HC Deb 16 March 1956 vol 550 cc785-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Godber.]

4.19 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

I rise now, Mr. Speaker, to ask the question of which I inadvertently gave notice a few moments ago, namely, what are the intentions of the Government in view of the severe and ignominious defeat which they have just suffered on a major Measure—the Industrial Rating Bill—which, in fact, embodies one of the proposals in the Labour Party programme?

Hon. Members

Which programme?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

So that those outside this Chamber as well as those inside should understand the position quite correctly, I must make it clear that the Bill was a Private Member's Bill, debated on private Members' day, and that the fact that it was carried by a small majority by those hon. Members present means that it will follow the usual procedure of Private Members' Bills.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) made an observation about the terms of the Bill being in the Labour Party's programme. I should like to ask him which programme it was in. There are a great many different programmes, some of them extremely expensive ones.

It is precisely because this matter is one of such importance that I, personally, as a member of the Government, on a Private Members' day, voted against the Bill in order that it should be considered against the general background of local government finance. That is the position taken by many of my hon. Friends. As an issue in itself, it is one of very great interest and importance, but, as a Private Member's Bill, it must now follow the normal procedure on Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Gaitskell

Might I inform the right hon. Gentleman that the subject is in the current Labour Party programme? I would also point out that it is a Bill which does not involve additional expenditure but brings in additional revenue, and, therefore, should be particularly welcome to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, for whose support for it in its further stages we earnestly hope.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

May I ask why, if this was just a Private Member's Bill, the Prime Minister and the whole of the Cabinet were brought here to vote against it?

Mr. Butler

Although we wish to get on with the Adjournment debate, which is a concern of private Members, perhaps I might just say, in reply to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), that it shows the conscientious devotion to duty of the members of the Cabinet.