§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the failure of the Government so to arrange their programme of business as to enable this House adequately to consider their proposals for legislation with results contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, detrimental to the privileges of the Commons and derogatory to the legislative status of this House.The Motion is an expression of general opinion, seeking to place on record the view of the House as to its rights as a legislative assembly and has regard to the undoubted financial privileges of the House. As the House knows, it arises from our experience in connection with a highly controversial Bill—the Transport Bill—which is now going through Parliament and is nearing the Royal Assent.
The Government, situated as they are with a small Parliamentary majority, ought to consider whether or not they should embark upon large-scale highly controversial legislation. It is difficult for a Government with a small majority to go in for substantial legislation of a highly controversial character. If such a Government does that, it is almost inevitable that it will be driven into the methods by which the Transport Bill was handled in its earlier stages in this House, by a Guillotine which was clamped down upon us, and terminated by another Guillotine on the Amendments of the House of Lords in a form which is utterly unprecedented in Parliamentary history.
Therefore, the best way for the Government to avoid this kind of thing is to avoid highly controversial legislation. That has been pointed out in the House before. We are not illogical about it, because whilst we had a big majority in 1945–50, we brought in highly controversial legislation and big Bills, but when we were reduced to a small majority of six, we realised our situation and we did not bring in substantial Bills of controversial legislation. That is a natural democratic consequence of the voice of the electors, and we had to do the best that we could in the circumstances obtaining.
215 I submit that it would be wiser for the Government to learn that lesson and not try to do things in this Parliament which may or may not be right in the case of a Government with a working majority on the merits of the case but which it is certainly not right for a Government with a small, narrow majority to seek to undertake.
It is inevitable that in that situation the Opposition are exceptionally powerful, for the Government have a small majority upon which to rely. The power of the Opposition is greater than in the case of an Opposition where the Government have a substantial majority, and all these considerations should be taken into account when the Government are considering their legislative programme. If they do not do so, either they will get into a muddle with their legislative programme—which, in fact, the Government have done—or having got into a muddle, or being particularly dogmatic and doctrinaire, they will find themselves resorting to methods of getting their way in Parliament which are in spirit contrary to British constitutional practice.
There are two essentials in the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament. One essential principle is that the House of Commons should be upheld, not as the sole legislative authority but, at the end of the day, as the predominant legislative authority. The proof of that doctrine, which has been affirmed by Parliament over the years, is to be found first in the Parliament Act, 1911, which enabled this House to enforce its will in matters of legislation upon the other House. That was reaffirmed by the later Parliament Act, which stiffened the provisions of the 1911 Act and which was passed under the auspices of the Labour Government of 1945–50.
Therefore, there can surely be no challenge of the principle that this House is, not the exclusive, but in the end the predominant legislative Parliamentary authority. That surely is right in principle, too, because we are elected by the people. We represent constituencies and we are subject to election or to rejection at the will of the people. Clearly it is right that this House and not 216 the other place should have a big and final voice on legislative action.
Our challenge on this point is that the Government have taken steps whereby the legislative powers in this House have been belittled and even diminished. In effect, the power of legislative initiative and authority have been undermined by the procedure the Government adopted, so that to that extent they have passed from this House to another Chamber altogether. [Laughter.] All that hon. Gentlemen opposite can do when that statement is made—a statement which is true—is laugh at it. They like it, and believe that it is a great joke that legislative authority should have passed from this House to another place.
That is the first principle. It cannot be denied that, because of the Parliament Act of 1911 and the later one of the Labour Government—nor should it be denied by hon. Gentlemen opposite—the principal legislative authority has got to be this House, even though the other House can contribute much to legislative matters, and particularly as long as it does not get into hot politics, in the field of revision, where I agree it has done good work. I say that the course which has been pursued by the Government, and which may be pursued again, is one which denies that principle.
Let it be remembered that over the whole period of the Labour Government's life from 1945 to 1950, when we had our great majority, there were only three Guillotines, and there have been three Guillotines within 18 months of this Government's life, with its small and narrow majority in this House. When we had a small majority we did not bring in a Guillotine Motion once. Therefore, my first principle is that this House should have the final legislative predominance on balance between the two Houses.
My second point—and this surely is vital—is that the House of Commons is the authority as between the two Houses in financial matters. This is not a discovery of 1911. It was affirmed in the Parliament Act, 1911, which brought in the provision whereby, if Mr. Speaker certifies a Bill to be a money Bill, it cannot be interfered with by their Lordships' House.
§ Mr. Morrison
No, but I am coming to that, because financial matters did arise on the Transport Bill. At the moment I am dealing with the bigger and larger issues as to the financial rights of this House. It was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) that the doctrine goes back a very long time indeed, and Erskine May declares on page 780 as follows:The modern practice in respect of the Commons' financial privileges is based upon the resolution of 1671 'That in all aids given to the king by the Commons, the rate or tax ought not to be altered by the Lords'; and that of the 3rd July, 1678, 'That all aids and supplies, and aids to His Majesty in Parliament, are the sole gift of the Commons; and all bills for the granting of any such aids and supplies ought to begin with the Commons; and that it is the undoubted and sole right of the Commons to direct, limit, and appoint in such bills the aims, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations, and qualifications of such grants, which ought not to be changed or altered by the House or Lords'.That is the big doctrine, and I admit that in relation to the Transport Bill, except in so far as it was the case, that public, Treasury or Exchequer money was actually involved in at least one of the Amendments, it is a fundamental doctrine that this House is the financial authority in Parliament. Directly the Government or a transitory majority of the House starts to play about with the rights of the House in financial matters, one does not know how far it will go in due course, and it may begin to damage those very principles to which I have referred.
I will return to the narrow issue in due course, but I wish to affirm at this moment that we should be at the end of the day the predominant authority in any matters of finance in the broadest sense of the term, and in a considerable amount of detail we should uphold our rights and protect our privileges. Otherwise, the rights of the citizens and the rights of the House under the Constitution may be endangered.
It is not only the duty and the right of the House of Commons to uphold these privileges, but it is the duty and the right of any British Government to uphold them, too, whether it be a Conservative Government or a Labour Government. If any Government depart from those principles or coerce the 218 Houses of Commons into such a situation that it cannot exercise its rights and it acquiesces in giving up its financial rights, then that Government, which are acting contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, deserve the censure of the House, which is what we are proposing to bring upon the Government today.
In those circumstances it is essential that the House should be in a position effectively to discharge its legislative functions. If anything be done to make it impossible for this House to discharge those functions, then that is an assault upon the rights of the peoples' elected representatives.
Let us take the case of a Bill which originates in another place—because we are not concerned with the Transport Bill only in this debate today. This is a wide debate, as it ought to be. If the legislative process begins in the House of Lords, the Bill goes through its Second Reading, Committee stage. Report stage, and Third Reading there, and their Lordships can even amend a Bill on Third Reading, which we cannot do. In due course the Bill comes here. The interesting thing is that if the Bill orginates in another place the full rights of this House are preserved. It can reject the Measure or amend it, or it can make substantial changes in the provisions of the Bill.
The Amendments go back to their Lordships for consideration and they have either to accept or amend them or insist upon their opposition. In that case, where the Bill originates in another place, the full rights of the House of Commons are preserved. We can do what we like either through agreement with their Lordships or under the overriding provision of the Parliament Act.
The amazing thing is, to the surprise, I venture to say, of the bulk of the Members of the House, that in the case of a Bill originating here, as this Bill did, we have been put at a disadvantage compared with their Lordships because, while the Bill originated in this House, another place was used as a legislative stooge by Her Majesty's Government to evade the House of Commons and to prevent us from discharging our duties properly.
In all these matters one must take account of the composition of another place. It is all very well for the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite to 219 argue that in the case of the Transport Bill of 1947 a large number of Amendments were made in another place. It is true that they were, but many of them were Government Amendments, a large number of a drafting character, and many were put in to meet undertakings made in this House. It is a very different situation when another place, with its large and effective Conservative majority, makes Amendments which then come here for consideration.
It is probable that the Conservative Party in this House will agree with the Conservative majority in another place. That is natural and is to be expected. Of course, while there is never any admission of an effective contact between the Conservative Party and another place, I should be surprised if there are not very sensible arrangements for collaboration and co-operation between the Conservative Party in the two Houses. Indeed, I do not complain about that, as long as there is not a conspiracy against the popular will of the representatives of the people in this place.
It is a totally different matter, however, when a Conservative Government brings in a Bill, takes it to a Conservative House at the other end of the corridor and promotes Amendments. That, indeed, raises the rights of the Labour Opposition in a much more acute form than in the case of a Labour Government bringing in a Bill, sending it to another place with its Conservative majority, getting Amendments through and, when it comes back to this House, it is 1,000 to one—or, at least 10 to one—that the Conservative Party in this House will agree with those Amendments. It is a materially different situation as regards the relationship between the two Houses and the rights of the Opposition in this House according to whether a Labour or Conservative Government is in office.
I am not asking for privileges for a Labour Opposition; but I am asking that we should be given facilities not only for the fair discharge of our rights as a political body, and as a controversial political body, but a fair opportunity to discharge one of the essential points of the British constitution, namely, that we should discharge our constitutional rights as Her Majesty's Opposition in the House of Commons. It is profoundly important that nothing should be done to alter that.
220 So it is a different situation when there is a Conservative majority here and a Conservative majority in another place as compared with when there is a Labour majority in this House and the same Conservative majority in the other place. For the Conservative Government can use another place as initiators of important legislative provisions in a Bill which, to use your own words, Mr. Speaker, has passed, has gone through its Third Reading here and cannot be reconsidered because it is finished. It goes there, and thereby the power of initiative, the power of substantial legislative action, passes outside the control of the House of Commons and enters into the House of Lords.
If that is followed by a Guillotine on the Amendments of the House of Lords, then indeed this place is put absolutely out of effective action within its essential legislative field. And not only legislatively in the ordinary sense but. as we saw, we were absolutely prohibited from picking and choosing even about admittedly privileged Amendments where financial considerations were involved. So this was a tendency to single chamber Government, and the wrong sort of single chamber Government, too.
If a Bill originates in this House, it is necessary that we should not lose our power of Amendment or revision to another place. I do not deny the right of another place to put up Amendments to this House: obviously one could not do so under the two-House system of Parliament. However, I do say that, in so far as another place amends a Bill—and particularly when the Amendments are substantial and material—it is profoundly important that the House of Commons should have an opportunity, not only specifically to challenge or to approve each of their Lordships' Amendments, but that we should have proper and ample opportunity to promote Amendments to the Amendments themselves for the consideration of Parliament. Otherwise, it can mean that big and substantial legislative changes in a Bill can be made in another place on their initiative, or can be incited by the Conservative Government of the day, with the result that this House is completely knocked out of action and thereby our elementary rights as a legislative assembly are to that extent destroyed.
221 It did not stop there. We were specifically denied our financial rights. There were provisions in the Amendments which had financial significance of some concern—at any rate, sufficiently significant for Mr. Speaker to have to order them to be specially entered upon the Journals of the House. Yet we were denied every opportunity to insist upon our privileges. We were not able to consider each of these challenges to privilege on its own and on its merits. There was nothing done effectively before the Amendments were carried by the House, and then we were told that the House, having carried the Amendments, had waived its privilege.
That really will not do. I am not attacking Mr. Speaker, but it was the consequence of the Allocation of Time Order that Mr. Speaker considered that he had to give that Ruling. It really is terrible when such a situation arises whereby nothing is possible to the House of Commons on a matter of financial privilege until the Amendments have been actually voted on by the House, and then all that happens is that something is entered upon the Journals of the House.
That is going a long way, and if this kind of thing is to continue there will be a grave and serious encroachment upon our Parliamentary practices. Indeed it has already happened. Looking at it not from a party but from a Parliamentary point of view, as one who tries to be a good Parliamentarian—which I hope I am—it worries me very much that this grave encroachment should have occurred at all. It is not only that.
If this procedure goes on—as, of course, it can go on under this Government or under a Labour Government, somewhat adapted and in different circumstances—the House is denied the opportunity of voting on the merits of each case. Could anything be more preposterous? Could any Parliamentary proceeding be more absurd than when this House, on that Monday night, was faced with the necessity of saying "Yes" or "No" to a mass of Amendments from another place, our own Labour Amendments proposed to the Amendments being wiped out completely with no chance to vote on them?
What was the situation? We were unable, as we had been on the earlier Guillotine, to vote for and against specific 222 Amendments. We were called upon to vote for or against the lot. Some of them we agreed with, but many we did not agree with and we wanted to vote upon the merits. Could there be anything more preposterous in the proceedings of any Parliamentary institution in the world than that hon. Members should be forced to vote on a lot of Amendments of varying merits and varying qualities "Aye" or "No" or to abstain? This is totalitarianism. It is totalitarianism. It is exactly what Hitler did with the Reichstag. I am really shocked at the limited vision, the narrow-mindedness, of hon. Members opposite, who are supposed to be constitutionalists, deliberately walking in and doing things of that sort which they might have deep cause to regret in future years, although I hope they will not.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon) rose—
§ Mr. Morrison
If I can find a Liberal-National coming to the rescue of the British Constitution, who am I to stand in his way?
§ Mr. Renton
The right hon. Gentleman says that full opportunity is required to discuss Lords Amendments. Would he say how many hours of discussion he considers would have been necessary to discuss the Amendments to the Bill?
§ Mr. Morrison
In view of the terms of the Government Amendment, I think the hon. Member might have assumed that I would be dealing with that point in due course. I am always happy to give way, but I am becoming a little tired of giving way to him, because his interventions are somewhat irrelevant to the point under discussion. Let me assure him that the point will not be overlooked in the course of my argument.
I assert, and I think I carry my hon. Friends with me, and I ought to carry every hon. Member with me, that if the Amendments of another place are substantial or material, particularly if new Clauses are involved—and they were involved in this procedure—then that is the initiating of new legislation of a substantial order. I do not say that that should never be done, but I say that if it is done it is right and proper and elementary that this House should have substantially—I use the word relatively —the same rights in the examination of 223 that legislation as if it had originated in this House on Committee or Report stage. That is exactly what is now in the process of being denied. We must have the same power of revision, approval or rejection as if the Amendments had been made in this House or the legislative provisions concerned had originated in this House. Otherwise it means that to that extent we are going to single chamber government, I think of the wrong sort.
§ Mr. Morrison
I agree with my hon. Friend—non-elected. That is why I said it is of the wrong sort. We are denying to ourselves the discharge of our duties and responsibilities of legislative examination, revision and approval or otherwise. I say that, if anything, we ought to have greater rights when Amendments come from another place, because if Amendments are inserted in Committee or on the Report stage in this House they might affect—I only say "might"—whether a Bill gets a Third Reading or not.
Suppose the changes were of such a character that the House, on reflection, came to the conclusion that the Amendments had made it a bad Bill. The House could then throw the Bill out on Third Reading. If the Amendments come from the other end of the corridor, however bad they make the Bill, we have already given the Bill a Third Reading. In your language, Mr. Speaker, the Bill has had a Third Reading and has passed. It is finished, for the time being, as far as this Chamber is concerned.
Far from it being the case that if Amendments are made in another place, that should lessen our rights, if anything it should increase the rights of the House of Commons. An Allocation of Time Order which forces the House to vote on Lords Amendments as a whole—and that is what this Allocation of Time Order did —destroys at least three rights of the House of Commons. I dare say it will be possible to think of others, but certainly these three rights are destroyed.
First of all, it destroys the right to decide Amendments on their individual merits. When we are landed in a Division—although, of course, we are not landed in one; we can abstain or not challenge the Division at all, but that makes a fool of this place—when we are 224 forced into a Division, if there is one, where we say "Aye" or "No" to a whole of a mass of Amendments en bloc, that is a terrible situation which ought not to occur. I therefore say that an Allocation of Time Order of the kind which we are now developing, and which may recur, destroys that right of the House to decide Amendments on their individual merits.
Secondly, we were denied the right of this House to amend the proposed Amendments. The Allocation of Time Order denied us the right to consider proposed Amendments to the Lords Amendments. Thirdly, and not least serious, it denied us the right to waive or not to waive our privilege in financial matters.
It may be said that when the Liberal Government of 1906, of which the Prime Minister was a member, introduced a Bill, and when the Lords Amendments, which were destructive Amendments, came here, the Government moved to disagree with the whole of the Amendments. I do not like that too much, but there was more to be said for it than there was in this case, because the Liberal Government knew that that was the end of the Bill. There were mixed views about the Bill at the time, and to some that may have been not entirely unwelcome. At any rate, the Government knew that the Lords had ruined the Bill and they knew that rejecting the Lords Amendments, in the phrase of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, as a "globular Motion" in effect meant that the Bill could not make progress.
But this is another matter. This is a Bill which, as far as one can see, is going on the Statute Book, so that it is a different situation altogether. I say that the rights which I have indicated are not only rights which the Opposition should have the power ultimately to exercise; they are rights which every hon. Member on both sides of the House should have the right to exercise. I know that in the days of the Labour Government some of my hon. Friends did not agree with some of the Lords Amendments, and said so; and I never challenged their right to question Lords Amendments, even when they had been promoted by the Labour Government at the time.
I beg of hon. Members on both sides of the House to uphold their rights and 225 to recognise that a Guillotine which puts Lords Amendments as a whole makes it impossible so to do, because a Guillotine which puts them as a whole and wipes out our proposed Amendments to the Lords Amendments makes selective decision impossible, makes Amendments to the Amendments impossible and destroys the financial rights of the House. One vote settles the whole thing, and I say that is farcical, unconstitutional and absolutely contrary to British Parliamentary tradition. It is essentially totalitarian in principle and practice.
Let there be no mistake about our financial rights. I have indicated to the House the basic privilege about money, which dates from 1678, and indeed earlier than that. Really in that case I do not think that even this Government have got to the point at which they would allow the Lords materially to amend the Finance Bill, or to amend it at all, although it has to be remembered that not all Finance Bills are certified as money Bills. There is a declaration in Erskine May to this effect:Whereas, in the case of any other Bill. the Commons feel themselves at liberty to acceptan Amendmentwhen they choose, with no more than a special record of their reasons for waiving their privilege.But that is to accept an Amendment; it is a specific decision. There was no declaration in Erskine May contemplating that the House would be required to waive its privilege as a consequence of an Allocation of Time Order. It is the case, according to Erskine May, that the action open to the Commonswhen the Speaker has called their attention to the breach of privilege, is …either to disagree with the amendments on the ground of privilege, or to agree with them, waiving privilege pro hac vice."This clearly means that each case is considered in turn and upon its merits. It is not a question of specifically putting to the House the issue of the waiving of the privilege, but the attention of the House is called to it and in each case the House has an opportunity of saying that we insist or do not insist upon our privileges. I have looked up the records and taken advice, and I find it is the case that there is no precedent at all for agreeing to the Lords Amendments, privilege or no 226 privilege, in a single question. This is the first time that has been done and it is an additional sin that financial privilege should have been involved as well.
Of course, it may be the case that, when a main Amendment had been agreed to, consequential Amendments could go through in a block. That may well be right, but this is the first instance of the House agreeing en bloc to Lords Amendments put to us, proposed, or carried through. On the question of waiving privilege itself, it is declared in Erskine May that:The Commons, when they so wish, 'waive privilege' in individual cases.Privilege cannot mean anything else than consideration of individual cases and, if we cannot consider individual cases, the privilege has gone. We are sunk, and that was what happened the other day. The Guillotine destroys all these things. It may be that a special entry is made, but it is a farcical special entry, because the House have not had an opportunity of considering them on their merits.
We have taken the earliest opportunity of challenging this procedure because it is capable of creating, and has created, grave abuse on the part of this Government. It is capable of creating much more serious abuse on the part of Governments of one colour or another in the future. There has been abuse; this was an abuse. It was not only an abuse which I think was deliberate in the circumstances of the case, but it was partly owing to the incompetence of the Government, and that does not make it any better.
The Government took a long time to make up their minds about this Transport Bill. There was more than one Bill and more than one state of mind. Indeed, material changes in policy and in state of mind were taking place right through the Committee and Report stages. That is why we had these Amendments before us. The Government have been incompetent, and it does not comfort me any more that a Government which have done things with constitutional wickedness, as they have, should also have found themselves driven to do so as a result of their incompetence as well. Neither comforts me, and both those things have happened.
The Government are to move an Amendment to this Motion. It is typically sweeping and wipes out the 227 whole Motion, substituting an attack on the Opposition. The Amendment is based on the assumption that the Opposition were making legislation impossible. That is not true; we were not making legislation impossible. We were reasonably and fairly discharging not only our Parliamentary rights but our Parliamentary duties and responsibilities. It was inevitable that we should raise questions of substance for two reasons. One was that the Amendments from another place themselves raised issues of substance.
But there was another reason, and a very good one. It was that we were subjected to a brutal Guillotine in this House when the Bill was going through the House. It was a very bad Guillotine, with the result that there was a whole mass of issues which my hon. Friends and I were unable to raise because we were not permitted to do so. Even so, we disciplined ourselves and instituted, so to speak, a voluntary Guillotine within the official Guillotine. But what a silly thing it is to say that we were talking and obstructing all we could. The Chief Whip said much the opposite the other day; he said that things were going much too peacefully and we were not in earnest in opposition to the Bill.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)
That was before these Lords Amendments.
§ Mr. Morrison
There is no pleasing the Chief Whip anyway; I do not know what he wants. Let him think about it and drop me a note. I call the attention of the House to c. 1009 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 21st April. There it will be seen that the Minister moved the Motion to agree with the Lords in a certain Amendment, and he did so in less than half a column of HANSARD. Let me give this example of so-called obstruction and delaying tactics. It is all in less than a column. Let me give an example of the terrible Opposition wasting time. The right hon. Member moved the Motion for agreement in less than half a column and then the OFFICIAL REPORT proceeds:Mr. H. MORRISON: We are much obliged for the clear explanation which has been given. We think that it is a reasonable Amendment, and the next, I gather, is really consequential on it. I advise my hon. Friends to agree to it forthwith.Question put, and agreed to.228Lords Amendment made.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1009.]What a reward it is when we have been doing things like that on the Lords Amendments for Ministers to come here and charge us with conduct destroying the responsibility and good work of the House of Commons. It really is utterly ridiculous.
There is also an assumption in the Amendment that we were unwilling to reach an accommodation. The assumption behind the Amendment is that we were making the legislative work of the the House of Commons impossible. That is not true.
§ Mr. Morrison
I hope the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) will not tempt me to discuss his personal habits, because that would not be right. A Sunday newspaper might get to know about it and heaven knows what would happen.
There is this assumption that we refused to reach any accommodation and were in fact making it impossible for the House to do their work. It is not true. I say we had every right and duty to examine the Lords Amendments and every right and duty to move reasonable Amendments to those Amendments and discuss them. The Leader of the House said that we appeared to be taking an hour and a quarter, or an hour and three quarters, on each Amendment, but that is not very much. Quite a number of them were put without the Closure being moved at all. It is, therefore, an unfair and un-discriminating charge.
Of course, there came a time when the leaders of the Government asked us to see them with a view to seeing whether we could reach an accommodation. That is ordinarily done on these occasions. We made an offer that we would finish it in three days, each day finishing at 11 o'clock. The Leader of the House reported his part of the offer to us. He offered two days. At the end of the day it was not a question of 90 more hours but a question of one Parliamentary day, finishing at 11 o'clock. That was all. Really, it is a silly Government that does a terrible thing like this—it is a terrible thing—all about one Parliamentary day; and the Government did not even save that day but lost it with this Motion of censure.
229 The Government have lost their reputation; they have lost their Parliamentary character; they have lost their temper, and they have lost their day. It is a silly thing to do, and is an additional piece of evidence of sheer incompetence by the leaders of the Government, including the Prime Minister himself; indeed, as one of my hon. Friends says, especially he, because he came down here in flamboyant mood one night, determined to be interrupted. He shouted abusive and cheeky sentences at us and paused, for the purpose of having ironical cheers come back at him from this side of the House.
He lost his temper. Prime Ministers do it now and again. All of them have done it in their time, except, I believe, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I advise the Prime Minister not to do it, because he will only get into trouble and do things that in his better moments, which are rare but still happen now and again, I am sure he will regret and deplore, as I hope he will this matter. We made an offer. I am not talking about 90 hours, but about three days, which was reasonable, and there was only one day in dispute, and that day is now lost to the Government.
Therefore, we think it right that the House of Commons, not only from any party point of view but from the point of view of Parliamentary decency and Parliamentary rights, should be asked to declare that the Government's conduct has been scandalous in this matter and that it has been incompetent as well and deserves the censure which it is my honour to move this afternoon.
§ 4.34 p.m.
The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crook-shank)
I beg to move, to leave out from the first "the" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:action of the Opposition designed unduly to delay legislation by attempting, on consideration of Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill, to reopen the general principles of a Bill which had already been passed by both Houses of Parliament and condemns such manceuvres as detrimental to the dignity of the House of Commons and the proper discharge of its business.We have all listened with very careful attention to the constitutional principles enunciated by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). He certainly made the best of his case, although he has been making mountains 230 instead of molehills. The general topic which we have to discuss is not this very great constitutional issue, but what has been happening in the House during the last two or three weeks.
I should like to make one point about his opening remarks. He said that no Government which did not have a large majority ought to go in for any controversial legislation. He said that in 1945 his party had a big majority, and they did; and in 1950 they had a majority of only six, and they did not; and our majority is not much more than that, so we should not do it now. That is a very curious line to take. Who is to say what is a reasonable majority for undertaking controversial Measures? I should have thought the answer was—
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose—
§ Mr. Crookshank
I hope I may be allowed to make my speech. I shall give the answer myself, and I do not think I shall want assistance from the hon. and learned Gentleman. Any Government which continues to be sustained by a majority in this House is entitled to go ahead. When the House withdrew its confidence, that Government would no longer be able to legislate.
As I heard the right hon. Gentleman, I had a thought and I have just had it checked and found that my recollection was right. One of the greatest and most controversial Measures was the first Reform Bill and that Bill was passed in a House of 608 Members on 21st March, 1831, by one vote. So I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can go very far on that argument. Last Monday he said, arising out of my speech, that the Opposition would put down a declaratory Motion about the rights of the House— or that they might have to do so. He also said, and he has repeated it just now, that by our action we would not save a day. That seemed to foreshadow some other sort of Motion, hoping that we would give time for it, which, after we had considered it, we have done. But this is not a declaratory Motion. It is a censure Motion and we are therefore entitled to give our reply on the circumstances of the case.
The censure is really contained in the Amendment. It is not upon the Government for their conduct of business, but 231 on the Opposition for obstructing that conduct. We really have a cast-iron case for our efforts—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] —wait for the end of the sentence—to save this House from falling into contempt as a result of the filibustering and delaying tactics so recently used against us. I gave all the facts and figures on Monday and I shall not repeat them. I only ask the House to notice one point. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to pick out one Lords Amendment on which nobody had anything to say and which took only half a column of HANSARD. I would remind him that on 22nd April, after 8½ hours' debate, only five Opposition Amendments to one Lords Amendment had been taken, yet the right hon. Gentleman said that there was no question of the Opposition obstructing or being silly.
On the next day he said that it could not be shown that the Opposition had been filibustering or obstructing. We had then had already some 30 hours on the Lords Amendments. If the right hon. Gentleman really means these things I can only think that he does not know what is meant by obstructing or being silly. We gave the House adequate time to consider the Lords Amendments, but the right hon. Gentleman complains that we did not give the House and the Opposition facilities for the discharge of their duties.
When this matter first came up we announced "one day," and at that time it was considered enough by the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We then offered two days, and in that they acquiesced. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Oh, yes. The other day the right hon. Gentleman opposite tried to make out, because there was no comment when I said "two days," that he did not agree with them. That is not the normal practice in this House. Our normal objective in any given week is as I enunciated it in a similar debate on 4th December—and it was accepted then by the Opposition as being correct—and it is to get the Government business which had been announced, and which, as a result of preliminary talks before the business statement, is agreed to be acceptable, of course within the limits of opposition, to the other side of the House.
232 That is exactly what happened. What the Opposition now take exception to is something quite different. First of all, they objected to the original time-table Motion on the stages of the Bill. Last Monday, finally, and after 30 hours' debate, we fixed a limit of time for the debate on the Lords Amendments. That is what happened. The first Motion was to stop the filibustering on the Bill itself. We had already been threatened in the Second Reading debate with all sorts of horrors from the Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. And from the Opposition behaviour earlier in the Session there was very good reason to anticipate obstructive tactics on this Bill. We had been warned, and in the event our anticipations were fulfilled.
There was something else, however. There was to be a terrific campaign in the country. That also fizzled out, because if Members care to look at the Second Reading debate, where it is all laid out, they will see how a mass demonstration at Wolverhampton was attended by about 200 people instead of 700 expected, how another at Peterborough, where I believe the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) was the speaker, 30 attended, and at another at Chesterfield 50; and that at delegate meeting of the Scottish T.U.C. and the Scottish Labour Party, in Edinburgh, the first speaker said:It is depressing to some of us who are trying to carry on this campaign to find that such an important conference as this is not better attended.The fact was that the campaign in the country completely fizzled out, and because of their failure to whip up a campaign in the country—every pinchbeck Napoleon knows that when one does not get unity in the ranks—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I think it is reasonably allied to the reason why we are having the Motion of censure, which states:adequately to consider their proposals for legislation….
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I understood that the right hon. Gentleman was bringing out these points to justify his case.
§ Mr. Crookshank
That is exactly the purpose of these remarks, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
I was saying that it was largely the result of the failure of that campaign that it was transferred in the final stages—
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was coming on later.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear anyone say so, and it would be rather unreasonable. I have not spoken very much.
§ Mr. Crookshank
First I am told to keep quiet and then my right hon. Friend is told the same. I do not know how the debate will proceed.
If I may be allowed to develop my argument, I was saying that one of the results of this complete failure of the campaign outside was that when it came to these final proceedings on the Bill the Opposition obviously thought that this was the moment to try to make a demonstration. As I was saying, when the ranks are divided the best thing is to try to get them together to attack the enemy, even if it is for a poor cause and in a sham battle. It does apparently serve some purpose. Therefore, the Opposition took the completely unprecedented action of obstructing the Lords Amendments to a 234 Bill. I sometimes wonder whether it was not due to the appendix of the Leader of the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] If he had been here it would not have been necessary for the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) to show his paces.
For all that, we put the original Motion on the Paper, it was in order, the House accepted it and the House, therefore, justified us in having put it down. The same thing is true about the Motion of Monday last week, of which complaint is made. It was inevitable, after the inordinate delays we had had. As a matter of fact I am sure that if they really revealed all their secrets, many hon. Members in all parts of the House were not at all surprised to see it on the Order Paper and probably had expected that it, or something like it, would have appeared long before. Therefore, again, that Motion was in order, the House accepted it and our action was thereby justified.
There was the point—my right hon. Friend can go into more detail about specific instances—about Privilege. The Motion was passed last week only after Mr. Speaker had made perfectly clear what was the position. Everyone was fully aware of what was the consequence of his action of voting for or against that Motion: by our passing it Privilege was waived. I understand that the appropriate entries were made in the Journal of the House. It does not affect the future action of the House in any way; it is just as free in future as it ever was before.
The fact that no question was to be raised about that aspect of the matter could be assumed in that the Opposition put down no Amendment to the Lords Amendments disagreeing with any one. They were not, therefore, prepared to insist upon Privilege. It was a reasonable assumption, in the circumstances, that Privilege was to be waived; the Opposition did not put down a single point to which they took exception.
We do not think that any such Motion as we put down should be put down without the strongest possible case, but we feel, and we know, that on this occasion we had just that. The fact is that the Opposition did not realise that that Motion could be put down. They thought there would have to be a whole day spent on a time-table, instead of 235 which there was only a couple of hours. They thought they were going to make us lose an extra day in that way.
All measures for curtailing debate, from the Closure upwards, are repugnant to everybody, and are resorted to only with very deep regret by any Government—[An HON. MEMBER: "Crocodile tears."] Were they crocodile tears when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South used to come here with his Guillotine Motions? Of course not. It is done with the utmost regret, but whether such Motions are put down must depend on the circumstances of each particular case.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. Crookshank
No, I would prefer to make my own speech for once.
As I was saying, whether such Motions are put down must depend on the circumstances of each particular case, and we ought not to try to lay down any general principles on how, when and where time-table Motions should be resorted to. I made our case the other day to the satisfaction of the majority of the House, and all these words which the right hon. Gentleman has imported into his speech and which the Opposition have imported into their Motion about "contrary to the spirit of the Constitution" are really only their version of the results of what happened; I do not accept it as a correct description, or anywhere near it.
The fact was that the Amendments which were the cause of this prolonged debate were largely concessions to the other side of the House. We could—my right hon. Friend will deny this if I am wrong—have avoided a great deal of this trouble if we had not offered these concessions in another place. Is this the lesson? Are we now to learn never to make any offers to the other side—never? Is that to be the logical conclusion? I hope not, because it would suit neither party and would certainly not have suited the Opposition when they were in power.
The right hon. Gentleman used to talk a great deal in the early days of the last Parliament about streamlining the procedure of the House, and I see now he is describing this in a speech on Saturday 236 as a "constitutional outrage." May I remind him of what he did say to the House:…let not the Conservative Party "—naturally, he said that because he was speaking at us—take the view that if anybody makes changes in Parliamentary procedure with a view to Parliament becoming a more expeditious and efficient servant of the nation therefore he is upsetting the British Constitution … Merely because we probably shall make some changes in Parliamentary precedent let not the hon. Gentleman work himself up into a state"—the right hon. Gentleman himself is getting near to doing that today—and declare that the whole fundamentals of the British Constitution are about to be undermined. That is only a rather wild way of saying that he does not agree with what we are proposing to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th August, 1945; Vol. 413, c. 1049.]I think that puts the "constitutional outrage" in this context in a better setting than he drew. It is a favourite phrase of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), in his book, described the boards of nationalised industries which he himself helped to set up as being "constitutional outrages." He will find the reference on page 98, I think.
The fact is that all this sound and fury and endless talks has been with the object of impeding the putting into effect of the will of Parliament and of the people. It is not the first time it has been done this Session. There was the Army and Air Force Bill, 17½ hours; the Public Works Loan Bill, 10 hours; the Expiring Laws Bill, 13½ hours. May I venture to say this to the House, if it will allow me to do so, in case it may wish to take it to heart.…democracy in this country is very much on its trial, and we have to be very careful that it does not fall into the same disrespect in this country as that into which it fell in most of the countries of Western Europe by the undue exercise of criticism, on trivial points leading to the loss of faith in the capacity of democracy to do the things which are required of it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th October, 1945; Vol. 414, c. 861.]That is just what we have been near to securing in these debates. Those are not my words. They are the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). Perhaps he had better go on repeating them to his party, just as he did to the Parliament of 1945. Beware of undue exercise of criticism on 237 trivial points for fear that we become impotent to do what everybody knows needs doing. That is just where we have got to in this affair.
To talk about reducing the legislative status of this House, as the Motion does, and as the right hon. Gentleman did, is, as he knows, all stuff and nonsense— and more nonsense than stuff, too, I should think. He knows that it is patently absurd. If the right hon. Gentleman and the Opposition think there is something in it—and there is not— it is open to them to rescind the refusal they have given to the invitation of the Government to join in conference to discuss the problems of the House of Lords. They have refused to do that.
What is, however, quite clear is that this Government are not to be censured in the country for the way they have reacted to the methods the Opposition have chosen to obstruct public business. On the contrary. The Government will be praised for putting a limit to such nonsensical and unwarranted proceedings. People outside do not want to see the business of this House degenerate into a farce—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The cheers were just as loud on both sides of the House, so I take it that we are agreed about that.
What the country wants is the adequate ventilation of grievances and a good, healthy, reasonable scrutiny given to legislation as it passes through Parliament. It does not want, as was said by the chorus of frogs in Aristophanes:This obtuse and mighty battleof profound and learned prattle.This is not the first Motion of censure moved this Session even though the Session is only six years old—is only six months old; it is the second—
§ Mr. Crookshank
It certainly did after 30 hours on the Lords Amendments. It is interesting and significant that both these Motions of censure have been confined to matters of Parliamentary procedure. We welcome the converse implied vote of confidence in our foreign policy and in our domestic policy as a whole. There was no formal censure about them. We have had no Motion of 238 censure about housing, for instance. Evidently the quarterly returns published at the week-end have persuaded the Opposition that their earlier doubts about the target of 300,000 houses were needlessly pessimistic. We have had no Motion of censure about taking tea, sweets, and eggs and, later, sugar, and today steel, off the ration—or even providing more red meat. There has been no Motion of censure for our failure to give effect to the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) that there would be a million unemployed last Christmas.
There has been no Motion of censure upon us for keeping the cost of living more steady—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] —for a longer period—[HON. MEMBERS: "And higher."]—than for some years past. There has been no Motion of censure upon us for having increased family allowances or pensions or for improving social service benefits. The Opposition have nothing at all about which to censure us in our conduct of public affairs. Our Administration is successful—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Then why not censure us about it? Our legislation is popular and hon. Gentlemen opposite know it—
Mr. S. Silvenman
On a point of order. I wish to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, though I hope you will rule that the right hon. Gentleman is in order, whether, as a result of what he is now saying, it will be in order, on this Motion, to debate the whole of the conduct and policy of the Government during the last 18 months?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot say as to the future of the debate, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we are at present in order.
Mr. S. Silvenman
That, I am afraid, is not what I asked. I asked whether, as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, which you say are perfectly in order, it will be equally in order for the rest of us, during the course of the debate on this Motion, to debate the whole of the Government's policy and administration and conduct of public affairs during the past 18 months.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that, generally speaking, that is so, but I do not propose to bind myself in advance. How can I?
§ Mr. Crookshank
The trouble is that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) does not seem to be able to distinguish between illustration and the main topic. I was merely pointing out that over the general field of administration the actions of the Government had not been censured at all, and I was pointing out one or two reasons why I thought that had not been done. Instead, we have twice been censured on matters of procedure.
The only hope of the Opposition, so far as I can see, of putting down any Motion which might even be considered by the Government, on reflection, as one of censure, is so to obstruct the Government's business as to force us, in the interests of the House as a whole, to curtail the time for debate and then to complain that we have had to do it. That is the process. The Opposition obstruct business, they force us, very regretfully, to curtail the time allotted, and then they censure us for doing that. But the great issues of the day pass by accepted, and I think that that is a most remarkable fact which should be put on the record.
The right hon. Gentleman was complaining in the final words of his speech that our Amendment, which I am moving, appeared to be a Motion of censure on the Opposition. Of course it is. Their Motion censures us and we put the ball back into the other court and ask the House to censure them, because we believe that all these activities of the Opposition are:…detrimental to the dignity of the House of Commons and the proper discharge of its business.It is for that reason that, with confidence, I ask the House to uphold the action which the Government were compelled by the Opposition to take.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
I regret that the Prime Minister should be leaving the Chamber now. He perfectly well realises that the speech which we have just heard is a complete negation, word for word, of that speech which the Prime Minister himself addressed to the House just three years ago. A little later, perhaps, the House will allow me to call attention to what the Prime Minister said. I hope that in those circumstances the Patronage Secretary will have the courtesy to inform his right hon. Friend that I 240 intend so to do. Perhaps the Prime Minister will then be able to return to the Chamber.
It is unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House did not have time to deal with the Amendment he was moving. He dealt with the need for moving other Motions of censure. He asked why we did not discuss the Government's housing policy. A vote of confidence or otherwise in the Government's housing policy will be passed this week at the local government elections. Let the right hon. Gentleman come back to us then and say that he has got a vote from the country.
I think that my right hon. Friends wore quite right in putting first in their order of preference of all the matters on which they should censure the Government the observation of the practices of democracy. Whatever else can be said on the other matters, they certainly cannot be discussed unless we have the opportunity to discuss them in the House, and under the present procedure, if it is carried to its logical conclusion, it is unlikely that we shall have the opportunity of discussing anything.
The best example of the way in which the right hon. Gentleman's mind works was his complaint that because we took some time in discussing the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill the proceedings of the House degenerated into a farce. If the House decides that a Bill shall be continued only for a year, I should think that the proceedings of the House degenerate into a farce if, year after year, that Bill is passed on the nod. Therefore, a time comes when the House should take an opportunity to consider all these Measures—perhaps not every year, but at any rate at some time.
Those of us who have served on the Select Committee are precluded from making any remarks about the Army Act, but I can say that there is a Committee whose reports are continually before the House showing that the Army Act required to be amended in almost every Clause. Was it, therefore, a waste of time in the House to have attempted to have done that? Was it a waste of time to come to an arrangement with the right hon. Gentleman so that the work could be done upstairs in Committee?
The Leader of the House should have considered the nature and meaning of his 241 Amendment. He is attempting to censure my right hon. and hon Friends for reopening the general principles of the Transport Bill on the Amendments from the Lords. What happened in 1947 when the Amendments from the Lords to the previous Transport Bill came back to the Commons? They were a complete reopening of the proceedings. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are interested and care to turn up the "Financial Times" of 23rd June, 1947, they will see that that newspaper pointed this out and said, in fact, that the Lords had made the greater part of the Bill unworkable. But it came back to be reconsidered upon the general principles.
The right hon. Gentleman's party have a permanent majority in the House of Lords. What he says is, "By the use of our permanent majority in the House of Lords we can reopen any question we like, and the House of Commons can be forced to debate twice any proposition." The Amendments made to the 1947 Transport Measure were almost word for word the same Amendments as those discussed in the Commons. Therefore, they were discussed here on two occasions. The right hon. Gentleman's argument is that so long as his party have a majority in the House of Lords they can insert new principles and then use the Guillotine so that they are not discussed at all.
If that is the use to which the House of Lords is to be put, all my hon. Friends on this side of the House will have to reconsider their attitude towards it. If it is said that when the Conservative Party are in Opposition the House of Lords can be used so that every Amendment they move here can be discussed twice, but when they are in Government the House of Lords will be so used that the Commons cannot discuss Amendments at all, then we may well come to the conclusion on this side that the House of Lords is completely useless and is merely an impediment to democratic government.
The Leader of the House complained of the way in which he had been treated, but that merely flows naturally and obviously from the fact that he failed to secure the majority of the votes in the country. Under the slight weighting of the electoral system that gives him only a 242 small majority in the House. In those circumstances the democratic machine is, fortunately, so adjusted that it is impossible for legislation to be forced through unless the Government are prepared to govern by Guillotine and Closure.
Nothing illustrates more the failure of the Tory Party of their belief in themselves, than the change which has come over that party in the last 70 years on the use of the Closure and the Guillotine. When the Prime Minister's father was one of the great leaders of the Conservative Party he proposed that the party should go to the country on the issue of the introduction of the Closure, and that they should fight it. Why did the Conservative Party in those days take that view? It was because they had confidence in themselves then. They believed that they could win by argument. They thought that if they put their case by argument they had no need for a Closure. They thought that they had so much public opinion behind them that they could get matters through without these artificial aids.
What has happened? There has been a complete change-round. This Government more than any other Government have tried to rule and govern this House by Closure. In the last Session they did not see fit to introduce any of the legislation which they had announced in the King's speech. My right hon. Friends on the Front Bench, and the House as a whole, on the Finance Bill—the one Measure which nearly always must, by its very nature, provoke the use of the Closure—arranged matters so that there was no need at all throughout the whole of the Bill to move the Closure. Yet the Closure was moved on 62 occasions by the Chief Whip or one of his deputies and accepted. That number of times when the Closure was moved and carried is almost twice the number of times when the Closure has ever been moved and carried in any Session of Parliament.
In the last Parliament, when my right hon. Friends were in power and when we had a very small majority, the Closure was moved on only 32 occasions, and 19 of those occasions were on the Finance Bill. The maximum number of times when the Closure was moved in the 1945–46 Session—and that was a very 243 long Session, with much controversial legislation—was only 38, and most of those occasions were, as were the others, on the Finance Bill.
Let us compare the Patronage Secretary with his great predecessor, Lord Margesson. How did Lord Margesson, the great despot, as he was depicted at the time, rule the House in 1938–39? He moved the Closure on only two occasions. In 1937–38, he was a little more brave and moved it on three occasions. In 1936–37, he moved it eight times, and, in the Session 1935–36—the Session in which all the unemployment legislation and matters of that sort, which were highly controversial, were going through, he moved the Closure on only 13 occasions.
There has been a quite different approach to the method of government by the present Government from that which was adopted either by the Labour Government or by the Tory Party when previously in power. It is a quite different method of approaching Parliamentary questions. It is remarkable how easily and how simply hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite adapt themselves to the new situations. They were all shouting and jeering when my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) moved the Closure, and they said that to behave in this way was to behave as if one was a Fascist and as if this was a Fascist kind of technique.
I cannot think that they will react in that way to some words used by the Prime Minister himself, and it is worth while looking back at the guide to conduct which was laid down for Parliament by the Prime Minister when he was in Opposition. Speaking on the Transport Bill and Town and Country Planning Bill (Allocation of Time) Order, in March. 1947, the present Prime Minister said this:When you are dealing with matters of great principle, where one side of the House thinks this and another side of the House thinks that—then we come to a clash where no kind of parley is possible, and it can only be settled by voting. But with Bills of this kind, like Town and Country Planning, Transport, Electricity—all these Bills which affect vast numbers of people, and vast numbers of local authorities, and small and intricate interests that have grown up throughout the country—it surely would be an advantage to the Government to have these Measures a little shaped and a little fitted to the shoulders of the public who are to obey them.244 Perhaps the Minister of Transport will have an opportunity of inquiring from the Prime Minister whether these principles apply only when right hon. Gentlemen opposite are in Opposition, or whether they are of universal application. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:I should have thought that it was not at all wise to proceed on this naked line of saying, ' We have a majority; we are going to get our Measures through, and we will not give time for them to be discussed—we will vote you down.'Is that still the policy? May we have a declaration from the Minister of Transport, when he replies to the debate, on whether he is still in agreement with these sentiments?
There is a particular one about the nature of foreign Parliaments, which perhaps he thinks are shaped better and well fitted for other types of rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "Spain."]
The Prime Minister went on to say:That is reducing legislative Assemblies to mere registration machines of Government will. The whole aspect of the British Constitution has been to the contrary. It has been the shaping of legislation by the action of Parliament, by the influence of minorities from day to day; and even the time factor has had a modifying effect.Is the time factor now no longer to be allowed to have its modifying effect? Is it that delay and obstruction are perfectly all right when right hon. Gentlemen opposite are in Opposition, but quite wrong when they are in Government?
Then the Prime Minister went on to say:That is why, in this island, there is a very great respect for the law, because the laws have been shaped by Government and Opposition.But how can laws be shaped by Government and Opposition if they are merely passed in another place and Guillotined here? We ought really to know whether these principles do or do not apply.
The Prime Minister went on to say, possibly with a future Minister of Transport in mind:It is quite true that in foreign countries they have followed other methods.Of course they have. In the Cortes in Spain, no doubt, things are done in this expeditious manner. As for the Minister 245 of Transport, we know his views on this matter, and, no doubt, he has been an apt pupil of General Franco.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. I do not know General Franco, and that is a fact which I have to point out from time to time to Labour hon. Members of this House and outside who ask me for letters of introduction when they want to visit Spain.
§ Mr. Bing
The Prime Minister went on to say:They have admired our Parliamentary system, but they have not liked it, because of the corresponding inconvenience.That is exactly the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He says, "It is very inconvenient to have a full discussion on the Lords Amendments; look at the time we are held up over them." The Prime Minister continued:They have liked to have assemblies filled with members so long as the Executive will was in no way affected.But what was the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He said, "We must get it through by a certain time." They were prepared, if all hon. Members here agreed, to carry it through by a certain date, which I think was before Easter. The only argument addressed by the Leader of the House to the House, so far as I recall, when the matter was first discussed, was that, unfortunately, the Government had got to get it through before Easter. Is that not exactly what the Prime Minister was talking about and exactly contrary to the argument put forward the year before?
The Prime Minister ended with a very striking phrase, and I will not quote any further after this. I am only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not here, so 246 that he might say whether he agrees or disagrees with himself. He has managed to maintain political leadership of various types at various times, probably by disagreeing with himself. We ought to know whether these words were flung out in a moment of inconsideration, or whether they represent a great constitutional doctrine, expounded by somebody who, after all, has been in this House for far longer than any of us, and whose membership has been interrupted only by unfortunate changes of policy or party from time to time.We have always had the idea that, for good or for ill, the Measures which go out, and which the nation has to obey, should carry with them the sanction of Parliament and should have been shaped by Parliamentary fingers."— [OFFICIAL REPORT. 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 83–4.]Is it suggested that to curtail the Lords Amendments was to shape the matter by Parliamentary fingers? The whole of the Prime Minister's argument, devoted at very considerable length, was to the effect that Parliament is not just a place where the majority decides, but where, after discussion, the very fact that a controversial matter will involve delay leads to change and alteration. If we are to abandon that, well and good, but let us at least know where we are, because I am quite certain that right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House will have very seriously to reconsider their ideas of what is to be the constitutional future of this country and what is to be the relation of this House to another place as a result of what is said here today in this debate.
If, in fact, it turns out that the right hon. Gentleman is going to stick to his point and is to say that there should be no discussion on questions of principle when they come down from the House of Lords when the right hon. Gentleman commands a majority, but that there can, of course, be the fullest discussion whenever Lords Amendments come down when there is a Government which does not correspond to the perpetual, fixed and hereditary majority of another place, then, of course, we on this side of the House will have to think very hard again as to what is to be the future of the House of Lords. In these circumstances, it is very important that in this debate we should have a categorical answer to what are the main issues of the debate. So far, 247 there has not been one word from the right hon. Gentleman as to the meaning of the phrase:to reopen the general principles of a Billwhich appears in his own Amendment.
If it is to be agreed that the general principles of the Bill may not be reopened as a result of an action in another place, then we know where we are. It means that no major Amendments are to be made in the House of Lords by either party. If, on the other hand, it means that right hon. Gentlemen opposite are entitled to make major Amendments in the House of Lords, but that we are not entitled to discuss them in the Commons, then the whole constitutional position as regards the House of Commons is in the melting pot.
I feel that there could have been no more important Motion than that set down by my right hon. Friends. It is time that we made clear to the country what is the use of the other place and what is the use which is now being made of it by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is time that we declared that we are here having government not by the Commons but by the Lords, and that we on this side of the House showed by our vote that that is a constitutional principle for which we will not stand.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)
I have had 20 years' experience in this House and another 20 years of close observation, but this is the silliest Motion of censure that has ever been moved in the history of the House of Commons, supported by two of the silliest speeches to which I have listened for a long time
Let us examine the doctrine adduced by both the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who opened the debate. They have said that the House of Lords was trying to overrule this House. I have here the OFFICIAL REPORT of all the proceedings on this Bill in the House of Lords—Committee, Report stage and Third Reading. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which century?"] This century, on this Bill, and they had 13 Divisions all told, and every one of the Amendments which came here from the House of Lords was passed unanimously. Not a single 248 Amendment over which there has been all this noise was resisted in the House of Lords by the 30 or so Socialist peers who took part in the debates.
This Motion of censure is the biggest bit of humbug I have ever known. Up to now, nobody has mentioned any of these things. Not in respect of one item has the other place tried to overrule the views of this House. I do not think that any hon. Members opposite have taken the trouble to look at these documents, but if anybody wants to see them here they are. They make interesting reading. I have marked every Division which took place, and every Amendment that came from the other place was passed unanimously, so that all the noble Lords in the other place who belong to the party opposite agreed to every one of them.
§ Sir H. Williams
The noble Lords are so well under the discipline of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South that they were all in consultation with hon. and right hon. Members of this House who conducted the Opposition to this Bill. That being so, what is the basis of all this opposition? It is fraud and humbug. When I interrupted the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South he sought to make some rude observations to the effect that when in bed I snored. I do not. I have never heard myself snore.
It is not as if this Bill were as good as it might be. I am a much more violent denationaliser than many of my right hon. Friends who sit on the Government Front Bench. I do not know of a single nationalised industry which is not worse than a comparable private enterprise industry in any country and in any age. That is why I am rather more advanced than some of my right hon. Friends. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Post Office?"] Yes, what about the Post Office. They sell penny stamps at 2½d. and it now takes much longer to deliver my letters than it did when I was a boy many years ago.
After all, I have some criticisms to make of my right hon. Friends who sit on the Government Front Bench. There are far too many words in this Bill; I could have done it much easier. All they have to do is to sell off a few lorries, because that is what the Bill mainly does.
§ Sir H. Williams
They have not been sold yet, so we cannot say whether it will be at a loss or not. The other thing the Bill does is to tell the railways to decentralise themselves. How many lorries are there? Forty thousand? That is nothing to what the then Minister of Supply did when the Labour Government were in power. He sold tens of thousands of lorries without a Parliamentary Bill. In one case, according to a newspaper that supports the party opposite, he sold 6,000 lorries and the buyers took delivery of 14,000. One can read all about it in that paper, which describes how Ernest Reids bought lorries from the right hon. Gentleman when he was the Minister of Supply. Six thousand were sold and 14,000 were collected, and the right hon. Gentleman has not sued the paper. I think that the present Minister will do a bit better than that.
Out of the 20 years that I have been in this House, I have, unfortunately, spent only about 18 months in opposition. Of course, as we all know, it is much more fun, for certain purposes, being on the other side. There are better opportunities for activity when in opposition. I remember one occasion, when in opposition, that we had a debate on six Prayers on the cost of living which did not start until two in the morning because of the debate on the Army Estimates.
My right hon. Friend was speaking on the first Prayer when the then Speaker, unfortunately, gave what I think was a mistaken ruling. He would not allow debate on the six Orders at once. The present Speaker has taken a different view. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. H. Nicholls) was heckled all the time he spoke; I was heckled all the time I spoke, and the delays in the whole of the proceedings that night were due not to us but to hon. Members opposite. If anyone does not believe me he should look at HANSARD.
I appreciate that it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose. On more than one occasion when an hon. Member opposite has raised a point of order which I have thought was legitimate I have defended his right to raise it. I realise that the party opposite have their rights, and I can say without the slightest hesitation, in 250 the presence of hon. Members who have known me for a long time, that I have never failed to take my part in protecting the rights of any hon. Member, whatever party he belongs to. I have always recognised the right of the Opposition to oppose, but this nonsense over the Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill has been the most awful nonsense.
The Lords Amendments were all accepted by the Socialist Peers in the House of Lords, and surely it is foolish and stupid to spend a whole day discussing whether we should consider them. That is something that has never happened in the history of any sensible Opposition. I can only conclude that three or four hon. Members opposite thought that they would invent a new kind of procedure to show how bright and clever they were. They failed to display either their brightness or their cleverness. They merely bored us most of the time, and thank goodness we did not listen to them. We remained to vote solidly because we knew what nonsense it all was. I hope that no Opposition will ever disgrace itself again by having the folly to put down so stupid a Motion of censure.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
I am sure that we all like to hear the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams). We are always particularly pleased by his humorous speeches, and I am perfectly sure that the speech which he has just delivered was never intended to be in a serious vein.
§ Mr. McLeavy
I want first of all to comment on the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) when he moved the Motion. I felt that my right hon. Friend put forward a serious case against the conduct of the Government in setting aside what we believe to be the constitutional rights of Members of this House. My right hon. Friend made a substantial case and justified the Motion.
Any real democrat will deplore the failure of the Government to arrange their programme and business so as to afford the House of Commons adequate time to consider the legislation before it. If we go back over the history of the Transport 251 Bill, we find a very sad story. First of all, the Government introduced a White Paper on transport. Then they had a second thought and introduced a Bill. Then they had another thought, and finally they brought in the new Bill and decided to apply a Guillotine upon this most contentious Bill, an unconsidered Bill which did not enjoy the support and confidence of responsible people in the transport industry, a Bill which even the professional papers denounced and described as inadequate, foolish and unreasonable.
That is the picture with which we were presented. The Government decided that rather than allow adequate discussion on this inadequate Bill in the Commons they would apply the Guillotine. I am not going to deny that a Government is entitled to get its legislation in due time, but I maintain that the Opposition are entitled to have reasonable time in which to examine the provisions in a Bill and put forward appropriate Amendments.
In a previous debate on the Transport Bill I commented that many of us who are interested in the workers' side of the transport industry were not able to speak in the Second Reading debate because of its limited character, since the Government had decided on a time-table and a Guillotine. I warn hon. Members opposite that if we are to maintain the constitutional Parliamentary system in this country against the other types of government, whether it be Fascism or Communism, we shall only do so and we shall only deserve to do so if we convince the country that ours is a really democratic system and that it works equally for the Opposition as for the Government.
I must register my protest on behalf of organised labour against the deplorable and despicable action of the Government in applying the Guillotine, in preventing the democratic system working and preventing the point of view of organised labour from being properly placed before the House. If we are to prove to the nation that democracy is better than dictatorship, we must at least satisfy the country that the minority, the ordinary rank-and-file working men and women, will have their case put before the House of Commons in the same way as any other interest.
252 As for the Lords Amendments, we were not allowed adequate time to discuss what constitued a miniature Bill. The Minister of Transport knew very well that when the Bill went from this House to another place it would have to be substantially amended not only to meet some of the legitimate criticisms of hon. Members on this side of the House but to make it more workable and practicable by the introduction of substantial Amendments, new Clauses and the like. Having regard to these circumstances it appears to me, and I am no lawyer, thank God, and I do not raise long points of order—
§ Mr. McLeavy
It appears to me, as one who has come direct to this House from among men engaged in the industry, that these men have at least the right to have their case properly examined by the House of Commons. My charge, and indeed the charge made by this Motion, against the Government is that they have misused the right of a small majority in this House, and incidentally a minority of votes in the country, to prevent adequate discussion of the Transport Bill.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South put forward very serious constitutional arguments that the Government were at fault in applying the Guillotine, in the first place, and the time-table to the Lords Amendments. I read in the Press a little while ago that the Prime Minister had invited the leaders of all parties to meet him to discuss the reform of another place. I suggest respectfully that this action on the part of the Government may very well decide not the reform of another place but the ending of it altogether. If another place is to be used as an instrument to make substantial Amendments to an Act of Parliament and when those Amendments come to this elected Chamber we are to be denied the opportunity to discuss and to amend them, there will be such an outcry in this country that the people will demand the ending of another place altogether.
§ Mr. McLeavy
And quite rightly, too. As it is at present constituted, the other place is not a representative or elected Chamber, and in so far as it does not 253 claim to represent the electorate its Members have no right above the commoners in this House. I register my protest as an individual against the misuse by the Government of the time-table regulations to prevent adequate discussion here. I thought that the Leader of the House was very weak indeed in his reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South. The right hon. Gentleman referred almost with joy in his heart to the fact that the Reform Bill was carried by one vote. But that was a reform Bill. [Interruption.] Yes, it was. It was not a destructive Bill like the Transport Bill. It was not a Bill that was going to destroy, but a Bill that was to increase the power of the elected Members.
§ Mr. McLeavy
Of course it did. I know very well the side the noble Lord was on during the whole of the debate on the Transport Bill. It was not the side of organised labour. He was on the side of the Road Haulage Association. But at least he should be the last person in the world to deny to the House of Commons the right to have adequate time to debate this matter when he knows that another place has put forward Amendments.
§ Mr. McLeavy
The Leader of the House has talked about obstruction from this side of the House, but he did not refer to statements made by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) when he talked publicly about harrying the Labour Government. The significant fact is that that occasioned one of the rare moments in Parliamentary history when Mr. Speaker—and I refer to the previous Speaker—made a reference to the speech made by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East when we were debating the question of the rights of both sides of this House. Mr. Speaker said that he must bear in mind the speech made by the hon. Member. There has not been a single occasion in this Parliament during its 18 months of existence that Mr. Speaker has had occasion to refer to a deliberate statement of obstruction from this side of the 254 House. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East not only made that statement but was very boastful about it.
The Amendment moved to this Motion is really disgraceful, because it implies that in demanding the right to examine important Amendments to the Transport Bill the Opposition are unduly delaying legislation. In other words, the Leader of the House is telling us on this side that we must not demand adequate, fair and reasonable time to consider Government legislation, otherwise we shall be charged with the offence of seeking to delay the administrative and legislative work of the Government.
It is argued in the Amendment that on consideration of the Lords Amendments we were attempting to re-open the general principle of the Bill, but in fact the Lords Amendments themselves re-opened the general discussion on the Bill and themselves constituted almost an entirely new Bill. The Lords Amendments were substantial in number and in the provisions which they made. The argument contained in the Government Amendment today to the effect that we were seeking to re-open the general principle of the Bill seems to me to be a very poor argument indeed. The Opposition were right in putting down this Motion because, although the Government have a slight majority in the House, they are in a minority in the country, and it is not right that they should seek to play about with the Constitution of Parliament.
The important thing is not whether a Conservative Government on one occasion or a Labour Government on another manages by a twist of the Constitution to get through some stupid Bill, but whether, in the long run, we are preserving the spirit of the Constitution and the rights of hon. Members in this House. The Government have miserably failed to do that, in their anxiety to get through legislation. They have taken a step which will lower the esteem of this House in the eyes of the public, who will not believe all the Tory stories about obstruction when they remember the terrible experience which the Labour Government went through on the Gas Bill and on other occasions, due to the action of the Conservative Opposition. The public will form its own opinion and it will be disgusted at the continued policy of this 255 Government to try to prevent the democratic expression of opinion by hon. Members of this honourable House of Commons.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I am sure everyone will agree with the main point which was made by the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) in the first part of his speech, when he said that adequate time should always be provided in this House for debating questions which are material for decision, though there will always be a dispute whether the time afforded is adequate.
There also seems to be general agreement on both sides of the House that its business has somehow got into a muddle and that in some way discussions and debates have taken up time which might have been used for more profitable purposes. The trouble is that the Government accuse the Opposition of having brought about that state of things and the Opposition accuse the Government of having done so. That attitude will not carry us very far. Far and away more important than this Bill or any party is the position and rights of the House and its power with regard to legislation.
That brings me at once to the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). With his general propositions, made at the outset of his speech, there must again be general agreement. First, in matters of legislation there can be no doubt that this House is paramount. Whatever doubt there may have been even down to 1911, there can be no doubt now. Since that time the House of Peers has never seen fit to challenge this House on any material matter. This House is representative of the people; it is elected by the people, and in that respect it differs fundamentally from the other place.
Secondly, with regard to matters of finance, this House is not only paramount but has what may be described as exclusive power. That privileged position has been challenged only once in the course of some 300 years, with the result that we made it perfectly clear, after two elections, that the other House had lost all power with regard to finance and that this House had exclusive power over it.
256 So far, so good. Now we come to the Motion which has been put down by the Opposition. It contains some very serious charges. It says that the Government have acted contrary to the spirit of the Constitution; that they have acted in a way which is detrimental to the privileges of this House and derogatory to its legislative status. If those three charges are true, the situation is a very serious one. It is the duty of this House and every Member in it to preserve its status and privileges, and if those are in any way endangered this matter should certainly be debated very seriously.
But is the language which was used by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South the right sort of language? If what he was saying was, "These three matters have been brought about because of the refusal of the Government to give one extra day for debate"—[Interruption.] That is what it came to. The right hon. Gentleman was saying that the Opposition would have been perfectly content if extra time had been given, if the Government had only been more reasonable and had given that extra day.
§ Mr. Bevan
What the right hon. and learned Gentleman says on behalf of the Liberal Party is exceedingly important, but it is also important that he should get our position quite clear. We have not said that at all. What we have said is that a grave constitutional question arises over the application of the Guillotine to the consideration of Lords Amendments.
§ Mr. Davies
I am coming to that question. Undoubtedly the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South gave us to understand, not only today but last week, that if the extra day had been granted facilities would have been given on both sides in an endeavour to bring the whole matter to a close within that day, in which case no Guillotine would have been necessary.
§ Mr. Bevan
Even the official leaders of the Opposition cannot give away the Constitution. Even if my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that all he wanted was another day, that would not of itself have relieved the situation. Hon. Members in all parts of the House have rights, and no party leader can give away those rights. We are not arguing about one day; we are arguing about the Guillotine on the Lords Amendments.
§ Mr. Davies
I thought I had made that position perfectly clear at the outset. I 'have said that every Member of this House has a duty to protect its privileges and its status, and no leader of the Opposition or Government has any right to bind completely its Members, but we know that, by the conventions of the House in order that business may go through arrangements are made which are usually accepted by all hon. Members. I will come to the effect of the Guillotine in a moment.
I thought that one of the main objections now being made to what has been happening is that undue use has been made of the other place to amend Bills. Undoubtedly, in recent years more use has been made of the other place for the amendment of Bills than at any other time in my recollection. The fault lies not merely with the present Government; it also lay with the Government of 1945.
There is another matter which I had almost forgotten. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South put forward the proposition that when a Government has only a small majority it ought not to introduce highly controversial Measures, although it is apparently all right when they have a substantial majority. He said that in 1945 the then Government had a very great majority, and they rightly set about producing a vast amount of legislation. He also said that after the next General Election their majority became a small one and they did not introduce any very highly controversial matters. He used that as his argument against the present Government's doing it. It is a strange argument. I cannot remember such an argument being used in 1924 by the Government, to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged, which had a minority in this House, and still less was it the argument in 1929 when the Labour Party again had a minority in the House, for on that occasion highly controversial Measures were introduced.
That argument will not do. It would mean that if the present position continued and we had election after election producing only small majorities, the country would have to be deprived of any progress whatsoever if there were fierce objection to any suggested Measure. I cannot possibly accept that argument. The House is entitled to consider all 258 matters, controversial or not controversial.
To return to the use being made of the other place, in 1947 the Transport Bill, after being closured on Committee, on Report and on Third Reading in this House, went to the other place and use was made of the other place to the extent of the 240 Amendments which came back to us. The Town and Country Planning Bill was closured on its three stages and returned to us with 310 Amendments. The Steel Bill returned to us with 50 Amendments. So one could go on. Therefore, use is being made of the other place to an extent that I have never known before, and it is bad.
Bills should not be brought before the House until the most careful consideration has been given to them by the responsible Minister as a result of which he is prepared to deal with almost any matter which is raised at the time it is raised. I am afraid that rule has not been followed by Ministers for a considerable time, land now each side is accusing the other of mistakes, misleading the House, using time wrongfully and employing the Guillotine. It seems to me a case of the pot calling the kettle black; it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.
With regard to the present case, one does not like the Guillotine. I certainly do not like the Guillotine, and I voted against it the other night. I particularly did not like it in this case. One must accept Mr. Speaker's Ruling, and one does so loyally, but his Ruling about financial matters which are the privilege of this House put individual hon. Members in an awkward position. We may desire Amendment A which is a privilege Amendment, but we may dislike Amendment B intensely, and we should like to vote against Amendment B; but if we vote en bloc against the lot we may be voting against other things that we want.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Is not what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now stating the issue that we are considering?
§ Mr. Davies
I will come to that in a moment. If the House is really anxious to straighten out the mistakes, the misuse of the time of the House and the misuse of the power of the Government, the debate will be of very great value.
259 When in 1945 and 1946 we had a Committee considering the procedure of the House, the suggestion was made that Ministers should have their Bills ready in the summer the year before they were to become law. Presumably, a Minister would have to have his Bill ready by July and would bring it before the Cabinet during the last week when the Cabinet might make some proposals of its own, and the Minister would then have to have it completely ready by the end of September in time for the Speech from the Throne. The further suggestion was made that, between that time and Christmas, the House might take the Second Readings of Bills so that it might have regulated business before the House.
It is extraordinary how the House gets through any business at all. No one knows what the business for the following week will be. All we really know year after year is that some time in April we must have the Budget statement, but otherwise we do not really know what is to happen. In order to avoid an impassé such as we have now, there ought to be better regulation of the business of the House and more information should be given to hon. Members so that they may know where they are. Every individual hon. Member has his rights, and certainly the Opposition have their rights. On the other hand, it must also be remembered that the majority have their rights, because this House is governed by a majority. All that is required of the majority is that it should give adequate consideration to the views of the Opposition or the minority.
The burden falling upon the Leader of the House is always very heavy. He has to be firm and at the same time he must know when to give way. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South described himself as a good Parliamentarian. I do not believe there is a better Parliamentarian than the right hon. Gentleman. He has that quality or virtue of really loving the House, and he loves taking part in it. In all my experience, he was one of the best Leaders of the House that we have ever had. I am very sincere in paying this compliment which is so fully deserved. We must realise that the business of the House must be carried on, but at the same time it can always be carried on much better if full considera- 260 tion is given and there is a little give-and-take on both sides.
The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) again mentioned the phrase that it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose. I have always thought that a bad phrase and a bad slogan. He was not responsible for the invention of it, but he quoted it. It was invented by Lord Randolph Churchill, quoted by his son in his famous biography of him. It is the duty of the Opposition and of every Member of this House to regard themselves as part of the democratic Constitution of this country and to take part in carrying through the administration and the legislation of this country, but at the same time it is also part of their duty, if they feel they must criticise, to criticise boldly and criticise even fiercely, because that is the best way in which we can secure that the interests of the country will be protected.
I want to end on this note. If good is to come of this debate, if there is to be a better understanding for the working of this House, one will welcome the debate; but if there is only bickering and shouting across at one another, and accusing of one another, it will not carry us very far. I wish the Motion had not been put down. However, it has been put down: it is being debate. When it has been debated, let us let it go at that.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
The right hon and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), like a decaying Mercutio, denounced a "plague on both our houses" with such impartiality that to the very last words of his speech it was impossible to detect into which Lobby, if either, his section of his party would go tonight. He did, I thought, overlook, in his criticism of the measure which was taken last week in putting the Lords Amendments en bloc, the fact pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) that there was clear reason to believe that none of the Amendments in question was objected to by the Opposition, as none had been voted against by the Opposition in another place. That fact does place, I suggest to him, the whole question of the putting of those Amendments en bloc in a different light.
261 I have often reflected upon the bewilderment which a stranger attending our proceedings must feel sometimes in understanding the purport of them and in relating cause to effect. If there were such a person present at our deliberations tonight—of course, I know there cannot be, as strangers are excluded from our debates—he would see reference in this censure Motion to the "spirit of the Constitution," the "privileges of the Commons," and the "legislative status of this House."
Seeing a Motion in such form and in such portentous terms, bearing the names of the Leader of the Opposition and of other distinguished Members of the Opposition Front Bench, he could not but assume that there had been some convulsion in the State, and that a tremendous innovation designed to force through something repugnant to hon. Members opposite had been made by the Government. He could not possibly, without inner knowledge, be aware of the simple and, indeed, trivial origin of the debate which is taking place tonight.
It arose from a little tantrum on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) who, finding on Thursday week last that his expectation of two further days' debate upon the Lords Amendments was narrowed to one, threatened the Government that they should not have their day. Then he said on 27th April:Instead of making a profit out of their Motion, believe me, the Government will make a loss. The Government … will not save the day that they think they will save."— [OFFICIAL REP0RT, 27th April, 1953; Vol. 514, c 1811 and 1813.]For that reason this Motion was put down as a censure Motion in order that one more day should be lost out of Government time to make up for the day of which the Opposition, to their discomfiture, were defrauded by the reduction of the time on the Lords Amendments from five days to four. [HON. MEMBERS: "Defrauded?"] We will examine how far this was a fraud at all or a justifiable move.
Was it necessary—this is really the simple question into which this whole debate resolves itself—was it necessary that five days, including two late sittings and one all-night sitting, should be spent upon the consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill? The 262 Opposition have admitted themselves by their actions on two occasions in this House that it was not. Before Easter, when it was announced that one day would be set apart for the consideration of those Amendments, no one on the opposite side at the appropriate time demurred at all. It may be said, and said truly, that at that time the Amendments themselves had not on paper arrived in this House. That is perfectly true.
§ Mr. Powell
The Amendments had nearly all been made in another place; but I admit that they had not at that time arrived in this House. It may, therefore, be said that the Opposition was at that time unaware of their extent and, therefore, considered that only one day was necessary because of a misunderstanding.
However, that explanation can no longer be given when we come to the first week after the Easter Recess when the Government offered, in the announcement of business, to provide two days to deal with the whole of the Lords Amendments and the Opposition Amendments thereto which had been put on the Paper. On that occasion, that normal occasion for making representations on the allocation of time, not a single word of criticism was advanced from the benches opposite. The benches opposite have given away their entire case. They had three weeks to consider the Lords Amendments. If they thought two days was not adequate time, that was their occasion for saying so. They did not take it. They are estopped by their own action.
Let us see what happened when the debate began, this debate which the Opposition had considered could reasonably be concluded in two Parliamentary days. During the three days before the Guillotine Motion was brought in, 14 Lords Amendments were disposed of. I think it is worth the while of the House to look in some detail at those Lords Amendments, because by comparing their nature with the time that was spent in disposing of them the House can come to a judgment whether the term "filibustering" is or is not fairly applicable to the behaviour of the Opposition.
Those 14 Lords Amendments which were disposed of in the three days of debate before the introduction of the Guillotine Motion resolve themselves in 263 reality into 11 Amendments, since three were pairs hanging together. Of those 11 Amendments four were purely drafting. We are, therefore, reduced to seven Amendments of any substance whatsoever, which were dealt with in three Parliamentary days, including an all-night sitting.
Here are the seven points covered by those seven Amendments. The first was that there should be no obligation on the Transport Commission to dispose of money or monetary claims. The Opposition agreed to that. No hon. Member opposite argued that there should be such an obligation upon the Commission. Yet they showed their agreement with that Lords Amendment by spending two hours in debating it and by voting against it.
The next was that the report of the Disposal Board should include Ministerial directions. Every hon. Member opposite agreed to that. Every hon. Member wanted it. The next was that the anti-monopoly Clause, if I may so describe it, should be rephrased. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) specifically agreed with the rephrasing of that particular Clause and expressed his preference for it over the original formulation.
Then we come to two points: the increase of the maximum number of vehicles the Commission can retain, and the increase of flexibility in choosing the types of those vehicles. These were actually conceded in response to the demand of the Opposition; they were direct concessions to their point of view. That disposes of five of the seven points which occupied this House three days, including an all-night sitting.
Then there was a limit on the amount of information to be given in the Commission's annual report about companies under its control. That again was a point which the Opposition had asked for, and with which they were in agreement. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Well they said they were.
So we come finally to the last of the seven Amendments, that upon which 18½ hours were spent. This was the new Clause designed to meet the representations which had been made on both sides of the House for an additional method of disposal to be written into the Bill. It 264 had been discussed for hours in Committee and on Report stage in this House; agreement as to its desirability had been brought to an advanced point. Yet 18½ hours were taken in discussing it, largely by re-opening, in the course of the debate, the whole substance and content of the Bill as such.
When we consider that the first three of these four days of debate on the Lords Amendments were spent in discussing seven points with every one of which the Opposition were in agreement, and only one of which was of major substance, I think it is difficult to conclude that there was not perhaps some obstruction going one somewhere.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Would the hon. Gentleman now go on to tell us how many Opposition Amendments to the Lords Amendments were discussed at the same time, to give us a complete picture?
§ Mr. Powell
Of course, it is always possible for an Opposition bent upon obstruction to put down an almost unlimited number of Amendments to Lords Amendments. But that is a quite different matter. When this House parts with a Measure it is supposed to have spoken its mind upon it; the Opposition have had their opportunity then to put down their Amendments.
§ Mr. Powell
The points which the Lords Amendments were designed to meet were points which had been fully discussed in this House, even under a Guillotine.
§ Mr. Powell
Well, I shall come to that. I have demonstrated it in the case of the 14 Amendments which were discussed in the first three days.
Now what description of this procedure was given by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Will the hon. Gentleman not complete his picture? He has not given us the whole story by telling us how many Opposition Amendments to the Lords Amendments—which were accepted by the Chair and, therefore, presumably, were in order and worthy of discussion—were discussed in relation to the 11 he has mentioned.
§ Mr. Powell
If the hon. Gentleman is arguing that Amendments which are in order and are called by the Chair cannot be obstructive he is denying altogether, for practical purposes, the possibility of obstruction.
§ Mr. Powell
In referring to these Lords Amendments, 14 of which were discussed in three days, and with all of which the Opposition agreed, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said:What is to prevent a Conservative Minister normally doing what has been done in the Transport Bill"—this is what the right hon. Gentleman claimed had been done in the Transport Bill—that is deliberately leaving out great chunks of the Bill from discussion in the House of Commons, putting them in in the House of Lords, and then applying the Guillotine here, thus preventing the Commons from discussing them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1958.]I have looked with great care through the whole range of Amendments which came down to this House from another place and I can find in them at most only three subjects which had not been discussed already in this House in Committee or on Report. So far from the Lords having been used to deal with matters which had not been discussed in this House, they were in fact used to insert in the Bill alterations upon which this House was agreed—alterations which in many cases had been demanded by the Opposition and conceded to them.
I confess that if I were framing a censure Motion in the place of the Opposition, instead of saying that the action of my right hon. Friends had conferred legislative initiative upon another place I should use the expression of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South and say that our procedure had tended to reduce them to "legislative stooges"— that was his expression—in that they had been used to put in Amendments which had been agreed, not merely in principle, but in detail before the Bill left this House. On that score there may be some ground of complaint. There can be none on the ground that the Lords introduced major Amendments on subjects which had not been discussed here.
I remember that there used to be a pair of comedians who ended every act 266 with a kind of colophon, in which the words occurred "It's all meant as chaff." I think that might well apply to this Motion of censure. It is not really meant seriously by the Opposition. Witness the thin attendance and complete lack of any enthusiasm on their part which has marked this debate. It is merely the working off of a little petty spite which was incurred that evening a week ago last Thursday. I hope that the House will treat it in that lighthearted mood and dismiss it with the contempt which it deserves.
I believe that Parliament and this House consults its dignity most, and preserves its own rights and privileges and the spirit of the Constitution best, when it talks least about them. I deplore this Motion because it has dragged terms which are serious, and indeed sacred, into a matter of petty squabble and personal vindictiveness.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has emulated, without succeeding in equalling, the contempt for Parliament displayed by the Leader of the House. He has also shown a certain contempt for accuracy and ignorance of House of Lords procedure. For example, he proceeded to say that because the Labour Party in the House of Lords had not voted against certain Clauses at the Committee stage, it must therefore be assumed that the Labour Party in this House was not opposed to those Clauses. If he were more familiar with the procedure of another place he would know that the Opposition there divides very rarely on Committee points on a Bill, because otherwise their Lordships' whole time would be spent in the Division Lobbies. It is no indication at all that the matter is accepted by the Opposition in this House.
§ Mr. Powell
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether any of the Lords Amendments which came down here were objected to by the Opposition in the other place, even without a Division?
§ Mr. Paget
That is not what the hon. Gentleman said. If he wants to shift his ground, the answer is that some were and some were not.
Now we come to his next point, that we were not serious in wanting more than 267 two days because we did not object when we were told that two days in the succeeding week would be devoted to the Committee stage of this Bill. Does the hon. Gentleman expect us to object when, probably in the week after next, we are told that two or three days will be devoted to the Committee stage of the Finance Bill? Have we to get up and ask the Government to explain and to say that it is monstrous only to give two or three days to the Committee stage of the Finance Bill? When business is announced and a Committee stage is mentioned, that does not mean that that is all the time that is to be devoted to the Committee stage.
Here we had a massive new Bill coming to this House, because the Lords Amendments were larger than the vast majority of new Bills which come to this House. They were detailed proposals which had not been considered at all by anybody. The discussion on them it is now sought to pretend was obstruction. Those in charge of the Bill at the time agreed at numerous points on the Committee stage that it had been a serious discussion and not obstruction. The hon. Gentleman now tries to make out that this was obstruction because we averaged rather less than 1½ hours per Amendment discussed. If he will look back at Finance Bills introduced into this House when a Labour Government were in power, I should be very surprised if he found a single day upon which the average time taken by Amendments was as short as that. If ever there was a bogus charge, surely this charge that this was forced upon the Government by obstruction is about the most bogus.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was more frivolous and more startling in his arguments because he seemed to complain about our failure to take Government time in order to consider censures on other failures of Government policy. For instance, he seemed to complain of the fact that we had censured the Government in the economic debate, instead of on a special day, by reason of the fact that, owing to the incompetence of their financial and economic policy, the production of this country had fallen for the first time since the war. That was the complaint.
268 He complained that we had chosen other and more convenient times to censure the Government for allowing exports to fall, again for the first time since the war. He complained that we had chosen other and more suitable occasions to censure the Government for the failure to carry out a defence programme to which they were pledged not only to our people but to our allies, and which they unilaterally threw over. The fact that we chose a convenient time to censure them on that is apparently the cause of complaint.
The fact that when we used more convenient time to censure them for having run down all the stocks provided in this country for defence purposes, as well as during the naval debate when they were forced to admit that they were utterly incapable of keeping our sea lanes open, so that we should starve during the early stages of a war—on all these grounds of censure, the fact that we chose a more convenient time is made a cause of complaint.
The Government choose two specific instances with which to charge us with obstruction. The first of these was in regard to the Army Act. The right hon. Gentleman read out the amount of time that we had taken on the Army Act. I should like to ask him a question with regard to that. Did the Army Act need amendment? I will willingly give way if the right hon. Gentleman wants to reply. Did it need amendment from top to bottom? I will remind him of what happened. He is not very often here, so he has probably forgotten.
§ Mr. Paget
He seems to like this House just about as little as we like him. He is not a very good Leader of the House. He is here very seldom, and I should like to ask him a question or two about what happened in that Army Act debate in regard to which he is blaming us of obstruction.
The first Amendment we put down was to extend the period of that Act to the end of July, so that this year there would be adequate time for reforming that Act. That Amendment, which proposed to provide the machinery after a Select Committee had reported, was to the effect 269 that adequate time should be made available to provide us with an up-to-date Army Act. It was resisted by the Government for a whole day. We then proceeded to continue with the various Amendments which we proposed, as we had to propose them without the assistance of a Select Committee.
Having done that for some days, the Government at last saw what we had been talking about the first day, and they came back to us and offered us the proposal for which we had asked on the first day. They set up the Select Committee which is now in the process of recommending the complete re-writing of the Army Act. That is where he accused us of wasting time. That which everyone agrees was immensely desirable and that which is now accepted was offered to him on the first day and he would have had it within an hour.
§ Mr. Maude
Has it not yet struck the hon. and learned Gentleman that the reason we objected to the procedure of his hon. Friends on the Army Act was that after six years of Labour Government, in any one year of which they could have done this thing instead of producing the Act in the same words every year, they chose their first year in opposition, when they were looking round for excuses to waste time, to take several days over it?
§ Mr. Paget
The hon. Gentleman's complaint, then, is that after six years of incompetent opposition the country got an efficient Opposition. It is for the Opposition to point out where faulty legislation has brought this House. When faulty legislation is brought before this House, we ought to be quick in pointing it out and showing the way to put it right, and that right way was accepted by the Government after wasting four days' time. Now we are engaged in doing that job properly.
The other case in which complaint is made about wasting time is the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. There are certain Measures which Parliament has in the past considered as being of a dangerous character, and the operation of which Parliament should consider annually. Is Parliament doing its job if it does not do that—the job which has been given it by the law and which it is the will of Parlia- 270 ment it shall perform? Is it really unreasonable that we should give on an average less than one hour apiece to considering these important laws? That is the complaint. I see that the right hon. Gentleman has now retired. Let us consider some of these Acts which we consider under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.
Hon. Members may or may not have noticed, but the other day two girls were sent to prison for signing their names in a hotel register with the prefix "Mrs." instead of "Miss." The question whether fornication should or should not be a criminal offence is obviously a matter of great social importance, but this was introduced by a side-wind as a regulation to control aliens. That was one of the expiring laws which it was our duty to consider, and which it will be our duty to consider again next year, as to whether control of aliens should be an excuse for that sort of action and that sort of legislation. If these things are not done properly, Parliament is not doing its duty and we as an Opposition are not doing our duty. That is what I wanted to say with regard to the speech of the Leader of the House.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Will not my hon. and learned Friend refer also to the fact that during a debate on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill in connection with the 30 miles an hour speed limit, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport was able to give the House an assurance that he intended to introduce legislation during the next Session to deal with some of the points that we raised in the debate?
§ Mr. Paget
Precisely. The whole complaint which has been directed against the Opposition is that the Opposition has done its job of being vigilant on behalf of the public to examine the matters which it is its duty to examine. But there has not been time for Parliament to do that job, because a Government without a working majority, which cannot send its legislation upstairs to Committee, has occupied the time of the House with the Committee stages of controversial legislation instead of allowing the House to do its duty and allowing the Opposition to carry out its duty of examining those things which come before the House. That is the basis of this whole trouble.
I drew attention to this in a letter which I wrote to "The Times" over a year ago. 271 I then pointed out that if a Government without a working majority—by which I mean a Government which cannot send its controversial legislation to a Committee upstairs—seeks to force through legislation, it can only do so at the price of destroying Parliament as a legislative body. That is, broadly speaking, what has happened here, precisely as I foresaw that it would.
These things could be done, but only at the price of the destruction of Parliament. Government has become progressively stronger. Through the crystallisation of the party system, the steady tightening up of party discipline and the functioning of the Whip, Government can more and more assert its will in defiance of the House and in defiance of the general feeling in the House. The Government can say to the House, as they did on the Guillotine Motion with regard to the Lords Amendments, "You shut your mouth. We do not want to hear from you about this. This is Government legislation. We are not going to hear what you are going to say about it and we do not care." That is in substance what is said here, and that is what the Government can say.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Would the hon. and learned Member also say that the mouth stayed open for 39 hours?
§ Mr. Paget
The mouth stayed open for 39 hours and the work still was not done, or even nearly done. The Government were strong enough to say, "We do not wish to hear Parliament's views on this." That is what happened to the Bill. I do not put this in terms of a conflict between the two Houses; that is merely the form which it takes. The real conflict is between this House as a legislative body and Government.
Here we have a Bill brought forward on a Guillotine, introduced before the Bill was ever brought to the House, allowing time which right at the start nobody on the Government benches ever suggested was adequate. Nobody ever suggested that the time allocated by the original Guillotine was adequate for discussion. Discussion was not required or asked for. The Bill was then brought here. It was not a very good Bill and the Government had second thoughts. They found that a Committee stage was 272 necessary, whether they had it here or somewhere else. The Committee stage of the Bill in fact took place, not here, not in the House of Lords, but in the Ministry. Then there was what amounted to a Committee stage and a re-casting of the Bill within the Ministry. It was then simply brought to the House of Lords, where it was duly stamped—that is really all that it amounted to—and it came down here. Never in the whole history of Parliament has a Bill been so exclusively the work of Government. Never has Parliament been so wholly excluded from the formation of a Measure as it went along.
The great thing here is that once any Government sets a precedent of taking power away from Parliament because Parliament is inconvenient to Government —and it always will be inconvenient to Government—every other Government will seize that precedent. More and more we shall have Bills, and it will occur when I am sitting on the other side of the House just as much as when I am sitting over here, because all Governments, of either party, will follow that precedent. Whatever happens with regard to it, once the precedent of Government doing without Parliament is established, that precedent will be followed.
As the legislative function is taken away from Parliament, as Parliament ceases to have the creative function of moulding legislation, it will be left with only the critical function. And a Parliament left only with the critical function becomes progressively more and more irresponsible. That has been experienced in many parts of the world. I hope very much indeed that this does not occur again. I hope that the Government have learnt their lesson and that in future our job of moulding legislation will be preserved to us, because it will be a very great injury to the institutions of this country if that is taken away from Parliament.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
When the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) says that the Opposition has not had time to discharge its full duties, I think he really means that he has not had time completely to exhaust the patience of Parliament to listen to him. It has been my 273 humble and painful duty to have to sit here day after day and night after night in the last 18 months, listening to the hon. and learned Member, the Son. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and others developing precisely the techniques of this science of—it has now become a Parliamentary expression—obstruction and filibustering which have brought on this crisis in the last week and compelled the putting down of this Motion of censure.
Fortunately, I have tried, and to some extent have been able, to develop a certain aptitude for avoiding the full impact of the eloquence of the Members concerned, and that may be the reason why I do not take up, point by point, what the hon. and learned Member has just been saying. When the organ is siphoning in church it is possible to develop a kind of technique of closing the brain to it and still hearing the choir behind and observing what is going on. When one's radio set is heterodyning—I think that is the term—it is possible to develop a technique of closing one's mind to it and listening to the orchestral concert which one wants to hear. That has become the form and practice of most of us on this side of the House by now.
I thought that the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) today, and his whole attitude to this debate, was studiously loose in phraseology. While I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that it is to some extent monstrous to import into a debate of this kind these fierce and urgent terms of State and law which the right hon. Gentleman used, I think that the right hon. Gentleman really meant no harm thereby. He was just having a little joke. He was filling up a few hours so as to be able to go to his party, to Transport House and to the country and be able to say, "Well, we won the day in the end. They had to give us the full time we originally asked for." No doubt Mr. Morgan Phillips and others have deliberately asked for this to be done so that inquiring voters in the country could be satisfied.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
When the noble Lord talks about exaggeration, would he remember that his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West used words like 274 "convulsion" and "fraud," which, to my mind, seem most exaggerated?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
My hon Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West is quite capable of looking after himself. I have no need to defend him.
There is another element in this situation which the House has forgotten. I refer to the person of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I have been watching the development of these events over the last few weeks, and I think that Mr. Morgan Phillips has had his share in it. It may be that in the constituencies there has been some inquiry why there was not more opposition on the Transport Bill. But it seems to me that the real author of these proceedings is the hon. Member, During the short Easter Recess he was in the United States, attending a conference of young persons. No doubt his junketing about with the exuberant youths and maidens in a college of bobbysoxers really got him going.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I entertain very warm feelings for the noble Lord, and I beg him not to use the term "junketeering." It has already been the cause of one American being called before the un-American Activities Committee to justify the words "junketeering gumshoes."
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I used the word "junketing," which is a much milder expression and much more like the pudding which it partially describes. The hon. Member, blown across the Atlantic by fresh breezes from the West, sprang into action the moment he returned, and spurred on his right hon. Friend and others really to get going with the Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill. I place the authorship of these proceedings firmly in the hands of the hon. Member.
I wish to refer to the point of order which was put by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South on 27th April, and reported in c. 1779 of HANSARD, and to which the right hon. Gentleman again referred today in his speech. The substance of that point of order was briefly that all the important Privilege Amendments were held up and not discussed in consequence of the Guillotine. But the Guillotine took only two hours and there were four clear hours of debate after that. 275 and it was perfectly open to the Opposition to get on to the Amendments which the right hon. Gentleman said they could not reach—on page 7 of the Lords Amendments, the Amendment in page 15, line 34, and others.
They could easily have short-circuited the discussion on some of the Amendments which they had down, and which I shall show in a moment we had already discussed in Committee here, and could have gone at once to the highly important Amendments involving Privilege which they wanted to bring before the House of Commons. Instead of that, they took the whole four hours that subsequently ensued on one single Amendment—new Clause "A," and that was after four hours had been spent on the principles of the Clause on the Report stage of the Bill.
Mr. Ernest Poppkwell(Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
I am sure that the noble Lord wants to be honest with the House. He must surely agree that the discussion then taking place was on Amendments to a very comprehensive new Clause that imported a fundamental alteration of principle into the Bill itself. There were parts of that new Clause, to which in particular the discussion to which the noble Lord has referred took place relating to the establishment of company structures for the disposal of certain assets. Those company structures were not included in the Bill as it left the House.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am quite aware of that, but the point I am making is that the principle of that Clause had been discussed for at least four hours on Report, and previous to that in Committee: and if the question of the Privilege of this House against Lords Amendments was the really vital point it was open to the Opposition to pass over this series of Amendments and to dwell exclusively on the Amendments of principle which they sought to raise. They never did anything of the kind.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I will, if I may, Mr. Speaker, interlard this speech with a submission to you. I should like to refer to page 557 of Erskine May, 276 where the procedure upon Lords Amendments is laid down. It is there stated that:The debate on this motion"—that is, "That this House doth agree— or disagree—with the Lords in the said Amendment"—must be confined to the Amendment under consideration, and may not extend to other Amendments … or to the general merits of the Bill.It is part of our complaint on this side of the House that for so long during the passage of these Lords Amendments the principles of the Bill were again under discussion, and that time and time again hon. Gentlemen wasted time and failed in their proper duty of examination by dwelling over-long on the principles which had been previously discussed. If it is no discourtesy to you, Sir, and it is no physical upset to your present position, I would say that the Chair leaned over backwards in acceding to the mood and temper of the Opposition in bringing up, on these Amendments, the principles which, by the terms of Erskine May, they ought never have been allowed to discuss.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that the noble Lord is not criticising the action of the Chair during those discussions. As a matter of fact, by the strict rules of order, it was difficult to exclude matters on some of the Amendments which raised, for example, the question of the big or the small unit in transport. It was difficult to say that those things were irrelevant to the discussion and I have to abide, like every other hon. Member, by the rules of order.
§ Hon. Members: Apologise.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I had not intended to provoke any rebuke from you, Sir. I do not think it is an impertinence for me to say that I think you acted with great deference to the Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "The House."]—in their desire to bring their points before the House.
What is there in this charge that has been made against us, that we are ultimately responsible for all this obstruction? I have some figures which I shall give briefly to the House about the action of the respective Oppositions in the Parliaments of 1950 and 1951 and the present one. Let me preface that, however, by saying that it has been 277 suggested at times that we provoked the present tactics by our activities on Prayers late at night in a previous Parliament. At no time did we in that Parliament obstruct Government business. The only thing we did was to carry on until fairly late at night on Prayers. We did not in the least degree interrupt the Government's programme.
When this Parliament began we had expected the same kind of consideration from the Opposition. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition went very far in the Gracious Speech on 6th November, 1951 —much farther than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 6th March, 1950. He said:I want to say a word on the attitude of the Opposition. The Opposition will be vigilant, but not factious. We shall not oppose merely for the sake of opposition, but where we think that the Government are acting contrary to the interests of the country we shall offer our stoutest opposition.I make no complaint of that. It is the next words that matter:I am very grateful for the many tributes which have been paid to the Labour Party in the Press, because the Press expect a much higher standard of public service from Socialists than they do from Conservatives. They suggest that it would be quite wrong for anyone in this House to indulge now in the kind of tactics which were indulged in during the last Parliament. They expect something altogether better from us, and they are quite right."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 67.]
§ Hon. Members: Hear, hear.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am amazed that hon. Gentlemen opposite should have the audacity to cheer. It appears to me, if words mean anything at all, that the Leader of the Opposition was endeavouring to lead his followers into a more strictly sober and constitutional position than he thought we had adopted. Contrary to that, they have greatly exceeded in scope, range, polemics and in their attempts at political obstruction, anything we did previously.
Let us look at the facts. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton talked about the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill and my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) dealt effectively with that point. Let me give the figures. In the 1950 Session of Parliament the Second Reading went through on the nod, the Committee and Report and Third Reading stages took one and a 278 half hours. In the 1951 Session the Second Reading went through on the nod, the Committee stage, Report and Third Reading took two hours. Then we reached the beginning of these obstructionist tactics in the present Parliament and the Second Reading took 40 minutes, the first day took three and a half hours and then again after 10 o'clock until 3 a.m. The second day took four hours to 2 a.m. The third day took four hours to 2 a.m. and the Report and Third Reading one hour. That is a total of 17½ hours, or nearly five times the amount of time that we consumed.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. and learned Gentleman has already made that point, which has been dealt with by my hon. Friend. The short answer is that they had six years when they were in office to introduce a correctly framed Bill.
There are some significant differences in the handling of the Finance Bill. I will not go through the whole gamut of differences, but will give them briefly. In the 1950 Session of Parliament a total of eight and a half days was spent, plus the equivalent of two days in late night Sittings, which was 10½ normal days in all. In the 1951 Session of Parliament a total of 11½ days was spent, plus the equivalent of five days in all-night Sittings, or a total of 16½ normal days. That averages, for two Sessions, 13½ days. That was our Opposition to the Socialist Government in those two periods. In the 1952 Session of the present Parliament a total of 14½ days was spent, plus the equivalent of three days and an all-night Sitting, a total of 17½ days. So that there is a difference of four days—four days to the disadvantage of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
Let us look at the contrary situation when reasonableness prevails, as it did over the Iron and Steel Bill and when a very different technique was adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) and his hon. Friends. On the Iron and Steel Bill in the 1952–53 Session a total of 14 days was spent. Let us face that directly, 279 as it had to be faced, with the Transport Bill and show the difference. The Transport Bill in the 1952–53 Session, with the Allocation of Time Order on the Lords Amendments, occupied in all 20½ days. So that 14 days can be spent upon an important Bill when the Opposition exert their due and proper rights of Opposition, but it can be expanded to 20½ days when they choose to use obstruction.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Does this not go to show the folly of putting on a Guillotine Motion in advance of any discussion and without regard to the temper of the House?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. Gentleman is directing his question to my right hon. Friend and no doubt he will answer it at the end of the debate. It is not a question for me.
If I might say one more thing about the Transport Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) has pointed out that the Labour Party, in the previous Government, divided against many of their Amendments and that lends point to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South was suggesting earlier, namely, that we have a nice liaison on our side of the House between our Members here and those in another place. I do not know whether that exists, but what quite clearly is evidenced is the absence of any liaison between the leaders of the Socialist Party in this House and their leaders in another place. One would have thought that the Lords would have staged a dress rehearsal for the Labour Party action in the Commons on receiving the Lords Amendments by at least raising the curtain in the other place and starting a voting procedure.
Another place sent us 71 Amendments, of which 12 were of substance and three of them were not discussed, these being the discretion to the licensing authorities in using charges as a criterion for granting licences, the release of former road haulage operators from covenants with the Commission not to re-enter the industry, and the decentralisation of accounts to the new railway areas to show operating costs and statistics. It might be noted in passing by my right hon. Friend that that last Amendment was one for which this side of the House 280 greatly cared and we should have liked them to be fully discussed.
There was no disposition on the part of the Opposition to hurry on with the Amendments, just as in the case of the Privilege Amendments. If the Opposition had wanted to they could have discussed them, but they did nothing about it and chose to spend the whole time on new Clause A. Up to 11 p.m. on 23rd April, which was the evening of the Guillotine, they had taken 28½ hours discussing 39 of their 66 Amendments, which covered only 14 of the Lords 71 Amendments. If that is not filibustering I simply do not know what is. It is filibustering of such an order as to make our "Prayerful" activities during the 1951 Parliament seem like a child's efforts at its mother's knee.
What I now have to say, will I feel, be controversial. The one thing that I desire least is to accede to the fate which awaits me in due course. I regard it as a high honour to be elected to this present House, and I should like to stay here for the rest of my days if I possibly could. Nevertheless, I congratulate the Government upon giving the other place so much urgent and important business to attend to.
I regard this in a completely different light from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I was astonished at some of the observations which fell from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). He said that it is wrong for the Government so to shape its events that another place has work to do. What is that but an argument for uni-cameral legislation? We do not stand for uni-cameral legislation. The only way to get out of it is to see that the House of Lords has a job of work, has some Amendments to discuss, and can initiate proceedings. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are caught in a complex of their own devising. They cannot have it both ways. If they want to preserve the Constitution and a bicameral system, they are driven to allow any Government of the day to steer part of its proposals and part of its legislation through another place.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South said the Labour Party were going for a single chamber Government. So he is if he limits the 281 power of another place to do a job of work. I regard these attempts on the part of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to whittle down the existing powers of another place as old-fashioned stuff now. The sentiment of the public and the country has passed the period of wishing to see the powers and responsibilities of another place further reduced.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South talked today as if he were upholding constitutional rights against ancient privilege and ancient power. He talked as if the Lords still had their full period of delaying powers which they had before the Parliament Act of 1911, and still had their full rights over money. There has been an enormous public reaction to the successful work of the Radicals and Socialists over the past 50 years, and I believe that public appreciation of the powers and standing of another place is increasing.
Every time when, in the small hours, we cry "stinking fish" in this House and demean our position we lower our dignity, whereas the dignity and standing of another place remains where it was. Do not let us forget that in the judgment of the people both Houses are weighed up at moments of time, and when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite demean our authority here by the kind of tactics which they have pursued over the last 18 months they are putting off still further the realisation of their ultimate end of abolishing the House of Lords.
§ Dr. H. Morgan (Warrington)
The noble Lord should read the speeches of his present leaders in the House of Lords.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not really ranged against the power of the House of Lords at this moment. They are actually ranged against a Government party in this House which, up to a point, is prepared to defend those powers. We have now got a majority in this Chamber which is not prepared to enforce its privileges against a weakened House of Lords. That is the significant thing. We have a majority in this House for waiving the privileges which this House might otherwise wish to exert. I believe that after a General Election we may have a majority not only for waiving the 282 spurious rights of privilege which have been raised by the Opposition, but for reforming the composition and re-establishing some at least of the traditional and ancient powers of another place.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) referred at the commencement of his speech to the boredom to which he had been subjected by the speeches made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). In the kindest way possible, I can only say that the noble Lord himself made a most wearisome speech, an utterance which at every stage sought to avoid the main issue before the House. I am sure we were all touched by the expectant way in which he referred to another place. No doubt he sees that looming not too far in the distance, and one can understand that, being in this House, he has some feeling of generosity and flexibility about the power of another place which we are debating today.
We shall not get very far in this debate by merely being angry and aggressive and throwing uncomplimentary remarks from one side of the House to the other. If any good is to be derived from the debate on this Motion, it can only be done by a consideration of the real issue in this matter. I think the real issue is whether law has been made in another place and the House of Commons has been gagged and not allowed to say a word on it. That seems to be the issue here, not the matters to which in the main we have listened, from both sides, as to what was done by this House in the past, how time was wasted and so on. The grave issue, in my submission, is the one I have just mentioned.
In conjunction with that issue there has to be considered the fact that this particular legislation, the Lords Amendments, was passed in an hereditary and non-elective Chamber, and if I am right, the House of Commons was given no opportunity to discuss it. That becomes a very important element in this matter because, being a non-elected House, being a House which at the time in question was composed of a very small number of privileged people, the idea that they should be allowed to pass legislation 283 without the House of Commons having an opportunity to accept and debate it must obviously be quite wrong.
How it can be suggested I do not know, but it has been suggested that all the matters embodied in the Lords Amendments were discussed in this House at the Report stage. That is purely a wild statement. Anyone who cares to look at the Lords Amendments will see that they contain entirely original and new legislation, in a form in which it certainly was not in the Bill concerned when it left this House. I need only refer to the new Schedule "A," the new Clause "A," the provisions relating to the Transport Tribunal, the provisions referring to the issue of licences, the total number of "A" licences and also the abrogation of the rights of the Transport Commission and companies controlled by them.
All those are first-class matters of substance referring to a vital service affecting the public interest. To say that all those matters had already been discussed in this House and therefore they could be shelved when they came here from the Lords is not taking a responsible view of this matter at all. On the basis that the Lords Amendments were not part of the House of Commons Bill, which I do not think can be denied, the action of the Government in regard to the Guillotine in this House afterwards was manifestly wrong and untenable. What happened was that the Government slipped into a very grievous error.
I must say that I do not hold the view which I know quite a number of hon. Members on this side of the House hold about the Leader of the House. I have always found him a very friendly and reasonable individual; but I think he has let the House down badly in this matter. I do not think he intended to do so, except that I have a suspicion that this whole thing has arisen out of pique and nothing else. I think he allowed himself to be persuaded to do what he did because he thought too much time was being taken up by one Amendment. He allowed himself to be rushed into this and did what in my humble opinion was an injury to this House.
I must say to the Leader of the House that the Chief Whip is not a very safe guide or a very sound philosopher, and 284 certainly is not a friend when it comes to protecting the privileges of this House. Actually the Chief Whip is concerned with the political generalship of his side, but the Leader of the House has a much broader function to perform here. It is perfectly true that he is a politician and a partisan, but he occupies a high office of authority in this Chamber. His responsibility is to protect the privileges and rights of every hon. Member in this House. The complaint I make about him on this occasion is that he has failed to do so.
If these Lords Amendments were new and additional legislation, a fact which cannot be denied, it is perfectly clear that, unless the House could have an opportunity to debate them, it was bound to mean that these measures and laws were being passed over the heads of the House of Commons. That is an irresistible conclusion. No one can deny that they were important Amendments. Again and again, during the earlier debate, I heard from both sides of the House that they were complicated and crucial Amendments. Certainly I think it cannot be denied that the Amendments to the Lords Amendments were also of considerable importance.
All that body of legislation was either refused debate and summarily rejected, or forced and foisted on the country, and the House of Commons was not allowed to say a word on it. That to my mind is the crucial and grave issue here. If that is right, it means that we have arrived at a very serious position. It means that a Tory Government can arrogate to itself the right to create law by using an hereditary and privileged class to make far-reaching changes in House of Commons Bills by gagging the House of Commons.
It is no use the Leader of the House complaining about what happened over one Amendment here; that is not the issue. That does not justify him in stifling the House of Commons over another 60 Amendments. I am concerned about what was done, not on a partisan or political basis, but on a constitutional basis, and I say that it was a shocking abuse of power by the Government.
The Government put forward the defence that time was being wasted. They say that on this side of the House we wasted time. If that were true, I cer- 285 tainly would have sympathy for the Government on that score, but is it a defence to the charge in the Motion to say that the Government thought that time was being wasted? No doubt they wanted to get their legislation through, but they certainly had one duty to keep in mind. It was their duty not to stifle the House of Commons on every other Amendment and not to propose a Guillotine which was to come down globally on the whole of what was left. Their plain duty was to make a proposal whereby there would be an allocation of time, limited if necessary, for every one of the other Amendments. How can anyone in this House excuse a deliberate arrangement forced through by the Government that almost 60 Amendments should not be allowed to be debated, Amendments not initiated in this House, but laws and legislation passed by another Chamber, an hereditary and non-elective Chamber? As I say, all that was forced and foisted upon the country without this House being able to say a word.
If the Government are complaining about the abuse of time, then it was perfectly simple for them—and I would not have blamed them if they had done so— so to arrange the timing of their machinery in this House that every Amendment could be discussed. They say that we took two days, or whatever it was, over one Amendment. Surely that cannot be complained of constitutionally, because if it had been wrong it would not have been allowed by the Chair. It seems to me that the topics discussed must have been sufficiently broad and important to require the time that was taken in debating them.
In any case, if that is not so, and even if the Opposition were wrong or obstructive—and I do not admit that they were —it could not possibly justify, on any ground, the suppression of every other one of the Lords Amendments. The result is that the House of Commons has been prevented from debating new law which has been passed, not by the House of Commons, but by another place.
I want to say a word about the weight to be attached to that portion of the Bill which has been passed by the other place. It has not been mentioned, and it is an important matter which should be taken 286 into account. We all know that the other Chamber is very poorly attended. That must of necessity affect the political weight of the decisions made in that other Chamber, especially when it comes to an important Bill such as the Transport Bill, affecting a vital public service. It is all the more necessary that any part of it which is to be passed should have close scrutiny and full debate by the House of Commons. Instead of that, it was passed by another place whose numbers are more comparable to a small committee than to a whole House. That is a fact that cannot be denied.
It cannot be gainsaid that the public are having put upon them vital legislation initiated and passed for the first time by an hereditary and non-elective Chamber with no mandate or authority from the electorate at all. and the House of Commons, who are the elected representatives of the electorate, are not allowed even to discuss that legislation. That, to my mind, is the vital issue here.
The House of Commons, which is the representative elected assembly of the people of this country, has been deprived of any judgment on these matters. It has not been able to state the views of the electorate whom its represents. That has been banned by the Guillotine which this Government has used and which can become a very formidable and dangerous instrument in the hands of a Tory Government.
The complaint was that there was too much debate. But was there? This was the undoing of legislation which had been created as a result of an overwhelming authority that had been vested in the hands of the Labour Government in 1945—a Government which had been sent here by a huge majority which was almost unprecedented and which was mandated to pass that very legislation. This present Government is a minority Government; it has a very narrow majority in this House and that is built upon a minority of votes in the country.
It is no use the Leader of the House animadverting, as he did, upon the observations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) who said that when we were in office in 1950 we did not try to push controversial legislation through the House for the excellent and democratic reason, of which this Government should 287 take note, that we did not feel that we had a mandate from the country; our vote in the country at the General Election was not strong enough to justify it.
But here it is not a question of passing legislation with a majority behind it; it is a question of a minority Government undoing legislation which had a large majority of the Electorate behind it. That in itself would be a serious state of affairs, but when the Government, in order to enforce that situation, use the power of another place which is undemocratic and non-elected, which represents a special class and a small section of the community, it becomes absolutely unjustifiable and a danger to the public and to the Constitution.
The Lords Amendments, as I have said, were not simple matters that could be brushed aside. It was very essential for the Government, if they intended to get the proceedings through within a certain time, at least to guarantee to the House that every one of those Amendments would have reasonable examination and discussion. Those Amendments dealt with very important matters. First of all, they dealt with valuable public property which was being transferred. They dealt with an important service, as I have already said and I do not want to go over that ground again. They dealt with matters that are vital to road safety, to the safety of life and limb. They touched upon questions relating to conditions and employment and, what is equally, if not more, important, probable loss of employment.
Those subjects are the concern of people who have sent us here to the House of Commons to represent them, to speak for them, to safeguard their rights, to try to shape legislation that is reasonably safe for them, and we have been denied the right to discuss any of those matters. The Government should hide their faces in shame at having brought the House of Commons into such contempt. [Laughter.] The Government Front Bench laugh, and they laugh because it is a great joke to them. If they can use another place in this novel way in order to push what they want through the House of Commons by gagging it, of course they can laugh at it; but the people in the country will not laugh at it, and we as Members of Parliament who 288 are trying to do our honest duty are not prepared to laugh at it either.
The lesson to the House of Commons and to the country is clear. The Tory Government have given the other place predominance over the House of Commons. There is no question about that. The proof of it is in the fact that the House of Lords has been allowed to pass legislation which is going upon the Statute Book and on which the House of Commons has been completely gagged. If that does not make the other House predominant then I do not know what does. It is Government by a single Chamber and, as I interjected into the debate last week when the Order was being discussed, it is Government by the wrong Chamber. It is Government by an hereditary and privileged section of the community. That cannot be denied.
It means, in a word, that no matter in what form a Bill reaches another place from the House of Commons, a few Members of that other place can reshape it drastically, and when it comes to the House of Commons a Tory Government can completely emasculate the right of this House by using the power of the Guillotine. For such an arbitrary and mischievous claim, this Government should be censured by the House and dismissed by the country.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Allan (Paddington, South)
I have listened to previous censure Motions in this House, and though I have been tempted to intervene I have restrained myself from doing so because of my awe and because people with greater Parliamentary experience than I had desired to speak. But having listened to this debate for some time I have rather lost my awe, and though I feel no more qualified to speak, nevertheless I thought it would be quite a good thing if someone with little Parliamentary experience made a contribution to this debate, and also, of course, even the humblest back bencher is vitally concerned in the way we conduct our affairs.
I was very sorry to hear the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). His attack on my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), was most unfair because my noble Friend, before venturing 289 into any proposal concerning another place, made it quite clear that if he had his choice he would stay in the House of Commons all the years of his life. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the real issue was whether the House of Commons was being gagged or not.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
What I said was that laws were passed through another place, and when they came to be considered in the House of Commons we were gagged and not allowed to say a word about them.
§ Mr. Allan
That is what I said, that the real issue was whether the House was being gagged or not. If that were the case the benches in this House would be more crowded now than they are, and I feel that some of this debate would have had a very different tone. I would not like to say what the real issue here is, though I have my own ideas, but clearly it is not one of such vital importance as the hon. and learned Gentleman tried to make out.
The hon. and learned Gentleman dealt at some length with the issue of the Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill. No one disputes that the Lords Amendments were important. Nevertheless, it was quite clear, and I think it has been conclusively proved by the figures which I have, and which have been already given to the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South, that the Opposition were determined to obstruct. They adopted an attitude which they were perfectly entitled to follow, but it was not one which gained them credit either in this House or outside.
As the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said, the Opposition are perfectly entitled under the rules which govern our procedure to do what they did; but, on the other hand, the Government, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman also pointed out, have got the rights of the majority, and are quite entitled to pass their legislation through Parliament.
The point was raised by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and others that this is a minority Government and it has not the right to push through the sort 290 of legislation which we were discussing when this issue arose. In point of fact, we have a working majority. Hon. Members have also stated today that one of the reasons we cannot send Bills upstairs to Committee is that we have such a small majority, and so they have to be discussed on the Floor of the House. I think I am right in saying that, with the exception of the de-nationalisation Bills and the Finance Bill, all Measures have gone upstairs, and following the precedent set by hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power, the de-nationalisation Bills have been taken on the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Crookshank
As a matter of fact, it was not the precedent because it was the normal practice for the present Opposition to send those Bills upstairs when they were in power.
§ Mr. Allan
I am glad to be corrected by my right hon. Friend. The issue has also been raised whether we have authority to pass this legislation. I do not subscribe greatly to the theory of the electoral mandate, but I do not expect there was a single Conservative candidate at the last Election who did not make some promise or other about denationalisation. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that we have a mandate for this particular legislation, and that the Government were perfectly entitled to push it through. Had this Guillotine Motion on the Lords Amendments been submitted earlier, I suggest that the Opposition would have saved their face, we would have had very reasonable debates, and we would not have had the Parliamentary temperature raised as it has been raised.
One point I should like to raise is that these wrangles which we have over procedure are not nearly as important as they are made out to be. In fact, we would have a much larger attendance in the House at this moment if they were. From conversations which I have had with back benchers on both sides of the House, it does not seem to me that the back benchers are fully behind the Front Benchers in these matters. The Prime Minister the other day said that he did not achieve his declared wish of getting the Transport Bill through before the weekend, and he very handsomely admitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South had scored a victory over him.
291 It is said by some that the passage of the Guillotine Motion itself was a victory for the Government, because they got their Bill on the day they wanted it. Now it is being said by hon. Members opposite that because we had to have this extra day the whole thing in the end has been a victory for the Opposition. In their very narrowest terms these may be Parliamentary victories, but to me, with a great deal of respect for Parliament but admittedly not very much experience, they seem pretty hollow victories, not of the kind which hon. Members in this House and certainly the people in our constituencies estimate of any account whatever.
The second reason I have sought to intervene is to say that it is the back benchers who carried the heat and the burden of the night during the late sittings. My right hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench are extremely inconvenienced by night Sittings, but, after all, their Parliamentary work is whole-time, and they are fairly adequately rewarded for it. They have facilities to carry on their work in this House. The right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench have tasted the fruits of office, and may in the very remote future hope to do so again. But we on the back benches are not comforted in the present, nor do we have any very great confidence in the future. It is we who, with the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Benches, have to sit up all night, and then on the following morning a great many of us have to do some work or other.
As was mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, this seems to raise the question of the need to examine the conduct of our business. I do not wish to go into details, even were I allowed to do so, but I do not favour the idea of paying high salaries to hon. Members which would make them feel bound to regard themselves as professional politicians. I think the House collectively would lose in experience and knowledge by that. Equally, I do not condemn out of hand all late sittings or all all-night sittings. It may well be that in the interests of the continuity of debate a very long sitting is sometimes necessary. Perhaps there is an important matter 292 before the House which requires lengthy discussion before a decision may be arrived at; or in Committee there may be a whole series of related Amendments on which a sustained and long argument is necessary.
With those reservations, I would say that this debate reinforces the plea made earlier for some re-examination of our method of conducting our business, though if that course were adopted there would be a very long delay before anything came of it, and in the meantime we should still be faced with this problem. The real issue would seem to be how we are to conduct our business in a more reasonable manner. The rules by which we work may be reformed and I would agree that they should be investigated. Equally, however good any rules may be, it is the interpretation of them which counts. We have had a great deal of talk today about the duties of the Opposition, but the Opposition also have a duty to the House as a whole to enable it to do its business, and I think that duty has not been fulfilled as well as other aspects of Opposition policy which hon. Members have extolled.
Then we come to that subterranean mystery, the "usual channels." I am not qualified to speak about the "usual channels" at all, but since I have been in this House they seem to have been blocked up, if we may judge by what has flown through them, or rather what has not. I have heard that blockages have occurred largely because of the difficulty experienced by the Opposition Front Bench in agreeing with their supporters about what time is to be taken for business. I am quite sure that no one would be more pleased than my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the Patronage Secretary if those "usual channels" could be unblocked.
While I support the Government today, I would add my voice to those who have called for a re-examination of the conduct of our business. Although it may be very presumptuous of me, I would urge right hon. Members on both the Opposition and the Government Front Benches, in the interests of Parliamentary Government and of their back benchers, to see whether they can find a satisfactory modus vivendi.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
The hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. R. Allan) urged that we should try to find a better way of conducting our business. He may well be right, though I would enter this word of caution; that the best way of conducting our business is not necessarily the way which will most easily meet the convenience of hon. Members. The best way may prove in some respects to be very inconvenient for us, but we must put up with that because it is what we are here for.
I agree that there is a case for discussing what is, in the interest of the nation, the best way of conducting our business. A great part of the case we make against the Government is that their behaviour, not only recently but throughout this Parliament, is continually prejudicing the atmosphere in which such discussions may be carried out. Although the immediate occasion of this Motion was the imposition of a block Guillotine on the Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill, we must regard the proceedings on the Transport Bill as only one example of the general attitude of the Government.
In the Motion we draw attention to the fact that, by their behaviour, the Government are injuring the dignity of this House. In their Amendment the Government attempt to shuffle off the blame upon us. That is typical of what has happened all through the proceedings on the Transport Bill. Let us consider this Bill from the moment of its first appearance, because it was an ill-omened Bill from the start. It was mentioned in the King's Speech at the beginning of the last Session as one of the Measures which the Government hoped to get through then. Owing to the extraordinary degree of incompetence displayed by those responsible for managing the business of the Government in this House, the Bill did not see the light of day in that Session.
When the text of the Bill first appeared it was of such terrifying badness that a considerable number of hon. Members, who are normally supporters of the Government, shrank from it, and new proposals had to be put forward. That is the atmosphere in which this Bill, which has been causing so much trouble to the House, has come before us in its present form.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
Has not the hon. Member forgotten that His Majesty the King died during that period, which caused a loss of Parliamentary time?
§ Mr. Stewart
I have certainly not forgotten that. But surely the hon. Gentleman is not seriously suggesting that was the reason why this Bill was not introduced. There were several other Measures mentioned in the King's Speech which also did not get through. In fact, if we look through that Speech we shall see that not a single major Measure mentioned there got through. It is really most improper for the hon. Gentleman to refer to a solemn national event of that kind and try to use it as something so wildly inappropriate as an excuse for the incompetence of the Leader of the House during that Session.
If the Government state that they propose to introduce a Bill in one Session and are unable to do so; and if, through their incompetence, the Bill is eventually introduced in such a form that it has to be taken away and thought out again, surely it is reasonable for them to expect that such a Bill will meet with strenuous opposition. On Second Reading it did meet with very strenuous opposition, and what was the reaction of the Government? They turned on the Opposition and said, "You have opposed this Bill on Second Reading very strongly. We will use that as an argument for imposing the Guillotine on the Committee and the Report stages of the Bill." That Guillotine was imposed without discussion with the Opposition to see if an agreed time-table could be reached.
The reason given for imposing it was that the Opposition had opposed the Bill on Second Reading. I would most emphatically draw attention to the kind of tactic that was employed. First, a Bill was prepared and brought forward in circumstances that made it the inevitable duty of the Opposition to oppose it most strenuously. Then the Opposition's action was termed obstruction and made the excuse for further efforts to restrict proper discussion of the Bill.
But that was only the first stage in the process. The Government decided to deal with the Committee stage of the Bill in Committee of the whole House. That was, in itself, a regrettable decision. We 295 do not get better consideration by the House by trying to pack into a limited amount of time discussion nominally before the whole House but in such conditions that only a very limited number of hon. Members can take part. We get a better judgment by the House on a Bill of that kind when it is sent to a Standing Committee, where it can be examined for the proper length of time without other business continually treading on its heels and providing the Government with an excuse for squeezing the discussion.
Why did not the Government do that? There was only one reason. They were afraid that they would not keep their slender majority in a Standing Committee. They could do so perfectly well if it were not for the fact that a number of hon. Members opposite have other claims on their time to which they give priority over affairs in this House. They are entitled to do that, I suppose, if they can square it with their constituents. What the Government are not entitled to say is that because their supporters are so self-indulgent that they will not come to Standing Committees in the mornings, business that ought to go to Standing Committee is to take up the time of the whole House.
But that is what they did, with the inevitable result that consideration of the Bill took a very long time. Clearly, that was going to jeopardise the Government's programme. That is a danger they could easily have avoided by having the Bill dealt with in the proper way, in Standing Committee. But one error in procedure led the Government into another. Having decided to take the Bill in Committee of the whole House the Government found themselves pressed for time. Therefore, they were driven to say, "Then we must Guillotine it in Committee of the whole House."
That was the origin of the Guillotine on the Committee stage of the Bill. It sprang from those two facts—a wrong decision to deal with the Bill in Committee of the whole House, and the extraordinary argument by the Leader of the House that because the Opposition had attacked the Bill on Second Reading the discussion of its later stages must be squeezed under the Guillotine.
So we had Committee and Report stages which were inadequate, which were 296 bound, in view of the action the Government had taken, to be inadequate and which, indeed, the Government intended to be inadequate. And what did they find as a result of that? They found that as the discussions in Committee and on Report went on it became apparent that the Government really could not let the Bill pass into law without some alterations in it. The case urged from this side for certain Amendments was so strong that the Government felt it impossible to let the Bill become law without accepting some changes. But they were restricted by their own Guillotine. It was not possible to get those changes, the necessity for which had by then become apparent to the whole House, put into the Bill while it was still before the House of Commons.
The Government were, therefore, forced to another irregularity—that of having to make in another place Amendments of a length and of a nature that really ought not to be left to another place and that would not have been left to them if proper consideration of the Bill in the House had not been prevented by the Government's Guillotine. So, at one stage after another, each ill-judged step has put the Government in a position in which it has been obliged to go on to a further irregularity.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Has the hon. Gentleman forgotten that the Socialist Government, in 1947, put before the House on the Transport Bill of that year 230 Lords Amendments compared with 71 in this case?
§ Mr. Stewart
We did not object to that. We did not attempt to impose a Guillotine. If the hon. Gentleman will study those Amendments he will find that although they were numerous not one of them was of the nature of the chief Amendment which was under discussion a few weeks ago. That was almost a Bill in itself. It was as long as some Bills and, in effect, we had to have a Second Reading debate before we could even consider what alterations in detail should be made in it. There was no parallel to that in the 1947 Act.
Following quite inevitably from the way the Government had behaved so far, we got the Bill back from the Lords with extensive Amendments made in it. What was the natural result of that? If a Bill 297 is brought back from the Lords with extensive Amendments in it there is likely to be a considerable debate on those Amendments. Yet when the Opposition proposed to have a considerable debate the Government again said "Oh, no. This is obstruction. It is true that this Bill has come from the Lords in a way that is most unusual, but all the same we really cannot allow you to discuss the Lords Amendments in full or give them proper consideration. We shall restrict your consideration of them by the use of something quite unprecedented—a Guillotine on Lords Amendments."
§ Mr. Stewart
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me of the various excuses offered by the Government for this extraordinary procedure.
There was the suggestion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that because, in the usual interchange across the Floor of the House which occurs on Thursdays about the following week's business, we had not explicitly said to the Government that two days was not enough, the whole of the Opposition, indeed, the whole of the House, were prevented—estopped, was the legalistic word the hon. Member used —from prolonging the debate on the Lords Amendments. A proposition of that kind has only to be stated for its absurdity to be apparent.
As has already been pointed out by hon. Friends of mine there is plenty of precedent to show that the House does not, and cannot possibly, bind itself by the interchange of argument about the business for next week that occurs on Thursdays to any precise programme for the following week. It is against the whole spirit and nature of this House to set out the programme in a precise and definite manner of that kind.
Then it is suggested that the actual discussion on the Lords Amendments was of an unnecessary and obstructive character. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West tried to deal with that point by listing the number of Amendments. He said that there were 14 Lords Amendments and three of them were purely drafting while several of the rest hung in pairs together, as if we could talk about Amendments by number as 298 if they were all of equal importance. There was one of these Amendments which was really a Bill in itself. To talk of it as if we could weigh it side by side with a drafting or consequential Amendment is to ignore the whole facts of the case.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not accept the statement that the Amendment in question was a Bill in itself, but even if it was it had three days' discussion, which is three times what most Bills have.
§ Mr. Stewart
One of my hon. Friends reminds me that the Minister is exaggerating; but, even if he were not, what happened when we were discussing that considerable Amendment? Quite properly, a series of Amendments was put down by the Opposition. Nobody will say as yet that it is improper for the Opposition to try to amend Lords Amendments. I remember the discussion that we had; it was very remarkable. It dealt with the point of what the Commission is to do if, at the end of a certain period of time, it is left with the shares of certain companies on its hands. I agree that the point ought not to have taken very long, but what happened was that the Parliamentary Secretary gave one answer, the Attorney-General got up and gave another, and, indeed, on the point about which we on this side of the House wanted to know, the two of them contradicted each other. Then the Minister had to get up to try to tidy up what his two colleagues had said.
The Minister has asked me why all this took three times as long as a Bill usually takes, and I replied that it was because there were three Ministers who replied and that it was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. I would pay the right hon. Gentleman the compliment of saying that, if he had been here by himself, it might have been possible to get through the business a little quicker, and that the Government have themselves largely to blame, by incompetent explanations of the points raised, for the time taken up by what was quite a simple matter.
299 Once again, it is the Government who are at fault and who are trying to lay the blame for it on the Opposition. We had three Ministers giving contradictory answers, and as a result, the proceedings took three times as long as they should, and then we are told that the Opposition were filibustering. That is the kind of argument to which we have had to listen to all through this debate. Moreover, when it had become apparent that there were difficulties about getting the Lords Amendments through, we for our part entered into discussions with the Government. We were willing to conclude the business at the end of three more days. The Government, quite obviously, in spite of what they have said today, did not regard that as unreasonable, because they themselves thought that two days would be a necessary allowance.
The argument at that stage had narrowed down to the question whether there should be two or three more days, but now there was another figure on the horizon. There was the Prime Minister, ramping and roaring, informing the House that the business must be finished by the end of the week, though it was apparent that that could only be done by taking away the time normally given to Private Members on Fridays and pursuing the unusual course of bringing the House together on Saturday. However, that course was not persisted in. When next we considered the matter, there was, if I may use an historic phrase, an appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober, and we were told that the Government would bring that about by means of the Allocation of Time Order which has proved such an unprecedented part of our discussions.
That established a very interesting principle. It established the principle that, when the Prime Minister, speaking on Thursday, says "this week," it means any time up to the end of the following Monday, but, and this is absolutely vital, on no acount will he allow "this week" to mean any time up to the end of the following Tuesday. He established that point to make sure that the Government should finish the business in two more days rather than that we should have to resort to the extraordinary procedure of a block Guillotine on Lords Amendments. That is what all this talk of opposition filibustering comes down to. Are we to be accused of filibustering solely because we 300 are not prepared to accept without question the Government's definition of how much time is enough? That was how the Government got themselves into this position of having to introduce a block Guillotine on Lords Amendments.
I shall endeavour to be brief, but I am anxious that this argument should be clear. I would remind the House of the steps that led the Government to this extraordinary length. First of all, they introduce a Bill about which they were in two minds themselves, and the original form of which was so appalling that it had to be withdrawn. They provoke the Opposition and then say that the Opposition are obstructing, and they make that the excuse for the Guillotine on the Committee and Report stages.
The Guillotine on the Committee and Report stages produced inadequate discussion of the Bill, so that it becomes necessary to amend it to an exceptional degree in the Lords. The result of it being amended to an exceptional degree in the Lords is that there is likely to be a long debate on the Lords Amendments, and when they come back to this House, the Government then say, "We cannot tolerate a very long debate, and we are going to impose the Guillotine on the Lords Amendments."
What are the objections to that Guillotine Motion on the Lords Amendments? One might say, first of all, that it is quite unprecedented to use the Guillotine on the discussion of Lords Amendments, though I would not regard that myself as an overwhelming argument against it. To say that something is unprecedented is not a decisive argument against it, though I think that, when we do something unprecedented, it ought to be done seriously and after consideration, and not merely by way of saving the Prime Minister's face and enabling the Government to make up for their past nonsense.
A second objection to the use of the Guillotine on the Lords Amendments was that it was a block Guillotine, whereby, at the end of a fixed time, we were not even allowed the opportunity to vote, even if we wished to do so, on the Amendments separately. We had to decide on all the Amendments together; it was a case of, "Do you like them or not?" It was what used to be known a few years ago as the process of a conditional sale. Some of the Amendments, 301 it was recognised, we all wanted, but the House was told, "If you want any, you must have the lot," despite the fact that some of them contained very serious considerations of Privilege.
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West and one or two others have tried to argue that we really need not have made any fuss about it, because the Amendments were for the most part drafting Amendments and had passed the Lords without a Division. It is an extraordinary doctrine that Amendments that have gone through the Lords without a Division ought not to be amended or possibly considered in this House, but, even suppose that were true, and that the Amendments were all of the most blameless character, it is still quite possible, proper and desirable to say that this practice is unnecessary and profoundly dangerous to the proper rights and privileges of this House, because the people who are aiming at destroying the privileges of democratic assembly always seek a good occasion for so doing.
What was at issue in the famous ship money case in which John Hampden was involved? The King's proposition was that not only seaport towns but inland towns should contribute to the upkeep of the Navy—a most admirable and reasonable proposition—and all that was in question was that, unfortunately, the King proposed to do it by a totally illegal method. Similarly, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said that foreigners coming to this country would regard the occasion about which we are disputing as trivial, as it was in the ship money case—a wealthy country gentleman cavilling at paying a sum of 40s.
Anyone who has studied the history of democratic institutions and of how they have resisted attempts made against them knows very well that, if you want to introduce an undesirable precedent, you always choose the best and most smooth-seeming occasion for doing it. The fact that these Amendments had much to be said for them is neither here nor there. They were being used as a way of getting the House to agree to a method of dealing with Lords Amendments which could subsequently be quoted as a precedent, to the very great damage of this House.
302 A further objection was that we were able to get that Guillotine Motion accepted by the House only by stretching the terms of the Allocation of Time Order, to which the House agreed on 24th November, because nobody had the least idea, when that Order was passed, that it could cover Lords Amendments. We had to get from Mr. Speaker a ruling to the effect that there is a difference between the stages of a Bill and the proceedings on a Bill, a thing which had not occured to anybody before.
The Leader of the House spoke today of the proceedings on the Lords Amendments as one of the stages of the Bill-exactly what it is not, and Mr. Speaker had already ruled that it was not. It may be said that it was only a slip of the tongue, but that is exactly the kind of slip of the tongue that Leaders of the House will not be able to make in future. We established quite casually the distinction between stages of a Bill and proceedings on a Bill which may have we do not know what consequences in the future.
Further, I ventured to ask Mr. Speaker at the time whether the Order passed on 24th November could properly cover Lords Amendments, and, if so, whether we ought not to have had our attention called to the fact at the time. I ventured to ask why Mr. Speaker had not so called our attention to it. I will quote Mr. Speaker's reply to the House, although I am not quoting his exact words. He said, "I will be perfectly frank with the hon. Member. It did not occur to me at all."
That is the position in which the Chair has been put by this extraordinary procedure, all to save one Parliamentary day and the face of the Prime Minister. That is really why we are moving a Motion of this kind today. The Government have not really made any answer to the case. They created the difficulties on this Bill by their own ineptitude in the first stages, and, to deal with that situation, they rushed matters in trying to find a quick easy way out of their own difficulties, not caring at all how many procedural and constitutional difficulties their handling of the matter left this House to deal with in future, and not only this House, but another place as well.
303 When we were debating the Guillotine during the Committee stage of the Transport Bill, I ventured to compare the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House with Lady Macbeth who said, when she was committing a crime:If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIt were done quickly.Since then he has taken over another role. He has appeared in the guise of Madame Defarge, sitting by the guillotine counting the heads as they fell. The heads in this case are not only the Lords Amendments, but the privileges and the dignity of this House and the proper relations between this House and another place.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
There was at least one point on which I agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). He said that in his view this Motion of censure arose out of pique. I think that would be accepted on all sides, and that it arises from the fact that hon. Members opposite lost the last Election. The whole of their opposition, which has culminated in this debate today, is due to the fact that we have kept our election promise and set about de-nationalising road transport.
The hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) said that the only reason for today's debate was that the Bill was badly prepared in the first case; it was so inept that the House had had to spend so much time on it and that the natural consequence was that we had to have this Motion. But the threat to defeat this Bill was made by the Opposition before its terms were known. They did not know what they were going to oppose. The suggestion that it was an inept Bill does not hold water. I think that was thought up by the hon. Member in order to make a point at this stage of the debate.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
The hon. Member says that we were resolved to oppose the principle of the Bill before its text was known. But is the fact that the general principle of the Bill is known to be objectionable to the Opposition an excuse for bringing forward an inept and badly drafted Bill?
§ Mr. Nicholls
The hon. Member was quite clearly trying to justify the extreme nature of today's Motion by saying that it flowed naturally from a bad Bill. The Opposition had to bring in these various points once they had nailed their colours to the mast as to the line they were going to take before they knew the terms of the Bill at all. I think that is a complete answer to a weak argument.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Would the hon. Member care to explain to the House how in the world the Opposition could know what it wanted to oppose before the Government knew what it wanted to propose?
§ Mr. Nicholls
That is exactly the dilemma in which I find myself. I thought that the weakest point the Opposition made on the Transport Bill and the Steel Bill was when they threatened completely to demolish them before they knew what they had to demolish.
None of the arguments from hon. Members opposite has really been directed to the terms of the Amendment itself. They say that this is a constitutional outrage and that it opens the door to an undemocratic Government of the future and to the taking away of the freedoms that have been born over the centuries. It was the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) who really dealt with that point most adequately. Indeed, the hon. Member for Fulham, East produced precisely the same argument.
How can it be said that this is a constitutional outrage which attacks the freedoms born over the centuries when all it boils down to is whether or not an extra day should be given to debating the Bill? That really is the whole point, whether we should have continued on the Tuesday with the Lords Amendments or whether we should have finished on the Monday. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said that all he wanted was an extra day. I submit that the words of the Motion were very adequately answered by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery.
The other argument that has been put was advanced by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South on 21st April, when he said that the Patronage Secretary and the Leader of the House got special delight out of saying "No" to the Opposition and that they did not know how 305 much light could be caused by saying "Yes" now and again. Hon. Members opposite are trying to create the impression that they want to be reasonable and that all they want is for the Government to say "Yes" on one or two occasions, and that they have no desire at all to delay the Government in their business. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South admitted that the time allowed for the Amendments was very much more than is ordinarily the case. There is no question of the Leader of the House refusing to say "Yes"; he has said "Yes" to a greater extent than has been said in previous discussions on similar Lords Amendments.
If we examine the background to this debate, we find that all this sweet reasonableness which would flow from the Opposition benches is not based upon our experience so far. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) referred to a letter which he and some of his hon. Friends wrote to "The Times" last year, and I think reference to that letter is not out of order when we are considering whether or not the Opposition axe filibustering. This is an extract:The purpose of this Opposition has been to employ Government time upon administrative legislation and to deny Government time to introduce contentious legislation for which they had no mandate.That is a clear admission that the purpose of the Opposition was to use up Government time in any and every way to prevent the Government from carrying out Measures for which they were given a mandate at the last Election. The letter concluded:The Opposition has the power, the will and the ingenuity to frustrate it.They are using the power which they are supposed to have and they are using all the will they have to frustrate the Government in their efforts to carry out the intentions for which they had a clear mandate from the country at the last General Election.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Surely the hon. Gentleman is not claiming, after all the changes which the Transport Bill has gone through, that the Bill bears any resemblance to the mandate for which the Government asked the people.
§ Mr. Nicholls
The mandate for which we asked the people was a mandate to 306 de-nationalise road transport, and that is precisely what the Bill does. In the letter to "The Times" the Opposition made it quite clear that they were using all the means at their disposal, whether they were taking up Parliamentary time rightly or wrongly, to defeat the Government in that endeavour. That called for comment from the editor of "The Times." who wrote:For not even the 'evolving' British constitution could tolerate a convention which forbade the Government to govern or allowed them to govern only at the discretion of the Opposition. …That is the sort of proposition which really would have been intolerable, but that was only one example of the mood of the Opposition of thinking they could prevent the Government from doing their job. The ex-Minister of Food wrote in one of the Sunday papers as follows:I know the Tories for the moment are in office but we are still in power. We are the ruling class and should act like it.That is the sort of mentality which has been displayed against the Government the whole time we have been in office trying to carry out what we promised the country. The right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up the debate, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), speaking in the House on 9th April, said:But we warn the Government that if they do not do it, if they insist upon forcing this legislation through the House, we cannot guarantee them any facilities whatsoever, either on the Finance Bill or the Supplies and Services Bill, despite whatever constitutional embarrassments may follow. We must not allow ourselves to be driven in this way.Who is threatening constitutional upheaval? Who is saying that, despite the constitutional embarrassments which may follow, they will not allow the Government to carry out their legislative programme? In the same debate the right hon. Gentleman said:I seriously suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the Government ought to reconsider the whole of their legislative programme. They ought to abandon certain Bills uncongenial to the Opposition. I know that it is difficult for the Government, but actually the Opposition are in charge of the situation and not the Government.The Opposition would have been in charge of the situation if we had allowed their tactics of delay, unconstitutional or otherwise, to prevent us from carrying out the intentions which we placed before the 307 country at the last Election. We had another threat from the right hon. Gentleman in the same debate, when he said:If Parliament is so much out of tune with what the country wants, if the Government of the day force through legislation so demon-strably against the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate, how is it possible for us continually to 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. 2786–87.]Hon. Members opposite talk about power being taken along the corridor to another place. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that it is to be taken outside the House to the factory gates, with, I have no doubt, some garbled version which would come from the Opposition. There is no doubt that this debate arises out of pique. It arises out of the pique of hon. Members opposite at having lost the last Election. We had "Mein Kampf" putting in writing the intentions of the leader of the German nation, but we have never had more clearly laid down than today the precise sort of line hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite intend to follow to frustrate the decisions of the Government.
There is a list of figures relating to the Transport Bill that I think ought to be on the record and which have not been given as yet. The Opposition have criticised the number of Amendments that came back from another place, and they have criticised the amount of time given for the consideration of those Amendments. Let me remind them of these figures.
The 1947 Act consisted of 128 Sections and 15 Schedules covering in all 173 pages. The Bill passed through all its stages in this House in 146 hours. That was when we were the Opposition. That was an average of 50 minutes' discussion per page. The new Bill is of 36 Clauses and four Schedules, covering 50 pages. Progress through this House of this very much smaller Measure has taken 130 hours, an average of two hours and five minutes per page—something like 50 minutes extra per page.
How can the Opposition—let them call it a better Opposition, if they will—say that the Leader of the House has not allowed the Opposition the time to carry out their intentions? The Socialist Government allotted one Parliamentary day 308 for consideration of 230 Lords Amendments to their Measure of 1947. The Conservative Government allotted two Parliamentary days for the consideration of 71 Amendments from another place. However we look at this, whether the time given for the Amendments that came down from another place, or the size of the Bill, we find that on every score the present Government have been much more forthcoming in allotting time to the House than the previous Government whose supporters are now criticising us so much.
This is a "phoney" censure Motion, and that is illustrated by the attendance in the Chamber. From the opening speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South the whole thing has fallen flat because Members of this House on both sides know that the foundation of this Motion is "phoney" and faulty. The question in my mind is whether this is the last of the filibustering. Is this the end of the 18 months they threatened in their first speeches and in their letters? Or are we beginning now a time-wasting procedure to be continued when we take the Finance Bill and other Measures?
The Opposition think they may be creating an impression in the country, but I can tell them from my experience that the country is not interested in this silly wrangling going on all through the night. If people in the country have any knowledge of it at all, they think it a disgraceful performance, and they criticise those responsible for continuing it, and it is those who continue it who are the people who are attacking the Constitution of this country that has grown through the centuries by the process of trial and error.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Proctor (Eccles)
This Motion is the most serious Motion the Opposition could put down affecting the Government of the day. To censure a Government for their conduct towards the House of Commons is a very serious thing, but I consider that this Government deserve this Censure, and that their conduct towards the House in relation to the Transport Bill is in every way to be condemned. I do not deny the right of a Government who have a majority to impose their will upon the House of Commons. I do not deny for a moment 309 their right to have a comfortable majority on every Committee in the House; indeed, I think we could easily have a look at all our machinery, to review it. But what I do deny is the right of a Government to legislate while, at the same time, refusing to listen to argument.
That is what the Government have done; they have refused to listen. When supporters of the Government come here and listen for the short time that they do they are unable to respond to the arguments put forward because the decision has already been made by the Prime Minister of the day and imposed on the Cabinet. The new situation in which the House of Commons has been placed, which does not afford proper time to argue out the case, and does not allow matters to be dealt with in a constitutional way, is something upon which we can condemn the Government.
§ Mr. G. Wilson
Has the hon. Gentleman ever seen the HANSARD reports of the debates on this Bill put together? I hold them here in my hand for him to see.
§ Mr. Proctor
I am not concerned about the hon. Gentleman producing a number of volumes. I say that because of the way in which the business of this House has been conducted we have not had time to deploy our arguments. It is no use the hon. Gentleman waving those papers at me, because I remember scores of Amendments being disposed of by a single vote. It is facts that count on this issue.
What we are considering here is the conduct of the Government on these Lords Amendments. It has been suggested that they have a mandate for what they did. I challenge any hon. Member opposite to tell us what mandate they had to impose a levy of the transport industry. No one ever heard of it before this Bill was brought into existence. If it had been put to the road transport people who supported the Tory Party at the last General Election they would have dismissed it out of hand. The Government have no authority whatever from the last General Election for these proposals for, not complete denationalisation, but partial denationalisation.
310 I was very interested in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) this afternoon. He referred to the visit to America of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and suggested that that was the cause of all the trouble; that my hon. Friend came back to this country full of vim and vigour and brought about all the difficulties from which we suffer in the House of Commons. I have not followed carefully what my hon. Friend said in America, but I am sure that when he was there he did not slander his own country in the scandalous way in which many members of the Tory Party did when we were in power and they visited America.
The noble Lord gave us an example of one Amendment that was not discussed because of the Guillotine, and he said that he would have liked to have spent a considerable time discussing it. It dealt with the railway accounts. He was prevented by the Guillotine of his right hon. Friends from discussing that Amendment about which he wanted to speak. He could not more clearly have condemned the use of the Guillotine. He ended his speech on a very interesting note, saying that the General Election gave the Tory Party a sufficient majority in the House to carry out the Guillotine procedure, and suggested that the next General Election might give them a sufficient majority to restore the privileges of another place.
If the Tory Party are honest, in their next General Election manifesto they will say, "Last time we had sufficient power to gag the House of Commons. Next time, if you give us a majority, we will restore the privileges of the House of Lords." I am not sure that that will be an Election winner, and I would welcome the test of democratic opinion upon that at any time.
Then the noble Lord referred to the antics of the Tory Party when we had a narrow majority, and he seemed to take great pride in their conduct at that time. It is on record, from the mouth of one of their Members, that the Tory Party said they would harry the life out of Labour Members during that period. It is a very sad fact that they succeeded in doing that. One or two of my hon. Friends, notably the late Mr. Cobb, gave, as I believe, his life for the sacrifices which he made here 311 Another case was that of an hon. Lady from South Wales who, despite a fractured skull, travelled 180 miles by car to vote in the House because it was impossible to get a pair for her.
Let us consider the conduct of the Tory Party when my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was Colonial Secretary and he and my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) were visiting Malaya. No one could suggest that two Cabinet Ministers visiting Malaya in the interests of their country could have a more responsible duty than that. The Tory Party refused to pair them while they were out there. They ran a Motion of censure on the Government during that period and attempted to bring it down. I say that conduct such as that in Opposition is scandalously unpatriotic.
§ Mr. Proctor
I have made the point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I am very glad to have brought forward a few of the facts.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order. In view of the fact that the Leader of the House, in his speech, was allowed to debate housing, food subsidies, the improvement of—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear that speech, and I am merely saying that this is too wide of the mark.
§ Mr. Proctor
During the Third Reading of the Transport Bill in the House of Commons I referred to the fact that during the time of the debates in Committee the Minister told us about new Clauses which were to be introduced in the House of Lords. We therefore concluded that we should have ample opportunity of discussing these new Clauses when they came back to the House of Commons in the shape of Lords Amendments. The proposals upon which these new Clauses were to be based came, in the first place, from the Tory Party. It was suggested by the hon. Members who brought them forward that they were to take the form of new companies being formed under the auspices of the Transport Act, and the Transport Commission were to have a financial interest in them.
312 I referred to this matter on the Third Reading debate in the House of Commons. I was naturally concerned that when these new Clauses came back from the House of Lords we should have the opportunity of debating them. Much play has been made with the fact that no protest was made when the Leader of the House came forward with the Lords Amendments and allotted one day for their consideration. Through the usual channels, many discussions take place, but they do not always represent back bench opinions; we have rights and privileges.
I immediately made representation— my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East will remember this— to the Leader of the House and to others that these were important matters upon which much time should be spent in the House of Commons, and that we should have an opportunity of discussing them. That went through the usual channels, and to suggest that because no protest was made on the Thursday when these matters were brought forward the House of Commons loses its ordinary rights is to fly flagrantly in the face of past practice and custom. I say that that is altogether wrong.
When this matter was finally discussed a large number of Amendments were put down to the Lords Amendments. My hon. Friends will remember that there were many more suggested, but that the Government appealed to us not to put them forward because some of the points had been dealt with in Committee. When those Amendments came before the House, we had a discussion. The Minister of Transport said that he had just spent 5½ hours looking through the Labour Amendments to the Lords Amendments.
We all know what it means when a Minister of the Crown says that he has spent 5½ hours looking through the Lords Amendments. That does not mean that he has gone through all the figures and has read every line himself. He sits down with the most brilliant Parliamentarians and the most expert people in transport, who give him the benefit of all their experience. If it takes the Minister 5½ hours to do that, it is quite unreasonable for him to expect back benchers to go through these matters in the express 313 fashion that has been suggested. I therefore appeal to every hon. Member to support us in this Motion of censure which the Government, by their conduct, deserve.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I am sorry to have to rise at this moment, but the Minister has given me an intimation that he wants to have roughly about 40 minutes because he has a great deal to say. Therefore, I had to rise immediately after the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor). I hope, however, that when the right hon. Gentleman replies he will address to the House a serious argument and not give the sort of exhibition that we had earlier this afternoon from the Leader of the House. I think that even hon. Members on the Government side of the House felt rather ashamed—
§ Mr. Bevan
—that the Leader of the House should have made a speech which was, on the whole, unworthy of the occasion. I think hon. Members will agree, on reflection, that it was certainly unworthy of the serious and reasoned argument to which they had listened from my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison).
I also further ask the Minister to be good enough not to spend so much time on the details of the Transport Bill but a little more time on the constitutional issues arising out of what is at present happening. We have heard a great deal about the Transport Bill, but no hon. Member from the other side has yet addressed himself to the constitutional consequences of the procedure which has been adopted.
One of the things that surprised us, although, of course, I am not reflecting upon it in the slightest degree, was the decision by Mr. Speaker as to whether the Guillotine Motion was in order. I think it will be generally accepted that no one thought that the original Motion last November included powers to apply a Guillotine to this stage of the Bill. I challenge the Government to say that they thought so. If they did, they were unworthy of their position in not making it clear to 314 the House. Certainly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) has already pointed out, when Mr. Speaker was asked why he did not direct the attention of the House to that construction of the Resolution, he said that it had not occurred to him. The Government for their part, therefore, did not think that those words bore that construction.
I am not using this argument merely to repeat what has been said, but to direct the attention of the Chair and of all hon. Members to what follows from that. Whenever there is a Motion before this House intended to deal with the business of the House, its language is always construed in the light of the practice and experience of the House. When we frame a Bill and when the ultimate refinement of a Bill takes place, the obligation rests upon the Parliamentary draftsmen to frame the Bill in such a way as to secure as nearly as possible that the courts of law will construe the Bill as the House of Commons intends.
If there is to be a construction placed upon a Motion of the House in the same way as the courts do, then every Motion of the House will have to be examined in the light, not of its commonsense interpretation and our experience, but of how the language might be construed by the courts. I challenge hon. Members anywhere to show a single instance of an hon. Member stating that the words "proceedings on the Bill" authorised the Government to introduce a Guillotine Motion on this occasion. It was, therefore, a piece of Parliamentary sharp practice.
Mr. Speaker, when he gave his Ruling, addressed himself to the interpretation of the wording itself outside the context of its relationship to our proceedings and to our experience. Therefore, we are forced now to consider Motions governing the business of the House from a purely legalistic point of view, and that is bound to mean that our proceedings are going to be added to. In fact, we shall have to cross-examine the Government each time in order to find out what they mean by certain phrases or words. In other words, we shall have to examine an ordinary Motion which is a piece of procedural convenience as though it were a piece of legislation. That is not a situation into which we ought to have 315 got ourselves. I think it would be a little better if the members of the Government were a little more straightforward with the House and told us at this stage whether they themselves intended to use that language in this way.
The speech that I made last year has been quoted at some length by supporters of the Government, and indeed I do not object. The speech is directly relevant to what is happening today. I suggested that to attempt to force controversial legislation through the House of Commons would bring the members of the Government and the House into collision on constitutional practices. I said:Last night and this morning we had one or two illustrations of it, and it is a most serious matter if the impartiality of the Chair and the objectivity of its decisions are called in question as a result of the Government seeking to avoid their own embarrassments."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1952; Vol. 498, c. 2786.]What happened last year? The Government had introduced pieces of legislation which were offensive to us. They are perfectly entitled to do that, but nobody could suggest that the legislation was relevant to the crisis of the country. They had brought in a Bill increasing the charges on the National Health Service and giving the brewers greater freedom in the new towns. That was the position when we were discussing this last year.
It was perfectly clear that, if we had wished, we could have held up Government business. My hon. Friends had begun to submit the Army Annual Bill to proper examination. The Supplies and Services Bill was to come forward and the Finance Bill was to be considered. There were, therefore, three major Bills last year that the Government needed to have if the business of the nation was to be conducted—the Finance Bill, the Army Annual Bill, the Supplies and Services Bill. The Government could not obtain all three together if the Opposition did not co-operate, but the Opposition did co-operate.
My hon. Friends on this side of the House agreed not to proceed with the consideration of the Army Annual Bill provided that a special committee was appointed for the purpose of recommending its amendment and bringing it up to date, and the Government promised the 316 amending Bill before the end of June this year. What have the Government done? I do not blame them now for not having the Bill ready, because the specialist committee considering the Bill have not finished their inquiries, but what have the Government done?
The Government have brought forward this year, without any consultation with the Opposition, an Army Annual Bill of an entirely original character which cannot be amended in any way. We have never seen a Bill like that before. Why is it done? We ought to have had the Army Annual Bill in the ordinary way and then the Government should have come to the Opposition and said, "We have not been able to finish our investigations, the Committee is still sitting and has recommended against having interim legislation. Therefore, we ask you this year to do what you did last year and not consider the Bill in Committee."
Instead of that, the right hon. Gentleman behaves as usual like a trickster, not like the Leader of the House at all. I warn hon. Members that, unless he mends his ways, he will get them into more and more trouble as he goes on. The right hon. Gentleman should not have brought forward the Bill in such a way as to emasculate the proceedings on it, but should have brought forward the Bill in its constitutional and conventional form and then should have sought compromise with the Opposition. Now, for the first time for many years, the Army Annual Bill is to go through the House of Commons once more like a decree, with no opportunity of amending it. That is the second point I want to make, and I suggest to hon. Members that this is not the way to lead the House. If the right hon. Gentleman had heard what I had heard some of his back bench Members saying about him, he would not look so complacent.
The right hon. Gentleman asked today what was a reasonable majority? My right hon. Friend said to the House, as I said last year and I repeat today, that the Government should accept the logic of the Parliamentary situation. They should not introduce controversial legislation unless they are convinced that it is in the urgent interests of the country that such legislation should be passed.
No one can suggest that either transport or steel comes into that category. No 317 one can suggest that a steel industry which, under national guidance and ownership, is flourishing would receive any advantages from nationalisation—[Laughter.]—from de-nationalisation. The House is always in a schoolboyish mood at this time. Furthermore, no one could seriously suggest that the de-nationalisation of road transport will make any improved contribution to the economic recovery of Great Britain. In fact, I have not heard anyone at all make such a claim for it. These two Measures are brought forward by the Conservatives at this moment as examples of pure doctrinaire opposition to Socialism. Therefore, we have to examine the matter strictly from that point of view.
The right hon. Gentleman asked what in our judgment was a reasonable majority, and I will try to answer him. He suggested that a reasonable majority is the majority by which the Government are normally sustained; in other words, if the Government can point to a series of majorities in the Lobby then they have a reasonable majority. But that is no definition of a reasonable majority for legislating. A reasonable majority is a majority which the Government need in the normal way of Parliamentary business. In other words, a reasonable majority for a Government is a majority by which they can carry their Bills if those Bills are sent upstairs. If it is necessary to keep all Bills of any importance whatsoever on the Floor of the House of Commons, then such a Government has not got a reasonable Parliamentary majority.
Indeed, hon. Members opposite have given complete evidence of it. One or two of them have complained today that it is not possible for business men on that side of the House to attend Standing Committees, the House of Commons and all-night sittings. In other words, the legislative processes of Parliament are now being subordinated to the business embarrassments of hon. Members opposite. If we proceeded in the normal way, if we had done what we should have done, then we should have sent the Steel Bill and the Transport Bill upstairs.
It is perfectly true that upstairs the Government would be compelled to give more serious examination to the arguments of the Committee, but if they lost important matters, they could put them right on the Report stage; nevertheless 318 they would be forced to yield to the pressure of argument, and eventually, if they could not persuade the Committee, they might lose the Bill. But the Chairmen of Committees are now armed with special powers.
When we had a large majority we sent Bills upstairs, and in the case of the Gas Bill the then Opposition kept the Committee going two whole days and two whole nights. Of course, that is how Parliament conducts its business normally when there is a piece of controversial legislation, but in this instance, because the Conservatives have not got a majority, because they do not want to attend to the business of the House properly, they dragoon the House of Commons itself and force us to consider on the Floor of the House what any decent administration would send upstairs.
So we come to the actual facts of the Lords Amendments. This matter is a lot more serious than hon. Members opposite appear to think. In the first instance, I am not primarily concerned about whether it is a Transport Bill, a Steel Bill or whatever it may be; I am concerned with the consequences of what the Government have now done. The Government have adopted the procedure of the Guillotine at this stage of a Bill. My right hon. Friend has already addressed a question to the House, and we want a reply to it. It is: do we now understand that it is the view of the Government that the Lords Amendments stage here is a normal subject for the application of the Guillotine? We want to know. Is that now to be a part of our Parliamentary procedure, because if it is, certain very serious consequences follow?
In the first place, obviously, with a large Conservative majority in the other place, we cannot use the other place in the same way as the Conservatives can. No fair-minded man would deny that. Therefore, if we are the Government we cannot get Amendments to our legislation through the other place because we would not have the majority; the Conservatives could.
It would therefore follow that, if we are to get our legislation through here at all in a reasonable way, the only people entitled to apply the Guillotine to the Lords Amendments stage in the Commons are the Labour Party, obviously, and the only people not entitled 319 to apply the Guillotine to this stage of a Bill are the Conservative Party, because if the Tory Party can use the Lords stage of the Bill to introduce important alterations in the Bill and then have the Guillotine in the House of Commons, we are denied proper consideration of the Bill. This, in fact, so biases the Constitution against us that either we are to have the Guillotine and the Conservatives are not to have it at this stage, or the House of Lords must go as a revising Chamber.
§ Mr. Bevan
It is not correct to say that it has not been used radically to amend a Bill on this occasion. I am now going to quote from the speech of Lord Leathers in the House of Lords. He said:I am informed that nearly a hundred Amendments out of a total of 211 on the Order Paper will have been incorporated in the Bill in its passage through your Lordships' House and, of these, over thirty must rank as major or important items.This is not us, this is the spokesman of the Government speaking. He went on:No mean achievement. The time was certainly usefully spent. As I said at the beginning of our proceedings at the time of the Second Reading, the Government have been ready at all stages, as indeed we should be, to listen to suggestions and have not hesitated to amend the Bill by a proper response to public opinion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 26th March, 1953; Vol. 181, c. 314–5.]In other words, on the authority of the spokesman of the Government in the House of Lords, the Lords have had an opportunity on this Bill denied to the Commons.
I therefore ask hon. Members to try to address themselves seriously to the argument. I repeat it merely for the purpose of the record, because I want to proceed to a more substantial point. If it is the fact that the nature of the constitution and composition of the Lords favours the Tories as against Labour, do they consider this is a fair way of using the procedure? It must mean, it seems to me, that we have to give consideration to the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords; otherwise, the House of Lords will have become not merely a piece of rearguard action by the Conservatives against our legislation, but a means by which the Conservatives can thwart the will of the elected House of Commons.
320 There is a further consideration that arises from the insistence of the Government to force legislation through the House of Commons despite the fact that they have a small majority. I should like hon. Members to consider this for a moment. They have another advantage over us, in addition to the fact that the House of Lords has a Conservative majority. There are sitting in this House, not a large number, but a substantial number, in view of the Government majority, of Conservative Members for Northern Ireland. On one occasion, on 21st April, the Closure was carried in this House by a majority of seven. Nine of the Conservative Members were from Northern Ireland, and the Transport Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland.
I should like hon. Members opposite to think about this, because it was thought about by Sir Samuel Hoare as far back as 22nd June, 1920, when the Government of Ireland Bill was before this House. He said:At the same time, I should have thought that after the date of Union, when Ireland will, as we hope, be really managing its own affairs, Irish representation here should cease altogether, and that we should not be faced with the anomaly of Irishmen interfering in the local affairs of England, Scotland and Wales, whilst English, Scotch and Welsh Members will have no say in the local affairs of Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1920; Vol. 130, c. 2042.]So not only are we to be denied—
§ Mr. J. R. E. Harden (Armagh)
I wish to make one point. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to the Members of the Ulster Unionist Party voting on behalf of the Government, surely he must also object to the Irish Nationalists and the Independent Labour Members voting against them?
§ Mr. Bevan
All I am pointing out here is that had it not been for the assistance of nine hon. Members from Northern Ireland the Government would have been defeated. Therefore, the second point arises, that if the Government insist on forcing legislation through this House with a narrow majority such as they have, it may also be necessary to consider the constitutional relationship between us and Northern Ireland. So that hon. Members may have some appreciation of the mischief arising from the behaviour of the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister—[Interruption.] 321 I promised to sit down before long, but if there is much interruption I shall go on.
In his speech today the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House said that we ought not to worry about this, because major legislation has passed through the House of Commons by as much as a small vote of one, and he mentioned the Reform Bill. One can appreciate the nostalgia of the right hon. Gentleman. He seems to forget that at that time it was carried because of a division in the Conservative ranks. It was a Conservative Government, and he seems to have forgotten the circumstances surrounding it.
When the right hon. Gentleman spoke about the fact that demonstrations against the Transport Bill in the country were not largely attended, and therefore that was evidence of the popularity of the Bill, I was reminded of the story of the king who told his advisers it was not true that he was unpopular, because he had just been driving through the streets and nobody had tried to shoot him. After a majority of one had carried the Reform Bill in the House of Commons, it then went to the House of Lords and, according to "The Second Tory Party, 1714-1832" by Feiling:At five in the morning of the 8th the Lords performed their 'peculiar function' successfully by a majority of 41, which included 21 bishops. The division among the Tories did not, however, correspond to any distinction between Pitt's peers and older creations, for the majority contained many of the oldest Cavalier-Tory families, Beaufort and Finches, Abingdon, Bathurst, Legges, Churchills, and Bagots.However, in the meantime there was an election and the Wigs got a majority in the House of Commons of 198 and then the problem was how should the majority be broken:Not by the creation of peers, which the King would not yet accept. By violence or by revolution, then? So it seemed likely, all this autumn and early winter. Wellington was mobbed, Londonderry knocked senseless by stones …which was unnecessary because he was senseless before—the bishops burned in effigy, noble carriages pelted. At Nottingham a crowd deliberately burned Newcastle's property. The Napoleons of Poole Harbour planned an attack on old Eldon's Dorset House in flat-bottomed boats. Attwood's Birmingham Union, 100,000 strong, swore they would pay no taxes till Reform passed. More dangerous and undisciplined unions were drilling, and buying arms.322 The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) in his speech today said, "We have been able to use our small majority on this occasion to waive our privileges in favour of the Lords and when we have a larger majority we can waive more." The is what the noble Lord said. What the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is now doing is promoting a piece of legislation not merely as a consequence of Parliamentary embarrassment but in accordance with the deep-seated principles of the Conservative Party.
The Conservative Party is fundamentally authoritarian and has never been a democratic party at all. It hates having to submit its legislation to the will of the people and it is seeking by Parliamentary trickery to hand back to the House of Lords powers we have taken away from the Lords. We say to them when they try to do that, that means the end of the Lords.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for cutting short his historic reminiscences in order to fulfil a private promise he kindly made to me. I am glad to rise in a House composed of Members from all parts of the United Kingdom. Had the right hon. Gentleman been present when we were discussing for 17 days the Transport Bill he would have heard me say to his colleague, the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), that I regretted that I could not accept an Amendment in her name to use the definition of "local authority" from the Town and Country Planning Act, because that Act passed by Members on all sides of the House and from all parts of the United Kingdom, did not apply to Scotland.
I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that a little study of Parliamentary legislation in recent years would show that hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom have joined together in devising legislation which, in some cases, may not apply to one particular part of the United Kingdom.
We have had today a very interesting debate, which has culminated the debates we have had on the Transport Bill, all of which, as hon. Members well know, have 323 been held on the Floor of the House of Commons.
The hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), if I understood him aright, complained that this Bill should have been discussed upstairs, and he appeared to think that Conservative Members of Parliament who were not diligent in their Parliamentary affairs were to blame. He put forward a most curious argument. He said that it was because Conservative Members of Parliament had other things to do apart from sitting in the House of Commons. I do not want to spend too long on this argument, but, going round the country, nothing impresses me more than the constant fear by thoughtful people that Members of Parliament on both sides are in danger of becoming specialists in Parliament alone—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]—and that the ranks of those who mix with the lives and occupations of the general public are getting thinner all the time.
I do not for a moment accept the argument of the hon. Gentleman, and that was the reason why the Bill was not sent upstairs. We made our position quite plain on this matter when, in December, 1946, the Transport Bill which became the Act of 1947 was discussed in the House of Commons. On that occasion, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary moved that the Bill should be committed to a Committee of the whole House, and the quotation can be found at column 2056 of Vol. 431 of the OFFICIAL REPORT.
It was our view then, and it is our view now, that a Bill of this importance should be discussed on the Floor of the House of Commons and I am authorised to say that, whatever our majority had been, we would have recommended to the House to discuss this Bill on the Floor of the House itself.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Clement Davies) said quite rightly that, if these charges were serious—the charges made in the second of the Opposition Motions, because they have changed their minds within 24 hours 324 and brought in a second edition; they are always ridiculing the Government about two Bills, but we have had two Motions within 24 hours—they were indeed very serious, and I wholly accept what he said. If, indeed, it was true that Her Majesty's Ministers had acted contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, then it would be a very serious thing.
I have listened today with only a brief interruption to all the speeches that have been made, and I have heard again the same arguments that were used last week on the proposal to bring to a reasonable conclusion the discussion on the Lords Amendments. The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) said that the Government had inserted new principles and had used the Guillotine to see that they were not discussed at all, and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) went so far as to say that never had Parliament been so wholly excluded from the formation of a Bill as it went along.
I think that the complaint made against myself as Minister and against the Government in general was that we were changing our minds too often as the result of Parliamentary discussion. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton said that Parliament had never been so excluded, but I think it fair to say that Parliament has never been brought into such close and continuous contact with the moulding of a Bill as on the various stages of the Transport Bill.
§ Mr. Bevan rose—
§ Mr. Bevan
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I thought he was going to answer the argument put by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery and myself about the constitutional point before going on to the Bill itself. What I want to know is this. When the Government introduced the Guillotine Motion last November, was it in their mind that the language they used included the power to apply the Guillotine at this stage?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I was going to deal with that point. If only the right hon. 325 Gentleman had not been so anxious to keep off the Transport Bill itself and to prevent the Minister getting up, I would have arrived at that point even a little sooner. The right hon. Gentleman asked me—and I am now coming to the point— to deal with the constitutional position and not to deal very much with the Transport Bill. I can quite understand his own personal reluctance, and, indeed, his inability to give the House an accurate account of the long days and sometimes nights that we spent discussing the Bill.
I shall, of course, deal with the constitutional position as I go along, but I must relate it to the Transport Bill as it is because we are accused of having violated the Constitution over the Transport Bill that the House is now being asked to censure us. It is unavoidable that I shall try to show as I go along how the Amendments to which exception has been taken—their failure, in fact, to be considered in large measure —sprang from the will of the House of Commons itself.
It would be quite unrealistic to deal with this Motion of censure without dealing with the Transport Bill. The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether we had it in mind last November, at the time when the original Motion was put on the Order Paper, that we would be confronted with a situation of this kind— [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—whether we had it in mind to use it for Guillotining the Lords Amendments.
As no doubt the right hon. Gentleman knows, this was one of the two occasions during the 17 days we discussed the Bill when he was in the House. He will see from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader fo the House on 27th April that this power was there to deal with unanticipated developments. My right hon. Friend said it wasa general precautionary power for varying and supplementing, if need be, that Order. It was made to deal with any situation which might arise. I think it was Mr. Speaker, and not one of those who raised points of order, who used the phrase: 'to cover unanticipated circumstances.' That is exactly what we are dealing with today, unanticipated circumstances."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1806.]That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman. If we had had any indication last November that there would be this 326 filibustering on the Lords Amendments, then, quite clearly, that provision would have come to our minds as being suitable for that eventuality. That eventuality was provided against in this part of the Motion, and it was there to deal with unanticipated circumstances.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two short questions? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] They will not take up too much time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members opposite are only wasting time. First, if this was in the mind of the Government, why did they not say so at the time? Secondly, if, on the other hand, this was to deal with unknown and unanticipated situations, is that not an admission that the Government had no intention of applying the original Order for the Lords Amendments?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Before I reply to the right hon. Gentleman may I explain that my reluctance to give way in future will not be due to any fear of embarrassment which the question might cause, but solely because I have a good deal to say which, in the interests of those hon. Members who have followed the Transport Bill throughout, ought to be put on record.
To the right hon. Gentleman I would say this: I did not say that we had it in mind in November to use it in these circumstances. What I said was that it was there to deal with unanticipated circumstances. We had no knowledge then that the Opposition would so use a gap in our Parliamentary procedure to hold up proper Parliamentary business. The result is that this provision can now legitimately be called in aid, as it has been, to apply to proceedings under the Bill as it had applied earlier to the stages of the Bill.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—and I am glad to get back again to this point, because he made it with great emphasis—said he had never heard anybody say in the debates that the Transport Bill was in the national interest.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
This is on record; "Urgent national interest," or words to that effect. We can follow it out tomorrow in HANSARD—[Interruption.] What the right hon. Gentleman said was heard quietly, and I commend that to 327 hon. Members behind him. He said that legislation to deal with urgent national interest might be legitimate—I am paraphrasing what he said—if there were a small majority. Had the right hon. Gentleman been present throughout the 17 days on which we have discussed the Bill he would have heard repeated claims by the Government, supported by the Government with supporting facts, that the Bill is in the national interest.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a series of charges, which are gross exaggerations, against the conduct of the Government in connection with the Bill. I should like to refer him to what he said only a few days ago, on 23rd April:With the Steel Bill it … completely reverses the whole tendency of social legislation in Great Britain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1598.]That is the most arrant nonsense. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at his own Act of 1947, the Labour Party's Transport Act, he will see what I mean.
Over the weekend the right hon. Gentleman was speaking about advertising and television and I was interested to read some words which he used:It would be a good thing for individuals to have a bit more time for reflection, to read a good book, for their minds to lie fallow and to have more time for their superficial grey matter to settle down.I recommend a good book to the right hon Gentleman: it is HANSARD, Vol. 437. From it he will see what was transferred to public ownership in 1947–60 railway undertakings, 52,000 miles of track, one-and-a-quarter million wagons, 45,000 passenger coaches, about 34,000 commercial lorries, 20,000 locomotives, 25,000 horse-drawn vehicles, 70 hotels, 1,600 miles of canals and 100 steamships.
How much of this great quantity of transport is being touched by the Transport Bill? Merely 30,000 lorries and their property and equipment, with the possibility, in the passenger bus undertakings, of the controlling share holding being lost to the Commission. To talk about a Measure of this kind as completely reversing the whole tendency of social legislation is the grossest exaggeration.
The next charge made by the right hon. Gentleman was that this Bill had been subjected to a very rigid Guillotine and 328 had never been properly examined. If he casts his mind back to his own Bill of 1947 he will find that Clauses affecting pensions and compensation, superannuation rights, all the charges machinery, and the Schedule relating to the Transport Tribunal, under which the present fare rises are now being considered— were none of them discussed in the House of Commons. If our Guillotine was rigid the right hon. Gentleman's Guillotine was a complete strangulation. The right hon. Gentleman added:Mere voting on whether one agrees with a Bill or not is very little removed from Government by decree."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 23rd April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1602.]But that is exactly what happened in 1947—can I have the right hon. Gentleman's attention for a moment?—when, with a majority of 150, they Guillotined the then Transport Bill in Committee upstairs.
The right hon Gentleman then said that the Minister… is deliberately leaving out great chunks of the Bill from discussion in the Commons." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1953; Vol. 514, c. 1598.]That is the grossest misstatement. The only two great chunks were the companies Clause which was discussed for 21 hours and the capital loss Schedule largely consequential upon it, but if he cares to look back to the Transport Bill in 1947 he will find that a considerable number, four or five, of Amendments in the Lords occupied, in some cases, three pages, and others two, of the Notice Paper of the House of Commons. Clearly, it is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to sustain the argument that the power of legislative initiative has passed to another place.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that the proper function of the Lords is to clean up a Bill and give it verbal felicity or to fulfil promises made in the Commons, and that it was not to introduce entirely new principles in major alterations and he added that a vast number of the Amendments made in the Lords go much farther than that. This is wholly untrue. I propose in the time available to show why. The right hon. Gentleman has got it into his head, or affects to have got it in his head, that when there is a Conservative Government the House of Lords initiates Tory legislation.
329 I have been re-reading lately with great profit the right hon. Gentleman's own book called, "In Place of Fear," and if he turns to page 13, I think it is, he will find there a description of people he describes as "symbol worshippers," people who worship symbols. He names free enterprise and a capitalist society, and one might add, constitutional outrage, power of the Lords, or anything else. The right hon. Gentleman says there:The words persist when the reality which lies behind them has changed.He describes howThe people used to using words of this kind become themselves the prisoners of their description.From that point he says:Our ideas have degenerated into a kind of folk lore which we pass round fondly thinking that we are still talking of the reality.The right hon. Gentleman's views are folk lore and bear no reality whatever to what has happened.
Let me deal with the Lords Amendments. Let me first get out of the way the minor drafting Amendments, the cleaning up of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has agreed that the House of Lords is not a bad place for doing that work. There are 20 of those. There are other minor drafting Amendments making some significant improvements in the wording to clarify the intention or to prevent possible later difficulties of interpretation, introducing no new principle at all. There are another 10 of those. That is 30 of the Amendments. Then we come to the Amendments with Privilege. There are seven Amendments which relate to Privilege, and it is claimed by the right hon. Gentleman and the Motion that the action of the Government is detrimental to the privilege of the Commons.
Let me briefly deal with those seven Amendments. Two of them are purely drafting Amendments. The Privilege Amendments affect, directly or indirectly, the incidence or amount of the levy, but only in this very small way: not the total quantity of the levy, because that does not fall on the Exchequer, but only that part of the levy which the Government or local authorities pay as owners of transport. I shall not go into details because time does not allow, but the amount of money involved in this is very limited indeed, and if I am asked questions about it I would 330 normally have done my best to deal with it had more time been available.
The next Amendment in the Privilege list gives the Commission an additional six months' interest on their capital loss. This was asked for by the Commission, and I imagine that it is not repugnant to the Opposition. It puts a very small extra cost on the Exchequer or local authorities, only in their capacity as owners of transport. It is calculated that it might be a once-for-all payment of about £11,000. I do not believe that there is much of a constitutional outrage there.
The next Privilege Amendment gives the right to a greater number of local authorities to appear before the Transport Tribunal. This is in reply to a request made to me by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Sir G. Hutchinson). It is clearly right and proper, and more people, substantial users of transport, and representative authorities, will now have the right of appeal to the Transport Tribunal. I think other hon. Members will agree that this is fair. But because it may throw a fractional amount of money on the block vote, the Exchequer will pay local authorities it is strictly Privilege.
The only other Privilege Amendments raise the "ceiling" of the levy from one to 1½ tons, and only apply there in the case of the Government and local authority users of transport. This was vehemently urged on both sides of the House, and has been agreed to by the Government. I do not think, therefore, that one can seriously argue that there has been here any breach of Privilege which is in any way something that the House should not have waived. The aspect of all the Amendments which led to Privilege have infringed entirely so subsidiarily the main purpose of the Amendments that the case for waiving Privilege was, I think, overwhelming.
Then there are three further Amendments which entirely meet points raised by the Opposition in the House of Lords. I take it that we are entitled to claim some credit for that. After all, the Labour Party made 63 Peers when they were the Government of the day, so presumably they do attach some importance to another place. These three Amendments deal both with the value to the purchaser of assets transferred and questions relating to the Disposal Board and, 331 most important of all, relating to the maximum size of the Commission.
I should like to refer the right hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) to the fact that it was in another place that the Government were obliged to have on the Commission two members specially conversant with Scottish affairs. These three Amendments met entirely points put in the Upper House by supporters of the Labour Party.
Another three Amendments deal with points raised by the Commission—and raised in some cases too late for me to be able to deal with them before the Bill left for the other House. A further eight Amendments deal with matters which go some way—and some may say a long way—to meet the arguments put forward either by the Commission or by the Opposition, either in this House or in the other place. The biggest of them, of course, deals with the companies Clause. We have already had 21 hours discussion of that Clause. Another which we had quite a discussion about obliges the Board to set out directions given them by the Minister in their annual report.
Another was warmly welcomed by the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Jowitt, and alters the phrasing in regard to "too few hands." The companies Clause alone occupied, as the House knows, a very considerable part of our discussion, so I think it would be wrong to say that that was not properly examined in the House of Commons. Then there are two other Amendments which are purely explanatory and in which Members were interested and about which, given the time that discussion would have allowed us to give, they would have had clear satisfactory answers. Finally, when dealing with the Amendments, there are about eight issues where it could fairly have been argued that the House of Commons needed fuller information before it made up its mind.
These eight Amendments I shall deal with very briefly. One dealt with the application of the Transport Tribunal which I mentioned under Privilege. One dealt with the new Schedule on capital loss, which I also mention under Privilege, and which, incidentally, gives another £2 million to the Commission, 332 which was asked for by them and pleaded for by the other side. Another one limits the number of vehicles for which the Commission are entitled to get automatic licences, and another one deals with the restrictive covenants which, otherwise, would have prevented people who had been working in road haulage from re-entering the road haulage industry.
A further Amendment also deals with the railway reorganisation scheme, and I think that it is a great pity that so much time was taken up in deliberate obstruction in the earlier days which has prevented us from being able to deal properly with the railway reorganisation proposal. Now, as was pointed out earlier, in this discussion, if actions of the kind to which we have been forced to take our own preventive measures are to be resorted to, no Government would feel able in future to put forward into a debate in the Lords anything which gave expression to the general ideas thrown up in the House of Commons.
I say this to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery, that if it were possible that the Bill could be in its final form before it goes to the House of Lords then it would be extremely difficult either for that House to play its proper part in legislation or for any Minister to give proper regard to suggestions put forward on the Report stage or the Third Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons.
It is, unhappily, clear, too, that the Opposition were determined from the start, when the Lords Amendments came up for discussion, to see that they were not properly discussed. I can claim without fear of contradiction that practically all the Amendments where there might have been expected to be a difference of opinion on party lines have been in favour of the Opposition and not of the party in power. No one, I think, can seriously claim that limiting these proceedings when we had limited altogether the stages of the Bill is in any degree whatever improper.
Hon. Gentlemen may have differing views as to why the Opposition, at the eleventh hour, decided to put more vigour in their attack on the Transport Bill. Perhaps it may come from sources of this kind. The "Daily Worker" said last week:No real fight was put up against the sellout Bill.333 This no doubt has been echoed in a large number of letters to hon. Members until the last lap in the House of Commons, and Labour M.P.s share responsibility for this situation.
I do not wholly agree that Members of the Labour Party have not contributed useful ideas to this Bill in its various stages. They have, and I am very grateful to them. I believe that the Bill has been improved as a consequence. I take back nothing that I have said before about the value of consultations of this kind. But, lately, people who have taken no part whatever in the discussions on the Transport Bill have interested themselves in the Lords Amendments. [Interruption.] I should be grateful if the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would listen to me at least for these concluding words.
On the day of the Third Reading in this House, when I made a number of general observations, the right hon. Gentleman was—I do not blame him for it—in Delhi. On the day that the Bill went to the House of Lords for Second Reading he was in Calcutta, getting tied up as to whether he had ever used the phrase "third force." When the Committee stage of the Bill opened in the Lords, the right hon. Gentleman was in Rangoon, and this is what he said:The Government in Britain are in office, but they are not in power.He was very busy then. When he got back to England, three days after the Lords had finished their Report stage, he made other observations, dismissing, in a visit of three weeks, the work of countless thousands of Indian civil servants.
While the right hon. Gentleman has been so busy elsewhere, he has not
followed our debates. Had he been here he would have had an opportunity of seeing at every stage how full regard has been paid to the views of Members on both sides of the House—[Interruption.] —and how the Bill in its various stages has profited enormously by advice from all quarters. The right hon. Gentleman might with profit read the concluding words of the "Times of India," with which his departure was noted:
Only a very false guide would attempt to chart the future by misinterpreting the past when he has had every opportunity of reading it aright.
§ The right hon. Gentleman, like all authoritarians, never leaves anybody in any doubt as to what he wants to do. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. H. Nicholls) quoted a statement made by the right hon. Gentlemen when the National Health Service Bill was under discussion here, when he said that the Government ought to abandon Bills which were uncongenial to the Opposition and he said that they would oppose certain Bills, whatever the constitutional embarrassments might be.
§ It is this gospel which the right hon. Gentleman has reaffirmed today which is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—and so, I think, the vast majority of his fellow countrymen feel. I ask the House, with confidence, to reject the Opposition Motion and to vote for the Government Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 265; Noes, 294.337
|Division No. 166.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Clunie, J.|
|Adams, Richard||Bing, G. H. C.||Coldrick, W.|
|Albu, A. H.||Blackburn, F.||Collick, P. H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Boardman, H.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Bowles, F. G.||Cove, W. G.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Brockway, A. F.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Crosland, C. A. R.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Cullan, Mrs. A.|
|Baird, J.||Burke, W. A.||Daines, P.|
|Balfour, A.||Burton, Miss F. E.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)|
|Bartley, P.||Callaghan, L. J.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Carmichaer, J.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Bence, C. R.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Champion, A. J.||Deer, G.|
|Benson, G.||Chapman, W. D.||Delargy, H. J.|
|Beswick, F.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Kinlay, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwish)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hen. J. C.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Ross, William|
|Edelman, M.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Royle, C.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Lewis, Arthur||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Nest (Caerphilly)||Lindgren, G. S.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Short, E. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Logan, D. G.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||MacColl, J. E.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Fernyhough, E.||HcGovern, J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mclnnes, J||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Finch, H. J.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Slater, Mrs, H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||McLeavy, F.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Follick, M.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Foot, M. M.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Forman, J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Snow, J. W.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Manuel, A. C.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Glanville, James||Mason, Roy||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mellish, R. J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)|
|Grenfell Rt. HN. D. R.||Messer, F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Mitchision, G. R.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)||Monslow, W.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Moody, A. S.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hale, Leslie||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Morley, R.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Thornton, E.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Timmons, J.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Mort, D. L.||Tomney, F.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Moyle, A.||Truner-Samuels, M.|
|Hastings, S.||Mulley, F. W.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hayman, F. H.||Murray, J. D.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Nally. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||O'Brien, T.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Holman, P.||Oliver, G. H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Orbach, M.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Oswald, T.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Hoy, J. H.||West, D. G.|
|Hubbard, T. F.]||Padley, W. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Paget, R. T.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||White, Mrs, Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pannell, Charles||Wigg, George|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Parker, J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paton, J.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Peart, T. F.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Janner, B.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Popplewell, E.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Porter, G.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Proctor, W. T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Pryde, D. J.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Yates, V. F.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rankin, John||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Keenan, W.||Reid, William (Camlachie)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kenyon, C.||Rhodes, H.||Mr. Pearson and|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Richards, R.||Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Baker, P. A. D.||Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Baldwin, A. E.||Bennett, William (Woodside)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Banks, Col. C.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Barber, Anthony||Birch, Nigel|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Barlow, Sir John||Black, C. W.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Baxter, A. B.||Bossom, A. C.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Beach, Maj. Hicks||Boyle, Sir Edward|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Braine, B. R.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristiol, N.W.)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H||Hirst, Geoffrey||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Osborne, C.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Partridge, E.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Horobin, I. M.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Howard, Hon. Grevill (St. Ives)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Carr, Robert||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Channon, H.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Jennings, R.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rayner, Brig, R.|
|Cole, Norman||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Redmayne, M.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Speithorne)||Kaberry, D.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Keeling, Sir Edward||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kerr, H. W.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Lambton, Viscount||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Cowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Leather, E. H. C.||Russell, R. S.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lindsay, Martin||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Linstead, H. N.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Donner, P. W.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Shepherd, William|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Low, A. R. W.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Drewe, C.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Duthis, W. S.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||McAdden, S. J.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||McCallum, Major D.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Erroll, F. J.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Speir, R. M.|
|Fell, A.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Fisher, Nigel||McKibbin, A. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Maclean, Fitzroy||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Foster, John||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Storey, S.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Summers, G. S.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Markham, Major S. F||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Marples, A. E.||Teeling, W.|
|Godber, J. B.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maude, Angus||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maudling, R.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Medlicott, Brig, F.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Mellor, Sir John||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Molson, A. H. E.||Tilney, John|
|Hall, John (Wyoombe)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Turton, R. H.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Molt-Radclyffe, C. E.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Vane W. M. F.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nicholls, Harmar||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfield)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Hay, John||Noble, Cmdr, A. H. P.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Oakshott, H. D.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Heath, Edward||Odey, G. W.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Henderson John (Cathcart)||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wellwood, W.|
|Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)||Wills, G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)||Wood, Hon. R.||Sir Herbert Butcher.|
|Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)||York, C.|
§ Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."340
§ The House divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 264.341
|Division No. 167.]||AYES||[10.11 p.m|
|Aitken, W. T.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Erroll, F. J.||Lindsay, Martin|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fell, A.||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Maj-Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Foster, John||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Fraser, Sir lan (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McAdden, S. J.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||McCallum, Major D.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Barber, Anthony||Gammans, L. D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Barlow, Sir John||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Baxter, A. B.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||MeKibbin, A. J.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Godber, J. B.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Gough, C. F. H.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfied, W.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Gower, H. R.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Birch, Nigel||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Black, G. W.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harden, J. R. E.||Markham, Maj. S. F|
|Braine, B. R.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Marples, A. E.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maude, Angus|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harvey, lan (Harrow, E.)||Maudling, R.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr S. L. C.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Hay, John||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Mellor, Sir John|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Heald, Sir Lionel||Molson A. H. E.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Heath, Edward||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Campbell, Sir David||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Carr, Robert||Higgs, J. M. C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Channon, H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Cole, Norman||Horobin, I. M.||Noble, Cmdr. A.H.P.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Odey, G.W.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (llford, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Orr-Ewing, Charles lan (Hendon, N.)|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Orr-Ewing, Sir lan (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Crowder, Peter (Ruislip—Northwood)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Osborne, G.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Jennings, R.||Partridge, E.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Kaberry, D.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Donner, P. W.||Kerr, H. W.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Lambton, Viscount||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Drewe, C.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Leather, E. H. C.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Redmayne, M.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. O. K.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Rees-Davies, W. R|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Turton, R.H.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Robertson, Sir David||Stevens, G. P.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vesper, D. F.|
|Robson-Brown, W.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Storey, S.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Russell, R. S.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Ryder, capt. R. E. D.||Studholme, H. G.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Summers, G. S.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Wellwood, W.|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||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, Leslie (Canterbury)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wills, G.|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Smyth, Brig, J. G. (Norwood)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||York, C.|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thornton Kemsley, Col. C. N|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Tilney, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Speir, R. M.||Turner, H. F. L.||Sir Herbert Butcher.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Janner, B.|
|Adams, Richard||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Albu, A. H.||Edelman, M.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Baird, J.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Balfour, A.||Fienburgh, W.||Keenan, W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Finch, H. J.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bartley, P.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Follick, M.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Bence, C. R.||Foot, M. M.||Kinley, J.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Forman, J. C.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Benson, G.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Beswick, F.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham).|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Gibson, C. W.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Boardman, H.||Glanville, James||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Logan, D. G.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Breok, Dryden (Halifax)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||McGovern, J.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Grey, C. F.||McInnes, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||McLeavy, F.|
|Buller, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hale, Leslie||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvll (Colne Valley)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Carmiehael, J.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hamilton, W. W.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hargreaves, A.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hastings, S.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Clunie, J.||Hayman, F. H.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Collick, P. H.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mason, Roy|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Herbison, Miss M.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hobson, C. R.||Messer, F.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Holmas, P.||Mikardo, lan|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Houghton, Douglas||Monslow, W.|
|Daines, P.||Hoy, J. H.||Moody, A. S.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hubbard T. F.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Morley, R.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mort, D. L.|
|Deer, G.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moyle, A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Murray, J. D.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Nally, W.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Ross, William||Turner-Samuels, M|
|O'Brien, T.||Royle, C.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Usborne. H. C.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Orbach, M.||Short, E. W.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Oswald, T.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Paget, R. T.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Weitzman, D.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Skeffington, A. M.||West, D. G.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Pannell, Charles||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Parker, J.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Paton, J.||Snow, J. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Peart, T. F.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wigg, George|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Popplewell, E.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Porter, G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll')|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stross, Dr. Barnett||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Swingler, S. T.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Sylvester, G. O.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Rankin, John||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reid, Thomas(Swindon)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Richards, R.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thornton, E.||Mr. Pearson and|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Timmons, J.||Mr. Arthur Allen|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Tomney, F.|
Resolution agreed to.
That this House deplores the action of the Opposition designed unduly to delay legislation by attempting, on consideration of Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill, to re-open the general principles of a Bill which had already been passed by both Houses of Parliament and condemns such manceuvres as detrimental to the dignity of the House of Commons and the proper discharge of its business.