill. All the thanks we get for this is the allegation that we are wasting time and this allocation of time order, and I think it is unreasonable.

It is said that we have only reached line 9 of Clause 1, and that is true, but there have been useful and valuable debates. I deny that there has been organised filibustering on this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Filibustering is a humiliating practice which I would never recommend to my hon. Friends and those associated with me in this House, and I would not recommend it to the other side either.

The arguments have been serious. There have been contributions by a number of medical hon. Members on this side—[An HON. MEMBER: "And some pathological ones."] Doctors on this side of the House have advanced serious arguments, and the last time we parted with the Bill on the Committee stage, when we were considering the Amendment to line 9 of Clause 1, there was an Amendment moved in relation to Part III of the National Assistance Act by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings), whom I have known for many years.

That was not filibustering. Anybody who knows my hon. Friend the Member for Barking would certainly not accuse him of filibustering. He was serious in moving the Amendment, as other medical hon. Members on this side of the House have been, but the additional point is this. The Minister in charge of the Bill showed some sympathy on this matter which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking. He did show some sympathy with the point raised, but part of his defence for resisting that Amendment was that he had not had time to consult the local authorities.

This is one of the troubles about this Bill. It has been rushed, and people who are concerned about it, including the local authorities, have not been properly consulted. Therefore, the Government find themselves in difficulties. There is a similar problem about the collection of the shilling fees in the rural areas. The doctors were expected to collect the shilling, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summer-skill), tells me that, through the British Medical Association, the rural doctors have indicated that they are not willing to collect the shilling, and I gather that the doctors have not been properly consulted on this aspect of the Bill.

So the Government have got themselves into a shocking muddle through rush and incompetence. There are a large number of important policy and technical Amendments on the Order Paper, and they ought not to be rushed. It is to be noted that the right hon. Gentleman has not received much assistance from Conservative hon. Members who are medical men. The pharmacists have to collect the shilling in respect of certain things, and have to give receipts. They will want more money, I expect. I do not know whether they ought to have it or not, but has the Minister consulted them about that?

Indeed, on a highly technical and detailed Bill of this sort, there was a good deal to be said for it going upstairs instead of being taken on the Floor of the House. With a limited number of hon. Members, probably more expeditious progress could have been made, and more sense put into the Bill from both sides of a Committee upstairs. Therefore, the Government are rushing a highly technical Bill without due consideration.

This Motion is, indeed, making our legislative process a sausage machine, which used to be referred to by the present Prime Minister. It is an insult to Parliament, it is a grave Parliamentary and constitutional abuse by a small Governmental majority, and the Government ought to think of the precedents which they are creating.

They are in Government today; they will be in Opposition at no distant date. All the signs are that they are in for a fall at the next election. They should think what precedents they are making, because in this Motion they are really making a terrible, vindictive and brutal precedent, and they are proceeding in this way in that spirit in defiance of sound constitutional principles. It is an act of dictatorship, of spite and of tyranny against the Opposition. It makes a farce, and is intended to make a farce, of our legislative processes, and I am very sorry that it has been brought forward.

I now want to say a word about Standing Order No. 41. We have had the arguments about the point of order, and let me say that I am grateful, as we all are, to Mr. Speaker for his patience in listening to the argument. I know there were differences of opinion about it in the last Parliament. Certainly then the Opposition did not agree with it, and some of my hon. Friends did not agree with it, but there is a lot to be said for it, and it was carried.

It is this. If an overall time limit is to be put on a Bill by the Guillotine—which is a bad thing—the best way is to have an overall time limit and then to have a business committee to settle the compartments within the Guillotine regarding when it shall fall on particular Clauses and parts of the Bill. I said before the Select Committee, I think—I certainly said it in the House—that in my judgment on that part of the business the Opposition should be the major factor—I said that when I was a Minister and Leader of the House of Commons—because it is the Opposition which is having its head cut off. The Opposition are the victims of the Guillotine, and they are the critics. Therefore, they have the most right to have a big say as to the allocation of time within the overall limit.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I was a Member of the Select Committee, and I understand that I have been referred to by the Leader of the House in this connection. It is as well to bear in mind that although it is perfectly true that that was said, the Select Committee on procedure was against this idea and continued to be against it even when pressed. But it was against it on quite different grounds from those now being discussed, and no one was against the business committee or against the procedure because he was in favour of such a Guillotine Motion as is now being proposed.

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, and I fully agree with him that that was the case, but I am putting a series of arguments to the House as to my own beliefs. I think that the Guillotine should be confined to the overall limit and that then both sides should be represented on a business committee, and that the allocation within the overall limit should be settled by that committee. I indicated to my own hon. Friends that if that came off, and if there were such a committee, we should always try to give the Opposition the benefit of the doubt. They are the victims, so to speak; they are the minority, and they should be given the benefit of the doubt.

I suggest that is the right spirit in which to approach this problem. It is certainly the best House of Commons spirit. I always regret Guillotines anyway, but, if they are to be used, let them be used in a way which makes the procedure as smooth as possible. As a matter of fact, we offered that to the then Opposition in relation to a Bill upstairs, but for reasons of their own they declined to co-operate in the matter.

I submit that this is a thoroughly bad time-table. It is an impossible time-table, and nobody on the Government Front Bench can get up and say that it is a time-table which is seriously meant to get anything like reasonable and proper consideration of the Bill. The Government must admit that it is a time-table deliberately fashioned and calculated to make it impossible for any adequate proceedings to take place on the rest of the Bill. I say that the Government are wrong in so proceeding, that this is an abuse of their small Parliamentary majority, and that the Leader of the House of Commons, if he is remembered in history, will be remembered as a man who broke faith with the great trust that ought to rest in him.

6.5 p.m.

Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)

I believe that the immediate reaction of every hon. Member in this House, irrespective of party, to a notice of Motion relating to the allocation of time should be to remind himself that this assembly is essentially a great deliberative assembly, that we in Britain believe in Government by discussion, and that any action on the part of any Government, whatever its complexion, which is a threat to that tradition and to the acceptance of that principle should be looked upon with the greatest possible suspicion.

One aspect of our belief in Government by discussion is our conception of the rights of minorities, not only the rights of a minority, in so far as it is the official Opposition in this House, but the rights of a minority even if it is a group within that Opposition, or, indeed if, as it may be, it is a group within the Government party of the day. Most important of all is the right of a minority when it happens to be an individual Member. On occasions of this kind we should never forget the virtue of representation.

We are here, quite apart from being Members of particular parties, representing constituencies and individual beliefs which we hold. Anything which is in any way a challenge to our rights according to the traditions of this House to express those views is something which we should regard, as I say, with the greatest possible suspicion. The right of minorities to invade Parliamentary time is something which if restricted is a denial of our whole conception of liberty.

I concede, of course, that, while we have to recognise to the full the principles which I have attempted to enunciate there is another side to the picture. It is that if the rights of minorities are to be preserved in this respect, they must be accompanied by recognition of responsibilities on the part of those minorities. One responsibility of a minority is to recognise the right of the majority to govern within the framework of a constitutional Government of the country.

The Leader of the House reminded us of what the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) had to say with regard to that when he quoted a statement to the effect that excessive discussion can bring Parliament into disrepute. On the other hand, it is a very easy thing for a Government introducing a Guillotine Motion to say that there has been obstruction and filibustering, and that that is their genuine alibi for introducing an allocation of time order.

The suggestion that there is abuse of constitutional rights by a minority is one which can easily be made by the Government of the day. Of course, in so far as they command a majority in this House, they are, so to speak, judges in their own court. Therefore, it is particularly important that we should approach our attitude to any particular Motion by reference to our own conceptions of the traditions of the House rather than by any particular party allegiance.

As the Leader of the House has indicated, no one can argue for one moment that the introduction of an allocation of time order is in any way novel. Since 1887 it has been repeatedly introduced on particular occasions by each party in turn, and on almost each occasion it has led to strong language being used by the party in opposition.

I read a short time ago the debate which took place in 1947 and 1948 on the Town and Country Planning Act and the Transport Act. We had references on both occasions to the Reichstag and Gestapo and Fascists, and so on. But we have to look at the circumstances which have given rise to the Motion and try to see whether, bearing in mind the high test which has to be applied, the Government can justify the introduction of a Motion of this kind.

After all, it is one thing to move the Closure and to say, "I believe now we have had a full and adequate discussion of this matter." It is quite a different thing to say beforehand, before it is known how the debate will develop, "The time we shall give you to debate these Clauses of the Bill is so much, no more and no less, whatever the eventualities and whatever the developments that may take during the debate."

I want to draw attention to two matters relating to the attitude of the Opposition which indicate that the genuineness to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) referred might be suspect. In 1947 the Government of the day introduced a similar Motion but—I believe for the first time in our history—that Motion referred to the application of the Guillotine to the Committee stage of a Bill when that Committee stage was being taken upstairs and not on the Floor of the House. In that respect, of course, it was a much more serious development.

The other surprising feature is that both the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South, respectively, last Monday and today, both advocated as a remedy for the present situation the committal of Bills of this kind from the Floor of the House to a Committee upstairs. I believe that to be an even greater travesty of the rights of minorities and of the rights of individual Members than the Guillotine itself. Certainly, the committal of a Bill of general interest which affects the country as a whole from the Floor of the House to a Committee upstairs combined with the Guillotine is something even more drastic than that which is contemplated by the Government today. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] For the reason which I hoped I had made quite clear.

One of the inherent objections to the Guillotine is that it limits discussion. The committing of a Bill upstairs must limit very considerably the number of hon. Members who can take part in a discussion. I do not say it cannot be avoided, but it means that many points of view would have no representation at all if this Bill were committed to a Committee upstairs. The combination of the Guillotine and committal upstairs which was introduced by the Labour Government in 1947 was particularly vicious.

As for the introduction of the Guillotine at the present juncture, I accept the argument advanced from the Opposition Front Bench that what has already happened to this Bill is not strictly relevant. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that considerable time has been wasted, though my view is that, in the main, the discussions have been helpful and constructive. However, I would be prepared to concede that some hon. Members, in dealing with certain aspects of the Bill, have wasted time. But that is no argument why Clause 2 of the Bill, which goes to its very roots, should not be given proper time for discussion and debate. The fact that the Opposition may have misbehaved and may have been obstructionist during discussion of an earlier part of the Bill is no argument for depriving the House as a whole of adequate time to discuss, in particular, Clause 2, upon which we have not yet started.

It has been suggested that one reason for the introduction of the Guillotine is that the Government have some other important Measures to introduce and that the debate on this Bill was holding up the Government programme. I concede that there are many Bills which the Government have in mind in relation to which in given circumstances they might be justified in introducing the Guillotine. That might be the case in connection with the Finance Bill or the denationalisation of iron and steel. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I do not object to the Guillotine in any circumstances. I thought I had made that perfectly clear; but I am not accepting the Guillotine in the case of this Bill.

Mr. S. Silverman

The hon. and learned Member is rejecting it now and accepting it for some future time in unknown circumstances in relation to some other unnamed Bill.

Mr. Bowen

I have done no such thing. Let me make my position quite clear. I can well imagine circumstances in which I would feel it perfectly right and proper to vote for the Guillotine, and I think the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has done so before today. All I say is that the Government cannot introduce the argument that this is a matter of great urgency Nobody could possibly suggest that it is of real urgency that the National Health Service Bill should go through.

If the Government have other business which they regard as vital and urgent they have a remedy in their own hands—to abandon the present Bill. Naturally, one's attitude to that aspect of the problem is governed by one's attitude to the particular Bill. But I do not believe for one moment that the Government could suggest that this Bill is such an essential element of their economic programme and so vital to the nation that it should not be jettisoned if there is an important and essential matter which this Bill is holding up. I do not propose to detain the House much longer—

Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)

Why not? Go on.

Mr. Bowen

The hon. Member who interrupts me voted against the suspension of the Rule, which means that he wants this debate to end at 10 o'clock.

Mr. Follick

It is quite true that I voted against the suspension of the Rule, but the hon. and learned Member is now talking sensibly and we want to hear things like that. What we did not want to hear was a lot of nonsense.

Mr. Bowen

I am grateful for compliments at all times, but I sometimes suspect the source from which they come.

I believe that the time-table now allocated will not give fair play to the matters which remain to be discussed on the National Health Bill. We are in a position where even Government Amendments may be put through without any discussion at all, and certainly where Amendments of substance, whatever one's point of view with regard to them, moved by Members of the Opposition on different aspects of this Bill, cannot hope to receive adequate consideration by the House as a whole.

6.20 p.m.

Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)

I shall not follow in great detail what has been said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen). I do not propose to keep the House long, but I should like to refer for one moment to the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). He is, of course, a past-master of that type of speech, and I am sorry that he is not in his place at the moment. We have heard that type of speech, with different nouns, a good many times.

It may not be to your knowledge, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but in my young days I was very keen on amateur theatricals, and one of the things which we were taught in the early stages was how to assume rage. I think the right hon. Gentleman has certainly at some time or other learned that lesson very well. Of course, it is the Opposition's job to oppose, and they must turn on rage whether it is real or "phoney." It is usually "phoney," but that does not make it any less entertaining. The right hon. Gentleman is certainly a past-master at putting on ersatz rage. I forget how many times "spiteful," "appalling" and other adjectives were used, and how many times the Box was thumped, but it reminded me of my early amateur theatrical days.

If it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose—and I say this with great respect to the Opposition, of whatever party it may consist—I say it is their duty to consider the circumstances in which the country finds itself when they are making their opposition. We are today in the middle of the greatest crisis in our country's history, and there is no doubt that the Opposition ought to have considered that matter when arranging this long-drawn-out Committee stage on this Bill. In ordinary circumstances, if times were normal, that type of thing might have been justifiable, but I do not think it is justifiable today—and here I differ from the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan—when this Bill is so important in the economies which must be enforced if this country is to survive. It is most important that the Opposition should bear that in mind.

After all, three or four days on the Committee stage of a Bill of this size is ample if the time is used properly. Far too many Members in this House—I say it with great respect, and if I myself fail in this respect, I apologise—say in 50 minutes what could be said in 10 minutes. That is one way in which valuable Parliamentary time is lost.

The right hon. Gentleman said that before long we on these benches would be the Opposition. How earnestly he prays every night that that will not happen. When the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister and ran away from what he saw coming and went to the country—

Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)

He has not run very far.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is going rather beyond the Motion.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will immediately return to the Motion. It is essential that we should realise that Parliamentary time is a very precious thing in a time of crisis. That is the reason and the justification for the imposition of a measure like the Guillotine, which we all heartily dislike. I do not think we can say that to take this Bill on the time-table laid down for it, though it may be harsh in appearance, in any way justifies the statement that enough time was not in the first place allocated for the proper consideration of the Bill. The fact is that that time was not properly used by those concerned.

I do not want to go into details about the time-table, and I do not want to go into the details of the Bill, because that would be out of order, but I would say very sincerely—and if I am going beyond what a back bench Member should say, I hope that I shall be forgiven—that there is a very serious lessening of the high reputation of this House of Commons in the country today. The reasons are not far to seek. One of the principal reasons is factious opposition. All-night sittings are regarded by the public as crazy. We may have our own views on all-night sittings; I think they are crazy, too.

Mr. Paget

rose

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I cannot give way, because I want my remarks to be very short. I want to make it clear that, in my humble opinion, having spoken to a large number of people in all walks of life, Parliamentary Government, and Parliament itself, is losing its reputation because of our misbehaviour in this House. [Interruption.] I did not say in this Parliament or in the last Parliament, I said "in this House," and I mean on both sides. I said "our behaviour," and I was not referring to any particular side. There is no doubt that a considerable number of people in the Gallery of this House come for entertainment value and not to study politics.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Since the reputation of Parliament is to be preserved, had we not better do it by observing our own rules, one of which is that reference to the Gallery has always been deemed to be out of order?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is quite true.

Hon Members

Withdraw.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I do not require hon. Members opposite to tell me to withdraw something which is out of order. Of course, I withdraw. But I do repeat that this House of Commons, by its behaviour, is lessening its own reputation in the country, and that is a desperately serious thing in a democracy. All over the world today Parliaments are disappearing, and it is sincerely to be hoped that this Parliament will never follow. If Parliament loses its reputation among the people of this country through the action of its Members on either side, it will do irreparable harm to our Parliamentary institution.

On these grounds, I hope that all of us will exercise a sense of responsibility in our debates and in our method of conducting them. I hope also that this Guillotine Motion will be passed, much as I regret it, purely in order to get a sense of reality in view of the dangerous situation in which our country is today.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

I was rather astonished by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan), because I take entirely the opposite view. Never was the reputation of Parliament higher than it is now in the minds of the mass of the British people. To suggest that what we have been witnessing in the last few months are scenes that undermine the respect for Parliament and the affection in which Parliament is held by the people of Great Britain is to lack any historical perspective whatsoever. Nothing at all has happened in this House comparable with the disorderely scenes which occurred when it was full almost entirely of Conservative Members. I have not yet seen any books or inkwells thrown, or scuffles on the Floor of the House—

Mr. McInnes

And no pennies have been thrown.

Mr. Bevan

No pennies have been thrown as was done by the party opposite. The fact is that, looking back over the history of Parliament, Parliamentary Government has risen in the estimation of people to the extent that Labour people have come to the House of Commons and have disciplined the misbehaviour of Conservative opposition.

I do not want to press this point too far, but as the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire has raised it I should say that it was only to the extent that the products of the board schools came in to mitigate the misbehaviour of public schools that the level of Parliamentary debate has been raised. As an old board school man myself, I take pleasure in that fact; but to suggest for a single moment that Parliamentary government is now held less in esteem by the people of this country and therefore we should have a Guillotine implies that the esteem in which Parliament is held by the population is in direct ratio to their failure to hear their grievances articulated on the Floor of the House.

I should have thought that the first duty of a public man was advocacy and, that it is just to the extent that the people of the country can hear their grievances expressed on the Floor of the House of Commons, just to the extent that they can read in the newspapers and hear on the radio, amongst the many millions of inarticulate people in the country, that the sufferings that they feel can be expressed here, that Parliament unites itself with the affections of the population.

What would certainly undermine Parliament would be the fact that these sufferings were going unredressed. I do not know what other hon. Members have been getting in the last two months, but I have been receiving more letters from cripples and from others who have to use the National Health Service than I have done for years past. That is because they are all apprehensive lest what is now intended to be carried out should increase their difficulties. I do hope we shall not have that hoary old argument that Parliament ought to be silent for fear that it will lose the respect of the population and that the more silent we are the more we grow in their esteem. On the contrary, I believe it is our duty all the time to preserve Parliamentary institutions by making them express the people's will.

Reasons for the introduction of this Bill have been given by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire and by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House and Minister of Health. May I say that these offices are a most unfortunate conjunction? I understood some months ago that the right hon. Gentleman was going to be relieved of his office as Minister of Health. There were strong rumours to that effect, and we all hoped they were going to be correct, not because we have any lack of respect for the qualities of the right hon. Gentleman, but because everybody has realised, since the discussion on the National Health Service Bill in Committee, that he is singularly ill-fitted to be Minister of Health.

It is rather a grim prospect when the departmental Minister is the Leader of the House of Commons itself and moves a Guillotine Motion on his own Measure. This is an extraordinary precedent. I suppose that now, whenever a Minister finds himself with an embarrassing Bill, the Prime Minister will make him Leader of the House in order that he may be able to constrict discussion on his own Measure and save himself embarrassment. I should have thought that anybody ought to have moved this Motion except the Minister of Health.

Why have we got this Motion? We have got it—and I challenge hon. Members in all parts of the House to deny it—because the discussion on the Amendments of the National Health Service Bill in Committee have been highly embarrassing to Members of the Government. I have taken part in the discussion on most of them and it has been apparent that the Government have found it extremely repugnant to oppose many of the Amendments we have moved. I think that does them credit. They would rather do cruelty in ignorance than have it brought to their notice. It does an injury to their feelings. They would rather wound people and not have the wounds brought to their attention.

When the discussions in the Committee stage revealed—as was apparent the other day—that even old people in the new institutions are to be harried and bullied and plagued without any relief at all from Parliament, many hon. Members opposite got up and told the right hon. Gentleman that he was beginning to be known as "hard-hearted Harry." What has the right hon. Gentleman done? He has said, "I cannot stand that." He could stand being hard-hearted, but not being called hard-hearted; so he said "For Heaven's sake let us have a Guillotine as quickly as possible, otherwise I might either myself be moved from office"—not moved emotionally—"or my hon. Friends may be too much moved and I shall have trouble." So he moves the Guillotine Motion.

The extraordinary thing about this proposal is the estimate the Government have formed of legislative priorities. That has been pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), and it has just been emphasised by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire. This Guillotine is introduced because the Government require the National Health Service Bill in order to make a contribution towards solving the country's economic and financial crisis. That was the explanation which was given. I must say that we really are in a parlous state when the first people to make a contribution towards solving the crisis are the cripples. What a reputation the Conservative Party are giving Great Britain abroad when they say that the solution of our financial crisis can be achieved only by putting burdens on the cripples first, and that England can only be held together by making charges on abdominal belts. This is where the Conservative Party have got us.

What is the contribution that will be made? Let us have a look at it. One of the advantages of having a Guillotine in prospect is that we no longer need to read the Bills. All we need to do is walk through the Division Lobbies. I ask the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire and the right hon. Gentleman to look at their own Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the National Health Service Bill. Our Budget runs now at about £4,700 million and our overseas deficit is from £300 million to £400 million, and the cripples and the wearers of trusses and abdominal belts, and those who have to repair to dentists, must make a contribution of the order of between £6.75 million and £10.75 million to get Great Britain out of its dreadful financial difficulties.

That is the reason for the Bill. What they have done is to take hold of a small section of the population—the weakest, the most helpless, those who either have been born with physical deformity or infirmity or have suffered it in some of our industries, such as mining and steel and agriculture—and inflicted upon them charges amounting to a little over £10 million a year, in order to force them to make their contribution to the solution of the financial crisis. May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether that is his conception of legislative priorities?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

If the right hon. Gentleman is to take just this one item by itself, without all the rest, then perhaps he has got something, but he is just taking one thing out of its context.

Mr. Bevan

I could imagine that hon. Gentlemen opposite have a case, in their judgment, for saying that the amendment of the transport system or even the de-nationalisation of steel could be held to make some contribution to a change in the economic situation. I should not agree with them, but, nevertheless, those measures would be of an order of magnitude which might appear to have some relevance to it. But surely not £10.75 million from the cripples. Surely right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have got the whole thing wrong. They should have their order of priorities put right again.

The only explanation they have given is that we started some of it. But that is not good enough at all. We put a term to it; and, indeed, if the Government are always to do what we did as a precedent, then they can take the power to make the Regulations but not make them. It is not the first time that powers have been taken to make punitive Regulations and the Regulations themselves have never afterwards been made. There are very many Acts on the Statute Book giving power to make Regulations which, in fact, are not made. I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will follow our example faithfully in this respect.

I come back to the point that there is something seriously wrong with the morals of a party which, despite all the other pieces of present legislation which they are anxious to bring to the Floor of the House of Commons, invoke the authority of the Guillotine in order to force through the House of Commons punitive powers to oppress cripples. I do not want to embarrass them too much; the spectacle is painful; but they need not imagine that because they rush this Bill through the House of Commons the people will not know what they are doing, for in a few weeks' time, if they carry these Regulations through, the consequences of this legislation will reach the people and will reach them in a thousand and in tens of thousands of irritating ways—all for the purpose of getting a miserable sum like this.

I believe that Governments should have a sufficient Parliamentary authority to get their business through. It is never right for an Opposition to use the powers conferred upon them by the constitution to deny the right of government to the Government of the day. That is a perfectly proper point of view, and that is why different parties have invoked the Guillotine from time to time. But let us have some sense of proportion; let us have some selective principles. Do not use the Guillotine for purposes like this; and, if hon. Members are going to talk about the respect in which Parliament is held, can the people have any respect for a Government which introduce legislation, and force it through the House of Commons by a Guillotine, directly opposed to the mandate they got from the country?

Not only have the Government no mandate for this, but they specifically obtained votes by saying that they were not going to do it. Never was there a more dishonourable use of the Guillotine than this. It seems to me, therefore, that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen ought to think again. It is really too bad that the weakest and the most oppressed and the most helpless people in the country are now to be denied the opportunity of having their grievances voiced on the Floor of the House of Commons.

Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I put this to him? He cannot have refreshed his memory from my party's manifesto, "Britain Strong and Free," because this is exactly what it said: We hold ourselves free to review and alter the present system of charges in order to establish proper priorities.

Mr. Bevan

I had almost concluded, but I am bound to say that the use of that slogan, "Britain Strong and Free"—

Mr. Fort

Answer the question.

Mr. Bevan

—is very relevant to imposing charges on cripples.

Mr. Fort

Answer the question.

Mr. Bevan

And I am now coming to the answer. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen believe that from that document—which led to a very obscure existence during the Election—they have a mandate from the population to apply their order of priorities for charges inside the Health Service, and their order of priorities is to take the cripples first.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. MacLeod.

Mr. Paget

Before my right hon. Friend sits down, may I ask him a question?

Mr. Speaker

I have called the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod).

6.46 p.m.

Mr. Iain MacLeod (Enfield, West)

We have now heard three speeches from the Opposition benches representing the three distinct oppositions to the Bill and to this Motion. It is always immensely exciting to listen to the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen); one never knows until the last sentence which way the decision is going to fall. We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman whom I think is deputy Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who made his usual speech, lavish with his adjectives and sparing with his facts, to which I hope to return in a moment; and we have heard an admirably typical speech from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), and I will come back to his speech later, if I may.

I would say this, however: I think there is one allocation of time Motion which would be warmly supported all over the House by the back benchers and by those of us who have not the high distinction of being a Privy Councillor. How warmly we should support an allocation of time Motion applied to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale!

Mr. Paget

You are afraid of him.

Mr. MacLeod

I think not. It is true, and the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan was quite right when he said that all Members of the House regret very much a Guillotine Motion; and it is in the nature of things—and again quite rightly—that the Opposition in particular should resent it and should oppose it bitterly to the end. That is absolutely correct. It is true, again, that any Guillotine Motion, any allocation of time Motion, is a denial of the rights of Members of the House of Commons and usually, though not always, it means that important matters will go undiscussed.

I am much less interested in the precedents, dating I think back to the year 1887, from Lord Salisbury, than in what happened before on the Bill in the House. Hon. Members will agree that the real subject we must discuss today is whether the Government's Motion on this Bill is or is not justified. It is immensely important to follow carefully the arguments which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, put forward about the conduct of the Opposition during the earlier stages of the Bill.

The decision seems to me to rest to a great extent on whether we have had in these three days genuine expressions of concern about the very considerable problems that can be raised, or whether, within the rules of order, there has been organised time wasting in this Chamber. It seems to me that that is a decision on which the House of Commons must make up its mind. We spent three days on nine lines of the Bill, one day stopping at 10 o'clock, on another at a few minutes before midnight, and on another at about half-past two in the morning. The fact that we have so far reached line 9, I admit freely, is in no way conclusive that there were time-wasting methods employed, but I want to take one example of an Amendment and study it for a moment or two.

The right hon. Member for Lewisham. South referred to the fact that there was a number of distinguished medical practitioners on the other side of the House who have given us the benefit of their advice. That is true. I will take up precisely that point, and I will take up an Amendment moved almost entirely by medical men on the other side and relating almost entirely to medical practitioners. It was moved on the third day at 7.14 and finally disposed of, after the Closure, at 8.45. It was an Amendment to add a new subsection to this famous line 9, and said, in effect, that no medical practitioner should be required to make or recover a charge. Naturally, I am not suggesting that Amendment was out of order, although it is a fact recorded in HANSARD that at one point the Chairman did say that it might appear that a mistake had been made in calling it. I accept that this Amendment was, in fact in order.

What that Clause does is to take power in respect of the out-patient departments in a hospital and the specialist services provided under one part of the Bill. The infinitely wider problem of what happens under another part of the Bill, under the general medical service, the pharmaceutical service, and the general dental service, also concerned with Prescriptions—

Mr. Speaker

I would call the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that it is not in order to discuss the merits of the Bill on this Motion.

Mr. MacLeod

I am sorry if I strayed a little too far in discussing the merits of the Bill. I am merely describing a point which is, I think, of the first importance in relation to the question whether we did or did not have time-wasting methods employed. Leaving aside the question of the merits of the Bill, which I recognise is out of order, I would point out that it was fiercely argued on a point of order that was raised that it was possible to conceive that these larger problems came within the narrower one.

Let me admit it can just be done. It is just possible to conceive of a man who is a general practitioner and who also dispenses his own drugs by capitation and not by tariff, and that that same man is on the specialist staff in his local hospital, and that that local hospital has an outpatient department and not a dispensary, and that the prescriptions, in the absence also of a chemist, have to be dispensed by the doctor. Then the whole of the problem arises. I dare say that, if we scan the entire field of the general practitioners in this country, we could find a couple—

Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

I hope the hon. Gentleman is remembering that there are places in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where there is no chemist's shop at all.

Mr. MacLeod

Of course, that merely confirms the point, which is that to bring one man in, the whole of the qualifications have to apply. Now, the point is simply this. For every doctor affected by this Bill, 1,000 were affected by the 1949 Act. For every problem that arises for the chemists under this, a dozen arose before. I see that the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) is in his place. He argued in the Committee: We are trying to protect the doctors from having to levy charges upon the patients before they have their drugs and medicines. I think I have every right to speak on that matter."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 9th April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 2846.] So indeed he had. And he had every right to speak on the far graver problems that arose on 9th December, 1949, when the major issue was shuffled through this House of Commons. It is no excuse to say, as we were told, that those Regulations have not been implemented, because unless the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Manuel

On a point of order. Do I take it that it will be in order now to go over all the arguments we have raised in previous stages of this matter?

Mr. Speaker

I have been watching the course of the hon. Gentleman's speech with some apprehension. It appeared to me that the argument he was putting before the House was that unnecessary time had been wasted in previous discussions on the Bill.

Mr. MacLeod

Yes.

Mr. Speaker

That is an argument which renders some reference, no doubt, to those matters in order, but it would be grossly out of order to enter upon a general discussion of those matters.

Mr. MacLeod

Yes. I am doing this only by way of illustration. I do not want to introduce a general discussion on this matter. It is no excuse to say that the 1949 Act was not implemented unless the hon. Member, at the same time, is going to explain that he was in the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale.

Mr. Speaker

I really cannot allow discussion of the 1949 Act or of the present Bill. That would open the door much too wide, and would lead us, on this Motion, out of order.

Dr. A. D. D. Broughton (Batley and Morley)

Does your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, mean that, even though accusations have been made against me, I am unable to reply to them?

Mr. Speaker

I will look round the House and see whether the hon. Member is in it.

Mr. MacLeod

I will certainly leave the 1949 Act and come, as I trust I am allowed to, in a sentence or two, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South, made constant references to the Act of a year ago, to that particular Measure. In the case both of the 1949 Act and of the 1951 Act, the votes of the hon. Member are recorded. I think that, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to leave it there. If he himself can reconcile the speeches he made and did not make, I am satisfied.

What, then, is the reason we have had what I claim to be organised time-wasting in the House of Commons when these much vaster problems were before passed undiscussed? It cannot be concern for the health of the people. It is concern for the votes of the people.

Mr. Paget

That is why the hon. Member wants to cut out argument.

Mr. MacLeod

I come to the second point I want to put before the House. If it is true that there has been as I said, within the rules of order, some sort of time-wasting, it is important to realise that we have been given very fair warning by Members on the other side of what they intend to do, and I want to refer here to a statement made, discussing an earlier matter relating to the Bill, and to the question of the Guillotine as well, although a Motion for one was not on the Order Paper, by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who said—and this was part of his case against the Government on this Measure: If Parliament is so much out of tune with what the country wants, if the Government of the day force through legislation so demonstrably against the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate, how is it possible for us to continually advise the industrial masses that they ought not to use industrial action in order to prevent legislation they do not like."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 2797.] I take it the right hon. Gentleman agrees with that.

Mr. Delargy

Is the hon. Gentleman referring to me?

Mr. MacLeod

I am not much interested in the Plaza Toros who lead the Labour Party at the moment. I am more interested in the responsible people in it. Perhaps whoever is to reply for them in this debate—may be the right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil)—accepting as I do without going into any argument about previous Measures that he loathes this Measure, and accepting that he does not agree with the Guillotine to stop discussion which is before the House, would let us know whether he thinks it is right that his objections to that might lead him, if not to encourage, at least not actively to discourage outside this House industrial action aimed at the privileges and legislation of the House of Commons. Perhaps he will specifically answer that point when he replies.

Mr. M. Stewart

If any hon. Member were so ill advised as to suggest to workers industrial action of the kind referred to—

Mr. MacLeod

It has been suggested.

Mr. Stewart

It is perfectly well known that in this House and elsewhere my right hon. Friend has explicitly disapproved of such action. But if anyone were so ill advised as to suggest it, surely the hon. Gentleman himself will go round the coalfields and urge people not to follow that course surely he has enough confidence in his own eloquence to be quite certain that he can dissuade anyone from taking that action.

Mr. Speaker

I do not see what all this has got to do with the Motion before the House. I must ask hon. Members to observe the rules of order.

Mr. MacLeod

I suspected that we were again straying away from the rules of order, and I will return to the subject under discussion. It seems to me that the examples I have tried to give show that there has been considerable time-wasting. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is my personal view, to which I am entitled, and I think I have heard more of these debates than possibly any other hon. Member.

Let me say this finally. I submit that there has been organised time-wasting. Secondly, I submit that we have been given clear warnings by threats that this action is aimed, not only at contentious legislation, but at all the Measures of this Government. In my view, faced with that sort of situation, this and any other Government, whatever its majority in the House, provided it commands an absolute majority in the House, has not only a right but a duty to bring forward a Guillotine Motion.

7.3 p.m.

Dr. A. D. D. Broughton (Batley and Morley)

At the outset of my remarks I find myself in a little difficulty, because an accusation was levelled against me which you, Mr. Speaker, interrupted by telling the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod) that he was out of order. I hope that I shall be allowed to reply to the part of his speech made before he was called to order.

When the 1949 Measure was discussed we were given a firm assurance by my hon. Friend then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health that there would be adequate safeguards for people who could least afford the expense of 1s. on the prescription. It was only after we had been given a definite assurance that those safeguards would be made that we supported the Measure. When the Minister came to draw up the regulations there were so many classes of people needing protection that it was found impossible to implement that Measure and it was abandoned by the Government.

Mr. Iain MacLeod

The hon. Gentleman is evading the point. It is nothing to do with old-age pensioners or anyone else. The problems of doctors and chemists arose far more seriously then than they do now.

Dr. Broughton

That is a matter which my right hon. Friend then Minister of Health had not overlooked. He took that into consideration, and I have no doubt it was one of the reasons, in addition to the others, why that Measure was never implemented.

The purpose of the Government in suspending the Standing Order and applying the Guillotine is to force this wretched National Health Service Bill through Parliament, to circumvent the direct resistance of a vigorous Opposition, and ignore the wishes of the people. The speech of the hon. Member for Enfield, West, is typical. It shows that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite fail to grasp the reason why we so strenuously tried to prevent this Bill reaching the Statute Book. We regard it as a nasty little Bill, but one which can have such a large and bad effect upon the health of the working population.

On the last occasion when this Bill was being considered in Committee we witnessed a most unusual event. Shortly after midnight the Foreign Secretary came into the Chamber. He was attired in evening clothes. I have no objection, of course, to his wearing evening clothes; it enhances his elegance. Obviously, he had been out to a party. Well, I have no objection to his going out to a party; as Foreign Secretary he has many duties to perform, including attendance at social functions. I mention that to remind the House of his appearance, and to recall to mind the fact that he had been absent from our discussions. As a matter of fact, I do not remember his being here for more than a few minutes throughout the course of the three days of the Committee stage.

Yet, when he arrived the right hon. Gentleman claimed that he was making a reasonable reply to the debate. What happened was that when he came into the Chamber he saw the two Ministers in charge of the Bill on the verge of collapse and in great difficulties. They had been asked questions about the Bill and had displayed appalling ignorance. They had been asked questions about the National Health Service and had shown a shameful lack of knowledge of it, and so into the breach leapt the Foreign Secretary. He accused the Opposition of having employed filibustering tactics. How could he know? He based that false assumption entirely on the slow rate of progress of the Bill. My hon. and right hon. Friends and I have tried to the utmost of our ability to show the Government why this Bill is wrong.

Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)

The hon. Gentleman made reference to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. He said that my right hon. Friend came into the Chamber in evening dress, as many of the hon. Gentleman's own Front Bench Members did when they were in power, and was trying to give the impression that my right hon. Friend had been to a party. The point I want to make is that it is the usual courtesy of the House that when an hon. Member is going to attack an hon. Member he informs that hon. Member that he is going to do so.

Dr. Broughton

I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has misunderstood me. I was making no attack on the Foreign Secretary for having come here in evening dress. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No. I mentioned that to emphasise the fact that he had been absent from our debate, and I said that his attendance at a party was one of his social duties as Foreign Secretary. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman either did not hear my words or did not understand them. I can assure him that I was casting no reflection whatsoever on the Foreign Secretary for having been out attending to his duties.

I was about to say, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman interrupted me, that the slow progress of this Bill has been entirely due to the obstinacy of the Government in not accepting any of our Amendments. We regard this Bill as wrong and inhuman. The Government have no mandate for carrying through such legislation, and it is our duty to oppose it to the limit of our ability.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) mentioned that the Government had no mandate for this Bill. I would like to carry that argument a little further and point out that in this cyanosed publication I have here, with its picture of a petrified lion—a statement of Conservative and Unionist policy, price 6d., and a swindle—it states, on page 5, under the heading, "The Conservative Purpose" that, "We must safeguard our traditional way of life." It does not explain clearly what is meant by our traditional way of life. I looked elsewhere for a definition, and I came across the address of my Tory opponent in the last General Election. He stated in bold print, "Conservative policy will maintain the British way of life."

Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

I trust, Mr. Speaker, that we shall also be able to read the addresses of our opponents.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I realise that it is very difficult to keep in order on this time-table Motion, but I hope hon. Members will not introduce matters which are really extraneous to the Motion before the House. I did not hear what the hon. Member was saying because I was engaged in conversation by an hon. Member.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

While you were temporarily absent from the Chair, Mr. Speaker, your deputy gave an answer to a similar question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). That was put while the Minister of Health was introducing this Motion. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale did, in fact, point out that the Minister, in introducing this Motion, went into the whole question of the economic circumstances of the country, and pointed out that this Bill was necessary to bring about economic stability, and in answer to the point of order of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, Mr. Deputy-Speaker said that it would be quite in order to deal with the points that had been raised. Therefore, I would submit to you, Sir, that my hon. Friend would be in order in raising any matter appertaining to the general economic stability of the country.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Further to that point of order. This is a question of reading an opponent's Election address. If we can do that, then obviously we are going to spread this debate very wide indeed.

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)

In previous discussions on Guillotine Motions, at the time of the Iron and Steel Bill, 1948, and on the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, many references were made by speakers on both sides of the House as to whether the Government of that day had any mandate for the Measures to be carried out, and the Election addresses of both sides were quoted, I think, during those debates. It therefore seems relevant to relate the quotation of Election addresses to the question of whether there is a mandate to carry out this Measure of the National Health Service Bill and to empower the Government to carry out a Guillotine Motion.

Mr. Speaker

There is a certain relevance to it so long as it is not carried too far. It is a matter for the good sense of the House. The real matter which we have to resolve is whether this Motion should be passed tonight.

Dr. Broughton

I was saying that my Tory opponent put in bold print, on his Election address, "Conservative policy will maintain the British way of life." He defined that by saying that the British way of life meant helping those who found it hard to help themselves. That is the exact opposite of what this Bill will do. This Bill, as I have said in my speeches during the Committee stage, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale emphasised today, will hit hard at the people who can least help themselves. It is an attack upon cripples, upon mothers, and upon the poor and the weak.

Mr. Iain MacLeod

If the hon. Gentleman is going to take this line, was not the Bill of a year ago which he supported so enthusiastically an attack on the blind?

Dr. Broughton

No. The hon. Gentleman is referring to the Bill which imposed a certain amount of charge on spectacles. That was not for the treatment of the blind.

Mr. MacLeod

For those losing their sight.

Dr. Broughton

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has not got this quite clear in his mind. He is confusing different issues.

The Government have, during the course of debate on this Bill, been defeated in arguments time after time. Their own arguments have been feeble and futile, so they have adopted this method of suspending the Standing Orders and the imposition of the Guillotine which, I am afraid, I can only regard as cheating. By doing that they have sunk to undemocratic and unconstitutional methods They are pushing aside the Standing Orders and barging their way through Parliament to try to put on to the Statute Book an ugly, objectionable little Bill.

They will not listen to reason. The speeches that have been made during the Committee stage have not been filibustering speeches—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] They have been instructive speeches for people who would care to listen to them. But the Government, of course, have not wished to listen to reason, so they are trying to gag us by using the Guillotine. In my opinion, it is outrageous conduct and it is reducing Parliamentary proceedings to a farce.

I suppose that the Government, because of their majority, will be successful in the Division Lobbies tonight, and that tomorrow, or in the very near future, we shall return to our considerations of the Bill on the Committee stage. Those deliberations to which we shall return will be a solemn council forthwith to be held at Pandemonium.

7.22 p.m.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

The speech to which the House has just listened left at any rate two impressions on my mind: first, that the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) does not like the National Health Service Bill, and secondly, that he does not like the Guillotine. Whereas I am quite ready to believe that he understands the National Health Service Bill—or if that be too much honour, at any rate the simpler parts of it—I am quite satisfied that he does not understand the Guillotine.

For example, he referred time and again to the suspension of Standing Orders by this Motion. But there is only one Standing Order affected and you, Sir, pointed out at an early stage of our deliberations that there was no suspension of Standing Order 41 but merely gave a Ruling that it did not apply to these proceedings.

Mr. M. Stewart

The hon. Member says that there was no suspension of Standing Order 41. I agree that was the Ruling of the Chair. Will he explain why the Leader of the House, when moving the Motion, referred to the suspension of Standing Order 41 by this Motion?

Mr. Walker-Smith

My right hon. Friend, who is so well able to speak for himself, must have been led into bad habits by the use of that inaccurate phrase by so many hon. Members on the other side of the House.

Mr. Stewart

But the Leader of the House ought not to be led into bad habits by other people.

Mr. Walker-Smith

There can clearly be no excuse for the hon. Member, who has formerly sat on the Front Bench, to address the House from a seated position. We have had many remarkable contributions this afternoon not only from a seated position. We have had an embarrassment of riches, not only from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) who, so far as I can see, will speak in every debate that comes before this House for a long time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Much to your regret."] We have also heard the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). I found that a very interesting concatenation of circumstances because we have it on the high authority of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that there is a competition for the reversion of the leadership of the party opposite, and that those two right hon. Gentlemen are the protagonists.

Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)

Wishful thinking.

Mr. Walker-Smith

With great respect to the hon. and sedentary Gentleman the Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman), part way through the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale left the Chamber and did not return to it until after the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, had finished—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]—but the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, not to be backward in courtesy, did not come into the Chamber at all when the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was speaking—

Mr. McNeil

rose

Mr. Walker-Smith

When I come to a semi-colon, I will give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. McNeil

A full stop.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I was merely going to say that the right hon. Member for Easington did not listen to either of the speeches of the two right hon. Gentlemen. Now does the right hon. Gentleman wish to say something?

Mr. McNeil

The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary left at a certain stage of the debate also and has only now returned. I have no doubt, and the House has no doubt, that the right hon. Gentleman was fully and properly engaged during the time he left the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman is old enough in this House, and should have sufficient courtesy, to believe that Front Benchers on both sides of the House have other duties which take them outside this House at different times and should not attribute improper motives to them.

Mr. Walker-Smith

They were outside the Chamber, but were they outside the House? However, I will leave the right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) to have it out with the right hon. Member for Easington as to exactly what is the position.

The right hon. Gentleman is now also indulging in sedentary squawks, this time on the Front Bench. Has he anything better to say than when he exhorted his right hon. and learned Friend the former Lord Advocate, when I ventured to correct him on a point in regard to the 1947 allocation of time motion? I think the right hon. Gentleman was one of those who urged the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say in answer to me that that Motion referred only to the Committee and not to the Report stage. That, of course, was quite untrue. Was the right hon. Gentleman one of those who so urged his right hon. and learned Friend? He did not correct those who urged him, at any rate. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to have a little more sense of his responsibility if he is to continue to sit on the Front Opposition Bench.

Mr. McNeil

I am not very clear what the hon. Gentleman means. If I have hurt or upset him, I am anxious to apologise; but I hope, Mr. Speaker, you will protect me from these attempts at mind-reading, because that now seems to be the stage at which we have arrived.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I merely wished to establish whether the right hon. Gentleman was an accomplice of his right hon. and learned Friend, or whether he was merely a passive spectator who did not restrain him from falling into error. However, that is another question to which the right hon. Gentleman can address himself in due time.

I want to put this submission to the House. Nobody has come here so far to argue that there is anything un-parliamentary or unconstitutional about the application of the Guillotine procedure. The hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) has reminded the House very properly that there is not in today's proceedings the same departure from precedent that there was in the 1947 proceedings, when right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite carried a Motion to Guillotine two Bills simultaneously in Standing Committee for the first time in our Parliamentary history.

We are not concerned here with any great constitutional principle like that; we are merely concerned whether, having regard to the circumstances and the precedents, it is appropriate that the National Health Service Bill at this stage should be Guillotined. The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has dug deep, as is his way, into the precedents, but I am content with the precedents set up by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in 1947—the Guillotining of the Transport and the Town and Country Planning Bills.

Mr. Foot

As the hon. Member is taking that precedent, perhaps he will say how many days were left for discussion of that Bill when the Guillotine Motion went through?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am coming to that, if the hon. Member will allow me, in a moment; but logically, before coming to how much time was left, I was going to consider what had taken place prior to the Guillotine. Let us start with that comparison. I am not going to weary the House by considering both Bills. I will take only the Town and Country Planning Bill, because that was the Committee on which I sat. As the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) may know, that was a large and complex Measure of 120 Clauses and 11 Schedules as against this comparatively simple Measure of eight Clauses and no Schedules. The then Government saw fit to apply the Guillotine procedure to that Bill after it had had only four sittings in Standing Committee upstairs, four sittings of a total length of about 10 hours during which they had got through five Clauses, that is to say, an average of two hours per Clause.

The then Minister of Town and Country Planning, who was in charge for the then Government, made no allegation of obstruction or filibustering such as we rightly make in regard to this Measure, although he did say he was disappointed with the progress. In answer to the hon. Member for Devonport, that was the stage at which his right hon. Friend saw fit to introduce the Guillotine procedure. The hon. Member did not say that that was a denial of democracy, although, of course, he might have said so had he learned at that early stage to point out the errors of his right hon. Friends, as afterwards he did.

This Bill, by way of contrast, has had 21½ hours on one-third of a Clause. So, against two hours per Clause, there was an average of 65 hours spent on this Measure before the Leader of the House sees fit to Guillotine the debate. The hon. Member for Devonport asks how much time was left? This, of course, introduces the argument which was really the only argument of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, who said that in fixing the time for the remainder of the Clauses one could not have regard to the time spent on the previous Clauses. I say that is an unsound argument. We have to regard the Bill as a whole bcause the time of Parliament, like all time in nature, is neccessarily limited.

Further, the argument of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, would suggest this—was my right hon. Friend to assume in advance that hon. Members opposite would filibuster and require an average of 65 hours to deal with a single Clause? Was he to come to this House and propose an allocation of time Motion from the start? Even now, in fixing the time, what guarantee have we on this side of the House who have witnessed the obstructionist activities of hon. Members opposite that if they were given more time it would be well spent in the processes of democracy? We have no guarantee at all. Therefore, I say that the right way to approach this, in answer to the hon. Member for Devonport, whose attention has strayed—

Mr. Foot

I was waiting for the figures.

Mr. Walker-Smith

They are coming. The right way is to average over the time and see how much time will be spent per Clause of the Bill. Working out those figures very quickly for the benefit of the hon. Member for Devonport, I find that, whereas the average for the National Health Service Bill is four and a half hours per Clause, the average for the Town and Country Planning Bill was one half-hour. Nine times the amount will be given in the average time on the National Health Service Bill compared with what was given by right hon. Gentlemen opposite to the Town and Country Planning Bill, 1947.

Mr. Paget

rose

Mr. Walker-Smith

If the hon. and learned Member will be quick, I will give way.

Mr. Paget

Clauses in one Bill and another are, of course, entirely different—[Interruption.] Of course they are. Does the hon. Member think that every Bill has the same Clauses? Would the hon. Member say, as a general proposition, whether or not he considers it the duty of a Government which imposes the Guillotine to leave adequate time—at whatever point it imposes the Guillotine—for discussion of what remains to be discussed, and does he honestly think that has happened this time?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The answer to the question of principle is of course, yes, and the answer to the second question is that I hope so. I have no doubt that at the end of it, when we have finished with the Committee and Report stages of this Bill, we shall have something better to show in regard to democratic discussion than either on the Transport Bill or the Town and Country Planning Bill. On the Town and Country Planning Bill 37 Clauses and seven Schedules were never discussed by this House either in Committee or on Report, and on the Transport Bill 36 Clauses and seven Schedules were never discussed either on Committee or on Report. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) would think that was an appropriate result. All I can say to him, because these things are relevant—

Mr. Paget

rose

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, I cannot give way again—is that we shall do better in the democratic discussion of this Bill, infinitely better than that which contented the hon. and learned Member when he exercised his suffrage for the Guillotining of those Measures.

I am prepared to take as the appropriate tests—and hon. and right hon. Members opposite will agree with this—as to whether it is appropriate to have the Guillotine procedure, the tests applied by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood) when he introduced the Guillotine Motion in 1947. He said: I am saying that I am sorry that it has not been possible for it to be done by voluntary agreement and that if it had been done by voluntary agreement it would have been to the satisfaction of the Government; but, in view of the state of the programme, and of the fact that no voluntary agreement has been reached, we have no alternative but to put into operation machinery with which we have been armed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 57.] There are two clear tests suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, the test of the voluntary agreement or absence thereof and the test of the state of the Government programme. If we apply those two tests to this Measure, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is quite entitled on both of them to take the course he has taken.

In regard to the voluntary agreement, how is it possible to make a voluntary agreement with the party opposite? One cannot make an agreement with a party which cannot agree among themselves. They have no contractual capacity. They are like the front and hind legs of a pantomime donkey; both are active from time to time, but seldom in unison and never in harmony.

The position the House has to face in this matter is that no agreement made, even if they wished to make it, by right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Bench opposite would necessarily bind those who sit behind them. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite have status but no power, and hon. Members who sit behind them have power but no status. Therefore, on the first test of voluntary agreement, it is quite clear that it would not have been possible to achieve it in this case: and the first test of the right hon. Member for Wakefield is satisfied.

Then there is the question of the Government programme. Here I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing), more particularly—although I do not wish to differentiate between two such learned hon. Members—because he explained in a most interesting speech in the course of the Easter Adjournment debate, just how much there was of the Government programme to be got through in a limited time and made the case for us on the second test suggested by the right hon. Member for Wakefield. I know what the hon. and learned Gentleman is going to say—that I must not make too much of his advocacy; he is going to say that he is wrong. I know he is going to say that because he said it before.

This is what the hon. and learned Gentleman said in this House on the Committee stage of the National Health Service Bill, on 3rd April: Mine may be, and very often is, an entirely mistaken view of the law, and I should be wrong if I were to conceal it from the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 1936.] Now that I have made, on behalf of the hon. and learned Member, the modest disavowal which he was anxious to press upon the House, no doubt we can save his blushes and I can be spared from giving way to him.

Mr. Bing

I know that the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) was, when we were discussing this matter, otherwise occupied presiding over a meeting, attempting to secure some agreement between his party and the Prime Minister, and was well occupied in that task. It would be a saving of the time of the House if hon. Gentlemen opposite would try to curtail their speeches, having missed the particular debate to which they are relevant.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Member. Of course, he will appreciate that the difference between us is that even assuming—I am not admitting it—that there was anything in what he said, which succeeded, but there is a yawning chasm separating the various factions of the party opposite.

The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) has also powerfully reinforced our argument in that regard. In the debate on the Easter Adjournment, he was good enough to make some complicated calculations, and he found that if we proceeded only at the same rate as we have been proceeding on the National Health Service Bill, it would take 23 years for the Government programme to be got through the House.

The hon. Gentleman made a mistake in his arithmetic. I am not criticising him for that; he had a classical education and cannot be expected to get these little matters right. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the hon. Member?"] I will make a correction for the hon. Gentleman. Overcoming the disadvantages of my education, I have also worked out the figures to the best of my ability, and the period is more like 50 years.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

My calculation, inaccurate though it might have been, was based on the belief that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) might wish to discuss the Customs and Excise Bill, which contained about two-thirds of the Clauses upon which my calculations were based. Therefore, the removal of that Bill from the field of controversy reduces the period to five or 10 years.

Mr. Walker-Smith

We are passing from the element of fantasy introduced by the interruption of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch to the element of farce. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East rises voluntarily to correct the extent of his error. What I said was based on my calculations of the time taken on the Bill, and on that basis the figure is 50 and not 23. If the hon. Gentleman now says that it is a smaller figure than 23, the proportion does not differ, does it?

We cannot continue with this dialogue, interesting as it is. The position quite clearly satisfies both the basic tests, which are not mine; they were laid down by the right hon. Member for Wakefield. The situation fully satisfies both of these tests, and my right hon. Friend is justified in bringing forward this Guillotine proposal.

There has, in my submission, been filibustering and obstruction in the course of the Commitee stage of this Bill. I do not dissent from the view that many hon. Members opposite have made thoughtful and valuable contributions; but I say that there have been many contributions which fall into neither of those categories. I have here chapter and verse. I shall not weary the House with the whole of it, but I would say that, taking the very start of these proceedings—the short debate, or what should have been the short debate, on the Money Resolution, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was checked four times by the Chair in less than 10 minutes. Another hon. Member outdid his right hon. Friend and was checked seven times in a contribution occupying less than three columns of HANSARD.

There is an hon. and gallant Member opposite to whom I owe the courtesy of a short quotation because it is so very revealing of the conduct of these proceedings. The hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) said: Subjected as I am, I regret to say, to more interruption from my own side of the Committee than from the other, I will try to introduce perhaps a little more luminosity into the discussion.

Mr. Ede

Why not?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman says, "Why not?" He could not have been present to control his own hon. Friends at that time because only half a column later in the OFFICIAL REPORT the hon. and gallant Gentleman is recorded as saying: Despite the difficulties that have been made for me, to some extent, I regret, by my hon. Friends, who have impeded me in the discharge of my duties. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 1048–9.] That means that hon. Members opposite are convicted out of their own mouths. They admit that difficulties have been put in their way by their own hon. Friends when they tried to make a constructive contribution. The case of obstruction is proved up to the hilt out of the mouth of the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

Despite those interruptions which occurred on my side of the House because Members on my own side of the House were following what I said with close interest, will the hon. Member at least do me the credit of putting on record that everything I said was in order? I was not called to order by the Chair.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. and gallant Member was certainly not out of order. So far as his hon. Friends were concerned, I am certain that they listened to him with the degree of attention that they thought he deserved. But though the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not out of order, there have been many instances in these debates of what might be called bogus points of order made by hon. Members opposite which have contributed to the time-wasting aspect of these proceedings. That is another matter which should be taken into account.

Because I have, owing to the helpful interventions of hon. Members opposite, taken up more time than I expected, I shall not detail all the instances. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] I will not go through all the passages. After all, these are only comparatively casual passages which I have picked out. It has been a very long debate. But there were a large number of them. Even the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch, if he will at some stage refresh his memory with the speech which he made at column 2692 of HANSARD and onwards, will see that he was frequently reminded by the Chair that he was getting irrelevant in the course of his observations. I have too much respect for the ingenuity of the hon. and learned Member to suppose that he would be irrelevant by accident, and so one can only conclude that he was being irrelevant as part of a concerted policy.

Mr. Bing

I think I ought to apologise to the House. You, Mr. Speaker, quite rightly ruled that any reference either to Christian charity or to the Good Samaritan, or anything of that sort, was entirely out of order and could have no connection with the Bill proposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Speaker

In self-defence, may I ask if this discussion took place in Committee?

Mr. Bing

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, it was on Committee stage. I owe you an apology also, Mr. Speaker. I am very sorry. If you had been in the Chair, I am sure the Ruling would have been different.

Mr. Walker-Smith

There are those various and numerous evidences within the close-packed columns of HANSARD, all irrelevancies of hon. Members opposite which, as I say, it would strain credulity to suppose were accidental and unavoidable on their part. We are, therefore, however reluctantly, driven to the conclusion that if it was not Parliamentary ineptitude—and I do not make that charge—it was a deliberate and concerted attempt to waste the time of the House and to obstruct the process of legislation. That being so, in my submission the Allocation of Time Order is the correct and constitutional method of proceeding, and the Government are not only justified in making it, but are under a duty so to do to protect our Parliamentary processes in this country.

7.54 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) has been under severe restraint in recent weeks, and, like a horse turning out on Monday morning, he has managed to exhibit an exuberance which, I gather, was not quite sympathised with by one or two of the people supposed to exercise authority even over him. He alluded to the well-known modesty of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). Of course, the hon. Member must always be glad to see someone possessing qualities so remote from those which distinguish himself, because after the speech to which we have just listened I do not think that anyone would accuse the hon. Member for Hertford of undue modesty.

I have been in the House long enough to have heard speeches made on both sides of the House by old Members. I regret that the form of this Motion is not the same as that used by Mr. Ramsay McDonald after he had formed the National Government, so-called, in 1931. Then the form of the Motion enabled a discussion of the Bill under consideration to be proceeded with forthwith if the Motion for the allocation of time ended quickly.

The late Lord Addison led my hon. Friends on that occasion and he said, "If anyone wants to know my view he can read what I said when I was in the Government and when I was in opposition. I think that the best thing we can do is to get on with the discussion of the Bill and let the time allowed for the Motion be given over to the further stages of the Bill."

I do not complain, I would be the last to complain, that the Leader of the House had been reading my speech on a somewhat similar occasion when I sat on the other side of the House. Neither do I dissent now from the views I expressed then. One of the difficulties confronting a democracy is securing that action shall be taken, both in legislation and administration, in sufficient time to enable the country governed by that democracy, and the world at large, to feel that there is sufficient speed in this process of discussion. If a democracy and the world at large lose faith in that I think that the world will have taken a terrible plunge downwards towards a new dark age. Therefore, I do not complain, but I think that we on this side of the House have a legitimate cause for complaint about the way in which the Committee stage of the Bill has so far been conducted by the right hon. Gentleman and his Parliamentary Secretary.

The right hon. Gentleman is a little handicapped by the fact that he is the Minister in charge of the Bill as well as being the Leader of the House. When asked to nominate anyone for the captaincy of a cricket club I always considered it a good policy never to choose one of the club's stock bowlers, because if a stock bowler became a captain it was sometimes astonishing to find how difficult he found it to realise that the batsman had mastered him. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has given the House the leadership or displayed the knowledge of this Bill which we are entitled to expect from a Minister in charge of a Bill.

If I say that with regard to the right hon. Gentleman himself, I say it with the more emphasis with regard to the hon. Lady who is his Parliamentary Secretary. There were occasions, as I listened to her dealing with Amendments when I very much doubted whether she had read the Bill she was defending. The answer we received when these weaknesses were pointed out was for the Chief Patronage Secretary to get the Ministers out of their difficulty by moving the Closure, just when their incompetance was being made most manifest.

I would recall one occasion which illustrates the way the Bill has been handled by the Government in Committee. We were discussing a proposal that a certain charge should be put into the Bill. The hon. Lady first said that the charge was in the Bill. It was then pointed out that it was true that the words she quoted were in another Clause applicable to another charge, but that they were not in the Bill in regard to the particular charge that we were discussing. There was a consultation on the Front Bench opposite, and the hon. Lady then got up and said that it was true that she had made a mistake, but this would be incorporated—and she stopped with the word "incorporated." Quite obviously, the discussions related to the incorporation of this charge in the Bill.

When the hon. Lady sat down, my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), started a speech in reply, but the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health interrupted him to say that incorporation would be in the regulations and not in the Bill. When my right hon. Friend rose to continue his speech, the Patronage Secretary moved the Closure.

That is not the way in which a discussion can be conducted with good will in the House. I am bound to say that, when the Minister of Health was appointed Leader of the House, I heard the news at the time with a feeling of great satisfaction, for, having sat opposite to him for a very long period during the time I have been in the House, and having sat beside him for some years during the Coalition Government, I believed him to be a man who had the very highest respect for the traditions of the House, to be a good Parliamentarian and a first-class House of Commons man.

Never have I been more disappointed in anyone than I have been in the right hon. Gentleman. Whether it be on Thursdays, answering business questions, or in the conduct of the other affairs of the House, it is quite evident that his view is that his first job is to get the Government business, and that it is only his second job to be Leader of the House and have regard to the needs of all parties in the House.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), devoted some time to an examination of the proposals contained in this Motion. In spite of the denunciation which I have heard of my right hon. Friend for synthetic anger and inconsistency, he was far too generous to the Government. Take Clause 2. This is a Clause that has not been discussed at all. Not a word has been said in Committee so far on Clause 2. My right hon. Friend said that the Government had allowed three hours for it. The Question bringing the discussion on Clause 1 to an end will be put at five o'clock, and that relating to Clause 2 at eight o'clock, on the first allotted day.

I imagine that a Question will be under discussion when we reach five o'clock, in view of the large number of Amendments on the Order Paper, and that there will be at least one Amendment on which there will probably be a Division. Then, there will be the Motion, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill," and I do not expect that anyone on either side of the House imagines that that Motion will go through unchallenged.

Therefore, in these three hours, we must assume, on any reasonable understanding of House of Commons business, that there will be at least two Divisions immediately at five o'clock. We shall be very lucky if we start the discussion on Clause 2 at 5.20 p.m. I think it is much more likely that it will be 5.25 p.m. than 5.20 p.m. Therefore, the time allowed is only a little over two-and-a-half hours for the discussion of an important Clause that raises a very large number of detailed points.

I do not accept the argument used by the hon. Member for Hertford that, in considering the future of this Bill, one should deal with the time that has already been spent on the first part of Clause 1. I do not really think that the hon. Member can expect that anything done on Clause 1 can be regarded as settling either the principles or the details of Clause 2.

When one comes to look at later Clauses of the Bill, which are lumped together in the next period from 8.0 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the first allotted day, with the Schedules and new Clauses thrown in for good measure, it is quite certain that nothing has so far been said that will deal with them.

It seems to me that it is quite ludicrous, even making allowances for all that may have happened to excite the wrath of the hon. Member for Hertford, to suggest that this time of one day for the remainder of the Committee stage of this Bill can be regarded as affording any real chance for Parliamentary discussion at all. It is quite clear that, so far as Clause 1 is concerned, there may be an hour and a half for the remainder. I do not know what will happen on the first allotted day, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman hopes it will be taken directly after 3.30 p.m. There will be his business statement, and there may be one or two supplementary questions on that.

There may be a statement, because I do not know which other Department the Prime Minister will have decided to take over, so that he will come here and tell us that he has decided that what one of his hon. Friends thought was improper only a few days before had now become so essential that he must come to the House, take over the business and make a pronouncement upon it. At any rate, a few supplementary questions might be asked.

The hon. and gallant Member for Merton and Morden (Captain Ryder) may again be moved to protest about the way in which he had been misled by a Minister in the original answer to a Question. It is, therefore, very difficult to believe that even the hour and a half that is here theoretically allocated will, in fact, be available.

I started off by saying that I accepted the principle that too much discussion can ruin the chances of democracy as a Government, but, equally, too little discussion and too vindictive a use of the power of the majority can bring democracy into disrepute. So far as I know, and I have made inquiries, there was no discussion as to the form which this Guillotine Motion should take; that is to say, there was no approach to us by the Government, through the usual channels, to inquire whether it was necessary to have a Guillotine, or whether we had any suggestions to make about the length of time that should be allocated in gross or the way in which it should be shared out in detail. After all, I had a short and very difficult period as Leader of the House, in which my majority was rather smaller than that under which the right hon. Gentleman now suffers.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

The right hon. Gentleman did very well.

Mr. Ede

I did very well because I did not pursue this policy. After all, I was handicapped by certain hon. Gentlemen who announced that they were voting for me merely to keep me in office and not because they loved me very much.

I suggest to the Government that when they reached the kind of impasse that was reached on this Bill immediately before Easter—I must say that I enjoyed some of the speeches at 3.30 p.m. more than those at 3.30 a.m.—the proper thing would have been for an approach to be made to see whether some allocation of time was possible. I hope that if, in future, we get involved in this same, kind of difficulty—and we very well may—it will be treated as a House of Commons matter, that the reputation of the House as a place where free discussion can be carried on should be safeguarded, and that there should at any rate be a Parliamentary approach.

If such an approach is rebuffed—as I was occasionally—then the Government are, I think, entitled to take such a course as they think fit. But I hope that there would first be an approach to see whether the position of Parliament could be preserved, for the effort in this particular Motion to deal with the situation is not one that reflects credit on either the Government or the House of Commons.

I want to make it quite clear that, in my view, to ask for the remainder of the Committee stage of this Bill in one day is an outrage of Parliamentary procedure. To attempt to get Clause 2 in what I think I have shown quite clearly cannot be longer than two hours and 40 minutes is an application of that outrage which, I think, deserves the severest condemnation. I have no doubt that this particular Motion for the allocation of time will be regarded in future years as an outstanding example of the way in which, if this has to be done at all, it ought not to be done.

I hope that when we come to the detailed provisions of the order—I do not wish to anticipate any of the proposals being put forward—the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House will consider whether in the interests of Parliamentary democracy and the good name of this House it would not be advisable to give further facilities than those he has shown because I am quite certain that the passing of this Motion—the first to be put forward by this Government—can only lead to an embitterment of the situation which for the sake of the good order of the House and the smooth working of business we all ought to avoid if we possibly can.

This Bill, after all, affects a very large number of comparatively defenceless people, some of them quite defenceless, and it is the duty of the Opposition to see that in such a situation all the proposals of the Government are adequately and fairly discussed. We cannot accept this Motion as a genuine effort on the part of the Government and on the part of the Leader of the House and the Minister of Health, regarding the right hon. Gentleman in his two capacities, as an effort properly to deal with the situation which has developed.

I recall that the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary was also for a short time Leader of the House.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

For four years.

Mr. Ede

They were somewhat extraordinary years. Nobody was quite clear who was leading whom in those days, but I do not want to say anything more about that.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to approach this Motion in the spirit in which I have endeavoured to approach it. I feel very embittered—I want to be quite frank with the right hon. Gentleman—at the terms of this Motion and the shortness of the time allocated. I think that embitterment is justified by the analysis I have made. We have to live together in this House, and in my view and in my experience we get on a great deal better when such causes of embitterment are not forced on our opponents in the House. I very sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman, looking at this time-table, will feel that it is not one upon which, in a few years' time, he will look back with any pride, and that a little generous use of the power he now has in this matter may be a very good investment in the years to come.

8.16 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

As the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has just said, he and I and the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) have, at different periods during past years, shared the leadership of this House, and we have had to do with Guillotine Motions and other problems of that kind from either side of the House.

I remember once the right hon. Member for South Shields making a delightful comment, in his typically humorous vein, about the view one took of these matters according to where one happened to be sitting at the time. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman remembers the quotation, but it struck me as being such a good one that I will, if I may, give it to him. He said: It was interesting to find how a speech that had been made by one hon. Gentleman who sat on the Opposition side, was answered by himself when he sat on the Government side, in the same terms as were used by the Member of the Government who replied to him when he was in Opposition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1952; Vol. 434, c. 124.] That is not only a remarkably accurate description of some portions of this debate, but also a remarkable statement to get through without making one single fault. As a general rule, I think we all accept that the right hon. Gentleman can, perhaps, put a case more persuasively than almost anyone in this House, and this evening he made a very earnest appeal. However, I thought he was less than fair to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House in this difficult business which he had to handle. Indeed, I thought he was much less than fair, as also was the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, earlier this afternoon.

I will, in a moment, go into one or two of the considerations which the Government have in mind in their effort to allocate this time, but I would like, first of all, to say that I agree with the right hon. Member for South Shields on his general principles with which he opened this discussion. What the House has to do if it is to function effectively—and the right hon. Gentleman says, rightly, that we have to work and live together—is to find some mean between unduly long discussion—I will not use words like "filibustering" or "obstruction"—on individual Clauses which result in the holding up of the nation's business, and too drastic a Guillotine machine. Somewhere between those two things we must find a happy medium.

As I understood, that was what the right hon. Gentleman said. I do not think anybody can complain about that, but I do not entirely accept the picture of himself which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, presented to us for our acceptance—even our admiration—this afternoon. He told us what a master of moderation he had always shown himself to be when it came to dealing with these Guillotine matters. If he could have seen the faces behind him I am not sure that he would have carried it through without any real hesitation at all. But he put it over with an aplomb which was really remarkable and he told us no one had been so moderate.

He did it so well that for a moment I thought all my recollections must be wrong and all my memories of the right hon. Gentleman introducing the Guillotine, not after many days' discussion hut before there had been discussion at all. I thought I must have been wrong. I thought my recollections of the right hon. Gentleman guillotining Bills, not here on the Floor of the House but upstairs in Committee—the first time that had ever been done in our history—were wrong. There was the master of moderation. Once again I thought my memory must have been wrong, so I looked it up after I had heard the right hon. Gentleman's speech.

I do not know whether he remembered what he said or what he did. I do not think he could have done this afternoon or surely he would not have been speaking as he was. He made a speech on the allocation of time on the Iron and Steel Bill and he became positively lyrical about the Guillotine and its value and what he was doing. He said: At this moment I am dealing with a new chapter in our island story. That is really magnificent. And then he was interrupted, which, I must say, was really unkind. Hon. Members said: Answer the question. The right hon. Gentleman replied characteristically: Who is ordering me about? I repeat, I am dealing with the new chapter in our island story. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1428.] That was the introduction—and it was a new chapter, because we were guillotined before we ever got going at all, the first time it had ever been done in our Parliamentary history. I do not think that is a very good precedent. If anybody wants to weary himself by looking it up he will find that the protest we then made when we were in Opposition was precisely against that. The words I used were that the main part of our case rested on the Government's decision to guillotine these Bills upstairs before there had been any proper examination. We considered they should have been discussed on the Floor of the House. [Interruption.] That is arguable, but I am dealing at the moment with the right hon. Gentleman in the character of the master of moderation.

May I try to deal with what the right hon. Gentleman said about this division of time? That was the main—I would say really the only point—the right hon. Gentleman made. It was repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields on our allocation of time on this Bill. I should like to make one or two comparisons. I have tried to work them out. We gave consideration, naturally, to the amount of time on this Bill in relation to the time given to other Government Measures guillotined before. I put two examples in parallel so that the House can judge.

We had for the Transport Bill 37 minutes per Clause, if one includes all the time taken in that discussion before the Guillotine was imposed. For the purpose of this comparison I include all that. If one takes the Town and Country Planning Bill, on the same basis we had 32 minutes per Clause. If one takes the present Bill on the same basis we have three and a half hours per Clause. I quite understand that hon. Members may say that that is not a fair basis of comparison. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I was going to give hon. Members another basis, but I saw that that argument might flash through the minds of some hon. Gentlemen opposite.

It might easily occur to hon. Members to say, "What is the good?" It all depends on how much time there was before the Guillotine operated. I am perfectly willing to give this comparison.

Mr. Paget

There are Amendments.

Mr. Eden

I hope that the hon. and learned Member will not challenge me on Amendments. He will remember whole chapters of Amendments which were never discussed on the Transport Bill at all, and, unhappily, Clauses that fixed the fares.

Mr. Paget

Is it not a fact that on that occasion the Opposition were offered a time-table, were offered a business committee, and could have had time for those Clauses but preferred to keep agreements?

Mr. Eden

That is not my recollection, but even if we were offered a timetable the hon. and learned Member is not going to tell me on the figures I am giving, and more figures that he will get if he keeps on interrupting, that this was the kind of treatment we received when the party opposite were in power.

If one takes out all the time of the discussions that took place before we moved the Guillotine Motion on this Bill, and if we take out of the calculation all the time the House had on the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill previous to the starting of the actual Guillotine, it will be found that even on that basis we have allowed 48 minutes per Clause compared with the 32 minutes and 37 minutes which I mentioned earlier. I do not think that on that basis the Opposition can say that we are behaving so harshly in this matter.

Of course, as has been said, there is a wider issue in this business than the Guillotine and the time-table. We differ across the House and within the House about our assessments of these matters, but I do not think that anybody would doubt the gravity of the national problems that confront us. I have heard several speakers, among them the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), say how absurd it is to make economies on a small scale at the expense of the cripple and so on in relation to the general national position. But it can be said how small the economies are in relation to almost any broad scheme of economies that has to be made.

This is only part of the Government's scheme, and if we as a nation fail to maintain the purchasing power of our money—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] We are engaged here in a wide series of plans of which this one is admittedly financially a small element. The whole goes together. It might have been that some part of these measures could have been dealt with in the Finance Bill which comes later, but this is part of the whole effort the Government are called upon to make and if the effort as a whole fails nobody will suffer more than those very people who are dealt with under this Bill.

I do not think this whole business could have been better expressed than it was in a speech not very long ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is a speech which I read —I say this sincerely—with very great respect and admiration. Unfortunately, it was not very widely reported in the national Press, though I have armed myself with a report from the "Daily Herald," so I hope that I shall not be challenged about its authenticity. This speech was reported on 21st April.

The heading of the speech—not my heading, but that of the "Daily Herald"—is "Attlee hits out at trouble-makers in party." But I am not going into that. I am simply dealing with what the speech said. The speech is to me a very correct and, indeed, courageous analysis of the international situation which makes, in passing, this remarkable observation about the re-armament programme: The programme has had to be slowed down by the Tory Government. If we had been in power we should also have had to slow it down. He then deals with the Health Service, and refers to the way in which the costs went up rapidly. He said: It kept going up and it was difficult to fix a limit. But it was essential to strike a balance between what could be afforded on health and what on other things. Ministers suggested certain changes"— as we have done here— which were not unfair, but were designed to prevent some abuses such as excessive prescribing and excessive provision of dentures. It was on this that certain Ministers found themselves at variance with their colleagues. Subsequently, there was added objection to the level of armaments. All this is an argument to show that last year the Government had to take certain steps about the Health Service. Just as they had a situation which had to be met, so have we to take these steps as part of a much wider and more disagreeable plan than the late Government had to impose.

Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)

The right hon. Gentleman is making a point that it is because of the nation's financial and economic difficulties that these economies are being made, or these charges are being imposed, for I do not admit that they are economies. Does he not know that his hon. Friends, notably the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod), have been telling us for weeks that he believes in the imposition of these charges on social and ethical grounds?

Mr. Eden

Maybe he did say so, but I am dealing with the argument that I am presenting at the moment.

I want to put this further point to the House. Last year there was a similar situation with respect to the Health Service, in this sense, that the Government presented a Bill effecting certain charges and there were differences between the then Government supporters. We did not seek to embarrass the Government at that time. We watched night after night—I myself watched—the divergence on the Government benches, but we did not attempt to interfere. We believe that exactly the same position confronts us now, the only difference being that now right hon. Gentlemen opposite are following their back benchers instead of leading them.

There is even more in it than this. The House knows quite well that some Members of the Opposition are not merely trying to hold up the National Health Service Bill; they are trying to delay the whole Government legislation. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), warning us specifically that if the Government insisted upon his legislation going through the House, said: We cannot guarantee them any facilities whatsoever, either on the Finance Bill or the Supplies and Services Bill despite whatever constitutional embarrassment may follow"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 9th April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 2796.] That is a point of view that anybody is entitled to take. But what I have to ask is: Whom does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "we"? Is that the position of the Front Bench opposite?

Mr. Bevan

Why not?

Mr. Eden

The right hon. Gentleman must let them answer. He cannot answer for them. Is that the position of the Opposition Front Bench? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Perhaps that could be worked out for the next occasion, when I could be given a reply.

It is obvious that any Government has got to take account of that situation, and I would say that even in normal times no Government could ignore that challenge, nor is it intended that we should ignore it. No Government could ignore it in normal times, still less in these times, which everyone knows are abnormal. To ignore that would be to accept the complete abdication of our role and responsibility. That would be to leave a vacuum and no government for the State. That we are not prepared to do.

We believe that this Measure, disagreeable and unpopular as it is, losing us votes in county council and borough council elections as it probably will, must be carried through. We intend to carry it through, with the other disagreeable and unpopular plans, and let the country judge on the issue when the time comes. Meanwhile, I say that this time-table, unpalatable as it is, is inevitable, and I ask the House to approve it.

Several Hon. Members

rose

Mr. Speaker

I now propose to call the Amendment standing in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and other right hon. Gentlemen.

8.36 p.m.

Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)

I beg to move, in line 5, to leave out "one," and insert "three."

This is an Amendment which stands in my name and in the names of some of my right hon. Friends, and I imagine that it will not be completely out of order if I address myself to some of the remarks offered by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. As usual, I was impressed by his eloquence and his sincerity. My regret is that I cannot conclude that either his eloquence or his sincerity match his facts.

For example, without wishing to labour the point, I say that it is utterly inaccurate to suggest that the situation which existed when we introduced certain amendments last year to the National Health Service Act was comparable to the present circumstances. It was neither comparable in the kind of Amendments we offered nor in the economic measures we were taking at the same time.

The right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends will always have to face this difference—that we imposed no charges or restrictions which fell upon sick people. The sick people were not in any way embarrassed, impeded or disabled by the charges that were made. There is the right hon. Gentleman, surrounded by all his informed friends, including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food, and that fact cannot be challenged and is not being challenged. I am delighted to see the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southgate (Mr. Baxter) acting in the capacity of P.P.S. It is the nearest position to responsibility in which I have noticed him.

The second point is that the right hon. Gentleman will not persuade us or anyone else that this is an essentially economic saving, at a time when his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is releasing in tax easements something in excess of £120 million to people who are in relatively better positions, and, at the same time is descending upon the feeble, the sick and the very, very poor to secure £10.75 million. It is a simple piece of arithmetic. If this was all he needed to save, it was simple enough. His right hon. Friend should have scaled down his tax concessions from £120 million to £110 million; but he did not do that. He did not do that because, as the right hon. Gentleman has explained, he thought—and his calculations have been proved wrong—that he would catch the votes in the county council elections for that piece of cheap bribery and he did not think that he would lose any votes because of this nasty, mean, miserable Bill.

There is still plenty of time for the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends to take back this miserable imposition and, in the Finance Bill, to get back the £10 million—or recapture it, as I think the Treasury phrase is—from the middle class who are going to enjoy tax easements under a Measure which is being introduced at the same time. It is quite simple, but it will not be done, because there are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who delight in this cut in the National Health Service.

I want to take these matters briefly because there is no argument, no support, for this Measure which we are asked to discuss and to which I have moved an Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary was very clever and very fair in the quotation which he gave from the mouth of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). Even while he was talking had an opportunity of looking up some other quotations, and I offer him one. "What must be the consequences?" That is what the House was asked. The present Foreign Secretary said: Obviously, large parts of these Bills will not be examined at all, either in Committee or on the Report stage. What does that mean except an unprecedented denial to Parliament of its free right of discussion, debate and amendment? I will make one more quotation, but I will spare him others. The right hon. Gentleman said, quoting from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition: There is a danger that this House may be turned into the equivalent of the Fascist Conncil."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 75–6.] He went on to say that that represented his fear. I am not taking these quotations too far; we can all find quotations on this subject.

Mr. Eden

It was about the Guillotine upstairs.

Mr. McNeil

I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman—and I do not think he will say this is unjust; I do not think he made too much capital out of the argument—that at any rate a business committee was offered to them. We made an attempt to discover what the then Opposition, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, wanted to discuss and what time they thought was necessary for that discussion. But we have not been consulted in that way; we have had no such inquiry directed to us, no attempt to find out what we thought was important in this Bill, which is very important to us.

The right hon. Gentleman used figures comparing the time allotted with that allotted on previous occasions. I am not a lawyer and I am sometimes quite grateful for that.

Mr. Wheatley

Oh!

Mr. McNeil

I apologise to my right hon. Friend, because I often have to rely on those right hon. and learned Gentlemen. But the Foreign Secretary knows that his argument about the average amount of time offered per Clause was not strong. If we go back to the various discussions on other Bills—Transport, Town and Country Planning—we find that Clause after Clause was a machinery Clause, a reference back, which scarcely interested anyone except the lawyers in the House; but there is only one Clause in this short Bill which does not impinge immediately upon the distressed and frequently the very, very poor people.

Mr. Harold Watkinson (Woking)

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I think he will not disagree with me when I say that all the Clauses of the Transport Bill which dealt with the fares structure, which is now giving so much trouble, were Guillotined and never discussed.

Mr. McNeil

My recollection is that that is substantially accurate, but the hon. Member must himself take a share of that blame. If it was a bad Bill, it was because right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in their pique or their pride or their short-sightedness, refused to avail themselves of the opportunity of telling us to which part of the Bill we should address ourselves.

Mr. Watkinson

I was merely directing myself to the remark of the right hon. Gentleman when he said that Clauses disposed of under the Guillotine were Clauses of no importance, were procedural or machinery Clauses. They were important.

Hon. Members

He did not say that.

Mr. McNeil

I am sorry if I misled the hon. Gentleman. What I said was that the Foreign Secretary, in making this calculation, developed an average time per Clause over a long Bill—the Town and Country Planning Bill—in which many of the Clauses were machinery Clauses and references back. I said that that was not a fair calculation because, in all except one of the eight Clauses in this short Bill, these people are directly affected. I think that is a reasonable argument.

Mr. Eden

It was only a rough guide.

Mr. McNeil

I do not want to go back over that side of the debate. The House has no doubt that we oppose this Guillotine procedure because it has been offered on a Bill on which it is not necessary and because it has been offered in an arbitrary and peremptory way. Nor do we seek at this stage to prolong the argument about why we are in this situation. No one likes attacking the right hon. Gentleman, but anyone looking at the Report of the Committee proceedings on the Bill will derive three curious conclusions. One is that the discussion on every Amendment came to an end in one fashion—the use of the Closure. I was trying to do some arithmetic last night concerning how the Patronage Secretary has gone about things compared with the way my right hon. Friend did. I think that the Patronage Secretary is in the process of knocking up an all-time record in the use of the Closure Motion.

The second is that the right hon. Gentleman only on three occasions in those 21½ hours admitted that there was anything he wanted to look at again—despite the fact that he had, as he should have had in Committee, the valuable and careful and sincerely offered advice of my right hon. and hon. Friends whose everyday business is the business of this Bill. Only three times—in relation to the old-age pensioner, in relation to the child under 16, in relation to the country doctor—did the right hon. Gentleman find it possible to say to the Opposition, "There is something in what you have to say and I will look at it again."—[Interruption.]

My right hon. Friend here says that the Parliamentary Secretary could not have done it. She could not have looked at it again because she had not looked at it before. There is fair merit in that observation. The Parliamentary Secretary twice had to be fished out from the pond after making assertions that were quite inaccurate. The Secretary of State for Scotland treated the House of Commons yesterday to an assertion that he had no responsibilty for this Bill which bears his name. He has not appeared in the proceedings despite the fact that his name is on the Bill. Nor has any Scottish Minister appeared, and yet it is a United Kingdom Bill.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith)

But they have.

Mr. McNeil

Well, we are always delighted to see them, but we should be even more pleased to hear them occasionally.

Mr. J. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Is this a private debate going on between the Front Benches?

Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)

May I give the right hon. Gentleman a moment or two to decide where the debate is going by asking him a question? He said a moment ago that all the discussions on the Amendments ended in one way—with the Closure. Now, the right hon. Gentleman is a very fair-minded man. I have known him many years in many capacities, and I like him very much. But is it not a fact—and I have attended every part of the debates on this National Health Service Bill from the beginning—that as 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock or the shadow of midnight appeared, we had then the three weird legal sisters, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Is this a speech the hon. Gentleman is making? If so, I must remind him that the right hon. Gentleman is in possession of the House.

Mr. Baxter

Is it not a fact that this combination of those three weird sisters of the law—the "Bing Boys"—aided and abetted by leaders of the party opposite—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order.

Mr. McNeil

I am very anxious to help the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps we shall have the pleasure of reading the rest of his remarks in his column on Sunday. Hon. Members who are journalists have a great privilege because when they are not fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye, they can turn their proposed speech into a by-product to be used in their newspaper column.

Mr. Baird

The hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Baxter) does not seem to realise that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has not uttered one sentence in the debates on this National Health Service Bill.

Mr. McNeil

I gladly take up this point, because it is related, in a curious roundabout way, to what I was discussing. It is not true to say there have been anything but Amendments of substance and constructive discussion in the three days' Committee proceedings. I challenge the Foreign Secretary or the Minister of Health to show us one Amendment which they would dare describe publicly as frivolous or irrelevant. I confess that outside the actual Committee proceedings there may have been discussions which would not be accepted as very serious by the whole House, but the conduct of the Committee has been exemplary, if a trifle protracted.

Mr. Baxter

No.

Mr. McNeil

The hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken in his view. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird) is quite right in saying that we have not had that kind of discussion in Committee. On only one occasion have we sat after midnight. The hon. Member for Southgate is a trifle confused in his recollection. The 21½ hours in Committee have been devoted to Amendments of substance, to constructive Amendments, and the Minister of Health would not dare to tell the House or the public that any of them were frivolous.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this Amendment which in substance proposes that we should have three days instead of one day for the Committee, is a reasonable and responsible Amendment. My right hon. Friend has dealt with the time that will literally be available according to the Government's proposed schedule. I will not deal with Clause 2, because that has been dealt with. There remain on Clause 1 some 50 Amendments. Suppose only four of them are called; suppose the four that seem most important are called. Suppose we deal with the Amendment standing in my name and the names of my right hon. Friends, relating to the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946. That is an Amendment which shows that this Bill was so casually, hurriedly or thoughtlessly drawn that it actually conflicts with Section 75 of that Act. That is a matter of great importance, upon which scores of my hon. Friends, from their own intimate experience, can give advice to the Minister of Health—advice which he would be very wise to accept.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

That was an Act which I introduced.

Mr. McNeil

As my right hon. Friend reminds us, that was his Act. Then there is an Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), relating to those who are certified as being in attendance at out-patient departments awaiting hospital beds. That is a great injustice to people who, in their doctors' opinion, should be in hospital, and who should therefore be outwith the operation of this miserable Bill. What is to be said about that?

Supposing we turn to the series of Amendments which stand in the names of my hon. Friends, some of them medical, dealing with these illnesses of T.B., V.D. and so forth. I am told, in the way one sometimes is, that the right hon. Gentleman is perhaps going to allow exemption in the treatment of venereal diseases. I am glad of that. I am very anxious, however, that that exemption should be extended to tuberculous patients.

There are four very important subjects. If we follow this time-table offered by the Government, we shall have at the maximum 1½ hours to conclude these Clauses—and probably less than one hour. We are going to discuss these important tar-reaching subjects, upon which we have not heard one word from the Government, with one speaker on each side—a 10 minutes speech on each side.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he must be honest with the House; that he must admit to the House that this will be the most irresponsible, the most callous behaviour that has ever been offered under a Guillotine Motion I suggest that he has the responsibility to tell the House how he is going to deal with these important Amendments—important not only to this House but important to the people who will suffer disadvantage and be embarrassed under these miserable provisions. One hour for 50 Amendments; one hour for four, six, eight, 10 Amendments of great substance—the right hon. Gentleman knows that it cannot be done.

If he is going to stand by his own schedule and refuse these very reasonable Amendments offered by my right hon. Friends and myself, then it means that not only is a bad Bill going to be worse, but injustice is going to be visited upon tens of thousands of people in the country, and a large section of the National Health Service is going to be made less efficient. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman looks bored—I know he has heard this before—but he is going to hear it much more often until we get some kind of reply from the Government about what they are going to do concerning these classes of sick people.

Our Amendment is a responsible one. It is not what we would like; it is not even what is needed to afford even the most cursory discussion of all the Amendments that are likely to be called. It is not a political calculation; it is a calculation by the Opposition, and it is so little we are asking for that we believe that not even the Government can refuse to meet our Amendment. I very much hope that is so.

I am not pleading for a Bill that is at all likely to be either efficient or well-accepted; I am pleading for the right hon. Gentleman, with his very extensive knowledge of business, to make some kind of reasonable calculation as to what time is needed to give the most superficial treatment to these important Amendments. I think that he will be forced to admit to the House that our proposition of two additional days, three days for the Committee stage, with consequent Amendments upon Report, and the Third Reading stage, is the least he can offer to the House.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. John Baird (Wolverhampton, North-East)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I approach this subject, not from a party point of view, but as one who, from the time I first came into this House seven years ago, has taken a great interest in medical, especially dental, matters. I feel strongly about this Bill. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) made some play with the fact that the Leader of the Opposition, in a speech last week-end, justified the National Health Service Bill which was introduced last year. I opposed that Bill and today a large number, if not the majority, of hon. Members on this side of the House think it was a bad Bill. Therefore, it is no justification of the present Bill to say that we did it last year. Two blacks do not make a white.

In his opening speech the Leader of the House justified the Bill on the ground that it was necessary because of the dangerous financial position of the country. He said that it was necessary for us to raise just over £10 million by this penal Measure to save the financial structure of the country at a time when we are giving the farmers another £50 million and the doctors another £40 million. There was never a more shallow argument put up in the House to justify a "phony" Bill.

The charge has been levelled against us on this side of the House that in the three days of the Committee stage we carried out filibustering tactics. What justification is there for that? The hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod) made a speech tonight. He also made a speech on the Second Reading of the Bill which, I thought, was a fairly able one. The result was that the "Sunday Express" and other Tory papers said what a fine speech it was from the Tory back benches, and hailed him as a coming Minister of Health. Tonight, the bubble was burst. I have never heard a more inefficient speech.

What is this charge of filibustering that it put forward? The first charge is that last year we took only two days over the Committee stage of the Bill which imposed charges and that this year we have taken three days and have worked a lot longer. What is the difference? There is a difference. I opposed the Bill last year and I oppose this Bill—and I am therefore unbiased—but at least the Ministers on the Front Bench then knew the Bill they were bringing forward. This year, the Government Front Bench do not even know what is in the Bill they are putting forward.

Furthermore, in the 1951 Bill the Front Bench met some of the criticisms of the back benchers, accepted some of our Amendments, and at least made the Bill more in accordance with our point of view. The reason for the Guillotine Motion today is that the Government Front Bench is totally incompetent to deal with this matter. I do not like to attack young ladies, and especially charming young ladies, but it is quite obvious to all of us that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health is not capable of being a junior Minister.

Time and time again we found the hon. Lady putting forward arguments for which there was no basis. Indeed, she had to admit that she did not know what was in her own Bill. The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer), one of the leading experts on health matters in this House, made a speech. The hon. Lady told him he did not know what he was talking about because he suggested that young children under 16 would have to pay for surgical appliances. The hon. Lady said that the Bill exempted young children from paying for surgical appliances.

When I intervened and asked what part of the Bill provided for this, she had to sit down. Then we saw the Members of the Government Front Bench whispering among themselves, and then she had to get up and admit that she had made a mistake. That is the kind of thing we have been up against during these three days when discussing this Bill—complete lack of knowledge of what is in the Bill which the Government put forward.

Take the question my right hon. Friend mentioned. The Minister has told us that he is bringing forward regulations to exempt venereal disease from the charge for medicine. Why exempt venereal disease and not T.B.? What is the reason for it, and what opportunity can we take to discuss this? Why exempt one disease and leave the others?

Another point I would have liked to discuss if we had time was the question of children under 16. When we pointed out that children under 16 would have to pay for appliances and the Government found they had made a mistake the Minister answered that he would introduce a regulation to put the matter right. But when the suggestion was made with regard to dental treatment that the exemption age should be raised from 16 to 21 the Minister was able to move an Amendment. Why should we have an Amendment in regard to one exemption of an age limit and a regulation for the other? The whole Bill is a muddle from beginning to end.

Hon. Members opposite charge us with filibustering. I challenge hon. Members opposite to tell me one speech on the Committee stage of this Bill which was filibustering. I will give way if they can tell me of one speech. The fact is that all the expert knowledge on health matters in this House is on this side of the House and almost every speech from these benches was a speech by an expert on these matters—doctors, dentists and opticians—from men who, not for a month or two, but for many years, have been fighting for a National Health Service.

I am especially interested in Clause 2, for which we are to be allowed two hours' discussion on the whole Clause, of all the ramifications of the dental charges. I am told, and I hope the Minister can deny this, that during the petty squabbles in the Tory Party before the Bill was introduced on Second Reading the dental profession met the Tory Party. I may be wrong, but I believe the suggestion was put forward from the Government benches that if the dentists could suggest other ways of raising the money the Government would look at those ways.

I do not want charges for the dental service at all, but if the principle is accepted we have to see that the charges bear less heavy on the people least able to bear them and I put an Amendment down to carry out the policy of the British Dental Association.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

If the hon. Member is relating his arguments to the change in the number of days allocated, it is relevant, but if it is a general argument he must not speak on his Amendment.

Mr. Baird

I am not relating it, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to a general argument. My Amendment will probably not be called, but if the Government wanted ways and means of raising money in a more equitable manner my Amendment would have solved the problem for them. What does this Bill do? It makes a charge up to £1 per patient, whereas the British Dental Association propose a percentage charge for treatment over £1 There will be no opportunity to discuss this question on behalf of the organised dental profession.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said earlier that the Government have no mandate for this Bill. We all know that they have no mandate. Neither have they a majority in the country; indeed, the county council elections show that as a result of their mishandling of the whole situation any support which they had, even in their own strongholds, is dwindling away. Apart from that, the medical profession is against this Bill; the British Medical Association do not want it; the British Dental Association do not want it.

There is no justification for introducing a Bill of this kind at this time. The argument about saving money is shallow and paltry. As for the argument that it is necessary for the economic salvation of the country, no one in the House believes that. Even at this late hour I appeal to the Minister, who is doodling away, to reconsider the whole question, not just from a narrow party political point of view.

I appeal to him as a professional man. I am treating patients every day and I know that if this Bill is passed a large number of young people who come to me regularly to have their teeth saved will not be able to afford the treatment because of the charges which the Minister is imposing. The health of the country will be undermined as a result. I appeal to the Minister, in the interests of the general health of the nation, to withdraw this Guillotine Motion, and, at the same time, withdraw the whole iniquitous Bill.

9.12 p.m.

Mr. Harold Watkinson (Woking)

I wish for a moment to deal with the question of filibustering and with the point which I raised with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil), who so courteously gave way to me during his speech. The case which he and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird), have made has hinged entirely on the question of the Guillotine being applied to this Bill, but I think the case for the Guillotine ranges much wider than that, and also answers the challenge put forward by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East. That challenge was, in effect, that nobody from this side of the House could produce any evidence that this Allocation of Time Motion had been made necessary by filibustering from the other side of the House.

There would have been far more time for consideration of this Bill if it had not been for the actions of hon. Members opposite who have taken every opportunity to hold up the proceedings of this House. I will quote just two statements which I think prove that conclusively. The first was a statement by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) who said: we cannot guarantee them"— that is, the Government— any facilities whatever on the Finance Bill or on the Supplies and Services Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 2796.] That does not look like a very co-operative spirit to enable more time to be taken on this Bill to which this Allocation of Time Motion applies.

I will quote another instance. It was a statement by the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). I think he was referring to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) who at the time was, in his own inimitable way, endeavouring to hold up the business of the House on an Amendment to the Motion for the Easter Adjournment. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, referred to that manoeuvre as a filibuster.

Mr. Bing

Hon. Gentlemen opposite were occupied in a very important and necessary party meeting upstairs. It was essential for them to get together and decide whose policy they should follow, that of some hon. Gentlemen on the back benches or that of their leader. In those circumstances, it would have been quite hopeless to address any arguments to the Leader of the House, because he was not here. It was desirable that we should have a discussion on the intentions of the Government about business. Does the hon. Gentleman not want to know that?

Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)

In view of the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was not at the meeting to which he refers, and has incorrectly reported it, is it in order for him to describe what happened there?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are here not to discuss that but the Amendment which is before the House.

Mr. Watkinson

I notice that, as usual, the hon. and learned Member for Horn-church has skilfully evaded answering my point. I will put it again. It is that one of his own colleagues, the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, said quite frankly that his manoeuvre on that occasion was a filibuster. I do not see anything wrong with that, but let us name it for what it is. I do not see any objection to right hon. and hon. Members opposite carrying out—

Mr. Bing

rose

Mr. Watkinson

Perhaps I may be allowed to finish. I see no objection at all to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite carrying on a filibuster if they wish to do so.

Mr. Bing

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene, but really he must distinguish between the Motions put down by his right hon. Friend. There is an Order Paper in the House of Commons for the convenience of hon. Members which indicates what is the business. For reasons best known to himself, his right hon. Friend preceded the National Health Service Bill with a Motion and I made a speech, as any hon. Member is entitled to do—even hon. Members on this side of the House—in regard to that Motion. That has nothing whatever to do with the National Health Service Bill. If the Minister wished for progress with his Bill, he should have chosen another day for his Motion. We on this side of the House are not responsible for the order of business; otherwise things would be much more efficiently conducted.

Mr. Watkinson

If the hon. and learned Gentleman had been paying attention instead of talking to one of his hon. Friends, he might have heard my opening remarks. I was drawing attention to the fact that the mover and seconder of this Amendment had devoted their argument entirely to the question of the Health Bill. What I am saying is that there would have been far more time for the discussion of this Measure, and the Motion before the House might not have been necessary, had it not been for the calculated policy of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in taking every step to obstruct the legitimate business of this House at all times.

I have already quoted the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who admitted it frankly. I have quoted one of the hon. and learned Gentlemen's colleagues who also admitted it. Therefore, I consider that the justification for this Motion must be examined in the general course of our Parliamentary affairs over the last month and not on the narrow issue of this particular Bill. I consider it to be the duty of an Opposition to have its say, and, as I said, I see no reason at all why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite should not have their filibuster if they want it. But if they are going to have it, they must not come in high moral righteous indignation to us when we take the only Parliamentary course open to a Government which must get its legislation through and introduce this kind of Motion.

I consider that the introduction of this Motion has been entirely justified by the conduct of the Opposition in the early months of this Parliament.

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

Not on this Bill at all?

Mr. Watkinson

If hon. Members wish. I say it is justified because every attempt is being made by the Opposition to obstruct the business.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The hon. Member was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird), to point out a single speech or instance on the Committee stage of this Bill which could be regarded as filibustering. The hon. Member has given two instances, neither of which was on the Committee stage of this Bill, and he is now stating that, because of the conduct of the Opposition outside the discussion of this Bill altogether, he is supporting an action to penalise those who are affected by this Bill.

Mr. Watkinson

Nothing of the kind. I made my remarks perfectly plain. It is obviously the best tactic for hon. Members opposite to try to confine the argument to this Motion which is a Motion to Guillotine a particular Bill. It is obviously in their interests to try to confine it to the narrowest possible issue. I have intervened in this debate because the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment endeavoured to say that most of the Clauses Guillotined in the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, in the early Socialist Administration, were not important because they were not matters of substance. I have pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that almost the whole of the Clauses of the Transport Bill dealing with the fares structure—the very things that are causing so much trouble now—were Guillotined without discussion, and he admitted that it was so, so that there is no point in his raising the matter here.

Mr. Wheatley

rose

Mr. Watkinson

I do not propose to give way until I have completed my argument. Perhaps I may continue with my speech. My argument—and I will repeat it again for the benefit of hon. Gentlemen on the back benches—is that we must examine the introduction of this Motion in the wider context of how the Opposition have conducted their affairs in this Parliament. They have conducted their affairs in such a way—

Mr. J. Hudson

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman on more than one occasion has informed you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and the House, that he will repeat his arguments again. Is it in order to allow tedious repetition, and is not that an example of filibustering?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the hon. Member addresses me once, that is enough to tell me.

Mr. Watkinson

I should not have repeated myself at all had it not been for interruptions from the benches opposite.

I merely conclude by saying that, whatever hon. or right hon. Gentlemen on the other side have said, nobody has yet denied the two statements which I have quoted from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, both of whom frankly admitted that the main duty of the Opposition at the moment was to obstruct all forms of Government business. When faced with that situation, however much we dislike the principle, we have no option but to take the only course open to the Government and introduce a Motion of the kind we are now discussing.

9.22 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

One thing, at least, is clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Watkinson), who has just sat down, and that is that, although he began by saying that he would take up the challenge about filibustering speeches during the Committee stage of the National Health Service Bill, he has completely failed to do so.

Mr. Watkinson

I made it quite plain. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If hon. Members have misunderstood me, I am prepared to withdraw it, but what I intended to make plain, and what I think I did make plain, was that one had to consider not merely the narrow point of this Bill but the conduct of the Opposition.

Mr. Stewart

Very well. In that case, we may claim that the challenge made from this side of the House about filibustering speeches is still unanswered.

The hon. Gentleman also quoted some remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), but, surely, it must have been apparent to him from the very words he quoted that my right hon. Friend was not describing anything that we on this side had done, but what would be the result if the Government persisted in their high-handed policy not only of putting forward a Motion like this today at all, but putting one forward in the form in which this Motion is presented. That is inevitable, because my right hon. Friend, as the quotation well shows, was referring to future events, namely, the passage of the Finance Bill and the Supplies and Services Bill. I would really advise the hon. Gentleman to study speeches a little more closely if he proposes to quote from them.

May I say that I was hoping to try to avoid quoting at tedious lengths from the speeches of other hon. Members in what I have to say. It is a remarkable fact that whereas, in the 16th and 17th centuries, hon. Members quoted from the Scriptures, and in the 18th and 19th centuries from the classics, at present we are reduced to quoting one another's speeches. Whether or not that is progress is not for me to say.

Mr. Snow

Is it not because hon. Members opposite do not understand the classics?

Mr. Stewart

I believe that is so. My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the decline in the classical standards of the party opposite. That is one of the most interesting features that interest sociologists at the present day.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Discussion as to the comparative education on both sides of the House is not relevant to this Amendment.

Mr. Stewart

I accept your rebuke, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will return to the Amendment under discussion, which is a proposal that the Government should so far modify their Motion as to allow three days instead of one for the Committee stage.

If we are to weigh up the merits of a proposal of that kind, I do not think we get very far merely by quoting precedents regarding what was done in 1947 or what happened in that or the other Bill in 1948, because the merits of any Guillotine proposal or of a suggestion to make the timetable a little less harsh must be judged in the light of the circumstances of the time, the whole nature of the Government's programme and the nature of the particular Bill to which the time-table relates.

For instance, in the years immediately after the war it was inevitable that the pressure on the time of the House should be very great because whatever party had been in power there would have been a great deal of legislation which would have had to be carried through. Further, by returning a Labour Government in 1945 the country expressed its support of a political philosophy which took the view that there was a great deal of legislation which needed to be pushed forward, that great changes needed to be made in our political, economic and social system, so that inevitably at that period there was bound to be heavy pressure on the time of the House and bound to be an exceptional use of the Closure, of the timetable and of other methods for expediting business.

But what is the position at the present time? We have now in power a party whose whole political philosophy is based on the assumption that the less Governments do on the whole the better, that the less legislation we have the better. After all, we do not need a mass of legislation to provide people with more red meat. We have only to send out the experienced business men and the thing is done. I say that with confidence because I have heard it said to me so often in this House during the past six years by hon. Members opposite.

We do not need legislation to bring down the cost of living. We have only to wipe out the extravagant expenditure in all Government Departments which, we have been told, has been fast growing in the last six years. There is no ground, therefore, for supposing that to carry through their main political pledges the party opposite have to bring in a great mass of legislation. Indeed, the rather moth-eaten philosophers whom they have occasionally produced to try to provide a sort of philosophical background to Conservativism have generally argued that what is wrong with the country under Socialist rule is that the energies of the people are held back by too much legislation; the thing that is needed is to cut the bonds when the people will leap forth and we shall all become more prosperous.

For doing all that we do not need legislation. Therefore, it is inevitable that the Conservative Government must have much less case for putting any pressure on the Parliamentary time-table than a Labour Government would have because the argument on which they got the support of the people is that they do not wish to put through a great deal of legislation. That being so, they ought to be prepared to consider the very moderate proposal which has been made by my right hon. Friend that if they must persist in a time-table Motion at all, they ought at least to be prepared to grant three days rather than one for the Committee stage. What, after all, are they going to do that is so important in the two days they are denying for the Committee stage of this Bill?

Captain J. A. L. Duncan (South Angus)

Clear up the mess.

Mr. Stewart

If there is any truth in what hon. Members have been saying for the last six years, they do not need legislative time to do that. It might even be an advantage if Ministers were less vocal at times in this House and spent more time in their Departments.

But what are they going to do with the two days which they will deny if they do not accept my right hon. Friend's Amendment? The hon. Member for Woking—having abandoned the idea that there had been any filibustering on this side of the House in the course of debate on the Bill—tried to justify the severe time-table on the ground that some of my hon. Friends might have obstructed what he was pleased to term the legitimate business of the House. What right has he to assume that it is only Government legislation which is the legitimate business of the House'? Part of the business of this House is to expose the incompetence and evil intentions of the Government.

I advise hon. Members to study one of the pictures in St. Stephen's Hall. It shows one of the most distinguished occupants of the Chair in which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, are now sitting—Sir Thomas More, perhaps the most distinguished, with the possible exception of Geoffrey Chaucer; and out of respect I do not bring you, Sir, into it. Sir Thomas More is there represented as saying, quite frankly, to the representatives of the Government that the House does not propose to proceed with a particular business that the Government want to thrust on it at that time.

He is doing what the hon. Member for Woking, had he been there at the time, would have called obstructing the legitimate business of the House. But it was by its insistence on its right to say "No," not the right originally to legislate but to say, "No, we do not want this done" that this House turned itself into the most eminent part of the constitution of this country.

Therefore, if it is the case that my hon. Friends have been resisting proposals of the Government, often obliging them to think again when they ought to have thought before they brought their ill-considered Measures to the House, we are acting in the best traditions and in accordance with every historical precedent.

If we turn from the general consideration of what justification there can be for so harsh a time-table as this to the actual nature of the Bill for which the time-table is proposed, I think the following considerations occur to us—and I shall be careful not to get out of order by wandering too far into discussion of the Bill itself. I shall follow an example where I cannot possibly go wrong, that of the Leader of the House himself. I shall confine what I have to say to comment on the remarks he has made.

His argument at an earlier stage was that, after all, we have passed the Second Reading of this Bill and therefore the general principles of it have been accepted. He said he thought that in view of that we ought to have got through the Committee stage at a much greater rate than, in fact, we have done for, he said, after all, the part we have been debating on the Committee stage only affects certain small minorities in the country.

But if the right hon. Gentleman had studied more fully the nature and implications of the Bill he would have seen it was for that very reason that it was likely to take a long time in Committee, because this Bill imposes charges for a large number of reasons on a very large number of sections of the population. Each one of those sections, it is true, may be quite a small minority but very often the argument that applies to one small group is totally different from the argument that applies to another.

Even if the House has by a majority accepted the general principle of this Bill, much as we deplore that on this side of the House, there is still a great range of argument left. For example, if one decides—the general principle having been planted by a majority on the House—that one must, on the whole, accept the charge in respect of corsets one is not obliged to say, in that case, "We will say nothing about abdominal belts or surgical boots."

Every one of these things which are mentioned either in the text of the Bill or the Amendments brings up a separate set of arguments which need to be argued separately, and that is why the Committee stage was bound to take a long time. If I may voice my own view, I believe that because of the complexity of the Committee stage it would have been better handled in a Standing Committee upstairs. An hon. Member speaking from the Liberal benches earlier in this debate said that in a Standing Committee only a limited number of Members managed to express their opinions.

But that, unfortunately, is true even if we discuss the Bill in Committee of the whole House and even if a time-table is not introduced. But very often, particularly on a Bill of this kind, the discussion can be more closely knit, the points at issue can be more precisely sorted out and the work which the Committee stage of the Bill is supposed to do is, in fact, better done.

While I am on this question of the possibility of the Bill having gone to a Standing Committee upstairs, I should like to comment on some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith). He began his speech by making a certain amount of comment on which of my right hon. and hon. Friends happened to be present or absent during various stages of the debate. However that may be, the hon. Member for Hertford, having made his own speech, is not in his place at the moment. He compared the position under this Bill with the proceedings on the Town and Country Planning Bill. I remember very well indeed the proceedings in the Committee stage of the Town and Country Planning Bill because I was a Member of that Standing Committee. If ever there was an outrageous example of filibustering, it was the behaviour of Conservative Members of that Committee.

Very early in the proceedings they spent three-quarters of an hour discussing a suggestion that one of the members of a board to be set up under the Bill ought to be somebody who had been born in the county of Cornwall. Three-quarters of an hour was spent on that point, which had no relevance to the merits of the Bill at all. On another occasion, so anxious were the Conservative Members of that Committee to work to the full the procedure of democracy, that all of them, except one, absented themselves from the Committee in the hope that there would not be a quorum and the Committee would not be able to go on with its business. Their calculations were incorrect owing to the much more punctual and regular attendance of hon. Members from our own party.

One Conservative who was left there had to speak for a very long time to give his hon. Friends time to realise the situation and return to the Committee. That was the kind of situation—and those are not isolated instances—which made it necessary to impose a time-table on that Bill. We on this side of the House have shown no parallel to that kind of irresponsible and undemocratic behaviour that was shown by the Conservatives on that occasion.

One further cosideration has been advanced by the Leader of the House and by other hon. Members opposite, and, I think, by the Foreign Secretary when he was speaking recently, as an argument why we should have a time-table or why, if we are to have a time-table, it must be this particularly harsh one and not modified as is suggested in this Amendment. That argument was that in the light of the country's economic situation there is immense urgency to get this Bill through. If there were all that urgency, why was a Bill of this nature not introduced a great deal earlier in this Parliament?

If the financial situation is what it is, why was unnecessary time taken up in introducing a Home Guard Bill—a Bill that need not have been introduced at that time and which was introduced in such a hurry that it was painfully in need of amendment, and the debate took much longer than would have been necessary if proper time had been given to the consideration and preparation of that Bill before it was brought before the House? If blunders of that kind had not been made in the management of the Business of the House there would have been plenty of time for proper consideration of this Bill without the attempt to impose a time-table of this kind.

In conclusion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am sorry that hon. Members do not care for speeches. I thought they were the advocates of the fullest and freest discussion; but that was when they were on this side of the House. We are told that there is great urgency to get this Bill through because of our grave financial situation. It is argued that although this Measure only saves a limited amount of money it is all part of a carefully thought-out programme. But have those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have advanced that argument already forgotten what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in his Budget speech, namely, that the amount of goods and services available for civilian consumption this year will be about the same as it was last year and that, therefore, if any sacrifice is demanded from any section of the population and if any section, the cripples, the deaf, the blind or whoever it may be are to be told, "You must consume less" that is simply to enable another section to consume more?

On the Chancellor's and the Government's own showing it is not a necessary step either for the defence of the country or for the removal of our financial and economic difficulties. The total size of the cake is to be the same, but the slices are to be different. For whose benefit are these sacrifices demanded? They are for the benefit, for example, of persons with large unearned incomes who will be getting in tax relief—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That argument is not relevant to the question of the time limit.

Mr. Stewart

With very great respect, the time limit has been urged upon us on the ground that to save the country's finances it is necessary to get this Bill through. I am venturing to show that that argument leaves out of account the statement of the country's position which was put before us by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I say, therefore, that not only has the case for a time-table not been made out, but still less is there any reason for refusing the very moderate suggestion for increasing the time to be spent on the Committee stage from one to three days, either on the ground of the Government's general programme or that time has been wasted in the Committee stage of this Bill so far, and least of all has any case been made out on the ground that there is any real urgency in the national interest to get this Bill through.

There are some people—and I think the number is increasing—who believe that in reality the party opposite is animated, and has been animated for years, by a hearty dislike of the Health Service, and would be quite pleased to do anything which makes it administration less attractive to the people. Certainly, the idea of imposing charges on poor and unfortunate people to provide tax relief for better-off people is one which is bound to commend itself to the party opposite.

For those reasons I believe that if the Government persists in this time-table, particularly in its present unamended and harsh form, they will be contributing nothing either to the financial solvency of this country or to the good conduct of Parliamentary business. They will undoubtedly be demonstrating that they have no regard for either of those considerations.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)

The hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) was so busy preparing his speech that obviously he has not had time to read the Economic Survey for 1952, because if he had read it he would have seen that the situation of the country is much too grave for the time to have been wasted which has so regularly and persistently been wasted by some—and I use the word "some" advisedly—hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Manuel

On the Health Bill?

Mr. Doughty

On the Health Bill. To begin with, 200 Amendments were put down.

Mr. Wheatley

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman point to any one of those Amendments which he thinks was frivolous or unnecessary?

Mr. Doughty

I did not use the word "frivolous" or [HON. MEMBERS: "You meant that."] If hon. Members do not want to hear the answer, they need not listen. I did not use the word "frivolous" or the word "unnecessary." I merely used the words "200 Amendments." If hon. Members with any elementary knowledge of mathematics like to work out how many days it would have taken to discuss them fully, or what they call fully, they can easily do so. I have no hesitation in saying that the purpose of putting down that number of Amendments was because they desired to make Government business impossible. My reason for saying that is that the reserve team—that is to say, the team who always go into play on the field when the first eleven are not there—wrote a letter to "The Times" making perfectly clear that that was so.

I am not going back to what happened in 1947 and 1948 or previous years.

Mr. Frederick Messer (Tottenham)

The hon. Member was not here.

Mr. Doughty

I was not here. I was about to say that, but the hon. Member said it first. I came to the House, new, in 1951, but with considerable knowledge of Parliamentary procedure, having passed examinations in it and having read HANSARD for many years. [Laughter.] Is there anything to laugh at in having a knowledge of Parliamentary procedure? Some hon. Members opposite would be well advised to study Erskine May. If they would like to know what is in the preface to this edition of Erskine May, I will tell them. There is nothing in the book—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

This is not relevant to the Amendment we are discussing.

Mr. Doughty

rose

Mr. Bing

Perhaps I may come to the defence of the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty), and suggest that what he was saying to the House was relevant to some of the speeches which had gone before him. When we have comparatively few speeches from hon. Members opposite, I think it would be unfair that we should seek to circumscribe them in any way.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am not seeking to prevent the hon. and learned Member from making a relevant speech.

Mr. Manuel

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Do you think it is quite relevant, if these examinations which the the hon. and learned Gentleman has passed—

Mr. Doughty

The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was not in his place when his hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East, was speaking. I was replying to the hon. Member for Fulham, East, so that, although I gave way to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch, with great respect I suggest that there was no reason why I should have done so. The hon. Member for Fulham, East, complained very bitterly that only one more day was being given to the Bill. Is not this the test of the matter—and I am not going back to what happened in the last Parliament: I was not here—

Mr. Messer

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that before.

Mr. Doughty

So did the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer). I came here, not as a nervous new boy, perhaps, but as a new boy last year. The thing which struck me—and I am speaking entirely personally—was the total irrelevance of the speeches of most hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Wheatley

On a point of order. Is not it a reflection on the Chair to say that most of the speeches were irrelevant because, if they were totally irrelevant, as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests, it was the duty of the Chair to pull up the hon. Member who was speaking.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I will do my best in that connection at the moment.

Mr. Doughty

Hon. Gentlemen opposite appear here today in sheep's clothing, wolves though they be. Not one hon. Gentleman opposite has suggested that today, on which we are discussing the Guillotine procedure, might, perhaps, by agreement, have been spent upon a discussion of the Health Bill, providing another day.

Mr. Paget

rose

Mr. Doughty

No. I cannot give way again. I have given way several times and have had many interruptions. I do not mind, but I am going to finish my speech. What I am going to say now will doubtless appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch, and that is that there is a very good maxim which says that one must always be presumed to have anticipated the consequences of one's acts.

I would apply that maxim to hon. Gentlemen opposite in the making of their speeches on this Bill, many of which can only be described as filibustering. I heard them, and so did hon. Members opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did not the hon. Gentleman speak?"] Why did not I speak? Because many hon. Gentlemen opposite would have liked me to have done so, because they wanted to waste the Government's time. But they forget this much—the Government are here to govern, and govern they will. I said there was filibustering. If hon. Gentlemen opposite want to be referred to a particular instance, I will refer them to one. [HON. MEMBERS: "On this Bill?"] I referred to 200 Amendments to this Bill. I would refer to occasions of filibustering if I were not in fear of being pulled up by you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

Give us one.

Mr. Doughty

The Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I know hon. Members opposite do not like it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I wish the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to direct his mind to this Amendment.

Mr. Doughty

The Amendment asks for two more days for the Committee stage of this Bill. The Opposition have had their three days already. What did they do in that time? Nine lines. If those hon. Gentlemen had kept their speeches shorter and more to the point, I am sure that there would have been no necessity for this Guillotine. I can tell them this. Though some of them appear tonight in their sheep's clothing and say how disgraceful it is that a minority should be silenced, I can assure them that they would have no stronger friends in this House than those who sit upon this side of the House if—[Interruption.] I do not mind. It matters not. If their complaints were genuine they would have no stronger friends than those who sit on this side of the House. Nobody is keener than the back benchers on this side of the House that everybody, on whichever side of the House he sits, should be fully heard; but if that privilege is abused, the consequences must be felt, and felt they will be.

Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)

Is that why the hon. Gentleman voted for the Closure?

Mr. Doughty

The Closure was very properly applied for the very simple reason that without it we should have been here weeks on end discussing one single Amendment.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are not discussing the Closure.

Mr. Doughty

I apologise for having been led astray by hon. Gentlemen opposite. These interruptions may give them pleasure, and it may give them pleasure to waste time. It does not do me any harm. We are not going to be here three more days discussing this Bill in Committee. We have had three days and we are to have one more for the Committee stage. Hon. Gentlemen opposite really have not a genuine grievance. Unfortunately, their grievance is an entirely "phony" one, and, therefore, it will be a great pleasure to support this Amendment.

Mr. Mikardo

On a point of order. Will you be good enough, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as an expert in these matters, to advise the House whether, had you been the examiner when the hon. Gentleman was taking his examination in Parliamentary procedure, you would have passed him?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order, and I am not the examiner.

Mr. Doughty

If the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), sits for the examination, I hope that I am the examiner.

I propose to support this Motion and to vote against the Amendment. I can say in all seriousness that if at any time the Guillotine were wrongly used, I would gladly support such an Amendment and oppose the Motion. Because I am quite satisfied in my own mind that it is right to use it on this occasion, in view of the conduct of a small minority of hon. Members opposite, I shall be happy to go into the Division Lobby in support of the Motion.

9.56 p.m.

Mr. Seymour Cocks (Broxtowe)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty), on having read 20 Or 30 volumes of HANSARD and preserved not only his sanity but part of his literary style. As far as I could gather, the chief argument which he and other hon. Members opposite used in favour of reducing debate on the Committee stage to one day is that previously time has been wasted.

My experience of the House is that, if a subject has been sufficiently discussed and time is being wasted the Chair is always ready to accept a Closure Motion, and the fact that the Closure was not moved more frequently shows, in my view, that the discussion was serious and not frivolous. The only reason why the Government did not get more progress was because they could not rely upon their back benchers to stay up at night, and they had to stop the discussion at 10 o'clock, 12 o'clock, and, finally, at one o'clock in the morning. I think they could have got on much faster than that.

As a rather old Member of the House now, I think that whenever the Government put forward a proposal to have a Guillotine on a Bill it is the duty of the House of Commons to scrutinise that proposal very carefully. We know that all Governments find that the Guillotine is sometimes needed, and every Opposition always opposes it. But it has never been regarded as a normal or desirable procedure, on any side of the House. I have heard speeches from the present Leader of the House strongly opposing the Guillotine procedure. He said tonight that he was against it, and made a speech in which he expressed himself as rather sympathetic towards those who opposed its use.

I must say he reminded me of the famous speech of the Walrus to the Oysters when he said "I deeply sympathise," although I do not think the right hon. Gentleman looks at all like a walrus; nor do I think that my hon. Friends have any of the attributes of an oyster. The Guillotine has always been regarded by Parliamentarians as an evil. Even if it is sometimes necessary, it is certainly a necessary evil. All those who believe, as a lot of us do, in democratic government have always recognised that.

The chief fault of the Guillotine which does not seem to have been mentioned very much tonight is that it destroys the usefulness of Parliamentary discussion. No Government has ever brought forward a Bill which they regarded as perfect in every respect, and which could not be amended with advantage. Governments do not think the Parliamentary draftsmen are as good as all that. In discussion there arise many points about which neither the Government nor the draftsmen have thought.

We are a large assembly and it often happens in the course of general discussions that speakers bring in points to which the Government have not given sufficient attention. Sometimes these arguments are so strong and convincing that the Leader of the Government says that the Government are very impressed by the arguments on a particular point and, although they do not agree with the Amendment, they will try to meet on the Report stage the point raised by bringing in something which will meet the arguments they have heard. The Leader of the House has the knowledge that if he does not take such conciliatory action, the debate will be prolonged, and it will take longer to get the Bill through, and this often induces him to take conciliatory action.

I think that we all agree that under the Guillotine procedure this particular factor does not arise. The Leader of the House knows that at a certain hour the Guillotine will fall and that certain Clauses will be put through; whatever discussion has been advanced he knows that he will get his Clauses at a certain time and, therefore, debate, in that case, is fruitless from the very beginning. Whatever arguments one puts up, one knows that they will not be accepted and that some Clauses will go through without examination.

In my knowledge of the House in the 23 years that I have been here, I think that the chief example of that was the family Means Test. The family Means Test was put through in an Unemployment Bill proposed by the Government in the 30's. It was a most unpopular proposal and it went through under the Guillotine without any discussion at all. At that particular moment the Committee had not reached that particular Clause; the Guillotine fell and the Clause which included the family Means Test, and which turned out to be so extremely unpopular, went through without any discussion whatever. Hon. Members who have spoken tonight have mentioned similar matters.

Under the present proposal practically the whole of the rest of this Bill will go through without discussion at all. The result will be—and I hope that this is quite apparent to hon. Members opposite—that so far as this Bill is concerned this House will become like the Nazi Reichstag by automatically registering the decrees of the Executive. That is something which everybody in this House, whatever his party, should equally deplore. The present Government, in my view, have very little moral right to do this particular thing.

I have no hesitation in saying that although the proposal may not be unconstitutional it tends in that direction. I need not inform the House that there are many things that can happen in this country which, though legally possible, are unconstitutional in theory. For example, we all know that the Sovereign herself has the legal right, without consulting her Ministers, to declare war against a foreign country; to cede British territory, or even to stop the first man who passes Buckingham Palace and make him Prime Minister of England. There is nothing to stop the Sovereign doing that, but everybody will agree that such action would be unconstitutional.

In 1909 the House of Lords had legal power to reject the Budget of Lloyd George, but high Conservative constitutional authorities declared that it would be unconstitutional. When Lord Milner said, "Let us throw it out and damn the consequences," I was so shocked that I left the Conservative Party on that issue. In the same way I regard this proposal as unparliamentary and verging on the unconstitutional. As the Leader of the House knows, in the past Governments have come in with a majority of, say, 150, which I am sure he wishes he had himself. In such a case they can look forward to four or five years of Parliamentary life and they have a clear mandate to put forward even the most controversial proposals. They are fresh from the electorate, they have a large majority in the House and in the country.

The same thing is more or less true of the second or even third session of such a Government, but in the fifth session, when by-elections are going against them and their majority has dwindled perhaps to 120 and the country is clearly turning against them, when Ministers are perhaps a bit tired and perhaps at sixes and sevens, they are not entitled to bring forward such drastic legislation as they would have done four years before.

Although the present Government were elected only six months ago they show all the attributes of a Government which has been in for five years. First of all, as has been pointed out already, they did not have an electoral majority over us but we had a majority over them. Secondly, the county council elections show that the country is turning against them. Thirdly, the aspect of Ministers on the Treasury Bench does not show the attitude of victors after an electoral triumph, filled with pride and self-confidence. Rather they remind me of the famous picture by Vereschagin, "The Retreat from Moscow." But which of those Ministers is Marshal Ney and which is Marshal Murat. I will not venture to identify.

In these circumstances I do not consider that the Government have the right to force through a Bill which imposes grave hardships and humiliations on the very poor of this country by the drastic methods they are now proposing. The Government seem so ashamed of it that they want to get it through in one day, as it were under the cover of night, so that nobody shall know what they are doing.

I do not want to entrench on the field of the late Home Secretary, but I have made a certain calculation. Under this procedure the Government propose to give six and a half more hours to the Committee stage. It means that in 390 minutes they intend to discuss 120 Amendments and a new Government Clause, without counting the time taken on the Business, which gives, on an average, four minutes to each Amendment. In the first 90 minutes—which, as has been shown, will not be 90 minutes—there will be 48 Amendments to be disposed of, giving less than two minutes to each Amendment. In the next three hours—which, again, will be less than three hours—there will be 35 Amendments, giving five minutes to each Amendment.

In the last two hours there will be 18 Amendments and a Government new Clause, not counting Divisions, and six minutes will be allowed for discussion of any Amendment. I do not think even my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), whose phenomenal speed of delivery we all admire, could adequately discuss all these questions in so short a time.

I suggest that this Motion is really the negation of Parliamentary Government. As far as the Bill is concerned it destroys this House as the home of government by discussion and by consent and, with the sole exception of the Bill which imposed the Means Test, which I mentioned earlier, under the same system, I think—I am saying this quite sincerely without trying to exaggerate at all, and I put this to the Leader of the House—that this is the most shameful proposal I have witnessed in the 23 years I have been in the House and a disgrace to the Government which is proposing it.

I say to hon. Members opposite, remember that Dr. Guillotine who invented the guillotine, died under the blade of his own invention. Hon. Members who support these proposals will go down to deserved and disgraceful defeat when next they face the electorate.

10.12 p.m.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

There is much to admire in the newly engendered zeal of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite and their desire for extra time as exemplified by this Amendment and their opposition to the Motion, but I suggest that this seemingly harsh timetable must be viewed in the light of what has gone before. It has been said by hon. Members opposite that the timetable is an undesirable measure and, indeed, there are many of us on this side of the House who feel it is a most undesirable measure, a measure from which I am sure Ministers have shrunk.

The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) cited how many instances there had been of the use of the Closure in this Session. I suggest that the use of the Closure on so many occasions is proof positive that the Government have tried to avoid the use of the Guillotine. The use of the Guillotine, as the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) rightly said, is a superior and preferable method to the Guillotine, because it is more in touch with the feeling of the House at the time and enables that feeling to be tested repeatedly.

Let us not forget when we consider this time-table, which is objected to in the Amendment, that of the time already used and occupied on nine lines which have been mentioned, the discussion has been on only five lines, because the first four are really nothing. When considering this Amendment, I recall that in the debate on the Easter Adjournment hon. and right hon. Members opposite occupied three hours of the time set down for debating this Bill to discuss the simple proposition whether we should come back on a Monday or a Tuesday, which is evidence of the need for such a time-table.

Mr. Bing

This matter has been referred to time and again by hon. Members opposite who have been through a very important meeting to attempt to get some unity. What we were discussing was not whether we should come back on Monday or Tuesday, but whether, in view of the amount of business before the Government, we should have no Recess at all in order that we should discuss and prevent the imposition of charges on the poor.

Mr. Speaker

I would point out that this discussion is not in order on this time-table Motion.

Mr. Gower

I naturally bow to your decision, Sir.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

On a point of order. This is about the third occasion in the course of this debate in which I and two or three of us collectively have been submitted to an attack and on each occasion it has been ruled out of order on the termination of the attack. That Ruling means that I may be attacked and that when I seek to catch your eye, Sir, I shall not be allowed to refer to the matter and explain the important reasons which prompted us to raise what we thought was a constitutional issue.

Mr. Speaker

I gave no such Ruling.

Mr. Gower

With the greatest respect, I would say that I made no reference to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I mentioned the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch.

In considering this desire for more time, I respectfully submit that the crux of the whole matter is, whether Ministers can risk a longer time-table. The avowed intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, as constantly expressed in recent weeks, is to wreck the legislative programme of the Government and to wreck the Government. They have repeatedly declared that it is their intention not to oppose on its merits legislation which is essential, but merely to oppose all legislation in order to prevail upon Ministers to withdraw any legislation which is not agreeable to hon. Members opposite. My submission is that when this House decides both on this Amendment and the whole of the principle involved, that is a material point and not something which is irrelevant to this Amendment.

Finally, when we consider the matter, we have also to reflect that hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have lost the right in morality to object to this proposal by their relentless use of the Guillotine in Standing Committee which, as the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) pointed out, is a much more vicious procedure than its use in Committee of the whole House. It deprives constituencies as well as Members of representation on a committee—half the country is unrepresented—and the use of the Guillotine to curtail discussion in such a Committee is a most vicious curtailment of the rights of minorities.

In view of that, I submit that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, although one may approve of their newly-found enthusiasm and zeal for the rights of minorities, finding themselves no longer the masters now, their resistance and zeal is, as the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan suggested, suspect to say the least, and if one may use a colloquialism, completely "phoney."

Ministers are fully entitled not merely to press the Motion but to ask the House to reject this Amendment and proceed with this Bill, and with other legislation to enable us to do all the very essential things which are required for the salvation of this counrty from the very real peril in which responsible leaders of the Opposition admit we stand. We have to rescue the country from that, and to do that our legislative programme must and will go through while we have a single fit man majority.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)

I have listened intently to all the discussion today on this vitally important subject, and I was glad when the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) referred to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I believe it was in that period that we laid the foundations of our English political philosophy which eventually developed into its present form. In reality this Amendment is testing our judgment as to when and in what circumstances we ought to limit opportunities for debate in this Chamber.

We talk a great deal about democracy, but I believe it is correct to say that we term our constitution a democratic constitution because it is understood that when matters of great importance to the country have to be discussed, an opportunity will be afforded to discuss them. What we have to decide today is whether we are providing that opportunity.

Though the Guillotine may be regarded as a recognised instrument, it is not usually applied. I consider that there is only one circumstance under which we can legitimately use the Guillotine and that is when the desire of the people is not being implemented because of the opposition of a small minority. Does this Bill implement the desires of the people? If we can conscientiously say that it does, and that there is some obstacle preventing its passage through this House, we should be justified in using the Guillotine.

As we look round the country today, and bear in mind the conditions under which the last Election was fought, can we really say that, in limiting so drastically the opportunity for debate on this Bill, we are implementing the feelings and desires of the people? Has there been any strongly expressed desire from the rank and file of our people for the carrying out, by means of this Bill, of a penalty on the old, the sick and the disabled?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is now discussing the merits of the Bill itself, and not the Motion before the House and the Amendment. The choice for the House to make is whether we shall have one day or three days for debate, and I hope the hon. Member will confine himself, within reason, to that point.

Mr. McKay

I am sorry if I have strayed from the rules of order, but I have listened to many speeches today and have wondered how far they also have strayed.

While we are discussing the question of one day or three days for the debate on this Bill, we are also discussing whether that particular time ought to be allowed, and I think myself that, when considering that matter, we must of necessity consider the whole relationship of the Bill itself to the desires of the people. I think that is logic, and that is why I have strayed off the subject just a little.

To my mind, this is a vital Bill. In so far as we can do anything in this House to advance the standard of life of the people, I have always thought we should do it, and that, whatever our difficulties, we should never stray back to past practices. Whatever may be our economic difficulties, we must care for and protect the poorest of our people, the unemployed and the sick, and this Bill deals with those people.

I do not want to put sob-stuff over in this House, but, sometimes, it is a necessity. We have to mix reality with sentiment in order to convey the actuality of life. I think that, if there is any real democracy about our constitution, the facts of life today in relation to this Bill are such that to restrict the discretion upon it to one day is an absolute denial of democracy, because of the fact that the Government have no mandate for this Bill.

Instead of doing so, they are limiting all opportunities to one day. We talk about democracy. Which party really has a democratic majority behind them? Is it the Conservative Party? Of course not. They have no real majority behind them. Therefore, they have no justification for limiting our opportunity to discuss this Bill.

It may be asked, what need is there to take such a long time as three days to discuss this Bill? The reason is quite clear. If hon. Members do not want to understand it, no one can make them understand it, but if there is any real desire to do so and if there is any real desire to satisfy the hopes of our people, then hon. Members must face the situation. The Labour Party have the majority of the people in the country behind them, and we are asking on behalf of that majority that we should be given the opportunity to discuss this Bill in detail.

The Government are seeking to impose penalties and charges on the people in respect of all kinds of surgical instruments. While it may be justifiable to pass within a given time a Bill by which charges are imposed for one or two articles—say, spectacles or teeth—there is no justification to say that because a penalty is imposed in a limited way, therefore that penalty may be extended. There is no logic in that. All the Amendments that we on these benches wish to discuss deal with different appliances, and, therefore, different discussions are necessary.

I can understand that there are times when a Government with a real, sound majority have every justification to say, "We have a right, because of our definite and clear mandate, to impose limits and the Guillotine if necessary." But in the Government's weak position, in view of the fact that they have not got the support of the country and that they are every day losing the support that they had, every kind of opposition from these benches to the imposition of these charges is justified. I therefore suggest that this Amendment ought to be supported, even by the Government.

10.34 p.m.

Mr. Crookshank

We have had a prolonged debate on this Amendment, and perhaps the House will feel that it is getting towards the time to bring it to an end, as there are other Amendments on the Paper. If so, perhaps it would be suitable for me to make a few comments in reply.

Mr. Hale

May I rise on a very important point of order, Mr. Speaker? The right hon. Gentleman has made observations which appear to indicate that he is now assuming that he may tell the House when the discussion should terminate, and that he is endeavouring to indicate to you that in his view the Closure Motion might be considered by the Chair. That, in my respectful submission, is the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, made when hon. Members rose to continue the discussion.

I suggest to you, Sir, with the greatest respect, that that is the only meaning which can be given to what he said. It was that we had reached the time when the discussion should terminate and that we had been talking on the Amendment for a very long time. May I venture respectfully to put to you this point—that it was always the Ruling of your predecessor that he would not accept the Closure of any discussion unless there had been at least two or three consecutive speakers from one side of the House. That was what he always conveyed to hon. Members in the last Parliament—that unless the discussion was proceeding from one side of the House only the Closure could not be accepted, and—

Mr. Speaker

I cannot hear any discussion on the Closure at the moment. It has not been moved. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that many hon. Members might think it was time for the discussion to come to an end. I thought that was a perfectly harmless remark because many hon. Members might think so—and many hon. Members might not. It is a matter of opinion and not one of order and, therefore, not one for me.

Mr. Hale

Further to that point of order. You interrupted me. Mr. Speaker, before I had concluded my point of order. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has done no harm, because it is seldom that he finds he has a clean sheet in the matter and I am happy to find he has on this occasion. In answer to me some days ago, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy-Speaker ruled that it was impossible to raise a point of order after the Closure had been moved. On this occasion, therefore, I was trying to take the opportunity of raising it before the Closure was moved and was making representations to you.

The invariable practice of the House during the six years in which I was a Member, when your predecessor was in the Chair, was as I have stated, and I therefore venture to suggest that we should bear in mind that invariable practice—that when hon. Members are rising from both sides of the House it is not for the Leader of the House or, with great respect, even for the occupant of the Chair, to say that the time has come to terminate the discussion.

Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)

Further to that point of order. In following the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), I hope it will also be borne in mind that there can be a situation in which there are many hon. Members on one side of the House with very relevant comments to contribute to the discussion. There can be a situation in which the Government side deliberately refrain from putting their point of view. I know it would not be in the spirit of what my hon. Friend says to suggest that in any debate in which three speakers in succession have been on the same side of the House, that that would justify the moving of the Closure.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot hear any discussion upon the Closure now. There is no such Motion before the House. It is, however, perfectly true, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) said, that after it has been moved points of order are equally out of order. It is purely a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Paget

Further to that point of order. I am not going to intervene for more than a few moments, but great embarrassment is constantly occurring owing to the difficulty of raising a point of order about the Closure Motion—either because the Closure has not been moved or, when it has been moved, because no point of order can arise. I feel that a lot of the time of the House is wasted on that and I wonder whether you would consider the matter, Mr. Speaker. I do not ask for a Ruling now, but perhaps you could give us some guidance as to how the difficulty might be overcome. It might make debate more fruitful in the future.

Mr. Speaker

The only observation I would make at this stage is that I do not think it is proper to use points of order to try to canvass the pros and cons of the Closure Motion, whether it has been moved or has not been moved.

Mr. Crookshank

I am sure we are all very much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for your Ruling. I resume what I was saying—we have had a considerable debate on the subject and there are other Amendments on the Order Paper. I have listened to every word that has been said, I think; at any rate, I seem to have been here a very long time. The right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) dealt particularly with the subject matter of the Amendment, which proposes to increase from one day to three days the time allocated to the Committee stage.

Both you, Mr. Speaker, and Deputy-Speakers have had to check some hon. Members for the length of time they were taking to debate their case. Because of those Rulings, therefore, I am precluded from making many points that I should like to have made in reply to the wider speeches which hon. Members seem to have been about to make, and of which they have at least succeeded in getting the preliminaries into the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The right hon. Gentleman seemed to make the complaint that during the earlier stages of this Bill every Amendment ended under the Closure. I should have thought that was a very curious commentary, not on the Chair but on the general handling of the Debate, that it should have gone on so long that each time the occupant of the Chair thought it had gone on long enough.

The right hon. Gentleman added the remark that it was unfortunate that only three times was it stated that there were matters which appealed to me sufficiently for me to want to look at them again. I do not think one can blame the Minister if there were not enough other good points for him to look at. He has to take the debate as he finds it and if there are points—not only on this Bill but on any other Bill—which the Minister considers should be looked at, he always does so and he says so.

The right hon. Gentleman then patted his party on the back when he stated that for three whole days its behaviour had been exemplary, but he spoiled it by going on to say that the speeches had been a trifle protracted. "Trifle protracted" is the phrase about which we differ. Some of my hon. Friends made it quite clear during this debate that they thought there had been very long speeches indeed. They used the phrase "filibustering" by the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman says "a trifle protracted." It may be that the difference lies in the understanding of the words north and south of the border.

The right hon. Gentleman stated that it was difficult to accept the argument that there had been anything in the nature of filibustering. He asked what it was, and said that if there had been the Chair would have seen that it did not go on. Of course the Chair would have seen to that, but there were very long speeches and we were in the Committee stage.

The point of the Committee stage—whether upstairs or here on the Floor of the House—has always been, in theory, the quick interchange of points of view among Members taking part, and nothing in the way of set speeches except on beginning the consideration of large and important Amendments. The rest of the Committee stage has normally been the quick interchange of argument. But what are we to say when, on looking at the OFFICIAL REPORT, one finds seven, eight, or nine columns occupied with discussion on small Amendments? That is what my hon. Friends have in mind.

We also noted, and I am sure the occupants of the Chair must have noted, that we had considerable repetition of the principles of the Bill and often not only this Bill but the Act under which, if any charges were made, the field would be far wider than that covered by this Bill. The first Clause of this Bill deals only with outpatients in hospitals, and that was why the word "minority" came into what I said earlier. It was a minority of the field which might be covered as a result of prescription charges.

Mrs. E. M. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

On a point of order. Can I be of assistance? I take it that the Leader of the House is making the suggestion that every speech that lasted a length of time with which he disagreed came into the realm of filibustering. If so, I take strong exception to it. I am asking the Chair to say that in my speech, at any rate, there was no suggestion of filibustering. I take strong exception to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that important points made from this side of the House were in the nature of filibustering.

Mr. Speaker

I did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to say so.

Mr. Crookshank

Indeed I did not.

Mr. Baird

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman said that numerous speeches were made that took up seven columns of HANSARD. Can he say how many speeches in Committee were of that length?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order. I do ask hon. Gentlemen to refrain from raising points of order for the purpose of making debating points.

Mr. Crookshank

The fact that you, Mr. Speaker, have had to say that alleged points of order were not points of order adds force to the case I am making that constant interruptions of speakers or the raising of just such a point as has been made, is all part of the complaint which my hon. Friends have been putting before the House today.

The right hon. Gentleman and others have been making the point, in dealing with the allocation of time, that there are still 50 Amendments to Clause 1. Anyone can smother the Order Paper with Amendments, good, bad, indifferent, relevant or otherwise, because we do not know whether they are in order or not, quite apart from the question whether they will be selected. Anyone can claim that there are a lot of Amendments to be disposed of when possibly there might be one, two or three which are of importance or in order. I really do not think that the mere fact that there are many Amendments printed on the Order Paper is an argument of any validity at all.

Then I was asked why we should have taken the Bill on the Floor of the House and not sent it to a Standing Committee. I do not know whether it is relevant to this debate, but the answer briefly is that the Bill did cover a wide range of interests, and for that reason was kept on the Floor of the House. I should have thought that that would have been considered praiseworthy rather than a matter of complaint.

I must say, before I go any further, that I did very much resent the remarks made about my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, just because on one Amendment she made a slip of the tongue. I thought hon. Gentlemen would have extended the usual courtesies to her, or indeed to anyone else, however experienced, who had made a slip of the tongue. I hope we on our side would not make such statements about anyone opposite in similar circumstances.

I do not know why this lack of courtesy has recently grown up. The Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird), became very angry with me because he thought I was doodling. As a matter of fact, I was making a note of what he was saying. He may remember that the Leader of the Opposition is known as a world famous doodler. But I do not see why these silly accusations should be made across the Floor of the House today.

We have thought that this time-table is reasonable, and I will make the point, which certainly has not been made, that in looking at a time-table one must consider the time allotted to the Committee stage and the time allotted to the Report stage and see what relation the one has to the other. We are offering one day for Report and Third Reading, that without any compartmenting at all. That is very relevant.

We shall have up to five o'clock in Committee on the first Clause. We have spent, as I said when I introduced the Motion, three days—21½ hours—on this Clause. It is possible to say, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that that is not very relevant to what remains of the Clause to be considered. But it is relevant when one looks at what else is left. We provide, in a special compartment, three hours for consideration of Clause 2. That was in order to make sure that some part, if not all, was debated.

The trouble that often occurs in these matters is that, whether deliberately or by accident I would not like to say, if too much of the allotted time is taken up with the earliest Clauses—which is what happened under the Guillotine timetable of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite during the 1945–50 Parliament—important Clauses do not get discussed at all. We thought, and I am sure that everybody agrees, that Clause 2 was important, and it was essential to make sure that debate took place on it, and so three hours were allotted.

It is all very well saying "Oh, but in Committee of the whole House three hours is nothing," but in a Committee stage upstairs three hours is more than a morning, and it has to be a very long Clause with undue prolongation of debate if one Clause is found to take more than a morning. [Interruption.] I am only asking hon. Gentlemen to put the matter in its right perspective.

What has happened is that a great deal of time has been given here in Committee of the whole House, and many hon. Gentlemen have taken the opportunity of making speeches of a length they would never have dreamed of had they been in Committee upstairs. [Interruption.] It is true. Therefore, because of the comparatively longer speeches here, it has taken longer to deal with the Bill than it would have done had the Bill been upstairs and speeches had been of a normal length for a Committee stage. [HON. GENTLEMEN: "Why not send it upstairs?"] I have explained why. We thought it was of sufficiently wide importance to warrant its being taken here. [HON. GENTLEMEN: "Why?"] Important Bills, we consider, ought to be taken here.

Having had a great deal of discussion already on Clause 1 we have had to leave a comparatively short time for its subsequent consideration. If an attempt is made to do what used to be called stacking Amendments—that is bringing forward everything conceivable that might be relevant—then the Order Paper gets choked up. The three hours we have allotted to Clause 2 seems to us to be reasonable, and a couple of hours for the rest we think is adequate.

There is a second allotted day without any compartment at all for the Report stage. The difficulty about that stage is that one cannot tell ahead of time which Amendments Mr. Speaker is likely to call, but if there is any substance in the arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that important matters have not been discussed or have been omitted as a result of this time-table, notwithstanding the three days we have had in Committee already, then I find it hard to believe from my previous experience in this House, which is a long one, that any Amendments of supreme importance would not be the ones which were called.

I entirely cast aside the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks)—whom I am sure we were pleased to hear speaking, for he does not often speak—when he says that this time-table entirely destroys this House as a place for discussing this Bill. It does not do anything of the kind. It gives another day to the Committee stage, and right hon. Gentlemen will, if they cast their minds back, agree that to give a day to the Report stage is very generous.

Third Reading discussion is after all limited to what is in the Bill, and the major issues that have been discussed throughout the Committee stage have not been on what is in the Bill but what may or may not be in the regulations. None of that, I imagine, will be in order on Third Reading. One can only use one's own judgment—it is for Mr. Speaker to decide—but I should have thought the scope of the Third Reading of this Bill was very narrow—and, therefore, all the more time would be available for the Report stage.

I repeat our dislike at having to introduce a time-table, but granted that we have to do it, I do not think that on reflection, and bearing in mind the time allotted for Committee, Report and Third Reading, that we have anything with which to reproach ourselves. I hope that when the time comes the House will reject the Amendment.

10.57 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Messer (Tottenham)

The right hon. Gentleman and indeed most hon. Members in this House will not charge me with wasting time. I never make long speeches, nor do I indulge in filibustering. I rise now only because I believe it to be of the utmost importance that we should have longer time on the Committee stage. I wish to give my reasons for supporting the Amendment. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that a day for Report and Third Reading is a fair period of time, but as he and all hon. Members with experience in this House know, it is so often the case that in Committee points are put of which the Minister is able to say they are quite new points to him, that he will consider them and see what can be done on Report.

That cannot happen on this Committee stage. A large number of Amendments put down to the Bill look formidable and look as if they are obstructive, but the reason for that large number of Amendments is the bad drafting of the Bill. It is due to the fact that there is not enough in the Bill, or there is too much in it. The truth is that we do not yet know just what the Bill will do. We have these inconsistencies.

The Minister himself put down an Amendment to Clause 2 to make the age limit 21, which changes what was his original intention, but although there is no Amendment put down on that point in Clause 1, the age limit of 21 will be in the Regulations in respect of Clause 1. Why do we have it incorporated in the Bill by an Amendment in Clause 2, but leave it to be done by regulation in respect of Clause 1? There may be a reason for that, but we have not been given an opportunity to question the Minister to find out what it is.

I think it is true to say that this Bill is of greater importance than appears on the surface. We heard almost accidentally that in the regulations venereal disease was to be exempted. We were not told that until we extracted it from the Parliamentary Secretary. We know of course that it is a most important matter because there are 40 countries, of which this country is one, which are party to a convention by which we treat free of cost nationals of other countries suffering from this disease, and they, in return, similarly treat our nationals there. But we heard that that provision is to be in the regulations, and not in the Bill.

This Bill is destroying a practice which has been current for years; venereal disease is not really a medical problem, but a very important social question. But, so is tuberculosis, and it appears that there is to be little opportunity for finding out if we are going to have destroyed what has been in practice for years in regard to tuberculosis. Long before the National Health Service came into being, and, indeed, during the war years, treatment for tuberculosis was free.

The Government, realising the importance to ordinary people of having treatment for tuberculosis, actually paid them to have that treatment. That was under Circular 266 T.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must keep more strictly to the Amendment.

Mr. Messer

Yes, Mr. Speaker, but with respect, I am trying to give reasons why there should be a longer period on the Committee stage, and one cannot ask for that without showing the importance of it. One wants to know if the campaign to eradicate this terrible disease is to be considered uneconomic.

We are told that we have to save the country from economic disaster, but in my submission, we are going to have a far worse economic disaster if the health of the people suffers. Many people have been doing all they can to prevent the spread of this disease by the spending of money; but what is the use of spending money if sufferers from the disease are unable easily to get treatment?

Most hon. Members will agree that a large number of Amendments have been put down to the Bill; but that is because we on this side of the House have not understood what is in the mind of the Government. It has been said that we have spent a lot of time on the Committee stage, but that is because there was insufficient time allowed for Second Reading. Although it is a small Bill, the implications of it justified a longer period for the Second Reading.

It may be remembered that only two hon. Members on the back benches on this side of the House were able to speak during the Second Reading debate, and if there had been a longer period, we should have been enabled to get answers which would have meant that we should not have needed to put down so many Amendments. For all these reasons, I ask that we should have a longer time than is proposed in the Motion.

11.3 p.m.

Mr. Wheatley

There are two points which arise on these Amendments. The first is to expand the amount of time devoted to the Committee stage by two days, and the other is to re-institute the procedure under Standing Order 41. On the other hand, the Government propose to give one day, and the introduction of new procedure to supersede that under Standing Order 41. In respect of both matters, the onus is on the Government to justify this change of procedure.

We have heard from several hon. Members opposite some rather strange reasons in justification of the course being taken. The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Watkinson) told us that the justification was the length of time which had already been taken on the Committee stage; not that there had been filibustering, but that there had been statements made on oher matters which justified the Government in taking this course.

I suggest that we on this side of the House are entitled to get from the Leader of the House a categorical statement as to whether the Government accept the justification advanced by the hon. Member for Woking. Is it the Government's case that although no exception can be taken to the nature of the debate on the previous stages of the Committee that statements made in respect of other matters justify the Government in taking this course? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman justify the change of procedure?

A challenge was issued by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to point out one Amendment which has already been debated or one Amendment which still falls to be debated which could be deemed to be frivolous or in any way objectionable. That challenge has remained unanswered. I expected the right hon. Gentleman at least to answer that. Is it his view—perhaps he will give an answer to this—that any of the Amendments which have been discussed heretofore were frivolous, were not the type of Amendments that one would expect in a Bill of this nature, or that any of the subsequent Amendments are of that nature? Can we have an answer to that point?

Mr. Crookshank

The answer briefly is, of course, that if they had been frivolous they would not have been called.

Mr. Wheatley

We at least know from that answer that none of the Amendments were Amendments to which objection could be taken, and, therefore, the only objection which the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends can have is that an undue length of time was taken to discuss them.

We on this side of the House do not concede that, but, even assuming that were so, is that a justification for this very rigid procedure which is now proposed, or is the proper method to say, "Well, while we concede that none of these Amendments is frivolous we do think that too much time was spent over the previous Amendments and, therefore, we need to fashion a time-table which will give enough time for the proper discussion of each of these legitimate and proper Amendments without taking up an undue length of time in the House."

That seems to me to be the proper, natural and courteous way of approaching this problem. But we find in the Motion which we are opposing a timetable, the brevity of which is absolutely shocking because when we come to consider Clause 1 we find that, in addition to the multitude of Amendments still standing on the Order Paper, none of which is a frivolous Amendment, we shall have the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that during the Committee stage, one occupant of the Chair informed my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) that he need not develop a point because he could more properly address himself to it on the Motion that the Clause stand part of the Bill. This time-table of one and a half hours ostensibly includes consideration not only of the multitude of Amendments to the Clause but also the discussion on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." I say "ostensibly" because to-morrow being Thursday, after Questions we shall have the business of the week. We may have Private Notice Questions, and it is foreshadowed in the Press that we shall also have a statement on the agricultural price review.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House must know whether that statement is going to be made to-morrow or not, and that statement is already two months overdue. Naturally, if that statement were to be made to-morrow there would be a very large number of supplementary questions arising out of it. HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I think it is a reasonable assumption that if public money is to be spent a number of supplementary questions will arise out of the proposals. I do not want to develop the point, but, surely, we can have it—

Mr. Speaker

There is an Amendment, which comes later, specifically designed to cover this point.

Mr. Wheatley

The point is, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman justified up to five o'clock as being sufficient to cover the remaining Amendments to the Clause and the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." In order that the House may reach a proper judgment of the right hon. Gentleman's proposition, I want to find out whether we shall have a one-and-a-half hour discussion, as would appear from the Order Paper, or whether we shall have a much shorter time. For we have not only a statement tomorrow on the business for the week, but we may have other statements. I have indicated one such statement, which is foreshadowed and which may give rise to a certain amount of controversy, namely, a statement on the agricultural price review.

The right hon. Gentleman knows whether such a statement is to be made. He has a duty to the House to disclose that fact, so that the House may have a proper appreciation of whether this ostensible time-table is a real or a fictitious one. Will he do the House the courtesy of letting us know if such a statement is going to be made or whether there are to be other statements made after 3.30 p.m. tomorrow?

There has been a taking of counsel and there is no reason why there should not be information forthcoming. There has been a conference between the Patronage Secretary and the Leader of the House, and, if those two right hon. Gentlemen do not know what is going to be said tomorrow, who does? It is treating the House with great discourtesy. The right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the House, who has always claimed he was a House of Commons man, and we are prepared to accept that, is in danger of losing that reputation if he treats the House with this great discourtesy.

I am willing to give way. The right hon. Gentleman has no right to say he is allotting one-and-a-half hours for these Amendments and on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," if he knows, in his own mind and heart, that a much shorter period will be available. Will he give an answer?

Mr. Crookshank

Everybody knows that on Thursdays there is a statement. There may be other statements, but that does not necessarily take away a great deal of the time. I remember perfectly well the time when business statements have been made and no questions have been asked on the subject. It has been only recently that there has been a semi-debate. Taking into account that and any other statement which may be made, I do not see why they should take any appreciable time out of the time-table set down.

Mr. Wheatley

The right hon. Gentleman has no right to evade the issue in that manner. I prefaced my remarks by saying that we normally have the business questions. Whether they will take some time, or only some little time, is beside the point. I addressed a definite point relating to the agricultural price review and the right hon. Gentleman must know if that statement is to be made. He knows if the statement is made that, subject to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, there are liable to be, a number of questions upon it.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

This is a waste of time.

Mr. Wheatley

This is not a waste of time. This is trying to secure for the House the courtesy, to which it is entitled. I do not know whether the Prime Minister knows if there is to be a statement tomorrow. The Patronage Secretary or the Leader of the House do not know. Perhaps the Prime Minister knows. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to give us the benefit of his knowledge or must we ask the Minister of Transport? Or do we require to wait for a statement in another place by one of the co-ordinating Ministers?

The Prime Minister has a great regard for the traditions of the House of Commons and I am going to appeal to him since my appeal to the Leader of the House has fallen on stony ground. Does the right hon. Gentleman think it in keeping with the traditions of the House that a responsible Minister should ask the House to pass a Motion on the basis that 1½ hours will be devoted to a large number of Amendments and the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" when, to his own knowledge, statements may be made which will curtail that time considerably? Is not the House of Commons entitled to know what the actual time is likely to be? I invite the right hon. Gentleman to answer that question.

The Prime Minister

I do not want to do anything to prolong the proceedings, but it may be that a statement will be made tomorrow on business and on agricultural prices. But those are not statements which should give rise to a debate. These always have been matters which the House has disposed of smoothly at the time and has discussed when opportunities for debate have offered themselves; in my long experience, never have they been advanced in connection with the use of the Guillotine. When I was a member of the Liberal Party these matters of business and announcements for the convenience of the House were not made reasons for subtracting from the time given to the various compartments into which discussion under the Guillotine was divided.

Mr. Wheatley

That merely emphasises the force of our argument that all this should have been referred to a business committee in order to get the time-table properly worked out. However, I insist on the point. The Prime Minister says that there may be a business statement and a statement on agricultural prices. This is Wednesday night. The statements are due to be made tomorrow.

The right hon. Gentleman knows whether there will be such statements or not. Can we have a categorical answer to the question? No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman how long the House can be kept following Questions; he was rather a past-master at the art when he was in Opposition, and I have known him carry on the business discussion for a very considerable time.

In recent years the business of the House has always stimulated a fair number of questions, usually involving the intervention of Mr. Speaker or his predecessors. Tomorrow, presumably, we are also to have a statement on agricultural prices. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that if a period of only 1½ hours has been allotted for a certain part of the Bill, half an hour or three-quarters of an hour is a very considerable portion of that period.

Surely we can be informed whether these statements will be made. I take it that the business statement will be made. Are we to have a statement on agricultural prices which will eat further into this part of the time-table? Can we have an answer? [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see!"] We must not harp too far back to the Prime Minister's Liberal past by inviting him to wait and see. I know that it was Mr. Asquith who said that, and there was a time when the Prime Minister was an adherent of his. What I want to establish definitely is whether the House is to be treated in this contemptuous manner.

The Prime Minister

The way the right hon. and learned Gentleman is using it now?

Mr. Wheatley

The right hon. Gentleman need not lose his temper over this.

Mr. Speaker

I would point out to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he is in some danger of repeating himself.

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

On a point of order. In view of the importance of the issue of having a full hour and a half devoted to Clause 1, would you rule, Mr. Speaker, that, in the event of the Leader of the Opposition not asking the business Question tomorrow, the Leader of the House will be out of order in making a statement on the business for the following week?

Mr. Speaker

That is purely hypothetical.

Mr. Wheatley

I accept your rebuke, Mr. Speaker, but would observe that there is no danger of becoming repetitive if one sits down, and that that seems to be the position of the Government at this stage.

What I am particularly concerned about is this. If this is a penal or reprisal Motion, not because of what has taken place on the prior stages of the Bill but because of some statement alleged to have been made in other debates, it is a penal or reprisal Motion ostensibly directed against the Opposition but in fact directed against the people of the country, because it is the people of the country, not the Opposition, who will suffer as a result of this Motion being carried; whereas if we added the time which we seek, if an extra two days were to be granted, and if we were allowed to follow the procedure set out in Standing Order 41, and to have a business committee to consider subsequent Amendments, we should at least have an opportunity of getting some proper discussion on matters which affect many sections of the community.

It may be, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that some of these Amendments affect only small sections of the community, but taking them in cumulo they affect a large proporton of the community. In any event, I have never known it to be a principle of the House of Commons that we resist debate on a subject because it affects merely a small section of the community, because all the interests of the small sections have to be safeguarded as well as the interests of the large sections.

When he came to some of the other proposals, it seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman was forgetting any of the Parliamentary procedure he had ever known. All I can suggest is that, when the hon. Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) goes to take the refresher course he so badly needs, the right hon. Gentleman should accompany him, because he suggested that one day would be sufficient for the Report and Third Reading.

He knows from his experience of the Report stage of Bills that one cannot gather properly how much time will be required for it in this case until we have exhausted the Committee stage, because if some of the Amendments which we discuss during this truncated Committee stage are matters of importance which the right hon. Gentleman may wish to consider, that may necessitate the placing of Amendments on the Order Paper on Report. One day may be quite inadequate time in which to discuss these matters.

Let me further remind him that, if there are any new Clauses to be considered at that stage, they must be taken before the Amendments, and those new Clauses would eat further into the time which would be available for Amendments during the Report stage.

In my submission, in the interests of the House, it would be better—Does the Prime Minister want to interrupt me?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Get on."] Did the Prime Minister say to me, "Just get on"?

The Prime Minister

No.

Mr. Wheatley

Did the right hon. Gentleman say, "Just get on"? Surely, if I am being subjected to interruptions by the right hon. Gentleman I am entitled to ask him what the interruptions are, because with the greatest respect—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I heard no interruption by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Wheatley

May I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister did make an intervention? He passed a remark to me which I did not catch, and I asked him to repeat it, because I always pay a great deal of attention and attach a great deal of weight to what the right hon. Gentleman says. Perhaps he would care to repeat it now?

If the position be, then, that one day under this time-table cannot possibly be sufficient because of the truncated time allowance for Clause 1 and because the time allotted to Clause 2 is only three hours—a very important point is raised by Clause 2 and there are some very important Amendments—surely the right hon. Gentleman will not penalise, not the Opposition but the people of this country, by refusing us time properly to discuss these Amendments.

If he thinks that there is a danger of the time taken being too long he can allow the business committee, under Standing Order No. 41, to work out an appropriate time-table. It would have the advantage of containing Members of the Opposition who understand both the Bill and the Amendments to guide him with regard to further procedure. At the present time, he is working out this timetable without really having the benefit of the knowledge and experience that he so badly needs in this matter. Accordingly, I submit that in the circumstances we

are entitled to the Amendment which we have put down.

The only further point that I wish to make—and it is a very small one—is that I think the right hon. Gentleman's criticism of the previous portion of the Committee stage of this Bill was quite unfair because the Amendments that were tabled were very proper ones. I noticed that on the Amendment of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Miss Ward) with regard to benefits to foreigners under the National Health Service we bad a debate lasting an hour and 37 minutes on the point, which had been thrashed out on many occasions before. The hon. Lady insisted on moving the Amendment despite the fact that she had a cold, and we paid great tribute to her courage and not to her judgment—whereas an Amendment put forward from this side of the House relating to charges to old people needing care and attention in local authority homes had only 40 minutes' discussion before the Closure was moved.

There we have examples of disparity in the time-table in respect of two conflicting Amendments, one of which I suggest was not really very important, and on the second one of which—a very important one indeed—the Closure was moved after only 40 minutes' discussion. In the circumstance, having regard to the importance of this matter, I invite the right hon. Gentleman to have second thoughts, not to be so stubborn, and to give the House and the Committee subsequently an opportunity of discussing these matters in the proper detail that this very serious and important Measure demands.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)

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, 290: Noes 264.

Division No. 90.] AYES [11.23 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Beamish, Maj. Tufton
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Baker, P. A. D. Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Baldook, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Ben, Ronald (Bucks, S.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Banks, Col. C. Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)
Arbuthnot, John Barber, A. P. L. Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Barlow, Sir John Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Baxter, A. B. Bennett, William (Woodside)
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Ply mouth, Sutton) Beach, Maj. Hicks Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)
Birch, Nigel Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Bishop, F. P. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Black, C. W. Harvie-Watt, Sir George Nicholls, Harmar
Boothby, R. J. G. Hay, John Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Bossom, A. C. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Nicelson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Bowen, E. R. Heald, Sir Lionel Nield, Basil (Chester)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Heath, Edward Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Boyle, Sir Edward Higgs, J. M. C. Nugent, G. R. H.
Braine, B. R. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Nutting, Anthony
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Oaksott, H. D.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Odey, G. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hirst, Geoffrey Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Holland-Martin, C. J. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hollis, M. C. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Browne, Jack (Govan) Holt, A. F. Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Hope, Lord John Osborne, C.
Bullard, D. G. Hopkinson, Henry Perkins, W. R. D.
Bullock, Capt. M. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E. Horobin, I. M. Peyton, J. W. W.
Burden, F. F. A. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Pilkington, Capt. F. A.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Pitman, I. J.
Carson, Hon. E. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Powell, J. Enoch
Cary, Sir Robert Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Channon, H. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Prior-Palmer, Brig O. L.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Profumo, J. D.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hurd, A. R. Raikes, H. V.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Rayner, Brig. R.
Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Remnant, Hon. P.
Cole, Norman Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Renton, D. L. M.
Colegate, W. A. Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Conant, Mai. R. J. E. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Robertson, Sir David
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Robson-Brown, W.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Jones, A. (Hall Green) Roper, Sir Harold
Cranborne, Viscount Joynsort-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Kaberry, D. Russell, R. S.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Keeling, Sir Edward Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Crouch, R. F. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Lambert, Hon. G. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Lambton, Viscount Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Cuthbert, W. N. Langford-Holt, J. A. Scott, R. Donald
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.
Davidson, Viscountess Leather, E. H. C. Shepherd, William
Deedes, W. F. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Digby, S. Wingfield Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lindsay, Martin Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Linstead, H. N. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Donner, P. W. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton) Snadden, W. McN.
Doughty, C. J. A. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Soames, Capt. C.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Spearman, A. C. M.
Drayson, G. B. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Speir, R. M.
Drewe, C. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Low, A. R. W. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Stevens, G. P.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Lucas, P. B. (Brenlford) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. McAdden, S. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Erroll, F. J. McCallum, Major D. Storey, S.
Fell, A. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Finlay, Graeme Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Fisher, Nigel Mackeson, Brig, H. R. Studholme, H. G.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. McKibbin, A. J. Summers, G. S.
Fletcher-Cooke, C. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Fort, R. Maclay, Hon. John Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Maclean, Fitzroy Teeling, W.
Fraser Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Gage, C. H. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Gammans, L. D. Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Tilney, John
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Markham, Major S. F. Turton, R. H.
Godber, J. B. Marlowe, A. A. H. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Marples, A. E. Vane, W. M. F.
Gough, C. F. H. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Gower, H. R. Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Vosper, D. F.
Graham, Sir Fergus Maude, Angus Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Grimond, J. Maudling, R. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Medlicott, Brig. F. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Harden, J. R. E. Mellor, Sir John Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Hare, Hon. J. H. Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Watkinson, H. A.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Wellwood, W.
White, Baker (Canterbury) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter) York, C.
Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay) Wills, G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro) Mr. Butcher and Mr. Redmayne.
Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.) Wood, Hon. R.
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Freeman, Peter (Newport) Monslow, W.
Adams, Richard Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Moody, A. S.
Albu, A. H. Gibson, C. W. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Glanville, James Morley, R.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Gooch, E. G. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Awbery, S. S. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Mort, D. L.
Baird, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Moyle, A.
Balfour, A. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mulley, F. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Grey, C. F. Murray, J. D.
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Nally, W.
Bence, C. R. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Benn, Wedgwood Griffiths, William (Exchange) O'Brien, T.
Benson, G. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oliver, G. H.
Berwick, F. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Orbach, M.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Oswald, T.
Bing, G. H. C. Hamilton, W. W. Padley, W. E.
Blackburn, F. Hannan, W. Paget, R. T.
Blenkinsop, A. Hargreaves, A. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Deanne Valley)
Blyton, W. R. Hastings, S. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Boardman, H. Hayman, F. H. Pannell, Charles
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Pargiter, G. A.
Bowden, H. W. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A (Rowley Regis) Parker, J.
Bowles, F. G. Herbison, Miss M. Paton, J.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hewitson, Capt. M. Pearson, A.
Brockway, A. F. Hobson, C. R. Pearl, T. F.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Holman, P. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Popplewell, E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Houghton, Douglas Porter, G.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hey, J. H. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Burke, W. A. Hubbard, T. F. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Burton, Miss F. E. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Proctor, W. T.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hughes, Gledwyn (Anglesey) Pryde, D. J.
Callaghan, L. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rankin, John
Champion, A. J. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Reeves, J.
Chapman, W. D. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Chetwynd, G. R. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Reid, William (Camlachie)
Clunie, J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Rhodes, H.
Cocks, F. S. Janner, B. Richards, R.
Coldrick, W. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Collick, P. H. Jeger, George (Goole) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cook, T. F. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Johnson, James (Rugby) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Cove, W. G. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Ross, William
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, David (Hartlepool) Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Crosland, C. A. R. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Shawcross, Rt, Hon. Sir Hartley
Cullen, Mrs. A. Keenan, W. Short, E. W.
Daines, P. Kenyon, C. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) King, Dr. H. M. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, J.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lever, Harold (Cheatham) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Snow, J. W.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lewis, Arthur Sorensen, R. W.
Deer, G. Lindgren, G. S. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Delargy, H. J. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sparks, J. A.
Dodds, N. N. Logan, D. G. Steel, T.
Donnelly, D. L. MacColl, J. E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Driberg, T. E. N. McGhee, H. G. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) McGovern, J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McInnes, J. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Edelman, M. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, John (Brighouse) McLeavy, F. Swingler, S. T.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Sylvester, G. O.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mainwaring, W. H. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Ewart, R. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Fernyhough, E. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Field, W. J. Mann, Mrs. Jean Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Fienburgh, W. Manuel, A. C. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Finch, H. J. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thurtle, Ernest
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mayhew, C. P. Timmons, J.
Follick, M. Mellish, R. J. Toomey, F.
Fool, M. M. Messer, F. Turner-Samuels, M.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mikardo, Ian Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Freeman, John (Watford) Mitchison, G. R. Usborne, H. C.
Wallace, H. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Watkins, T. E. Wilcock, Group Captain C. A. B. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.) Wilkins, W. A. Winterbottom, Richard (Brighlside)
Weitzman, D. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Wells, Percy (Faversham) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland) Wyatt, W. L.
Wells, William (Walsall) Williams, David (Neath) Yates, V. F.
West, D. G. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint) Williams, W. R. (Droyisden) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.) Mr. Royle and Mr. Wigg.

11.41 p.m.

Question put accordingly, "That 'one' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 287; Noes, 267.

Division No. 91.] AYES [11.40 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Digby, S. Wingfield Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Donner, P. W. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Arbuthnot, John Doughty, C. J. A. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Drayson, G. B. Johnson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Drewe, C. Kaberry, D.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Keeling, Sir Edward
Baker, P. A. D. Duncan, Capt. J. A L. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Lambert, Hon. G.
Banks, Col. C. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lambton, Viscount
Barber, A. P. L. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Langford-Holt, J. A.
Barlow, Sir John Erroll, F. J. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Baxter, A. B. Fell, A. Leather, E. H. C.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Finlay, Graeme Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Fisher, Nigel Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lindsay, Martin
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Fletcher-Cooke, C. Linstead, H. N.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Fort, R. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Gage, C. H. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)
Birch, Nigel Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Low, A. R. W.
Bishop, F. P. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Black, C. W. Gammans, L. D. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Boothby, R. J. G. Garner-Evans, E. H. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bossom, A. C. George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd McAdden, S. J.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Godber, J. B. McCallum, Major D.
Boyle, Sir Edward Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Brains, B. R. Gough, C. F. H. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Gower, H. R. Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.) Graham, Sir Fergus McKibbin, A. J.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Maclay, Hon. John
Brooman-White, R. C. Harden, J. R. E. Maclean, Fitzroy
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hare, Hon. J. H. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Harris, Reader (Heston) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Bullard, D. G. Harrison, Cot. J. H. (Eye) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Bullock, Capt. M. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Burden, F. F. A. Harvie-Watt, Sir George Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Butcher, H. W. Hay, John Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Carr, Robert (Micham) Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Markham, Major S. F.
Carson, Hon. E. Heald, Sir Lionel Marlowe, A. A. H.
Cary, Sir Robert Heath, Edward Marples, A. E.
Channon, H. Higgs, J. M. C. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Maude, Angus
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maudling, R.
Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L. Hirst, Geoffrey Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Cole, Norman Holland-Martin, C. J. Medlicott, Brig. F.
Colegate, W. A. Hollis, M. C. Mellor, Sir John
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Hope, Lord John Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Hopkinson, Henry Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Horobin, I. M. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Cranborne, Viscount Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Nabarro, G. D. N.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nicholls, Harmer
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Crouch, R. F. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nield, Basil (Chester)
Crowder, Petra (Ruislip—Northwood) Hulbert, Wing Cmdr, N. J. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Cuthbert, W. N. Hurd, A. R. Nugent, G. R. H.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Nutting, Anthony
Davidson, Viscountess Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Oakshott, H. D.
Deedes, W. F. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Odey, G. W.
Ormsby-Gore, Host. W. D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Scott, R. Donald Thornton-Kemsley, Gel. C. N.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Tilney, John
Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Shepherd, William Turton, R. H.
Osborne, C. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Perkins, W. R. D. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Vane, W. M. F.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Peyton, J. W. W. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Vosper, D. F.
Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Snadden, W. McN. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Pitman, I. J. Soames, Capt. C. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Powell, J. Enoch Spearman, A. C. M. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Speir, R. M. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Profumo, J. D. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Watkinson, H. A.
Raikes, H. V. Stevens, G. P. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Rayner, Brig. R. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wellwood, W.
Remnant, Hon. P. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Renton, D. L. M. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Storey, S. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Robertson, Sir David Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Robson-Brown, W. Summers, G. S. Wills, G.
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Roper, Sir Harold Taylor, William (Bradford, N.) Wood, Hon. R.
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Teeling, W. York, C.
Russell, R. S. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Mr. Studholme and Mr. Redmayne.
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Davies, Harold (Leek) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Adams, Richard Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Holt, A. F.
Albu, A. H. de Freitas, Geoffrey Houghton, Douglas
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Deer, G. Hoy, J. H.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Delargy, H. J. Hubbard, T. F.
Awbery, S. S. Dodds, N. N. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Donnelly, D. L. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Baird, J. Driberg, T. E. N. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Balfour, A. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Edelman, M. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Bence, C. R. Edwards, John (Brighouse) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Henn, Wedgwood Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Benson, G. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Janner, B.
Beswick, F. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Jeger, George (Goole)
Bing, G. H. C. Ewart, R. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)
Blackburn, F. Fernyhough, E. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Blenkinsop, A. Field, W. J. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Blyton, W. R. Fienburgh, W. Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Boardman, H. Finch, H. J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Keenan, W.
Bowden, H. W. Follick, M. Kenyon, C.
Bowen, E. R. Foot, M. M. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Bowles, F. G. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) King, Dr. H. M.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman, John (Watford) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Brockway, A. F. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Gibson, C. W. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Glanville, James Lewis, Arthur
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Gooch, E. G. Lindgren, G. S.
Burke, W. A. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Burton, Miss F. E. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Logan, D. G.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) MacColl, J. E.
Callaghan, L. J. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. McGhee, H. G.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Grey, C. F. McGovern, J.
Champion, A. J. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McInnes, J.
Chapman, W. D. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, William (Exchange) McLeavy, F.
Clunie, J. Grimond, J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Cocks, F. S. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Coldrick, W. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Collick, P. H. Hal, John (Gateshead, W.) Mainwaring, W. H.
Cook, T. F. Hamilton, W. W. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Corbel, Mrs. Freda Hannan, W. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Cove, W. G. Hargreaves, A. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hastings, S. Manuel, A. C.
Crosland, C. A. R. Hayman, F. H. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.) Mayhew, C. P.
Daines, P. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Mellish, R. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Herbison, Miss M. Messer, F.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hewitson, Capt. M. Mikardo, Ian
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hobson, C. R. Mitchison, G. R.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Holman, P. Monslow, W.
Moody, A. S. Reid, William (Camlachie) Thurtle, Ernest
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Rhodes, H. Timmons, J.
Morley, R. Richards, R. Tomney, F.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Turner-Samuels, M.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Mort, D. L. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Usborne, H. C.
Moyle, A. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Wallace, H. W.
Mulley, F. W. Ross, William Watkins, T. E.
Murray, J. D. Schofield, S. (Barnsley) Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Nally, W. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Weitzman, D.
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Short, E. W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
O'Brien, T. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Wells, William (Walsall)
Oliver, G. H. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) West, D. G.
Orbach, M. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Oswald, T. Slater, J. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Padley, W. E. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Paget, R. T. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.) Whitley, Rt. Hon. W.
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Snow, J. W. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Sorensen, R. W. Wilkins, W. A.
Pannell, Charles Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Pargiter, G. A. Sparks, J. A. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Parker, J. Steele, T. Williams, David (Neath)
Paton, J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Pearson, A. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Peart, T. F. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Plummer, Sir Leslie Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Popplewell, E. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Porter, G. Swingler, S. T. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Sylvester, G. O. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Price, Phillips (Gloucestershire, W.) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Proctor, W. T. Taylor, John (West Lothian) Wyatt, W. L.
Pryde, D. J. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth) Yates, V. F.
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Thomas, David (Aberdare) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Rankin, John Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Reeves, J. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Mr. Royle and Mr. Wigg.
Mr. Speaker

The Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) was not selected in the form that it appears on the Paper, but the hon. Gentleman has substituted a manuscript Amendment which is selected.

Proceedings Time for concluding proceedings
All Amendments up to and including those to line 12 of Clause 1 5.0 p.m.
All remaining Amendments to Clause 1 5.30 p.m.
Clause 1 to stand part of the Bill 6.0 p.m.
All Amendments up to and including those to line 9 of Clause 2 6.30 p.m.
Any Amendments to line 10 of Clause 2 8.30 p.m.
All remaining Amendments to Clause 2 9.30 p.m.
Clause 2 to stand part to the Bill 10.30 p.m.
Clause 3 11.30 p.m.
Clause 4 12.30 p.m.
Clause 5 1.0 a.m.
Clause 6 2.0 a.m.
Clause 7 and 8 2.30 a.m.
New Clauses, new Schedules and other Proceedings necessary to bring the Proceedings on Committee to a conclusion
Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) shall in relation to these provisions apply as if for the words "10 p.m.," there were substituted the words "2.30 a.m."

I move this altered Amendment with no feeling of joy in the proposal itself. It has two virtues, and very limited virtues we feel they are. They do provide for slightly more time than is provided in the time-table shown on the

11.50 p.m.

Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

I beg to move to leave out lines 7 to 14, and to insert instead thereof:

Order Paper moved by the Government. An important point is that they do attempt further to sub-divide that time-table to try as far as possible to ensure that matters which in our view are of the greatest importance in relation to the Bill shall have some time for consideration.

My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) quite rightly pointed out that one of the main difficulties with regard to a Guillotine Motion of the kind being discussed tonight is that it often results in the more important matters which should be debated on a Bill receiving no consideration. It has also been pointed out by the Leader of the House, in reply to an earlier discussion, that it had been the endeavour of the Government to try to meet that difficulty to some extent by compartmenting different parts of the Bill; that is to say, by providing time for the rest of Clause 1, and separate time for Clause 2.

We propose to take that arrangement a little further by providing a slight increase in time—but which I frankly regard as wholly inadequate—which would make the matter not quite so serious as it otherwise will be. This attempt to sub-divide the time-table so as to get some of the matters of particular importance discussed in the House is of special value.

The House has, in effect, following the discussions we have already had, and following the votes already taken, rejected the proposal for the consideration of the detailed time-table by a business committee, and decided that the matter should be considered by the House itself. We consider that to be most regrettable, because the detailed consideration of how best to use the time available is a matter which could far better be considered by a business committee.

But, as the votes already taken show that this House is itself to decide the allocation of time, it is for the House to consider the detailed allocation of time within any time-table. However regrettable it may be that the House should be detained in discussing the matter, I would only say that it is the result of the action of the Government. Of course, one must still assume that it is the desire of both sides of the House that there should be some real discussion during the remaining parts of the Committee stage about the vital issues appearing on the Order Paper, and which are subject to discussion on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

I suppose that we can assume that, officially at least, hon. Members opposite intend and desire that there should be sincere discussion of vital points remaining on the Order Paper. We must assume that in spite of their actions and, therefore, it is important that there should be opportunity in the time-table for the Government to consider what Amendments they might accept; I say again that, presumably, the Government are prepared to consider points put forward, because otherwise the whole procedure of Parliament is completely vitiated.

If that is true and if the Government are prepared to consider points put forward, from whatever side of the House, on the future stages of this Bill, then the Government must have time on the Committee stage to express their views. Therefore, this Amendment is as much for their benefit as it is for ours. Surely, it is vital that the Government should have the opportunity to explain the procedure of the Bill which they intend to carry through. If that is to be done, we must do what we can to ensure that the maximum time possible is made available for the most important subjects that come up for discussion on the remaining stages of the Bill.

As I say, neither I nor any of my hon. Friends would claim that we regard this Amendment as highly desirable. It is slightly better than the Government's proposal on the Order Paper, and to that extent is worth having. It is not all that more important that we would in any way weaken in our view with regard to the remaining portions of this Guillotine Motion. But it does, for example, seek to give more time to the important matters which have not yet been discussed on Clause 1 relating to the position of insured persons and the fact that for the first time for many years the rights of insured persons to free treatment are now being endangered.

That is a matter to which I and my hon. Friends on this side of the House attach very great importance. It affects not only the ordinary insured workers, but also those who are industrially injured. These are matters of very great importance and significance for the consideration of which we suggest that time must be given if the consideration of this Bill is not to become a mockery, and, more than that, the whole question of Parliamentary debate in this House is not to be destroyed. There must be an opportunity for debate, and unless the time-table put down by the Government is amended in the way we suggest there is no guarantee that these Amendments will be discussed or even mentioned.

Further, we regard it as vital that many of the important matters in Clause 2 which have already been mentioned by my hon. Friends in other stages of this debate should be given at least some consideration. In the time-table proposed in this Amendment, slightly more time would be made available for the consideration of matters under Clause 2 that have not come up for consideration at all.

Here I would insist that we are concerned not only with the professional interests, which are very real, which have matters of very great concern to raise that have not been expressed in the House up to now, but also, of course, with the mass of our constituents who will be affected by the operation of the Clause, particularly with regard to dental treatment. This is a matter which must be discussed in some further detail.

Furthermore, we are seeking by this amended time-table to provide a limited time for the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" in relation to Clauses 1 and 2 with the object of trying to ensure that valid points which have not been made because of the action of the Guillotine at an earlier stage can at least be mentioned.

We are also seeking to provide for some extra time for some of the later Clauses on which very important matters indeed are raised both in relation to the procedure of the House and with regard to affirmative or negative resolutions, the penal Clauses and also matters with regard to day nurseries and the new proposal that local authorities should be enabled to make higher charges in respect of them.

All these are matters which might easily be inadequately discussed and not discussed at all, unless this proposal to revise the time-table, or something like it, is accepted. I. do not think I, or my hon. Friends, would regard this particular Amendment as one especially sacrosanct if other, better, proposals can be made from a reconsideration of the details of the time-table.

This House must now, in effect, resolve itself into a business committee which ought to be discussing this matter. We should have expressions of opinion from both sides of the House as to what is the best, workmanlike way of dealing with the time-table. I hope, even at this stage, that the Government will say that they will, perhaps, adjourn the consideration of this matter now and put down their own amended proposals, which might be, in some details, more desirable than those we have sought to submit in manuscript form.

We invite the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of his inability to reply to any of our proposals up to now, at least, to say, on this minor and simple Amendment, that he will give consideration to it and that he will ensure that he would put down some other Amendment, if this is not satisfactory. If the Government are not prepared to provide an extra four-and-a-half hours, as provided in this manuscript Amendment, and to ensure that there shall be discussion on the matters of particular importance to the whole House in the limited time made available, then the country will recognise that this attempt by the Government to force through this Bill is one which can have no support.

It will be shown nakedly for what, in our view, it is; an attempt to force through a Measure because the Front Bench opposite are afraid of meeting the real criticisms and arguments made from this side of the House. Because of their fear, I suspect they will not even dare to allow just another four hours' discussion on the Committee stage, inadequate as that is. I hope that I am proved wrong and that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the broad principle of this proposal, if not its details, and will say that he will take the opportunity of putting down his own alternative Amendment, which will help to meet some of the points I have raised.

I have not attempted to go into the details of the precise proposals in the time-table because, I am sure, hon. Members will want to discuss the matter more fully. I urge the House and the Government to give, at least, some sign that they are conscious of the concern of the country over a Measure of this sort and over procedure of this kind.

12.10 a.m.

Mr. Messer

I beg to second the Amendment.

In doing so, I would draw attention to the principle embodied in it. The difference between the Amendment and the Motion is that the House will retain control of the business under the terms of the Amendment. If the Motion is carried, unamended, it will mean the possibility of a discussion on an amendment which might, conceivably, take up the whole of the time allotted. The result would be that other, and may be more important, Amendments would not be discussed at all.

We all know that the debate on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" is very important indeed, for it gives hon. Members who have not been able to take part in the debates on Amendments an opportunity to put certain points, and as a result of that the Minister in charge of the Bill then knows that points of view which he has not considered ought to receive some attention. But unless we are able to control sectionalising we shall lose control of that important aspect of the Guillotine Motion.

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), has said. He covered the ground very well. Perhaps it does not need long speeches to impress the House with the importance of what is, after all, a very modest Amendment. I agree with my hon. Friend that it may very well be that the Minister cannot accept the exact details of the Amendment, but I do not know. I should have thought that the very moderate increase in time would have appealed to him, because there are a lot of detailed questions to be dealt with.

I think we are losing sight of the fact that although it is a small Bill it is also a very important one. It is important because of the effect that it will have. Clause 1 deals with out-patients at hospitals. We can only get information by questioning the Minister, either on Amendments or on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," about the machinery which will be adopted for the recovery of the cost of prescriptions and appliances.

I have received correspondence from dentists about Clause 2. They ask what their position will be in regard to a patient who has no money and cannot pay them, and they want to know who will pay them. We know nothing of the machinery for the collection of the fees for dental work. These examples illustrate the information which can be obtained from the Minister if we have an opportunity of dividing the proceedings so that we can deal with these aspects.

It will be noted that all we are asking for is a slight difference in the time allotted in order to provide for an important debate. We are asking for only half an hour on the Question that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill. We could hardly have asked for less than that when we consider the number of hon. Members with experience of the National Insurance Acts and the operation of workmen's compensation legislation in the old days and the Industrial Injuries Act at present.

We are bound to find certain conflicts, and although the Minister will tell us that those matters will be dealt with by regulations, it is important that the House should know what will be embodied in the regulations before we part with the Bill. Indeed, we should like as little left to regulations as possible.

For these reasons I hope that the Minister will see his way clear to accept the Amendment. It means an addition of just 4½ hours. If the Opposition is prepared to sit up to deal with the matter in that 4½ hours the Government ought not to object. We are not taking another day of the Government's time. I suppose it would be a valid objection to the Amendment if it were charged that we were trying to steal another day from Government time, but we are not even doing that. We are asking that the Government, along with us, shall sit up later to get a good job done.

If we do not do this the Bill will be unsatisfactory and we shall find very much more unrest as a consequence. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of unrest. There is unrest in the medical profession; there is unrest in the dental profession; there is unrest in the hospital world. I have had correspondence with the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, who are alarmed at the prospect of what is likely to happen under the Bill.

For all these reasons, adequate time should be taken, and taken in a way that will enable us to retain control of the manner in which we deal with these serious subjects. It will be noted that we have asked for certain time for certain Clauses—certain numbers of Amendments—and it will be seen that we are not asking for a very long time for those Clauses which are machinery Clauses only: we are dealing only with the operative Clauses, and, in the main, with Clause 1 and Clause 2. I commend the Amendment to the Minister.

12.17 a.m.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

I have not wasted or spent any time in this debate, in the three days that it has taken, by Amendment or by speech, and so it is with a comparatively clean sheet, at least, that I rise to urge the House to accept this Amendment, for the reason that it gives an opportunity—a very necessary opportunity—for us to consider the treatment that is to be meted out to a particular sufferer. I want to give an illustration of the kind of event which has produced the victim who is now going to bear, under the Bill as at present drafted, an additional and grevious burden, which he will find it difficult to sustain.

At half-past 12 on Saturday afternoon, 25th November, 1944, a rocket fell with terrifying precision on Woolworth's store on the corner of New Cross Road and Goodwood Road, and from the ruins 160 men, women and children were taken out dead; and also more than a hundred men, women and children were taken out shattered in body and mind.

Those people were as much victims of the war as any soldier, sailor or airman who fell facing the enemy, because they had been obeying the instruction of the Government, which was for London to carry on. Those people were going about their legitimate business, carrying on the work of the country. Two of them were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Woods, then living in Netherby Road, Honor Oak.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir C. MacAndrew)

Order. I do not see how this detail applies to this Amendment.

Sir L. Plummer

With respect, I was trying to show what happens to these people now as a result of the injuries that they suffered then. I was trying to show that they came out of this situation suf- fering from chronic blood pressure of such an order that they have to have regular, almost daily, medical treatment.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That may very well be, but I cannot see how that applies to the different times that are being given to the different parts of this Bill.

Sir L. Plummer

What I am trying to say is that unless time is given for the discussion of points such as these, these points will never be raised and there will be no relief for the people who are so threatened with this imposition.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I appreciate that, but the time to discuss them will be when we get to the Bill, and not now.

Mr. Blenkinsop

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I take it that it would be competent to argue that provided we have a sub-division of time to enable us to direct attention to all the Amendments up to and including the Amendments to Clause 1, line 12, it will enable us to deal with the type of case raised by my hon. Friend? Unless we do compartment the time-table in that way, it might very well be, as my hon. Friend suggests, that the point could not be raised.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I see that point, but reference to such details goes beyond the Amendment, and I cannot allow it.

Sir L. Plummer

I will not go into detail. I wish to support an Amendment to Clause 1, line 12. It is my fear that under the Guillotine that Amendment will not be reached and that, therefore, this burden will not be considered by the House. I was perhaps going into too much detail. I would only say about those people to whom I have referred, that they are in the same class as other victims of Hitler's aggression. They have to have regular medical attention. Under this Bill they will now have to pay for their prescriptions sums which they cannot afford.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is just the point that I was hoping the hon. Gentleman would not pursue. We are now simply dealing with the times of the various Clauses, and to go into such great detail as he is doing is beyond the Amendment.

Sir L. Plummer

May I put this to the Leader of the House? Would he consider selecting Amendments and giving time for discussion relating to the condition of people who have been badly injured in the war and who find themselves so poor that the payment for prescriptions becomes an intolerable burden? I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, because I do not accept the view that he is as hard-hearted as either his reputation or my hon. Friends would have one believe.

I wish to raise another point. I am supporting this Amendment because I am also asking for time to be given to the consideration of the plight of the rural chemist, the little chemist in the little country town, who is faced with the problem that people come to him with prescriptions and ask for them to be made out at a time of the week when they have not got the money with which to pay for either the medicines or the prescriptions. It is an urgent problem for people living in villages and people earning agricultural wages.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman was talking about hard-heartedness. I am not hard-hearted, but I am here to see that the Rules of the House are observed, and I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the point of this Amendment and the reasons for the proposed changes. These details may perhaps arise later, but they do not arise now.

Mr. Bevan

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Will you indicate to the House what will be in order? If we cannot introduce any qualitative consideration, then we are reduced merely to a quantitative consideration, which merely says that 3.30 is better than 2.30. That is a very abbreviated form of discussion. In my recollection of Guillotine Motions in the past, it has always been considered in order to introduce certain qualitative considerations; that is, to say "We want a, b, c, d or e as against x, y and z." As that introduces qualitative considerations, we have to argue the matter. If all we can say is that we prefer 3.30 to 2.30, that, of course, is an extremely abbreviated discussion.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is rather a narrow discussion. The point which the right hon. Gentleman raises does not arise, because we are discussing the manuscript Amendment which I read out. The original printed figures do not arise at all. I quite agree that one has to give a reason as to why one wants these things, but one must not make speeches going into great detail—speeches which will be in order on the various Clauses. Those I cannot allow now.

Mr. Bevan

Further to that point of order. We cannot merely argue the merits of one o'clock as against another o'clock, because that is not a merit in itself. With great respect, what we can say is that we would rather have this o'clock as against that o'clock in order that certain considerations may be advanced, otherwise the whole thing becomes nonsensical.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I agree, but I do not think we want to go into too much detail now. That is what I hope the House will keep to; it is my Ruling.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Further to that point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are not going to pursue the point of order any further. I have answered quite fully.

Mr. Hughes

rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I made the position perfectly clear. I am not going to pursue the matter. Sir Leslie Plummer.

Mr. Hughes

To add to that point of order—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There is no point in adding to it. I have made the position perfectly clear. My Ruling is final and I stand by it. Sir Leslie Plummer.

Mr. Hughes

rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I refuse to have my Ruling criticised. I have given it perfectly clearly and it is going to stand. Sir Leslie Plummer.

Mr. Hughes

On another point of order. You have ruled, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that an hon. Member is entitled to give reasons for a submission he is making to you. My point of order is this: in giving those reasons, is not an hon. Members entitled to draw analogies and to give instances relating to the reasons? If so, that is precisely what my hon. Friend was doing.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am afraid I did not make myself clear. The Amendment is to alter the times allowed, and to go into great detail is out of order. I am not going to have it. Sir Leslie Plummer.

Sir L. Plummer

I have raised the points and, in respect of your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will not pursue them further.

In conclusion—and I hope the House will bear with me, in view of the many interruptions there have been in my speech—I want to make a point in support of the argument which I have advanced that more time should be given for the consideration of certain aspects of the Bill. Hon. Members opposite have suggested that the charges are delayed acts of social justice and the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod), leading, if I may say so, through weakness into strength, has suggested that these should have been made a long time ago. This suggestion needs more time for discussion, because on many occasions in the House it has been argued by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that the health scheme in general is subject to considerable abuse.

What do hon. Members opposite mean when they talk about abuse? They mean an occasion when any working man or woman in this country obtains something to which he or she is not, in the final and ultimate analysis, completely justified and entitled. That is called an abuse, but when the same situation arises in the case of someone who is well-off or rich, that is regarded as a reward for private enterprise and initiative. This suggestion that the Health Service has been abused to the degree suggested by those hon. Members is one which, in the interests of the probity of the country, demands careful analysis. For that reason I urge that the Amendment should be accepted.

12.31 a.m.

Mr. David Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

I have had 35 years' experience of the working of National Health Insurance and this is the first time I have spoken on the Measure before the House. I am not in any way satisfied either with the suggestion of the Government or the Amendment put forward on this side of the House. It would be making the best of a bad bargain to accept what is suggested in our Amend- ment. Something more is required from the House of Commons for the welfare of the people.

When I think of the thousand and one cases I have known in 35 years, and how difficult and intricate a part of the health problems of the nation these cases represent, I consider it essential that the House, in making tremendous changes should be progressive rather than retrogressive. When I look at the schedule proposed and find we begin to talk in 1952 of starting business at half-past three and going on until 12 noon on the following day I begin to wonder is it a mental home or a House of Commons in which we are?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think the hon. Gentleman has not stated the terms of the Amendment quite correctly. It does not propose that the Sitting shall go on until 12 noon the following day but until 2.30 a.m. This is a manuscript Amendment.

Mr. Logan

With all due respect, I am dealing with what is before the House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are dealing with a manuscript Amendment and not with what is on the Order Paper.

Mr. Logan

I am fully aware that what is being sought is a concession giving more time. I say both what the Government are offering and what is being asked for in the Amendment is inadequate. I am anxious for the House to consider—seeing that the Minister has not been able to make up his mind and is in a quandary—if it is not time that there was re-consideration of the whole position? In 1952 we should be more modern. The Government, on an important Measure like this, should not only be prepared to make concessions but should be able to get a concensus of the opinion of the House on how to deal with the people who come within the scope of the health scheme.

I suggest that the Leader of the House should give consideration to whether the time-table is not adequate and whether it is not possible to start our consideration of business at 3.30 instead of starting at the time we do now. It is time we made improvements in this House about hours. For us to be talking at three, four, or five o'clock in the morning, when half the hon. Members are asleep, is not the proper way to do the nation's business.

For the benefit of all in the House and the country at large the Government should consider remodelling the hours of sitting altogether. We should start at the proper time of day with business, and I hope the Leader of the House will say that he is prepared to start at 3.30 in the afternoon.

12.35 a.m.

Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)

I quite understand why the Government want to give as little time as possible to consideration of this Bill and why they want to hustle it away as quickly as possible. The first reason is because they have enough sense to realise that what they are doing is extremely unpopular throughout the land and is going to be to their electoral disadvantage. Secondly, the Leader of the House and the Parliamentary Secretary have shown throughout the discussions a lamentable deficiency in their knowledge of the contents of the Bill and the operation of the National Health Service Act. They have been exposed to informed criticism, largely from these benches, which they have found unpalatable.

I want to support the Amendment, although I regard it as less satisfactory than an opportunity for full discussion, because I want the House to have the benefit of a closer interrogation of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary on substantial points of detail which we have not yet examined. For example, under Section 75 of the Industrial Injuries Act an obligation is placed on the Minister of National Insurance to provide workmen with certain appliances necessary to their health. The Minister is under an obligation not only to supply them but to repair them when damaged. That Section has never in fact operated because of the provisions of the National Health Service Act. We should like to hear from the Minister what his views are about that provision of the Industrial Injuries Act, and interrogate him about it.

At an earlier stage we had some discussion between some of my hon. Friends and the Parliamentary Secretary about prescriptions which cost less than a shilling. The Parliamentary Secretary rode off by saying it was a very small matter as there would be only one per cent. which would cost less than a shilling. She said also that the average cost of those prescriptions under a shilling was tenpence. But this is a substantial matter.

The Government have got themselves into a muddle over this point. When questions were put by my hon. Friends about the position of old age pensioners the Parliamentary Secretary said there were only a few cases—less than one per cent. They, she said, could go to the chemist, pay a shilling, and claim it back from the National Assistance Board. Pay a shilling for two and a half million prescriptions which cost much less.

That is a crazy set-up. It is typical of the stupid muddle into which the Government have got themselves. It is an example of the administrative difficulties which caused my right hon. Friends in a previous Government not to implement that part of the 1949 Act which they took power to impose. I have never seen anything particularly wrong in that. It was a wise thing to do.

The Members opposite are the doctrinaires. They are going ahead and not allowing us to discuss the Bill in detail. How wrong they are when they say it is wise policy to spend twopence more than is necessary on two and a half million prescriptions. If I am wrong, and I see the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health shakes her head, we hope that the Government will accept this Amendment and allow the House to have the benefit of the advice of the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary to point out where we are wrong.

We have never really had from the Government a clear statement about their attitude in principle to the National Health Service. We should have one. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his speech earlier tonight said, and I gather that it was his main argument in justifying this Bill, that this Bill was due to the economic difficulties which face this country. He said that it was unpopular, but that if such Measures were not taken there would be a fall in the value of the pound and worse would follow for the people of the country.

I do not accept that argument. I see a certain similarity between it and the argument put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) when Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which I rejected. I Understand the argument, but I do not agree with it. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs put that argument before us, but some of his more eloquent friends on the back benches have taken a different line.

For example, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) says he is in favour of charges in principle, and talks about them being socially and equitably desirable. I hope his constituents will remind him of that. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) intervened earlier this evening and quoted from that remarkable document "Britain Strong and Free." He read out an extract and said that they were in favour of re-distributing the expenditure on the National Health Service and of imposing charges.

We are entitled to examine the Government a little more closely on this matter. We should like to know what is their attitude in principle to the Service. We cannot go into these matters and give them the attention they deserve without more time being available than the Government propose.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, replying to a discussion earlier tonight, quoted from a week-end speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Attlee), and said that my right hon. Friend had made a very courageous speech. The right hon. Gentleman quoted something from that speech which, he said, justified his view.

I tell the Government that there are millions of our supporters throughout the country who do not accept these charges, as they did not accept those which were imposed last year. Let me remind the Government of the vote at the Trades Union Congress last year over the charges which we mistakenly proposed. Feeling against these iniquitous charges will grow day by day, and no Guillotine Motion will shield the Government from the wrath of the people, which will be exemplified in the future at the council elections.

12.45 a.m.

Mr. Crookshank

Perhaps I could come back more particularly to the terms of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), who moved it as a Manuscript Amendment, which has been inconvenient to some of us, realised no doubt that the Amendment on the Order Paper added up to more than two days of Parliamentary time. Of course the House having just rejected an Amendment with a similar effect, it was obvious he could not pursue the matter. He substituted the manuscript Amendment which has the effect of allowing the Committee to sit up to 2.30 the next morning instead of terminating the proceedings at 10 o'clock. It is sought to procure in this manner three-quarters of a day more than had been originally proposed.

On the earlier Amendment I heard a great deal of discussion about what a terrible thing it was that so little time was to be allotted in the time-table for the remaining stages of Clause 1. Having heard all that I must say I find it rather surprising that in effect only half an hour more for certain is being allotted to the Clause by this manuscript Amendment. I say for certain, because half an hour is proposed to be given for the Motion that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill—from 5.30 to 6.0 p.m.—but there is no knowing that the Chairman will allow that Question to be debated—so for certain they cannot count on more than 5.30.

Mr. Blenkinsop

The right hon. Gentleman will agree I made it perfectly clear we did not put this Motion forward with any great desire for it as against the much more desirable proposal which has unfortunately already been rejected by the House. It is still possible for him to say now that he is willing to give an extra day for discussion, which would be much more desirable from everyone's point of view.

Mr. Crookshank

It would not be desirable because it would be contrary to the decision which the House has just come to. This very meticulous form of sub-dividing the time-table is, I suppose, a form of planning, but it is one, I think, without any precedent. I have not actually been given the manuscript Amendment, but I have jotted down what Mr. Deputy-Speaker said. I have not been able to look it up, but speaking from recollection I do not remember a time-table being divided up into parts of Clauses like this, and I do not think there is a precedent.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, pointed out that the advantage of the Amendment was that time was allotted for the Motions that Clause 1 and Clause 2 stand part of the Bill. As I have said, it is not certain that the Chairman will allow any debate of that nature, as that is within his discretion under Standing Order No. 45. But the hon. Member said he wished for time to mention Amendments that would not otherwise have been debated, which is in fact one of the things that cannot be done on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Putting in this extra time seems, therefore, rather useless.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Hon. Members can at least ask questions on points that would not otherwise have been reached and taken.

Mr. Crookshank

It is entirely dependent upon the Chairman's decision what should be allowed on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." It has been quite clear that all that can be discussed on that Motion is what is in the Clause—just as on the Third Reading we can only debate what is in the Bill, not what we would like to have in it.

The hon. Member did say everything would be much easier if I would say whether the Government were prepared to consider the points remaining to be debated. Of course we will—that is the purpose of debate. He knows perfectly well that every point on every Bill, and not only on this, is naturally subject to consideration subsequently by the Government. If that is the assurance which he wishes, then I gladly give it.

I must say that I found a slight fallacy in the arguments of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer), who seconded the Amendment, when he said that by sub-dividing in the way proposed in Committee of the whole House we should continue to control the whole of the business whereas otherwise one Amendment might take the whole of the time in a compartment. Well, so it might under this other arrangement.

Of course, it would be possible for one Amendment to take the whole of the compartmented time, and the only way to avoid that, under any form of time-table—unless we had some meticulous form of time-table of, say, ten minutes for each line, or something equally ridiculous, is by the use of self-restraint on all hands, with the realisation that everybody might be entitled to a share of the debate. Unfortunately, that is not what we have found in the three days so far allotted.

Much the same point was made by the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who told us that he stood in a white sheet, because pressing for subdivision does not give any more certainty of getting a particular Amendment adopted than the ordinary Clause subdivision which we have already put into our Motion. It is also interesting to note that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Division (Mr. Logan), with 35 years' experience, on which we congratulate him, was not satisfied with the idea of sitting late, while supporting an Amendment which asks that the House must sit until two-thirty a.m. It seemed a little inconsequential, and I would ask the House to say, when the time comes, that it cannot accept such reasoning, and will reject the Amendment.

12.53 a.m.

Mr. Ede

I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have realised that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friends was a genuine effort to ensure that important matters should receive some, if only short, consideration from the Committee when consideration is resumed on the Bill. One of the merits of this suggestion, I think, is that it does ensure that, at any rate, each substantial point left in the Bill which could be included in a time-table of this size would receive consideration by being the first item to be discussed when each compartment was reached.

That is a very considerable advantage because everyone knows that one of the arguments used against the Guillotine procedure on the Transport and Town and Country Planning Acts was that important matters were not reached because they were embedded in the middle, or were near the end of a compartment. Then, one of the arguments about the business committee was that it might say that a certain point was considered to be important, and express the hope that it would be put in the first part of a particular compartment of the Bill.

After all, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need complain that nobody had ever before thought of this way of doing things. As far as I am concerned, I never regard myself as being bound by precedent if I find something which is an improvement on the old-fashioned way of doing things. I hope nobody will ever say that we on this side regard rising at 2.30 in the morning as the ideal way of conducting the business of the House.

The fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne. East (Mr. Blenkinsop), has devised this timetable will, I hope, never be used to suggest that the Opposition regard 2.30 in the morning as the ideal time for going home. My own view is that if we get past 11.30 p.m., the best time to rise is 5 a.m. because then I can catch the 5.16 a.m. instead of the 11.47 p.m.

I have known no one as unyielding on a Measure and on a Guillotine as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health and Leader of the House has proved himself to be with regard to this Measure. I cannot help thinking that it would help him not merely in his consideration of this Measure, but also in his future relationship with the House if on occasion he would show a little more readiness to concede something.

Mr. Bevan

He is the Minister responsible for the Bill.

Mr. Ede

Yes. I drew attention to that in an earlier discussion and then

suggested it is always a bad thing to have the stock bowler as the captain of the team. I almost think there might be some arrangement whereby when the Leader of the House is the Minister in charge of a Bill he might arrange for some deputy to take over the leadership of the House. I cannot speak with any personal experience of the matter because during the short time that I was Leader of the House I had no important Measure to bring before it. But I rather think one is placed in a difficulty when one has to combine the two roles.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to feel that there are some merits in the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, because it would ensure that some of the matters that ought under any rational consideration of this Measure to be discussed, at any rate for a short time, in the House, would receive that consideration. It is a matter of very great regret to us that even as small a concession as that is not regarded by the right hon. Gentleman as one that can be made.

Mr. Buchan-Hepburn

rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. Rankin

On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

I have already said that this Motiou cannot be interrupted by a point of order.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes. 278: Noes, 250.

Division No. 92.] AYES [12.58 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Channon, H.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Birch, Nigel Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Bishop, F. P. Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Black, C. W. Cole, Norman
Arbuthnot, John Boothby, R. J. G. Colegate, W. A.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Bossom, A. C. Conant, Maj. R. J. E.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Bowen, E. R. Cooper, Son. Ldr. Albert
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Boyle, Sir Edward Cooper-Key, E. M.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Braine, B. R. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Baker, P. A. D. Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Cranborne, Viscount
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.
Banks, Col. C. Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Barber, A. P. L. Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Crouch, R. F.
Barlow, Sir John Brooman-While, R. C. Crowder, John E. (Finchley)
Baxter, A. B. Browne, Jack (Govan) Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Beach, Maj. Hicks Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Cuthbert, W. N.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Bullard, D. G. Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Davidson, Viscountess
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Burden, F. F. A. Deedes, W. F.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Butcher, H. W. Digby, S. Wingfield
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Carson, Hon. E. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Cary, Sir Robert Donner, P. W.
Doughty, C. J. A. Kaberry, D. Raikes, H. V.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Keeling, Sir Edward Rayner, Brig. R.
Drayson, G. B. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Redmayne, M.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lambert, Hon. G. Remnant, Hon. P.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Lambton, Viscount Renton, D. L. M.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Langford-Holt, J. A. Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Robertson, Sir David
Erroll, F. J. Leather, E. H. C. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fell, A. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Robson-Brown, W.
Finlay, Graeme Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Fisher, Nigel Lindsay, Martin Roper, Sir Harold
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Linstead, H. N. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton) Russell, R. S.
Fort, R. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Scott, R. Donald
Gage, C. H. Low, A. R. W. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Shepherd, William
Gammans, L. D. Lucas, P. B. (Brantford) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd McAdden, S. J. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Godber, J. B. McCallum, Major D. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Snadden, W. McN.
Gough, C. F. H. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Soames, Capt. C.
Gower, H. R. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Spearman, A. C. M.
Graham, Sir Fergus McKibbin, A. J. Speir, R. M.
Grimond, J. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Maclean, Fitzroy Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Stevens, G. P.
Harden, J. R. E. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hare, Hon. J. H. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Steddart-Scott, Col. M.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Storey, S.
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Studholme, H. G.
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Markham, Major S. F. Summers, G. S.
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Marlowe, A. A. H. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Hay, John Marples, A. E. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Teeling, W.
Heald, Sir Lionel Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Heath, Edward Maude, Angus Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Higgs, J. M. C. Maudling, R. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr S. L. C. Thompson, Lt-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Medlicott, Brig. F. Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mellor, Sir John Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Hirst, Geoffrey Morrison, John (Salisbury) Tilney, John
Holland-Martin, C. J. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Turton, R. H.
Hollis, M. C. Nabarro, G. D. N. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Holt, A. F. Nicholls, Harmar Vane, W. M. F.
Hope, Lord John Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hopkinson, Henry Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Vosper, D. F.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Nield, Basil (Chester) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Horobin, I. M. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Nugent, G. R. H. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nutting, Anthony Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Oakshott, H. D. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Odey, G. W. Watkinson, H. A.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wellwood, W.
Hurd, A. R. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Osborne, C. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croyden, E.)
Hyde, Lt.-Col, H. M. Peyton, J. W. W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Wills, G.
Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Pitman, I. J. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Powell, J. Enoch Wood, Hon. R.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Jones, A. (Hall Green) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Profumo, J. D. Mr. Drewe and Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Benn, Wedgwood Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth
Adams, Richard Benson, G. Brockway, A. F.
Albu, A. H. Beswick, F. Brook, Dryden (Halifax)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Bing, G. H. C. Brown, Thomas (Ince)
Awbery, S. S. Blackburn, F. Burke, W. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Blenkinsop, A. Burton, Miss F. E.
Baird, J. Blyton, W. R. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)
Balfour, A. Boardman, H. Callaghan, L. J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Bowden, H. W. Champion, A. J.
Bence, C. R. Bowles, F. G. Chapman, W. D.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Popplewell, E.
Clunie, J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Porter G.
Cocks, F. S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Coldrick, W. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Collick, P. H. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Proctor, W. T.
Cook, T. F. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pryde, D. J.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Purser, Cmdr. H.
Cove, W. G. Janner, B. Rankin, John
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Reeves, J.
Crosland, C. A. R. Jeger, George (Goole) Rhodes, H.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Daines, P. Johnson, James (Rugby) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jones, David (Hartlepool) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Ross, William
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Keenan, W. Royle, C.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kenyon, C. Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Deer, G. King, Dr. H. M. Short, E. W.
Delargy, H. J. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Dodds, N. N. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Donnelly, D. L. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Driberg, T. E. N. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Bromwich) Lewis, Arthur Snow, J. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lindgren, G. S. Sorensen, R. W.
Edelman, M. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Edwards, John (Brighouse) Logan, D. G. Sparks, J. A.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) MacColl, J. E. Steele, T.
McGhee, H. G. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) McGovern, J. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McInnes, J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) McKay, John (Wallsend) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Ewart, R. McLeavy, F. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Fernyhough, E. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Swingler, S. T.
Field, W. J. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Sylvester, G. O.
Fienburgh, W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Finch, H. J. Mainwaring, W. H. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Follick, M. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Foot, M. M. Mann, Mrs. Jean Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Manuel, A. C. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Freeman, John (Watford) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mayhew, C. P. Timmons, J.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mellish, R. J. Tomney, F.
Gibson, C. W. Messer, F. Turner-Samuels, M.
Glanville, James Mikardo, Ian Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mitchison, G. R. Usborne, H. C.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Monslow, W. Wallace, H. W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Moody, A. S. Watkins, T. E.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Weitzman, D.
Grey, C. F. Morley, R. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Wells, William (Walsall)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) West, D. G.
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mort, D. L. Wheatley, Rt, Hon. John
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Moyle, A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mulley, F. W. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Murray, J. D. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hamilton, W. W. Nally, W. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Hannan, W. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Hargreaves, A. O'Brien, T. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Hastings, S. Oliver, G. H. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hayman, F. H. Orbach, M. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Oswald, T. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Padley, W. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Herbison, Miss M. Paget, R. T. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hobson, C. R. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Holman, P. Pannell, Charles Wyatt, W. L.
Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Pargiter, G. A. Yates, V. F.
Houghton, Douglas Paton, J. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hoy, J. H. Pearson, A.
Hubbard, T. F. Peart, T. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Plummer, Sir Leslie Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Wigg.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 254.

Division No. 93.] AYES [1.9 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sulton) Baxter, A. B.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Beach, Maj. Hicks
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Baker, P. A. D. Beamish, Maj. Tufton
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)
Arbuthnot, John Banks, Col. C. Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Barber, A. P. L. Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Barlow, Sir John Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Heath, Edward Odey, G. W.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Higgs, J. M. C. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Birch, Nigel Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Bishop, F. P. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Black, C. W. Hirst, Geoffrey Osborn, C.
Boothby, R. J. G. Holland-Martin, C. J. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Bossom, A. C. Hollis, M. C. Peyton, J. W. W.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hope, Lord John Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Braine, B. R. Hopkinson, Henry Pitman, I. J.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Powell, J. Enoch
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Horobin, I. M. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Profumo, J. D.
Brooman-White, R. C. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Raikes, H. V.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Rayner, Brig. R.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Redmayne, M.
Bullard, D. G. Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Remnant, Hon. P.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hurd, A. R. Renton, D. L. M.
Burden, F. F. A. Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Butcher, H. W. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Robertson, Sir David
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Carson, Hon. E. Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Robson-Brown, W.
Cary, Sir Robert Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Channon, H. Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Roper, Sir Harold
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Russell, R. S.
Cole, Norman Jones, A. (Hall Green) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Colegate, W. A. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Kaberry, D. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Keeling, Sir Edward Scott, R. Donald
Cooper-Key, E. M. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Lambert, Hon. G. Shepherd, William
Cranborne, Viscount Lambton, Viscount Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Langford-Holt, J. A. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Crouch, R. F. Leather, E. H. C. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Snadden, W. McN.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Soames, Capt. C.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lindsay, Martin Spearman, A. C. M.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Linstead, H. C. N. Speir, R. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Deedes, W. F. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Digby, S. Wingfield Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Stevens, G. P.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Longden, Gilbert (Herts. S.W.) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Donner, P. W. Low, A. R. W. Stoddart-Scott, col. M.
Doughty, C. J. A. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Storey, S.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Lucas, P. B. (Brantford) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Drayson, G. B. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Studholme, H. G.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. McAdden, S. J. Summers, G. S.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. McCallum, Major D. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Teeling, W.
Erroll, F. J. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fell, A. McKibbin, A. J. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Finlay, Graeme McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Fisher, Nigel Maclean, Fitzroy Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Fletcher-Cooke, C. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Fort, R. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Tilney, John
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Turton, R. H.
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale) Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Vane, W. M. F.
Gage, C. H. Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Markham, Major S. F. Vosper, D. F.
Gammans, L. D. Marlowe, A. A. H. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Marples, A. E. Walker-Smith, D. C.
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Godber, J. B. Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Maude, Angus Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gough, C. F. H. Maudling, R. Watkinson, H. A.
Gower, H. R. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Graham, Sir Fergus Medlicott, Brig. F. Wellwood, W.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mellor, Sir John While, Baker (Canterbury)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Harden, J. R. E. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Hare, Hon. J. H. Nabarro, G. D. N. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Nicholls, Harmer Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Harrison, Col. Harwood (Eye) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Wills, G.
Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfield) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Nield, Basil (Chester) Wood, Hon. R.
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Hay, John Nugent, G. R. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Nutting, Anthony Mr. Drew and Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.
Heald, Sir Lionel Oakshott, H. D.
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Murray, J. D.
Adams, Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Nally, W.
Albu, A. H. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Grey, C. F. O'Brien, T.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oliver, G. H.
Awbery, S. S. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Orbach, M.
Bacon, Miss Alice Griffiths, William (Exchange) Oswald, T.
Baird, J. Grimond, J. Padley, W. E.
Balfour, A. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Paget, R. T.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Deane Valley)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Bence, C. R. Hamilton, W. W. Pannell, Charles
Benn, Wedgwood Hannan, W. Pargiter, G. A.
Benson, G. Hargreaves, A. Paton, J.
Beswick, F. Hastings, S. Pearson, A.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hayman, F. H. Peart, T. F.
Bing, G. H. C. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Blackburn, F. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Popplewell, E.
Blenkinsop, A. Herbison, Miss M. Porter, G.
Blyton, W. R. Hewitson, Capt. M. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Boardman, H. Hobson, C. R. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Holman, P. Proctor, W. T.
Bowden, H. W. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Pryde, D. J.
Bowen, E. R. Holt, A. F. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Bowles, F. G. Houghton, Douglas Rankin, John
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hoy, J. H. Reeves, J.
Brockway, A. F. Hubbard, T. F. Rhodes, H.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Burke, W. A. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Burton, Miss F. E. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Ross, William
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Royle, C.
Callaghan, L. J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Janner, B. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Champion, A. J. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Short, E. W.
Chapman, W. D. Jeger, George (Goole) Silverman, Julius (Erdingten)
Chetwynd, G. R. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Clunie, J. Johnson, James (Rugby) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Cooks, F. S. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Coldrick, W. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Snow, J. W.
Collick, P. H. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Sorensen, R. W.
Cook, T. F. Keenan, W. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kenyon, C. Sparks, J. A.
Cove, W. G. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Steele, T.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) King, Dr. H. M. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Crosland, C. A. R. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Daines, P. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lewis, Arthur Swingler, S. T.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lindgren, G. S. Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Logan, D. G. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
de Freitas, Geoffrey MacColl, J. E. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Deer, G. McGhee, H. G. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Delargy, H. J. McGovern, J. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Dodds, N. N. McInnes, J. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Donnelly, D. L. McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Driberg, T. E. N. McLeavy, F. Timmons, J.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Tomney, F.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Turner-Samuels, M.
Edelman, M. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Edwards, John (Brighouse) Mainwaring, W. H. Usborne, H. C.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wallace, H. W.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Watkins, T. E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mann, Mrs. Jean Weitzman, D.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Manuel, A. C. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Ewart, R. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Wells, William (Walsall)
Fernyhough, E. Mayhew, C. P. West, D. G.
Field, W. J. Mellish, R. J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Fienburgh, W. Messer, F. White, Mrs. Elrene (E. Flint)
Finch, H. J. Mikardo, Ian White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mitchison, G. R. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Follick, M. Monslow, W. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Foot, M. M. Moody, A. S. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Freeman, John (Watford) Morley, R. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Gibson, C. W. Mort, D. L. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Glanville, James Moyle, A. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mulley, F. W. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A. Yates, V. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Wyatt, W. L. Younger, Rt. Hon. K. Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Wigg.
Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

On a point of order. I should like to seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a point which has been troubling some of us. It so happens that the Motion which we are debating is related to a Health Service Bill which is related to two Acts of Parliament. One of those Acts of Parliament was debated in Committee in the Scottish Grand Committee. It so happens that in the three days in which the Health Service Bill has been debated in Committee, and also in the discussion which we have had up to now on the Motion, not a single back bench Scottish Member has been called to present the Scottish point of view.

Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesborough, East)

There was a Scottish ex-Minister.

Mr. Ross

I am not concerned about that. I am concerned about the rights of back benchers. I do not know whether the Patronage Secretary has had this matter in his mind when he has risen to move, "That the Question be now put," or whether you, Mr. Speaker, have appreciated exactly what is happening—and we know that sometimes you are not with us. I wish to seek your guidance as to what remedy we have during the future progress of the Bill and the Motion in order to see that the Scottish point of view is put.

Mr. Speaker

The answer is that the hon. Member has taken the most appropriate action that he can in bringing this matter to the notice of the Chair.

1.27 a.m.

Mr. Marquand

I beg to move, to leave out lines 16 and 17, and to insert:

  1. (a) Two allotted days shall be given to the Report Stage and one allotted day shall be given to Third Reading.
  2. (b) The Proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock on the last day allotted in the case of the Report Stage, and on the day allotted in the case of the Third Reading, and the general provisions set out in paragraph 3 of this Order shall apply.
I sincerely hope that I shall be more successful than my right hon. Friends have been hitherto in making appeals to the Minister—or should I say, to the Leader of the House? We have learned from the Committee proceedings and from the proceedings today that the right hon. Gentleman is expert in saying "No," but I hope that even at this late hour I may be able to persuade him, for once, to say "Yes." It would be a record for him, and I think on reflection he would be proud of it.

Much of the discussion we have had hitherto has turned on the amount of time which we have already occupied on the Committee stage of the Bill. But the fact that, in one way or another, we have occupied perhaps 21 hours, or whatever it is, on the Committee stage of the Bill is almost irrelevant to the consideration of the amount of time which ought to be allowed for the Report stage.

We have now in front of us no more than one Parliamentary day for the consideration of the very large number of Amendments which remain on the Order Paper for the Committee stage and which, it has been admitted on all sides, include a number of serious and purposeful Amendments with a great deal of substance. That is all the time that remains to us. Surely, during a discussion, however brief, of such important Amendments and of all the Clauses of the Bill, it must inevitably happen that many important matters will be raised and will receive inadequate discussion. They will, therefore, require some further elucidation and discussion on the Report stage.

I can well foresee that, without any obstructive action or any long-winded speeches, the Minister may find himself on many occasions willing but unable to reply to the points made. Surely a reasonably minded Minister will wish for an opportunity on the Report stage to say something on those points? We may also feel the need for a cooler discussion on the Report stage than we may be likely to get some 13 or 14 hours from now when we embark on the Committee stage. We shall be handicapped by the shortness of time available and at a disadvantage by our natural fatigue. I feel sure that any discussion will inevitably be very scrappy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle - upon - Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), in proposing the Amendment which the House has just rejected, suggested that it was desirable to extend the time for the Committee stage to discuss at reasonable length certain important topics which still remain, and which we have not touched at all.

Now that the Amendment has been rejected we are back to a very problematical period somewhere between 3.30 p.m. and 10 o'clock tonight—and it will be tonight. In so short a period I doubt whether it will be possible to touch upon the items of major importance which he mentioned. I know of a large number of items which are susceptible of brief, or reasonably brief, discussion which it might be possible to take during a curtailed Committee stage with a chance of properly explaining our point.

There is, for example, the question of the repair of appliances. We discussed, at some length I know, the question of a charge for particular types of appliances but we never got down to the important point of whether it is fair and reasonable, having charged for the original appliance, to go on charging repeatedly for every necessary repair. That is the sort of point which might be quite appropriate in a short Committee stage.

There is the proposal which has just been put on the Order Paper, no doubt very valuable, by the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod) and other hon. Members on the other side of the House. I have not had time to study its full significance. I do not know what it means, but they will want an opportunity of explaining what it is about and if it is a point of substance, even if not of major importance, it deserves consideration.

There is the Amendment by the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) about the position of war pensioners under this Bill. As I said on Second Reading, the position of war pensioners needs a great deal of elucidation. I believe quite sincerely that the right hon. Gentleman does not yet fully understand what difficulties he is going to get into in this regard. He has probably thought that the Minister of Pensions can take care of that quite easily, and that he need not worry. I am sure he is wrong. That again is the sort of matter which my hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill, knowing the subject so well, can elucidate in a comparatively short space of time.

Again, there is an Amendment down in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird), about the position of persons needing emergency dental treatment. All these are items of substantial importance, but not of a major or far-reaching character, which we might be able, in a truncated Committee stage programme, to deal with to some extent. They all deserve consideration and examination.

Suppose we take these in this Committee stage. Then there still remain some of the matters which I think are major and far-reaching matters involving questions of principle, and affecting previous legislation. Those I suggest can in the situation in which we now find ourselves be adequately, carefully, coldly, and sensibly discussed only on Report.

We had the benefit earlier of the presence of the Prime Minister. I wish he were here now. He reminded us of the days when he was a member of the Liberal Government. He was a distinguished ornament of a great Liberal Administration, and I can well imagine he is looking back to those days with a great deal of nostalgia. When he was a member of the Liberal Government they introduced a Bill of which he must still think of with pride—the great National Insurance Act, 1911. Does he really know that this Bill proposes to make a breach of contract with the people insured under the Act of 1911? I wonder if he does.

He did not really know what was happening about railway fares, and when he did he had to take action. He had to take command of the situation himself and order a cessation of the action which one of his Ministers was taking. When he finds out, after this Bill comes into operation, what is happening to the insured contributors under the 1911 Act, I wonder what he will do. I think we deserve to have a good discussion about that, and I think the only chance of getting it is on Report by having more time available then than the Motion provides.

There is the effect upon the beneficiaries of the Industrial Injuries Act. What we want to ask is whether the Minister of National Insurance is going to step in. Is he going to exercise the powers under that Act, when this Bill is passed, to provide appliances free of charge? That matter requires some examination. I should be ruled out of order if I attempted to discuss that now, but I instance it as the sort of topic of major importance which cannot be dealt with in ten-minute speeches from either side. Such matters require the provision of additional time on Report for their proper examination.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Surely the right hon. Gentleman will remember that the point whether the insured contributor was any worse off was dealt with most admirably in able speeches from his side of the House in which it was explained that they were not worse off, and this view was confirmed in a speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).

Mr. Speaker

These matters can only be introduced as illustrations of the argument relevant to the Motion before the House. It would be out of order to make the Motion the peg on which to hang controversies more appropriate to the Bill itself.

Mr. Marquand

That is the sort of point I was trying to make, that those were the matters we have not had an opportunity of discussing, and on which there is a difference of view between us. However, I will not allude further to them.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

There is no difference of view between us. Hon. Gentlemen are on record.

Mr. J. Griffiths

It was my responsibility as Minister in 1946 to bring the contributors under the old law into the new law and until 1946 they never paid for their medical attention.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must insist that these exchanges are out of order on the Motion.

Mr. Marquand

If I may refer by way of illustration, to the sort of topics which remain unexplored and undiscussed—[Interruption.] The House wasted a good deal of time over the scandalous attempt by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) to bring an improper object into the Chamber, and I hope we are not going to waste any more time on his interventions.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

It was filibustering.

Mr. Marquand

It might have been a filibustering effort by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it was not much appreciated on this side of the House nor on his own. My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer) who, as Chairman of the Central Health Services Council and the North-West Metropolitan Hospitals Board, speaks with great authority in these matters, referred to the announcement by the Minister that he intended to exempt sufferers from venereal diseases from payment of the charges. He suggested that the exemption should extend to sufferers from tuberculosis.

I would suggest, and in my view this is just as important, that sufferers from diabetes might also be exempted, because as we all know, they have to take extremely expensive drugs daily and may find themselves at a gross disadvantage of having to find several shillings a day to keep themselves alive.

That is the kind of topic which needs to be discussed. It will not do for the right hon. Gentleman the Minister to say in reply, as he said more than once, that this Bill refers largely to hospital patients, because there is the question in which my hon. Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) has shown such great interest, which relates to patients who are admissible to hospitals, whose doctors have recommended their admission, and the hospital agrees they should receive hospital treatment but who are on the waiting list.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assist me in keeping order in the matter. He has given a large number of instances as an argument for extending the time for the Report Stage and Third Reading. It is quite obvious that if this were carried on every problem arising out of the controversy could be produced as an argument. It is not in order for illustrations to be extended so as to bring in every phase more appropriate to another part of the discussion.

Mr. Marquand

I was doing my best to refer only to major matters. If I were to bring in every item of importance then indeed I should be trespassing on your indulgence, Sir, because I should have to refer to 150 different items. I will only say that the whole of Clause 2 remains undiscussed, as has been referred to frequently tonight. The extraordinary position of giving incentives to patients to wait until their teeth are sufficiently damaged to require at least £1's worth of attention and on which the opinions of the dental profession have hitherto gone totally unexpressed in this House, also requires attention.

One of the advantages of our Committee proceedings usually is that we have a chance at that stage of bringing to the attention of the House the views of professional and other specially interested bodies. This time we shall have no chance of doing that worth speaking of because our Committee stage is so curtailed. I suggest we should be allowed to use the Report stage for that purpose.

There is in Clause 3 provision for the Government to increase these charges. There is also a wanton amendment of the 1951 Act which is entirely unnecessary since the 1951 Act is due to come to an end in 1954 anyway, and there is provision in that Act for an annual review if the circumstances justify it. It was completely unnecessary for the right hon. Gentleman to ask to remove these powers, and to hold a full discussion on that point would require a day itself. Then there is the question of day nurseries, and the imposing for the first time in a National Health Service Bill of heavy penalties for any evasion of its provisions.

My Amendment refers also to the provision of additional time for the Third Reading. I think we do need an opportunity at the Third Reading for a fairly lengthy debate in order to elucidate what really is the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the Health Service. We have heard during the debate the opinions of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod), who we take to occupy a fairly high place in the councils of his party on this subject. He has said he believes in charges as a matter of principle. That is a very interesting and important point of view to which he is entitled.

When he said that, we took it for granted that that is the view of his party since I understand he is Chairman of the party's Health Committee. But last evening the Foreign Secretary appeared to repudiate it. We should like to know which is the attitude of the Conservative Party on this question. Have they adopted a new attitude towards the Health Service, or not?

All these questions, I suggest, cannot be adequately examined or discussed in the curtailed Committee stage with which we are now confronted. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be reasonable, and whether it would not remove some of the blemishes from his reputation, if he were to allow us some concession on this point.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Paget.

Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

On a point of order. One protest already has been made that Scotland is not being heard tonight, and I am making another. I must insist that Scotland will have some attention paid to it. It is England all the time in this House.

Mr. Paget

We have heard various speakers from the other side, but only one—the Leader of the House—has had the "brass" to suggest that the time allotted by this Motion is anything like adequate to proper discussion. Every other speaker on that side has either expressly—as in the case of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith)—or tacitly admitted that the time allotted is nothing like sufficient for discussion, and have based their case for this Motion solely upon the proposition that there had been obstruction on this side of the House on this Bill and other Measures.

The case which they made was that obstruction, both on this Bill, and previously, had justified a Motion which allowed insufficient time being allotted to the remainder of the Bill. It is with that argument that I am proposing to deal because I have personally been accused with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) of having been responsible for obstruction. I was accused, among others, by the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty), who I am sorry not to see in his place, and when I asked on what it was that I had obtsructed, he replied that it was the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. I would ask him, and certain other hon. Members to consider who was responsible there.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

The hon. and learned Gentleman must not deal with the Army Act on this Amendment.

Mr. Paget

With great respect, this is an Amendment whereby we say that the time granted for the Report stage is inadequate, and that we want more. Previously, there was an Amendment relating to the Committee stage. During the discussion on that Amendment, the argument that we had obstructed, both on this Bill and on the Army Measure, was made, and I was personally attacked by the other side without objection. I do submit that I am entitled to defend myself. I sought to do so at that time, but was not called, and I submit that the issue being precisely the same—for extra time on the Report stage as on the Committee stage—then if it was legitimate to talk on the previous occasion in justification of sufficient time, then it is in order to do so now.

We moved an Amendment; it was debated and after five hours, the Closure having been moved, it was voted down. What happened to that Amendment?—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which Amendment?"]—I am talking of an Amendment on the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. What happened to it? In another place yesterday, the Government put it down as its own, and passed it. Who was wasting time there? We were trying to improve the Bill, which the Minister himself described as a mass of anachronisms. He asked us to help him, and we tried.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

This is really going beyond the Amendment.

Mr. Paget

If that is the basis of the charge that we wasted time, then let the Government supporters think about it.

Mr. Doughty

When I did mention that very matter—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

This discussion is out of order and cannot continue.

Mr. Paget

There is another question of the alleged wasting of time. On this Bill, it is said that we have been obstructive. But, let us consider what has, in fact, happened—and I think I am now in order. What has been the longest Amendment—longest in the sense of the time spent on it? That moved by the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Miss Ward) on that side of the House.

Why has the Bill, so far, taken so long? Largely because the Ministers in charge of it have not understood it, and when Ministers are mishandling a Bill, it takes so much longer for hon. Members to explain Amendments, and one has to allow a little more time for those in charge to get information. That is what has been happening throughout this Bill. But perhaps the worst example of all—and again this is a matter to which the hon. Member for Surrey, East referred—is that no agreement whatever has been sought with this side of the House on the terms of this Motion.

When the party opposite got into trouble with the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill there was an agreement. It worked. We helped them out. They got into trouble with the Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill, entirely through the incompetent leadership of the House, and they came to us. We helped them out, and we were thanked by the Ministers for what we had done. But here they have made no attempt whatever to come to any agreement and have made no approach whatever to this side.

Mr. Doughty

I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that what I said was that he and his hon. Friends were so anxious for further time—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am afraid all this has very little to do with the Amendment.

Mr. Paget

The hon. Member for Hertford said that no agreement could be come to with hon. Members on this side of the House because there were two sets of opinions, that there were opinions on the Opposition Front Bench and different opinions on the back benches. He told us we were like a circus horse; the front legs went one way and the hind legs another.

I have a good deal of sympathy for the hon. Member for Hertford when he says that. Indeed, I always have a good deal of sympathy for totalitarians when they have to deal with democrats. It is awfully irritating. For instance, when Mr. Stalin has to deal with Mr. Truman, and Mr. Truman has to say, "I shall have to consult my people and Congress," it is awfully annoying for Mr. Stalin. Of course, with the party opposite, when father turns, they all turn. It is quite simple; there is only one opinion. They only have the opinion of the leader. Father has turned over since the Election, and they are all supporting the opposite of the things to which they pledged themselves at that time. The Chancellor, speaking at Berwick, expressly pledged himself not to introduce this Bill, but now father has turned over and here they are steam-rollering it through the House.

That is the position. On this side it is different. Our leaders have to consult their followers because we, unlike the party opposite, are a democratic party. But that does not mean that we cannot come to an agreement. Ask the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Agriculture. They have no complaints. They, unlike the Minister of Health and Leader of the House, had the sense and the courtesy and the fair-mindedness to come and ask for agreement.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I find it very difficult to associate what the hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying with this Amendment.

Mr. Paget

With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, this Amendment is asking for more time. The party opposite have said that we cannot have more time because we are wasting time. What I am pointing out to the Minister is that if he had provided, as was done in 1932 upon a similar Motion, that if this Motion finished early we could go on with our consideration of the Bill, as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said, we would have accepted this Motion and we should have had two Parliamentary days, with the Rule suspended, to get through this Committee stage. That is yet another way in which their incompetence has wasted time which could have been made available for the discussion of this Bill.

Had they put down this Motion in the form adopted previously—and when that form was adopted, it was accepted by this party, which would have accepted it again—we could have had two Parlia- mentary days' in which to get on with discussing this Bill. The point is that the party opposite do not want this Bill discussed. That is why really we are wasting time in asking for more time.

It is not a question of trying to find time, they do not want this measure discussed. It is clear why. It is something they were pledged not to introduce. They have been having a lamentable time, not only showing to the country a lack of faith, but showing a lack of humanity to the electors and a gross lack of Parliamentary competence. They have been having a dreadful time, and they do not want this Measure discussed. Two days were available to the Government. They have thrown them away rather than use them to discuss this Bill. I feel that this will register a high-water mark in cynical contempt for Parliamentary proceedings.

1.57 a.m.

Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I find, at this early hour of the day, that hon. Members are inclined to move away from the matter before us, and I will, I hope, with your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, confine myself to what is actually before the House. I gather that it is a matter of time or an extension of time. From the backbenchers' point of view, and especially from the Scottish back-benchers' point of view, because we Scots often find we never get an opportunity to speak when there is a big debate, the time given by the Government is totally inadequate.

I speak on this Amendment regarding lines 16 and 17, but it is related to all that has gone before. Very often, backbenchers who cannot get in during the early stages of a Bill hope to get in during the Report stage or the debate on Third Reading. What is there here for them? The Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in a second allotted day, and shall be brought to a conclusion at half-past Nine o'clock on that day. Let us analyse this matter of time. We start probably at five o'clock and give an hour to a Front Bench speech. From 6 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. there will be points of order. From 6.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. there will be questions of "Further to" these points of order. There will be another hour taken up by another Front Bench speaker. Where does an hon. Member, like myself, get in? [An HON. MEMBER: "By making a point of order."] I have never, until today, put a point of order in this House.

Where can I, representing the people of Coatbridge, get in? These people think I should know something about the Health Service. Members of my family are working in the Health Service. I have spent most of my life producing doctors, and yet I cannot get a word in edgeways.

Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)

There are too many lawyers in the hon. Lady's party.

Mr. S. Silverman

There are too many journalists in the hon. Gentleman's party.

Mrs. Mann

Could I get in if I were trained to speak like my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale)? Must we all undergo training so that we can get the words off our tongues in rapid-fire like my hon. Friend in order to keep to the time-table set by the Government? Where does a speaker like myself come in? How can we get in at all? Where does Shakespeare come into this? It is impossible under this timetable to speak the words "trippingly on the tongue." We must speak quick-fire like my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West, does.

Am I never to be allowed to put the case of the mothers of Coatbridge, who are in the habit, when the doctor calls, of saying, "While you are here, doctor, will you look at Bobby and Jimmy?" That means an extra 3s., 1s. for each prescription, and bang goes the first extra on the family allowance! How can hon. Members opposite act like this?

My people in Coatbridge did not send me back here to be guillotined or gagged or "kangarooed." Doubtless those who voted for the other fellow would not mind if I were guillotined. But my people do not understand it. They expect me to speak, and they expect hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen. They will conclude that the Guillotine is just a kind of Fascism to stop hon. Members from speaking.

They will conclude that hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite do not wish to hear about the suffering of others, that they are a lot of cold, heartless brutes. I should certainly not say that indi- vidually of hon. Gentlemen opposite, for many of them are very polite and very kind and some, indeed, are very charming, but, collectively, they are a bunch of heartless brutes.

It will be impossible to discuss matters of urgent importance to our constituents and to contribute the special knowledge that we have of the hardships which they will endure under the Bill. The House is losing the democratic touch when it introduces Measures like these. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to reconsider this and to give us the extra time that we ask for the closing stages of a Bill which must necessarily require a great deal of reconsideration and re-adjustment during those stages.

2.4 a.m.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)

I should like to say a word or two in support of the case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann). It is perfectly true that many of my hon. Friends who are Scottish Members—indeed, many Scottish Members on both sides—have complained that the Minister himself, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, have on many occasions shown a lamentable ignorance of what the Bill means, and that that has caused some considerable delay.

It is equally true to say that we have not had any contribution at all to our debates on the Bill from the Secretary of State for Scotland or from any of the three Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland. I would remind you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and the House that this Bill deals not only with the National Health Service Act for England and Wales but with the National Health Service (Scotland) Act, too. It is for that reason that we are pressing for more time on Report stage.

The Leader of the House, and many of his hon. Friends behind him, have accused certain hon. Friends of mine of wasting time in Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, let me give an example to the contrary. I must say that that cheer from the opposite side of the House came out of sheer ignorance, because we have just had a one-Clause Bill in the Scottish Grand Committee that, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) knows, took three mornings to consider, when we had a speech of one hour's duration by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). Moreover, we had a speech of 40 minutes' duration by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson).

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is now dealing with another Bill altogether, and not with this Amendment.

Mr. Hoy

I am trying to answer—and I hope I am quite in order—an accusation made from the other side of the House that certain speeches made on this side had taken up considerable time. The Leader of the House said that the speeches would not have been so long if they had had to be made upstairs in a Committee. What I am pointing out is that that is not an accurate statement, because we have just had a one-Clause Bill on which a Member belonging to the right hon. Gentleman's own party delivered a speech of an hour's duration.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is now repeating what he has just said, and it has nothing to do with the Amendment with which we are now dealing.

Mr. Hoy

With all respect, Sir, let me submit this to you. We are arguing that there should be an extension of time on the Report stage and Third Reading, and against our arguments the Leader of the House has said that we have wasted too much time by making long speeches on the Bill so far. What I am saying in reply is that we had a one-Clause Bill in the Scottish Grand Committee, on which inordinately long speeches were made by Members of the right hon. Gentleman's own side.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must ask the hon. Gentleman not to repeat the same argument.

Mr. Hoy

I have no intention—I give you this assurance, Mr. Hopkin Morris—of repeating those very long speeches that were made by those hon. Members when they came to the Scottish Grand Committee. One of the reasons why we in Scotland feel we have had a raw deal from the Government is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to Scotland—to North Berwick—and delivered a speech in which he assured the electorate of Scotland that neither he nor the Government—a Tory Government, if returned—would interfere with our Health Service.

If hon. Members want proof of it, I would remind them that it was in the same speech in which he assured the country that the Government would maintain the food subsidies and the education services. Dealing specifically with the Health Services, he said: We shall maintain the Health Services, contrary to any stories you may hear. I suggest that the presentation of this Bill has meant that he has made inroads into the Scottish Health Service Act. Of that there can be no doubt; and so he has betrayed one other pledge to the electors not only of England but of Scotland.

Surely we are entitled to ask that one of the Scottish Ministers will say what are the intentions of the Scottish Office, because every Amendment that we have discussed or will discuss in the next stages of the Bill affect the Scottish Health Service Act along with the National Health Service Act of England. We have a Secretary of State; at least, we have not seen him, but we are assured that we have one. We have three Joint Under-Secretaries, the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) being one of them. Surely to goodness, at this stage it is not asking too much that one of them should tell us what are the intentions with regard to Scotland and how this Bill will affect the Scottish Health Service Act.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I would point out that that would be out of order on this Motion.

2.12 a.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

This Amendment differs in one important respect from all the Amendments which have so far been considered. So far, the Amendments which have been proposed to this Motion have affected that part of the Motion which deals with the time to be spent on the Committee stage of the Bill. Argument has passed between the two sides of the House as to whether what the Motion contemplates is fair and adequate, having regard to all the circumstances. This concerns a rather different matter. It concerns two later stages of the Bill. It refers, first of all, to the Report stage, and then to the Third Reading.

I hope it will not be regarded as superfluous to remind the House of what a Report stage is. Of course, there may never be a Report stage of this Bill. There can be no Report stage unless the Bill is amended in Committee. The length of time which it is appropriate to allot to the Report stage will depend, even on a Guillotine Motion, as it always does depend, upon what takes place in the Committee stage.

It may be that in the course of the Committee stage a number of Amendments will be accepted by the Government or, on a Division, adopted by the Committee. If so, the Government and the House will require an opportunity for further consideration, and that is one of the purposes which the Report stage is intended to serve.

Then again, it may be that without Amendments being actually voted upon, or either adopted or negatived, the Government may feel it right to give certain undertakings to the Committee. Of course, to a hard-pressed and embarrassed Government, one of the great advantages of the Guillotine on the Committee stage is that if they are assured by the time-table adopted in the Guillotine Motion of getting their Bill through by a specified date, then it is the less necessary for them to give sympathetic consideration to Amendments that are moved from the other side of the House.

If the time is unlimited and the Government are anxious, nevertheless, to get their Measure through the Committee stage with reasonable expedition, then it is right—and this frequently happens—for the Minister to adopt a conciliatory tone and to offer to consider at later stages points which are giving difficulty to the Committee, and which obviously will require further examination. But if the Minister is to get his Committee stage through by a definite date and a certain time whether he is conciliatory or whether he is obstinate, then it does not matter that he should be conciliatory or offer any consideration at all.

That, indeed, may be one—perhaps the main—inducement to the Government to have this Guillotine Motion, because, if reports be true—and even in the House of Commons they sometimes are—there has been a good deal of pressure upon the Government by their back benchers about this Bill. I sometimes wonder whether the Guillotine Motion was introduced not so much to gag my hon. Friends on this side of the House as to save the Government from embarrassment from behind them. It may well be so.

To revert to the matter of the Report stage, in spite of the fact that the provision of a strict and rigid time-table relieves the Minister from any obligation to be sympathetic or conciliatory, he may, nevertheless, from time to time in the course of the Committee stage, wish to give consideration to points of substance which are made to him. The point I am making is that until it is known what the Committee stage is going to produce and what the picture of the Bill is likely to look like at the end of the Committee stage, neither the Government nor the Opposition have any material whatever before them to enable them to decide whether or not one day will be an adequate or an inadequate period for the Report stage.

We have now had the fourth or fifth speech from this side suggesting that the one day provided in the Motion is not sufficient for the Report stage and ought to be extended to two, and it is a remarkable fact that even now we have had no indication whatever from the Government about what were the considerations which led them to think that the proposition in the Motion is fair or reasonable. Why do they say that one day is enough? How do they know?

If they ask the House at this stage, without knowing in the least what Amendments will be moved, what Amendments will be called, what will be said in support of them, what their fate will be, what will be the Government's attitude to them, what the picture will look like at the end of the Committee stage—if, without knowing that at all, they demand that the House should limit the Report stage to only one day, it can only mean that they are admitting the charge repeatedly made during the course of the debate against them, that they are treating not merely the House but also the country with complete contempt in this matter.

They may say, if there is no material to justify one day for the Report stage, how can we be right in suggesting that there should be two days? "We have no more material"—they would say—"than they have, and if one day is purely arbitrary then two days are arbitrary too." That is a plausible and specious argument. If one allows more time than is necessary one does not have to use it all, but if one allows less time than is necessary one is obviously not giving reasonable consideration to all the points or to the effect of the Bill.

Whether the same sort of consideration applies to the Third Reading, I am not so sure. It is possible at this stage to argue reasonably one way or the other that the time given to the Motion for the Third Reading is reasonable or unreasonable, because by that time the House will be precluded from dealing in debate with anything that is not actually contained in the Bill as it then stands. All that does not apply to the Report stage, which must be a completely unknown stage until the Committee stage is over.

It is surely time that the Government told us why they think, and what grounds they have to lead us to suppose, that the one day allotted in the Motion is sufficient. The only way in which it could be justified—although I doubt if it could be justified at all having regard to the argument I have used—is on the ground of urgency. It is only on grounds of urgency that any Government would invite the House of Commons to pass a Guillotine measure at all.

It may be that my right hon. and hon. Friends have been a little unfair to the Government on this point. It is quite true that it has been demonstrated almost beyond controversy that the Bill has absolutely no urgency at all in relation to the national solvency. No serious argument to the contrary has ever been offered to the House. There is another ground for urgency. If the Government are determined to have this Bill whatever the merits, they must have regard to the fact that their days of office and power are rapidly running out. They do not know how long they will last.

No Government in the history of this country, certainly none within this century, has lost moral authority in the country with anything like the rapidity with which this Government has. Of course, they never had it. They came in as a minority Government, and it is quite plain from events in the country that even that minority has been rapidly dwindling ever since.

They have succeeded in doing for themselves in six months in the country what my hon. Friends have not quite succeeded in doing in 30 years. Having regard to that dwindling authority, their insecurity, and the fact that the time is quickly coming when they will be compelled to go back to the electors they betrayed to explain their betrayal and justify it—and they know what the result will be—it may be that these are the real considerations of urgency which have prompted the Government to do what they are doing in this Motion.

In that case we should have a little sympathy with their sense of urgency but none with their morals because it would mean that they were determined to exploit a temporary, unauthorised, and unjustified advantage to do things for themselves, their friends, and a selected number of their supporters at the expense of the rest of the country and in directions which they know perfectly well the whole country does not approve.

2.25 a.m.

Mr. Crookshank

It was an interesting speech to which we have just listened but I cannot say I agree with much of it. I do not accept, nor will my hon. Friends, the deductions, which seemed to be a little remote from the short point of whether we should have two days for the Report stage and one for the Third Reading, or one day for the two together, as the Motion says.

As we are discussing the Amendment on the Order Paper, and no one has referred to the second part of it, I must point out for the information of the House what the effect of paragraph (b) and the final words would be, because they are not what the right hon. Gentleman opposite would desire. As now drafted, I am advised it means that Part 3 of the Motion with all the different provisions therein would, in fact, apply only to the Report stage and Third Reading and not to the allotted Committee day. I am sure they do not intend anything of the sort, but that is what would happen if we adopted this Amendment.

Thus, as a result of the wording of paragraph (b) there would be no definition of an allotted day for the purposes of the Committee, and that would help to make the rest of the original Motion nonsensical. I do not make any great point of that, but when one is discussing words on the Order Paper one should realise their effect.

But the real point the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends made was that two days were not enough. The hon. Member for Nelson and Come (Mr. S. Silverman) asked with emphasis how it was that the Government knew that one day was enough. If we are to start that argument how does he know two days are enough, or 10 days or 20 days? It is not a thing of which one can have absolute knowledge. But one has to form a judgment, to try to see what questions will arise, how much debate has taken place already, which of the more important points the Committee and the House should debate, and taking all these into account we came to the conclusion that one day for Report and Third Reading, and not two days and one day respectively, would be reasonable to put into our Motion.

Mr. Silverman

How does the right hon. Gentleman know?

Mr. Crookshank

Exactly, no one knows. It is not a matter which can be assessed by any knowledge.

Mr. Silverman

rose

Mr. Crookshank

No, I am not going to give way. I listened patiently to the hon. Gentleman's long speech. It was long for this time of night.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Not long for my hon. Friend.

Mr. Crookshank

These are not matters of absolute knowledge. They are matters of judgment, and we formed our conclusion having used our best judgment and taking into account the point which the hon. Gentleman has made, although he twisted it into something quite different, about the grounds of urgency. We do consider that the Bill should be passed into law. We would not have introduced it unless we had thought it necessary for it to go on the Statute Book.

The House appreciates that there is urgency now because of the quite unfortunate delays to which the Bill was subjected when it was first introduced. When we are up against the pressure of the Finance Bill, which is covered by statutory arrangements, we really would find it very difficult to add two more days to our programme for this purpose, particularly when we are not satisfied that these are required for the purpose mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.

Therefore, I invite the House to reject the Amendment and say that in all the circumstances two days for Report and one day for Third Reading would be excessive, and that, on the whole, the proposals put forward by the Government are adequate to carry out our intentions of urgently proceeding with the Bill.

Several Hon. Members

rose

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Hubbard.

Mr. Hepburn

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. McNeil

I most respectfully would point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that several hon. Gentlemen were on their feet and that there had been no reply from this Front Bench.

Mr. Speaker

I am governed by the Standing Order. I cannot say that there has been any infringement of the rights of minorities.

Mr. M. Stewart

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, you have said you are governed by the Standing Order, but am I not right in thinking that before deciding whether or not to accept the Closure Motion the Chair entertains these considerations—whether a matter has been properly considered, and that there has been appropriate time for consideration? Immediately before the Motion was moved you called my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard). Surely, if I may make my point clear, if you had felt that insufficient consideration had been given, and that it was possible my hon. Friend could have added something useful at that moment how could it be, and it is on this we would like your guidance, that a moment later when the Motion for the Closure was moved you could have changed your mind?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I called the hon. Gentleman, because he, among others, stood up. There was at that moment no Motion for the Closure before the House. Such Motions have been made while hon. Gentlemen have been speak- ing; indeed, I remember one occasion when a Chief Whip moved the Closure while one of his own Ministers was speaking.

Several Hon. Members

rose

Mr. Speaker

Order, order. I must ask hon. Gentlemen to resume their seats.

Points of order on this matter are debate which is forbidden by the Standing Order.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 277; Noes, 250.

Division No. 94.] AYES [2.32 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Drayson, G. B. Keeling, Sir Edward
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Drewe, C. Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lambert, Hon. G.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Lambton, Viscount
Arbuthnot, John Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Langford-Holt, J. A.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Erroll, F. J. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Fell, A. Leather, E. H. C.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Finlay, Graeme Legge-Bourke, Maj E. A. H.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Fisher, Nigel Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Baker, P. A. D. Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lindsay, Martin
Baldock, Lt.-Comdr J. M. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Linstead, H. N.
Banks, Col. C. Fort, R. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Barber, A. P. L. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Barlow, Sir John Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Baxter, A. B. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Gage, C. H. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Low, A. R. W.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth. S.)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Gammans, L. D. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Garner-Evans, E. H. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd McAdden, S. J.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Godber, J. B. McCallum, Major D.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Gough, C. F. H. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I of Wight)
Birch, Nigel Gower, H. R. Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Bishop, F. P. Graham, Sir Fergus McKibbin, A. J.
Black, C. W. Grimond, J. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Boothby, R. J. G. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Maclean, Fitzroy
Bossom, A. C. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Bowen, E. R. Harden, J. R. E. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hare, Hon. J. H. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Brains, B. R. Harris, Reader (Heston) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harvie-Watt, Sir George Markham, Major S. F.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hay, John Marlowe, A. A. H.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Marples, A. E.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Heald, Sir Lionel Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Bullard, D. G. Heath, Edward Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E. Higgs, J. M. C. Maude, Angus
Burden, F. F. A. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Maudling, R.
Butcher, H. W. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Medlicott, Brig. F.
Carson, Hon. E. Hirst, Geoffrey Mellor, Sir John
Cary, Sir Robert Holland-Martin, C. J. Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Channon, H. Hollis, M. C. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Holt, A. F. Nabarro, G. D. N.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hope, Lord John Nicholls, Harmer
Cole, Norman Hopkinson, Henry Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Colegate, W. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth. E.)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Horobin, I. M. Nield, Basil (Chester)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nugent, G. R. H.
Cranborne, Viscount Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Nutting, Anthony
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Odey, G. W.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Crouch, R. F. Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Hurd, A. R. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Cuthbert, W. N. Hutchison, Lt.-Cone. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Osborne, C.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Peyton, J. W. W.
Deedes, W. F. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Digby, S. Wingfield Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Pitman, I. J.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Powell, J. Enoch
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Donner, P. W. Jones, A. (Hall Green) Prior-Palmer, Brig O. L.
Doughty, C. J. A. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Profumo, J. D.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Kaberry, D. Raikes, H. V.
Rayner, Brig. R. Soames, Capt. C. Turton, R. H.
Redmayne, E. Spearman, A. C. M. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Remnant, Hon. P. Speir, R. M. Vane, W. M. F.
Renton, D. L. M. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Vesper, D. F.
Robertson, Sir David Stevens, G. P. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Robson-Brown, W. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Roper, Sir Harold Storey, S. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Watkinson, H. A.
Russell, R. S. Studholme, H. G. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Summers, G. S. Wellwood, W.
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Schofield, Lt.-Col W. (Rochdale) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Scott, R. Donald Teeling, W. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Shepherd, William Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Wills, G.
Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth) Wood, Hon. R.
Smyth, Brig, J. G. (Norwood) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Snadden, W. McN. Tilney, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Major Conant and Mr. Oaksbott.
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Adams, Richard Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Albu, A. H. Edelman, M. Keenan, W.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, John (Brighouse) Kenyon, C.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) King, Dr. H. M.
Bacon, Miss Alice Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Baird, J. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Balfour, A. Ewart, R. Lever, Harold (Cheatham)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Fernyhough, E. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Field, W. J. Lewis, Arthur
Bence, C. R. Fienburgh, W. Lindgren, G. S.
Benn, Wedgwood Finch, H. J. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Benson, G. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Logan, D. G.
Beswick, F. Follick, M. MacColl, J. E.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Foot, M. M. McGhee, H. G.
Bing, G. H. C. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McGovern, J.
Blackburn, F. Freeman, John (Watford) McInnes, J.
Blenkinsop, A. Freeman, Peter (Newport) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Blyton, W. R. Gibson, C. W. McLeavy, F.
Boardman, H. Glanville, James MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Bowden, H. W. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Bowles, F. G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Mainwaring, W. H.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Grey, C. F. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigs)
Brockway, A. F. Griffiths, David (Rusher Valley) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Manuel, A C.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Burke, W. A. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mayhew, C. P.
Burton, Miss F. E. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Mellish, R. J.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hamilton, W. W. Messer, F.
Callaghan, L. J. Hannan, W. Mikardo, Ian
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hargreaves, A. Mitchison, G. R.
Champion, A. J. Hastings, S. Monslow, W.
Chapman, W. D. Hayman, F. H. Moody, A. S.
Chetwynd, G. R. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.) Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.
Clunie, J. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Morley, R.
Cocks, F. S. Herbison, Miss M. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Coldrick, W. Hewitson, Capt. M. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Collick, P. H. Hobson, C. R. Mort, D. L.
Cook, T. F. Holman, P. Moyle, A.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Houghton, Douglas Mulley, F. W.
Cove, W. G. Hoy, J. H. Murray, J. D.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hubbard, T. F. Nally, W.
Crosland, C. A. R. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) O'Brien, T.
Daines, P. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Oliver, G. H.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Orbach, M.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Oswald, T.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Padley, W. E.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Paget, R. T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Marne Valley)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Janner, B. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Deer, G. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Pannell, Charles
Delargy, H. J. Jeger, George (Goole) Pargiter, G. A.
Dodds, N. N. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Paton, J.
Donnelly, D. L. Johnson, James (Rugby) Peart, T. F.
Driberg, T. E. N. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Popplewell, E. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Porter, G. Sparks, J. A. Wells, William (Walsall)
Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Steele, T. West, D. G.
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Proctor, W. T. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Pryde, D. J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Rankin, John Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wigg, George
Reeves, J. Swingler, S. T. Wilkins, W. A.
Rhodes, H. Sylvester, G. O. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Taylor, John (West Lothian) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Thomas, David (Aberdare) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Ross, William Thomas, George (Cardiff) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Royle, C. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Schofield, S. (Barnsley) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Shawoross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Timmons, J. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Short, E. W. Tomney, F. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Turner-Samuels, M. Wyatt, W. L.
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Yates, V. F.
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Usborne, H. C. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Wallace, H. W.
Snow, J. W. Watkins, T. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Sorensen, R. W. Weitzman, D. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 277; Noes, 250.

Division No. 95.] AYES [2.45 a.m.
Aitken, W. T. Cranborne, Viscount Heald, Sir Lionel
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Heath, Edward
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Higgs, J. M. C.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Crouch, R. F. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Arbuthnot, John Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Assheton, Rt. Hon. H. (Blackburn, W.) Cuthbert, W. N. Hirst, Geoffrey
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Holland-Martin, C. J.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Davidson, Viscountess Hollis, M. C.
Baker, P. A. D. Deedes, W. F. Holt, A. F.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Digby, S. Wingfield Hope, Lord John
Banks, Col. C. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hopkinson, Henry
Barber, A. P. L. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Barlow, Sir John Donner, P. W. Horobin, I. M.
Baxter, A. B. Doughty, C. J. A. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Beach, Maj. Hicks Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Drayson, G. B. Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Drewe, C. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Hurd, A. R.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Erroll, F. J. Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Fell, A. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Finlay, Graeme Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Birch, Nigel Fisher, Nigel Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Bishop, F. P. Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Black, C. W. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)
Boothby, R. J. G. Fort, R. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bossom, A. C. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bowen, E. R. Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Boyle, Sir Edward Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Braine, B. R. Gage, C. H. Kaberry, D.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Galbraith, Cmdr, T. D. (Pollok) Keeling, Sir Edward
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Gammans, L. D. Lambert, Hon. G.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Garner-Evans, E. H. Lambton, Viscount
Brooman-While, R. C. George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Langford-Holt, J. A.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Godber, J. B. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Leather, E. H. C.
Bullard, D. G. Gough, C. F. H. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E. Gower, H. R. Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Burden, F. F. A. Graham, Sir Fergus Lindsay, Martin
Butcher, H. W. Grimond, J. Linstead, H. N.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Carson, Hon. E. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Cary, Sir Robert Harden, J. R. E. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Channon, H. Hare, Hon. J. H. Lockwood, Lt.-Col J. C.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Harris, Reader (Heston) Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Low, A. R. W.
Cole, Norman Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Colegate, W. A. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Harvie-Watt, Sir George Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hay, John McAdden, S. J.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. McCallum, Major D.
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Peyton, J. W. W. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Storey, S.
McKibbin, A. J. Pitman, I. J. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Powell, J. Enoch Studholme, H. G.
Maclean, Fitzroy Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Summers, G. S.
MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Profumo, J. D. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Raikes, H. V. Teeling, W.
Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Rayner, Brig. R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Redmayne, E. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Remnant, Hon. P. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Renton, D. L. M. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Markham, Major S. F. Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Marlowe, A. A. H. Robertson, Sir David Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Marples, A. E. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Tilney, John
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Robson-Brown, W. Turton, R. H.
Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Maude, Angus Roper, Sir Harold Vane, W. M. F.
Maudling, R. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Russell, R. S. Vesper, D. F.
Medlicott, Brig. F. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Mellor, Sir John Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Scott, R. Donald Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nabarro, G. D. N. Scott-Miller, Comdr. R. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Nicholls, Harmar Shepherd, William Watkinson, H. A.
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Wellwood, W.
Nield, Basil (Chester) Smithers, Peter (Winchester) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Nugent, G. R. H. Snadden, W. McN. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Nutting, Anthony Soames, Capt. C. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Odey, G. W. Spearman, A. C. M. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Speir, R. M. Wills, G.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Wood, Hon. R.
Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Stevens, G. P.
Osborne, C. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Major Conant and Mr. Oaksbott.
NOES
Acland, Sir Richard Cove, W. G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Adams, Richard Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Albu, A. H. Crosland, C. A. R. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cullen, Mrs. A. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Daines, P. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Awbery, S. S. Dalton, Ht. Hon. H. Hamilton, W. W.
Bacon, Miss Alice Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hannan, W.
Baird, J. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hargreaves, A.
Balfour, A. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hastings, S.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Davies, Harold (Leek) Hayman, F. H.
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. de Freitas, Geoffrey Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Bence, C. R. Deer, G. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)
Benn, Wedgwood Delargy, H. J. Herbison, Miss M.
Benson, G. Dodds, N. N. Hewitson, Capt. M.
Beswick, F. Donnelly, D. L. Hobson, C. R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Driberg, T. E. N. Holman, P.
Bing, G. H. C. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Houghton, Douglas
Blackburn, F. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hoy, J. H.
Blenkinsop, A. Edelman, M. Hubbard, T. F.
Blyton, W. R. Edwards, John (Brighouse) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Boardman, H. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hughes, Gledwyn (Anglesey)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Bowden, H. W. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bowles, F. G. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Ewart, R. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Brockway, A. F. Fernyhough, E. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Field, W. J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Fienburgh, W. Janner, B.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Finch, H. J. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Burke, W. A. Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Jeger, George (Goole)
Burton, Miss F. E. Follick, M. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Foot, M. M. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Callaghan, L. J. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Johnson, Douglas (Paisley)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Freeman, John (Watford) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Champion, A. J. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Chapman, W. D. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Keenan, W.
Chetwynd, G. R. Gibson, C. W. Kenyon, C.
Clunie, J. Glanville, James Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Cocks, F. S. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. King, Dr. H. M.
Coldrick, W. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Collick, P. H. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Cook, T. F. Grey, C. F. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Lewis, Arthur Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Sylvester, G. O.
Lindgren, G. S. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Pannell, Charles Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Logan, D. G. Pargiter, G. A. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
MacColl, J. E. Paton, J. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
McGhee, H. G. Peart, T. F. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
McGovern, J. Plummer, Sir Leslie Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
McInnes, J. Popplewell, E. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
McKay, John (Wallsend) Porter, G. Timmons, J.
McLeavy, F. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Tomney, F.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Turner-Samuels, M.
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Proctor, W. T. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Pryde, D. J. Usborne, H. C.
Mainwaring, W. H. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wallace, H. W.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Rankin, John Watkins, T. E.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Reeves, J. Weitzman, D.
Manuel, A. C. Rhodes, H. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Robons, Rt. Hon. A. Wells, William (Walsall)
Mayhew, C. P. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) West, D. G.
Mellish, R. J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Messer, F. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Mikardo, Ian Ross, William White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Mitchison, G. R. Royle, C. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Monslow, W. Schofield, S. (Barnsley) Wigg, George
Moody, A. S. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Wilkins, W. A.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Short, E. W. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Morley, R. Silverman Julius (Erdington) Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Mort, D. L. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Moyle, A. Snow, J. W. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Mulley, F. W. Sorensen, R. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Murray, J. D. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Nally, W. Sparks, J. A. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Steele, T. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
O'Brien, T. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Wyatt, W. L.
Oliver, G. H. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Yates, V. F.
Orbach, M. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Oswald, T. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Padley, W. E. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Paget, R. T. Swingler, S. T. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.
Mr. Speaker

The next Amendment I propose to call is that in line 21. Mr. Bing.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There are two Amendments in my name to line 19. I am not sure whether you propose to call them or not.

Mr. Speaker

They are not selected.

Mr. Fletcher

Might I just observe that they seem to raise rather an important point—

Mr. Speaker

If they are not selected the hon. Member cannot speak to them. Mr. Bing.

2.56 a.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

I beg to move, in line 21, after "Order," to insert: (b) On any allotted day upon which Consideration of the Bill is not entered upon by half-past Three o'clock, there shall be added to any times specified in this Order a time equivalent to the time which elapsed between half-past Three o'clock and the time at which Consideration of the Bill was entered upon. I hope that this Amendment will be accepted. [Laughter.] Yes, because it is designed to prevent one of these petty little meannesses which the Minister of Health generally sees fit to inflict, rather like the Patronage Secretary who waited until my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) was on his feet, knowing that he was a diabetic sufferer who had waited here all this time to speak. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] The Patronage Secretary was not going to get to his feet if some other hon. Member rose, but when he saw my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs rise, knowing his affliction, he was afraid that something might be said which would hurt, and so he rose and quickly moved the Closure.

The Amendment is designed to deal with a smaller but equally petty meanness on the part of the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health appears here in two capacities for he is also the Leader of the House, although he happens to be absent at the moment. As the Minister of Health he assures us that we shall have 90 minutes to discuss the first Amendment, but as the Leader of the House he also deals with the business question. Are we to have no discussion on business this afternoon? This is a most important subject in view of the state into which the Government have got business, but every minute we occupy discussing business means that a sufferer somewhere in the country cannot have his case properly discussed. This is the dilemma in which the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to place the House.

There was not a word about this when the Foreign Secretary came in. He was Leader of the House for four years. I suppose he had forgotten all about business questions when he made his calculation that we should have 90 minutes. But it is a far more serious matter than that. What neither right hon. Gentleman has dared to disclose to the House—I challenge them to discuss it now—is that they have set down a long statement to be made in the House to-morrow. They know that there is a statement to be made in regard, I think, to the spending of £62 million. [HON. MEMBERS: "£52 million."] Oh, £52, million. Probably, however, another £10 million will be added by tomorrow. Perhaps we have the right figure now—£52 million; and they are going to give that to some of the people who, they think, still support them.

Are we to be allowed any questions on that statement? Are we to be in the position that all the time must be taken up by this matter, or are we to be allowed to ask any questions on the statement? Or is this the way in which they conduct their business—by saying, "If you dare to ask any questions about our extravagances you will not have a chance of talking about the Health Service"? They talk about saving money on that, but they are giving away £52 million. That is all right; but when it comes to a question of whether we ought to take a few hundred pounds from people in need of surgical boots or something of that sort, then time must be taken away so that we cannot discuss it.

How is the House to conduct its business? Is it to be carried on in this sort of way? Do we not even have the Leader of the House here? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I appreciate the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I think it a little discourteous to the Minister of Health. If they want to make criticism of him they ought to wait until he is in his place. I can appreciate why he is dodging this Amendment—because he knows perfectly well that he set down this business for tomorrow. He agreed to this being put down. Where is the Foreign Secretary, with the 90 minutes that he thought sufficient to discuss these matters? Now they are all to be taken away for something else. Since this is so, or if it is to be so, they ought to come forward honestly and say so. This really is not the sort of way in which the business of this House should be conducted.

We have had a lot of talk. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I can tell hon. Gentlemen that there has been not only a good deal of talk, but that I have had a regular post from hon. Gentlemen opposite all saying they were going to refer to me. I have the letters in my pocket now. I am only sorry the hon. Gentlemen were not called. No, I did not have one from the Patronage Secretary. I felt, however, when I received the letters, that hon. Gentlemen opposite would be doing better if they devoted themselves, not to me, but to the matter before the House. But that, of course, would be contrary to their general method of conducting policy, which is entirely done on a personal basis. I do not think that we want to go into that sort of aspect at this time of night.

What I think need to be considered are the needs of the people who seem to have been rather forgotten by hon. Gentlemen opposite in this debate, and they are the sick and ill, the aged, the unemployed, the poor, the mothers in child-birth. Those are the people every one of whom will be penalised if this House makes a wrong decision. We shall not get sensible consideration of their wants if we give less than 90 minutes to the Amendment.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

Give the hon. and learned Gentleman three years.

Mr. Bing

Give them three years? [HON. MEMBERS: "No. You."] It may be so. I am not going to be one who is going to assess the loss of life, or loss of expectation of life by various people—by the sufferers from tuberculosis, for example. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite exaggerate when they say three years. Perhaps some of those sick will take only six months to die. Now I see that we have got a full House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Start again."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite have got together to mock anyone who suggests we ought to discuss the sufferings of the poor. That is the issue. All that we are asking on this side of the House is that we should be given at least 90 minutes in which to discuss this matter.

What is there so funny in that—that there should be 90 minutes devoted to the consideration of the sufferings of a great many people who cannot help themselves? There are a great many aged people, too. There are a great many hon. Members opposite who did very well out of the last war, and the people who served in the Forces and enabled them to do so are the very people with whose rights today we are concerned.

Hon. Members opposite say, "We will not allow a few minutes in which to discuss those people. We want to explain in detail what we are going to give to the farmers. Let us get together with all the people who can do well out of everything; let us work together with the doctors who do well out of the sufferings of others. Let us see if we can wreck the Health Service altogether." That seems to be the attitude of hon. Members opposite. They say "Let us not give any time at all for discussion. Let us spend it all on statements."

Can we not have from the Leader of the House an account of how many statements it is proposed to make? [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not here."] Is there any responsible Member opposite who can give us any indication? Has any hon. Member opposite got any idea of what the business of the House is likely to be later today? I see a smile by the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I suppose he is going to make a statement in which he will announce that he is going to decrease the size of houses or allot more of them to private persons.

I do not know if any other hon. Member would like to indicate with a smile? The Minister of Education, perhaps? Perhaps she has a statement, no doubt about the construction of schools or the number of teachers. Cannot we have some indication?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is going very wide of this quite narrow Amendment. I would ask him to try to confine his remarks to the Amendment.

Mr. Bing

I appreciate that point, Mr. Speaker, but I am in this difficulty, and perhaps you can assist me. So far as we understand, the secrets of what is to take place in the House are entrusted to the Minister of Health, who is also Leader of the House. No hon. Member opposite appears to know what will be the business of the House later today or what statements are to be made. I was going from one to the other to see, by a shake of the head or a nod of assent, which one of them had a statement to make. Once we had achieved that, the House would be in a position to judge how many minutes or seconds would be available for the discussion of the Health Bill.

Perhaps the Attorney-General has something to say, or the Secretary of State for Scotland, or possibly there is a message from Wales? We ought to know what is going to be the position, and we ought to have some channel of communication between the House and its Leader. I was just complaining of the absence of the Leader of the House, who, I am glad to see, is now returning. It is only fair to him to say that this is the only time that he has been out of the Chamber.

Mr. Crookshank

Only for eight minutes since the House met.

Mr. Bing

It is one of those misfortunes that I happened to address a series of questions to the right hon. Gentleman during his absence. I am sure the House will forgive me if I do not repeat them and if I very shortly indicate to the right hon. Gentleman the purport of what I had to say.

The object of this Amendment is to prevent one further petty meanness on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. He, as Leader of the House, knows perfectly well that 90 minutes cannot be given for the first part of this Bill. He is already, no doubt, arranging to answer the business questions.

Is there to be no business next week? Is there to be a business Question? How could the right hon. Gentleman allow, without contradiction, the Foreign Secretary to say there will be 90 minutes—or is business so short; it is just more Guillotines, I suppose—that it can be announced in a second or in no time at all? Is there not to be some sort of statement? We have tried a little bit of cross-examination of his right hon. Friends and some of them have vaguely indicated that they are thinking of making a statement. Will the Leader of the House see that that is not done?

Is there not to be some statement about agriculture? Is not that to take some of the time, or is what we read in the papers incorrect? Is a statement to be made, and, if so, is the time to be deducted from the 90 minutes allowed for the Health Bill? That is the sort of question which the Leader of the House ought to deal with, and it is a problem for the House as a whole to consider whether they ought to take steps to get someone as Leader of the House who will at least put truthfully before the House what is the exact position. It is a gross abuse of the rights of the House for the right hon. Gentleman, after saying that 90 minutes will be given, to persuade some of his hon. Friends to vote for a Motion by saying that 90 minutes will be devoted to the discussion, when he knew, although he did not say so, in view of the business which he had arranged in his other capacity, that it was doubtful whether 15 or 20 minutes could be given.

It is an abuse of the House to persuade his hon. Friends to vote for a Motion on the strength of there being 90 minutes. Perhaps that is what hon. Members opposite would give to salve their consciences—that would be about right for the poor—90 minutes. When did the right hon. Gentleman know about the statement that is to be made, and, if he did know about it, why did he not tell the House?

3.12 a.m.

Mr. Richard Adams (Wandsworth, Central)

I beg to second the Amendment.

In view of the attendance of Ministers on the Front Bench there is a good deal of significance in the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). My hon. and learned Friend seemed to assume that those present on the Front Bench were those who would probably make a statement today, but I prefer to suppose that the Ministers who have had the temerity to turn up at this late hour are those who have no intention of making a statement, whereas the other Ministers, who are not here, are away preparing the statements which they are to make.

I think it is significant that the Minister of Agriculture is not here. We understand that he is to make a statement today presenting another £52 million to the farmers. One of the things I want to ask the Leader of the House is how he finds it possible, in his conscience, to find time for the Minister of Agriculture to give £52 million to the farmers and yet denies all possible time to the House for the discussion of this much more urgent question—the Bill.

I think this Amendment is necessary. I want to address my remarks on it to the right hon. Gentleman in his capacity as Leader of the House and not in his capacity as Minister of Health, Minister responsible for the Bill. It will be readily noticeable to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that hon. Members opposite have a remarkable facility for talking about everything else—everything but the Health Bill, which deals with the poor people, the cripples, the aged and sick.

Let me by way of illustration point out what has happened today in contrast with what has happened in connection with the Health Bill. Today has been spent in discussing a procedural matter, namely, the guillotine Motion. Hon. Members opposite have taken up roughly 101 minutes in making their contribution to this discussion and I am excluding the Minister from that calculation. They took up that 101 minutes up to 10 o'clock, but the moment 10 o'clock came they lost interest immediately in this important matter.

I want to contrast this fact that they took up 101 minutes in contributing to a procedural matter with how long they have taken up the important subject of the Health Bill itself. I have made a rough calculation by going through it and I find that they have taken up about 57½ minutes altogether in the three days.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

This Amendment deals with the extension of time and not with the past time of the House.

Mr. Adams

My submission is that we have to consider whether the time provided, namely, 90 minutes, will be adequate for the discussion of the remainder of Clause 1, and that is on the assumption that we shall get 90 minutes. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) pointed out, there is a likelihood, particularly in view of the news in the Press, that that will be whittled down by statements from the Minister of Agriculture on further feather-bedding for the farmers or statements by the First Lord of the Admiralty, because I see that he is not sitting there contentedly, as are the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Minister of Fuel and Power.

It is important to find out whether or not the Amendment will be accepted and that we will, out of the meanness of the Minister, have 90 minutes, or whether there will be a whittling down by statements from Ministers or arguments by hon. Members opposite on procedure. In that connection I submit it is open to me to prove by illustration from what has taken place on this Bill that hon. Members opposite are more interested in arguments on procedural matters and not the slightest interested in discussing the Bill which is of vital importance.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member's argument is quite relevant and in order, but his illustration is not and does not bear any relationship to his argument.

Mr. Adams

I should have thought it was apposite to demonstrate that hon. Members opposite have taken up twice as much time discussing procedural matters as in making contributions to the Bill itself in the three days it was before the House in Committee.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must ask the hon. Member not to pursue that part of his argument. He must devote his speech to the Amendment he is seconding.

Mr. Adams

The figures I want to quote are to this end and to show that hon. Members opposite are more ready to take up the time of the House at the beginning of the day than they are at the end.

If I can give one or two figures I think, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I can satisfy you on that point. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members are getting excited and agitated because this is a very relevant point.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

When the hon. Member was devoting his argument to what might happen in less than the time it was relevant, but the time occupied in the past cannot be relevant to the 90 minutes.

Mr. Adams

I thought we could only learn things of value by looking at history, and have some guess at what is likely to happen in the future by looking at the history of hon. Members opposite. This is very recent history because it deals with the Committee stage of the Bill which is the subject of the Guillotine Motion today.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I must ask the hon. Gentleman not to pursue the argument after that.

Mr. Adams

Perhaps in those very few words I have made the point clear that hon. Gentlemen opposite are very willing to take part in discussions at the beginning of the day but that as soon as we get towards 10 o'clock they have a marked disinterest. I hope I have also succeeded in making it clear that while they are very willing to enter into a discussion on procedural matters and on statements by Ministers they have not the slightest interest in this most important Bill.

Like my hon. Friend I want an assurance from the Leader of the House that after the usual business statement which because of incompetent presentation leads to many questions, and after no doubt a long and important statement by the Minister of Agriculture, he will ensue we have a further 90 minutes to discuss Clause 1 so that we can voice our determined opposition to this nasty mean Bill, introduced at a time when it can make no contribution to the economic situation of the country, and which is being used as further action against the poor, sick, and aged.

3.19 a.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I am really rather surprised that the Leader of the House has not immediately risen and accepted this Amendment. After all, its acceptance would merely be fulfilment of what has already been promised that we would have 90 minutes to discuss the rest of Clause 1.

We have to remember what happened earlier in this Sitting. We did not have a statement, but we did have a Private Notice Question, and from a rather unpremeditated reply from the Minister for Colonial Affairs the proceedings dragged on, eventually leading to a Motion for the adjournment of the House on a matter of urgent public importance. [An HON. MEMBER: "And wasted more time."] The suggestion that we were wasting time when we were probably considering the future of millions of Africans for which we have had responsibility for generations is a queer indication of the attitude of the Tory Party to that question. If that is the attitude of back benchers opposite we can understand why there has been a change in Tory policy from their Front Bench policy.

We had half an hour of that unexpected kind of debate that usually happens in this House, because the unexpected always happens here. Evidently the Leader of the House has some strange mystic power, the results of which he passed on to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who assured us we should have 90 minutes, which I do not think is adequate, nor would anyone on the opposite side agree that was a generous allocation of time. A football match is decided in 90 minutes, but if there is not a satisfactory conclusion at the end of that time one gets extra time. [HON. MEMBERS: "And a replay."] But we are discussing something more important than a football match.

I do not know where the idea of 90 minutes arose. It could be that it was to protect the Secretary of State for Scotland or his Under-Secretary, whom we have not heard at all on the Committee stage. We heard the Under-Secretary wind up on the Second Reading, and he let drop one thing, that the sole reason for these charges is that those who pay will have less to spend on other things, and how much less they will have to spend, and how much less purchasing power they will possess, will be decided in 90 minutes. These 90 minutes will be further reduced by business questions and statements. If we do not get those at least there will be one point of order, which will be raised by myself because I have an important question to ask about Scottish matters.

Obviously, the matter which was raised today but not considered of urgent public importance, and which has been mocked by some back benchers opposite—that of the continuance of the conference on African federation without the participation of the Africans—will come up again. What little remnant of reputation the Leader of the House has as leader and judge of what the House and country feels is at stake. If he was a real leader he would get up and accept this Amendment.

3.30 a.m.

Mr. Bevan

I will only intervene for a moment or two, because I know from experience that at this time of the morning interventions are regarded as, and treated as, frivolous by Members in all parts of the House. The question before the House is this—the Government, by their Motion, have recommended that we ought to have a certain amount of time for the consideration of the Bill, and that time might be eaten into by statements over which the Government have effective control. It is not as though we on this side of the House can, by any initiative of ours, add to that time because that time is at the discretion of the Government and the Chair. In other words, if the Leader of the House gave us this Amendment, he would be losing nothing. Even if there were an attempt on our part to obstruct business, we could not do so because all the time would be taken up by Government statements and supplementary questions in the hands of the Chair.

Therefore, all we are asking is that the Government should give us an assurance that exactly the time should be left to us which our own Amendment proposes. That is all. This is not very revolutionary. It is not even obstructive. Is it not a perfectly reasonable and sensible proposition that statements of business and other statements should not be added to the time the Government have said we should have.

If the Leader of the House is unable to concede that, we must suspect the intentions behind this Bill. I ask hon. Members opposite, in no party sense, what reason have they for resisting this Amendment, because any hon. Member opposite who asks a question about the agricultural statement tomorrow will be conscious that every question he asks and every statement made in reply will be an invasion of the time they themselves think the House ought to have on the Health Service?

Surely we should be able to ask questions without suffering from that disability? If all those questions are in order—and the Chair can stop them at any time—and answers are to be given to them, surely that should be added to the amount of time we have on the National Health Service Bill? I should think if there is one concession the Leader of the House can make, it would be on this Amendment. If he does not intend to make that concession, it makes nonsense of his proposal that the House should have a certain amount of time on the Bill. Surely the poor should not be brought into competition with the farmers? The House should see that cripples are not brought into competition with the farmers.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who has made no concession at all at any point will make this very small concession one which we cannot exploit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course we cannot exploit it. The hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke), whose grin normally exposes the vacuity of his mind—

Brigadier Terence Clarke (Portsmouth, West)

rose

Mr. Bevan

—had more experience of the business of the House, he would know there was to be no Motion before the House tomorrow, so that Mr. Speaker is in full control of the time used by supplementary questions and statements. Therefore, we cannot exploit it even if we wished to. Such time as the House feels it necessary to devote to the business of next week and statements should not impinge upon the time the Government themselves think we should have on this Bill.

3.35 a.m.

Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

At last I have been able to catch your eye, Sir. I had almost become convinced that I had turned into an invisible man, or that I was standing sideways and could not be seen. But I am very happy to have this opportunity even although I did expect that after the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), the Leader of the House would have jumped to his feet and said he would give way on this particular Amendment.

It is conceivable that, as a result of the volume of business likely to arise tomorrow—or, rather, later today—we could assume that there will be no further discussion on Clause 1. I assume that because the business may go beyond five o'clock. I must say that I have been shocked at the proceedings tonight. Time seems to be the essence of this contract. In the last few weeks we have appealed to the miners to give additional time to their work in the interests of the country, and yet the House is to give no more than 90 minutes to Clause 1 and the vital matters affecting those very people, and others like them.

What good do the Government think it will do? The Government will get its answer from the people whom it treats so shabbily. Let us remember what is happening to the old people, and there is an increasing number of old age pensioners. What regard for them has a Government which refuses the full measure of time for an Amendment which should protect these people? Are the Government representing the country as a whole or, as is always the case with a Tory Government, representing only a small section, with the rest going to the dogs? As the night wears on, it appears that that is what is happening.

Recently, the miners have discussed the extension of the working week over another year; they have agreed to that, and also to working, voluntarily, the additional day this year throughout the summer months. We all pay tribute to them, but here we have a Government which refuses to give an extra day of time for this most important Bill. If the miners work the extra day, cannot the Government sit an extra day? This argument does not merely apply to the miners, but to many people in industry all over the country.

Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isleworth)

I am following the hon. Gentleman, but could he explain why hon. Members opposite asked us, in a Motion on the Easter Recess, to work one day fewer?

Mr. Hubbard

If I disregarded a Ruling of Mr. Deputy-Speaker when he was in the Chair some time ago, I could go back into the past, and could ask about the length of the Recess at Christmas. When we do talk about the past hon. Members opposite never like to be reminded of it. But now we are concerned with the future, and those who are entitled to protection of health. It should be remembered that those who owing to industrial injury have to wear surgical appliances are faced with a recurrent charge in order to keep those appliances in repair. No time has been given for discussion of that.

According to the terms of the Motion, when 5 o'clock comes this afternoon discussion on Clause 1 of the Bill will stop. This fact takes no account of the time that will be taken up between 3.30 this afternoon and 5 o'clock on the business for next week and any other matter that might be discussed after Question time. The Foreign Secretary said that there would be 90 minutes available to the House to-morrow in which to discuss the many items still remaining undiscussed on Clause 1.

It is sheer dishonesty, not only to the House, but to everyone in the country, and something for which the party opposite will pay very dearly in the very near future. In all the circumstances, I hope that even at this late hour the Leader of the House, if he has the interest of his party at heart—he has already indicated that he has the interest of no one else at heart—will stand up and say that any time that may be used between 3.30 and 5 o'clock this afternoon on the business of the House will not be taken out of the time already promised by the Government for the final discussion on Clause 1.

3.42 a.m.

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)

We have had a very good illustration during the debate tonight, and particularly on this Amendment, that if there is any Member of this House who is guilty of wasting the time of the House it is the Leader of the House himself. He seems to imagine that he saves the time of the House by refusing to answer questions. That is the strategy he employs at the present time. When questions are asked, he sits tight, refuses to answer, and apparently thinks he is saving time. Those are the tactics he employed during the discussion of the Bill in Committee, and those are the tactics he has employed in these discussions on the Guillotine procedure.

We had a prime example of it on this Amendment when some questions were asked by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). It was perfectly open to the Minister to get up and answer those questions then and there. If he was going to abide by the time-table he had already announced to the House he had to accept the proposal in the Amendment. Had he done so he would have saved at least three-quarters of the time of the debate. But he refused to do so because he is a small-minded man; he thinks he is proving himself to be very strong by not budging on this issue.

Most hon. Members opposite were not present when an incident took place earlier in the debate which is directly relevant to this Amendment. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Wheatley), put some very relevant questions to the Leader of the House on a previous Amendment which also affected this Amendment. He asked whether the Leader of the House would make an announcement as to what statements were to be made after 3.30 this afternoon. The Leader of the House, following his usual brilliant tactics, sat absolutely glum and silent and refused to give any answer. My hon. and learned Friend had to repeat the question two or three times, and was eventually almost called to order for repetition. All this procedure is supposed to save the time of the House.

The Prime Minister was present at the time, and he took a much more magnanimous view of his obligations to the House than did the Leader of the House. When my hon. and learned Friend put the question to the Prime Minister, he did not have to ask six times before getting a reply. The Prime Minister answered the question the first time he heard it. The Prime Minister said that he was eager to give the House all the information he could on this subject. The information he gave is precisely relevant to this Amendment. He said there were going to be questions and replies to the statement about business. He did not think these questions and replies took very long. But, when he himself was the Leader of the Opposition, there was nothing that took longer than the dis- cussions on business matters. The Prime Minister, in his transformation, now takes a different attitude.

The Prime Minister went on to discuss whether there was to be a statement on the question of the Price Review for farmers. He did not commit himself entirely. He said he would do his best to help the House, which was in direct contrast to the attitude taken by the Leader of the House. I do not know his precise words, but the Prime Minister gave the impression that it was highly probable there would be a statement on the Price Review. So much so did he think this was probable, that the Prime Minister said he did not think it was to be a very controversial statement and that he had known this kind of statement to go through the House without any extensive questioning. He did not think there could be much objection on this score.

It is a pity we have not the advantage of the Prime Minister's presence on this Amendment, because he might have saved us three-quarters of an hour. He would have had the intelligence to realise, if he understood the question, that it would have been much better to have accepted the proposal the Government itself had made previously. It is a pitiable performance which has been presented to us by the Leader of the House. Not only is he showing a very remarkable contrast between his attitude as Leader of the House and that of the Prime Minister but, by his attitude to this Amendment, he is making nonsense of a large part of the speech of his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

The whole of the great pyramid of the Foreign Secretary's speech was based on minute, arithmetical calculations. It worked out the details, in seconds and minutes, of the timing of the Transport Bill, compared with this Bill. The whole of this edifice falls to the ground under the calculations of the Leader of the House. He has not only made himself remarkably silly, but has made the Foreign Secretary remarkably silly, as well.

All this was summed-up long ago by the greatest Conservative statesman there has ever been, Mr. Disraeli. He said. "Like all weak Governments, they resort to strong measures." That is the policy being pursued by the present Government. The Leader of the House, having made a total failure in the allocation of the time of the House, having dispatched the House of Commons for a long holiday, and having miscalculated all the time he would have afterwards, now comes along and denies to the Opposition their rights, because of his own mismanagement. That is the most charitable explanation we can make of the Government's proposals.

This is the most modest Amendment that I ever hope to see on the Order Paper. It is the most modest proposal that has ever been put by any Opposition to any Government in the history of this country. But our great, strong Leader of the House—who cannot answer questions when it is his duty to answer questions, who cannot organise the affairs of this House, who cannot add up the days and see that he has sufficient time left over, who sends the House off for a couple of months and afterwards finds that he has to destroy Parliamentary rights which have existed for generations—thinks that he now has to make a stand, or, in a sedentary position, make a pretence of a bold stand, and says to himself, "Think what would happen to the national finances if we were to have another quarter of an hour's debate on the Bill."

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have been remarkably silent for the last half hour or so. I hope that no hon. Gentleman opposite will participate in the rest of the discussion on the Guillotine Motion and dare to insult the Opposition about wasting time when the person who has wasted the time of the House during the last few months, and particularly the last few hours, more than any other hon. Member is the Leader of the House himself.

3.52 a.m.

Mr. H. Morrison

Before the Leader of the House rises—I observed that he was about to do so—I want to make a final appeal to him. In the discussion on this Amendment we have already used up all the time that could conceivably have been lost later in the day and next week if the Amendment had been accepted. It is time the Leader of the House pronounced upon the Amendment, and I earnestly hope that he will see his way to concede the point.

As has been said, it is a very modest proposal. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) made his case in moving the Amendment and other hon. Friends of mine have made the case since. We know what happens on Thursdays with the business statement, and we do not want hon. Members not to be able to put supplementary questions about the business of the House, for it is a vital part of our proceedings on Thursday afternoons.

If a statement is made about agriculture, it is bound to excite a good deal of interest in the House, and it is legitimate that hon. Members, not only those from agricultural divisions but also those from consumers' divisions, should be able to put their supplementary questions without feeling that they are killing the debate on the National Health Service Bill.

This is not asking the Government for much. The Government will not lose any material time by it. I hope that, in response to the appeal that we have made, the Minister of Health will be able to give us this concession, for it is reasonable in itself, does not hurt the Government and will at any rate indicate that to this extent the Government have been forthcoming in accepting the Amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman can now accept the Amendment and that thereupon we can make further progress.

3.54 a.m.

Mr. Crookshank

My first words must be to apologise to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) that I was not here to hear him move the Amendment. He seemed to make some play out of my absence. I am sorry that I was not here, but I was out for the first time, and for only six minutes, since 3.30 p.m. As I had had neither tea nor dinner I felt entitled to get something then. I missed his speech, and I apologise. I never like to miss anybody's speech, but, unfortunately, one sometimes has to be away.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) thinks that he is televising at the moment, but when he says that by what we are doing here the Government are destroying Parliamentary rights which have existed for generations he really has let his tongue run away with himself, or else he was not here during an earlier part of the debate when various precedents going back into the 80's were cited for a time-table Motion. It really does not do any good to exaggerate matters in that way.

However, we are on the small Amendment about whether or not any time lost at our next Sitting—if any time were lost—should be made up in some other way. The first thing I would point out is that no saving clause of this kind has ever, in fact, appeared in any time-table Motion. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is so. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen can take it from me that that is so.

Mr. H. Morrison

May I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman? I do not recall a time-table Motion in which the limits of time—for example, for Clause 1 an hour and a half—were so small that the bulk of the time could be so easily wiped out on special business such as that tomorrow afternoon. I think that that is the special characteristic of this Motion.

Mr. Crookshank

All I was saying was that this particular saving has not appeared in previous time-tables. That was all that I was putting before the House. I gather that the anxiety of hon. Gentlemen is that there will be a lot of statements. We were threatened by an hon. Member with possibly an hour or two of questions on business. I do not know why he should let his imagination fly away like that, because I cannot believe that Mr. Speaker would allow a couple of hours' discussion on a business statement. So I do not think that we need worry about that.

Mr. Morrison

The Prime Minister used to take an hour.

Mr. Crookshank

It is quite true that it is normal for a business statement to be made on Thursdays, but it does not necessarily follow that much time need be spent upon that. It really very much lies in the hands of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes, it does. I am only speaking from my experience during the last few weeks. It is hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who pile up questions on every kind of topic on Thursdays. If they like, for once in a way, not to raise every question under the sun tomorrow, so much more time will be saved. But it does rest really with them. It is no good making faces, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) is doing. It does rest with them very largely how much time is spent on any statement I may make about business next week. Such statements are, after all, made for the convenience of the House, and have always been made for that purpose.

Then I am told that a great deal has appeared in the newspapers—of which I have no knowledge: I have been sitting here, not reading the newspapers—about a possible statement tomorrow. I have not read anything about it in the newspapers. I am only repeating what I have heard in the speeches. The hon. Member for Devonport complains because I waited to listen to the speeches instead of answering at once. But from what I have heard there seems to be an impression, gathered from the Press, or somewhere else, or got from somebody, or from a rumour—I do not know—about a statement about agriculture tomorrow. It was arising out of that that the Prime Minister said that he would do what he could to help the House.

All I can say is that I shall do my best to help the House—if it can be done. Sometimes, of course, a statement is an agreed statement and has to be coincided—if I may use the expression. Supposing there were a Foreign Office statement tomorrow. I have no knowledge of one, but one does know that it is impossible sometimes to change an arrangement to make a statement. I shall do my best to try to see that no statement will be made tomorrow—if that can be done. [HON. MEMBERS: "Today."] I beg pardon. It is today. I apologise. I had forgotten how long we have been here. We all want to do our best to assist the business tomorrow, to get the maximum time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Today."] Today, yes. I am so sorry. If one never leaves the Chamber one always thinks of it as the same day. If one goes out for refreshment at midnight one has a chance to realise the day has changed. Some are lucky enough to make that break. If any statement is projected—I do not know of one—