§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move,That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining Proceedings on the Rent Bill:—
- (a) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is committed shall report the Bill to the House on or before the thirteenth day of March, nineteen hundred and fifty-seven;
- (b) at a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any Proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the Proceedings have been brought to a conclusion;
- (c) no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Standing Committee shall be made in the Standing Committee except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion, if made by a Member of the Government, shall be put forthwith without any debate; and
- (d) on the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.
§ 2. The Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in three alloted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at half-past Ten o'clock on the last of those days; and for the purpose of Standing Order No. 41 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the Proceedings on Consideration such portion of those days as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.
§ 3. The Business Committee shall report to the House their recommendations as to the Proceedings on Consideration, and as to the allocation of time between those Proceedings and the Proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the twentieth day of March, nineteen hundred and fifty-seven.
§ 4. No motion shall be made to postpone any Clause, Schedule, new Clause or new Schedule, but the recommendation of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are to be taken in the Standing Committee.
§ 5. On an allotted day Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) shall have effect with the substitution of references to half-past Ten of the clock for references to Ten of the clock, and Proceedings which under this Order or the Resolution of the Business Committee are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall not be interrupted under the provisions of the said Standing Order No. 1.
§ 6. If, on any allotted day, a Motion is made under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) 39 the last foregoing paragraph of this Order shall not apply, but—
- (a) any Proceedings on the Bill exempted under paragraph (2) of that Standing Order shall be so exempted for the period mentioned in that paragraph and a further half-hour; and
- (b) the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or under the Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day after Seven o'clock shall be deferred for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings upon the said Motion under Standing Order No. 9.
§ 7. If, at Seven o'clock on an allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under the Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.
§ 8.—(1) Any Private Business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, he considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day, and shall be exempted by this paragraph from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) for a period of three hours or, if the Proceedings on the Bill are concluded before half-past Ten o'clock, for a period (from Ten o'clock) equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Procedings; and paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking private business) shall not apply.
§ (2) Paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) shall not apply to any Private Business exempted as aforesaid.
§ 9. Standing Order No. 12 (Motion for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business) shall not apply to any allotted day.
§ 10. On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill shall be made except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ 11. For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or of the Business Committee or by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time so appointed, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause which has been read a second time, also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill, and subject thereto shall proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Member of the 40 Government of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules) and any Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded, and, in the case of any Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a Member of the Government, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
§ 12. The Proceedings on any Motion moved by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of the Resolution of the Business Committee shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion two hours (or, if interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), two hours together with a period equal to the duration of the interruption) after they have been commenced, and the last foregoing paragraph of this Order shall, so far as applicable, apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill; and if any such Motion for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of the Resolution of the Business Committee is under consideration at Seven o'clock on a day on which any Private Business has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, the Private Business shall stand over and be considered when the Proceedings on the Motion have been concluded.
§ 13. Nothing in this Order or in the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or the Business Committee shall—
- (a) prevent any Proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being entered upon or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution; or
- (b) prevent any Business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of the Proceedings on the Bill for that day.
§ 14. In this Order, "allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as the first Government order of the day, "the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means the Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee, "the Resolution of the Business Committee" means the Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House, and references to the Proceedings on Consideration or the Proceedings on Third Reading include references to any Proceedings at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of re-committal.
§ This Motion is on the Order Paper in my name and that of my right hon. Friends, and there is an Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. and hon. Friends. I wish to express my regret that it should be necessary to move a Motion of this sort at all. It is no secret that I, personally, and, indeed, all of us on this side of the House, dislike, in general, the use of this procedure. It is the first time that I have had to 41 move a Motion dealing with the allocation of time on a Bill; and I have been connected with a great many Bills in my time.
§ I have in the past sometimes been urged to apply such a procedure to a Bill, and I have always managed to resist the temptation. Therefore, there must be some very good reasons why, on this occasion, I have decided to support the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing, and why the Government are of the opinion that we must move a Motion of this sort and have a timetable on the Rent Bill. We do that to ensure its reasonable despatch, and when I have concluded the observations which I want to make I am certain that the House will be aware that there will be very considerable time available for discussion of the various Clauses of the Bill.
§ We move this Motion, Mr. Speaker, because of the very slow progress that has been made with the Bill in Standing Committee. I am satisfied, on examination of the proceedings in some detail, that there is no alternative. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), in moving a similar Motion in the past, said that he had read every word of the debate on the particular Bill to which he was referring. I could not be quite so conscientious as to say that, but I have, at least, scanned the proceedings and discussed them at length with my right hon. Friend.
§ There is no doubt that the following facts emerge. Up to 31st January there were 11 sittings of the Committee, and from that number I can subtract only two for which there were any reasons for delay. In one case it was impossible to proceed because there was no time to get new Ministers appointed to the Committee and, on another, the Committee's affairs were largely taken up with procedural matters. But if we leave aside those two meetings, which I have done my best to examine in detail, we find that there have been nine effective sittings and that the Committee has not yet disposed of Clause 2 of the Bill. This, I think, is sufficient argument, in itself, for the application of a time-table.
§ If we compare the progress on this Bill with the progress on similar Bills in the past, we will see that the progress made is, pro rata considerably less on this Bill 42 than on other occasions when this procedure has been applied.
§ Mr. Butler
Let us look at the Transport Bill of 1947. There had then been 11 sittings in the Standing Committee, which was then considering Clause 6: Here, we are standing still at Clause 2. Let us look at the Town and Country Planning Bill of 1947, which was included, in the same Motion—a double Guillotine. There have been only four sittings in Standing Committee, and Clause 4 had been reached. Here, we have had 11 sittings, compared with the four in connection with the Town and Country Planning Bill; in that Committee, Clause 4 had been reached, and here, after 11 sittings, only Clause 2 has been reached. If we look at the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill of 1954, under a Government of a different complexion, we see that there had been 10 sittings in Standing Committee, and Clause 7 had been reached. Therefore, looking back on precedent in all those three cases, it will be realised that we are acting in a much more patient and humane manner than has ever happened before.
§ Mr. W. T. Proctor (Eccles)
As I understand, in relation to all the Bills which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned there is one characteristic difference. In the case of all these Bills there was opposition from only one side of the House.
§ Mr. Butler
Having examined the speeches and their nature, I can only say that I find that the majority of the talking has come from hon. Members on the other side.
With the present Bill, the number of sittings in Standing Committee is greater than the number of sittings on any other Bill which has been subject to this procedure in recent years. It is true that in the case of the Transport Bill, 1947, there had been 11 sittings, but much greater progress had been made. Therefore, from the point of view of reasonable despatch of business, which must be at the heart of all parliamentarians, I think that the case for this Motion is abundantly clear.
It will no doubt be said that there is no urgency for this Bill. Hon. Members 43 opposite may feel that there is no reason at all why the present procedure in Committee should not continue for months to come. [Interruption.] That, Sir, is a proposition which I have put forward in order to elicit the growls from the other side, but it is a proposition which this Government emphatically refuse to accept. The principle of this Bill has been approved by the House on Second Reading, and it is the duty of the Government to see that the remaining stages are dealt with reasonably quickly.
§ Mr. Butler
This is a Bill which affects large numbers of people who have the right to know what is to happen, and when. Both tenants and landlords are entitled to know within reasonable time where they stand; and doubt, uncertainty and delay are not in the national interest in connection with matters of this sort.
Another point is that, human nature being what it is—and I am not going into the details of this Bill, because I am moving a Motion simply on procedure—there is no doubt that there will be a tendency for more housing accommodation to remain unused the longer the Bill takes in passing through the House. That is because of the terms of the Bill, which lead to a temptation to human nature to hold properties vacant so as to secure lettings free of control at a reasonable figure. That is a fact, whether we like it or not. Whether we agree with the Bill or not, it is clearly unwise to take too long in passing it into statute law. It is the Government's duty, therefore, to see that this Measure passes without undue delay.
It may be said that this Motion would not be necessary—and I see the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) sitting opposite—if the Scottish provisions were referred to the Scottish Standing Committee, or if there were a separate Scottish Bill. This was a matter into which, fortunately, I was able to look while I was in the previous Government, in an incarnation partially similar to that which I now occupy. I was able then to examine this matter with hon. Members opposite representing Scottish constituencies, and with some of my right hon. and 44 hon. Friends. I was also able to discuss it with the last Secretary of State for Scotland, and I have also consulted the present Secretary of State.
We have decided that it is undesirable to deal with the matter in this way. As a general principle, I commend this to the good sense of the House. It is undesirable to split a Bill between two Committees at all, since, putting it quite simply, one Committee may amend a Bill in a manner unknown to the other Committee, and in that way the law becomes somewhat muddled as between the two Committees.
There was a recent case where a Bill was split and a portion of it sent to the Scottish Grand Committee. That was the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill, which was referred to the Scottish Grand Committee because the circumstances were entirely different. The structure of that Bill was clean cut; Part I being purely English, Part II being purely Scottish, and Part III being common to both countries. It was, therefore, possible to refer the Scottish part to the Scottish Grand Committee; and the third part, which referred to both countries, was largely formal.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, from the Scottish point of view, the structure of this Bill is quite different. Its common provisions are both complicated and of substance, and although there are two main aspects of the Bill, namely, increase of rents, and decontrol, they are both complementary parts of a single operation. So, looking at the matter surgically and scientifically, it is impossible to divide the Bill by separating a part of it and referring it—
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Does not the Leader of the House agree that Scottish conditions are quite different from English conditions in this matter? If so, would it not have been possible and fairer to have had a separate Bill for England and a separate Bill for Scotland?
§ Mr. Butler
No doubt that would have offered a broader front of argument, but I do not think that it would have made better statute law. We did envisage that, and it has been the view of the former Secretary of State and of the present Secretary of State for Scotland that it would have been a pity not to have considered the Bill as a whole.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it causes great confusion in legal circles when they have to roam about English Bills and Scottish Bills to find what is housing law? Is it not a fact that from the point of view of tidy law-making it is very much better to have a separate Bill in a case of this kind when it is dealing with a separate problem in a different way?
§ Mr. Butler
I understand from my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who is seated beside me, that there has always been one Bill to deal with this particular aspect, and, therefore, it is difficult to understand any talk about roaming about to discover the law, because all that hon. Members will have to do is to study this Bill, when they will find the law as it relates to Scotland; and, Scottish lawyers being of such excellent quality, I feel quite convinced that they will be able to understand the law as it is set forth in the Bill.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the Lord Advocate has not misinformed him? Clauses 6, 7 and 8, which are the ones that we want to be sent to the Scottish Standing Committee, do no more than modify or amend the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954? That was a separate Scottish Act. The legislation which we are amending is purely Scottish legislation.
§ Mr. Butler
The difficulty was to separate these Clauses from the Bill as a whole, while submitting the Bill to two Committees which would have resulted in confusion in the ultimate law. That over-riding consideration made us decide, despite the hon. Gentleman's intervention, that it was better to submit the Bill to one Committee.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Bill and the whole subject were carefully considered in a Report of the Parliamentary Bills Committee of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow on the Rent Bill in 1956, that this Bill was fully considered and that they drew attention to the fact that the conditions in Scotland and the conditions in England are so different that the two should be separate Bills? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware 46 that I hold in my hand the Report of that Committee?
§ Mr. Butler
That matter was also considered by us in arriving at our decision, and we came to the conclusion that it would avoid overlapping and increased clarity if we were to have the whole Bill considered as one whole by one Committee.
I therefore have nothing more to add to what I have said on this matter. I raised it particularly because I realise the importance of the Scottish Grand Committee being given every opportunity, and so do my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Law Officers for Scotland. It is no slight on the Scottish Grand Committee that we have taken this decision. We have taken it because of the nature of the Bill.
It is possible when moving Motions of this sort to quote indefinitely from the speeches of one's predecessors. I could quote from very wise and eloquent remarks of the right hon. Member for South Shields. I could quote from the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who was once Lord President of the Council. In each case it is remarkable to find, if one were to waste the time of the House in giving these quotations, how the views change as between those in power and those who are in opposition. I am a little anxious lest I may be exposing myself when, one day in the future, I may not occupy the high position that I at present occupy.
Therefore, I do not propose to dwell at any length on the observations which have been made, but I would remind the House that the right hon. Member for South Shields—and this is a constitutional observation and one to which he cannot possibly take any objection—said, on 3rd March, 1947:The danger to Parliamentary democracy in this country is not from the speed but the slowness of the forms that were used when this country was less populous than it is. … These forms are not adequate for the times in which we live.That is an unimpeachable and beautiful statement by the right hon. Gentleman, which I would adduce in support of my own arguments.
What we have to decide is whether, when we introduce a time-table—to use the right hon. Gentleman's own remarks 47 on the same day six columns later; not that he spoke the whole of those six columns, but it was an interjection later—… adequate opportunities far discussing it can be found within the terms of the Guillotine Motion and"—he added, with ruthless efficiency—we intend to get the Bill this Session."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, cc. 125–31.]That was exactly the case that I have put forward this afternoon. We consider that adequate time has been allowed within this time-table, the terms of which are certainly long enough for anybody to study at leisure on the Order Paper, and we consider that allowing, through the time-table Motion, six more weeks for sittings of the Committee should give adequate time to hon. Members to express themselves on the Bill. At three sittings a week this will provide for a total of 29 sittings on a Bill of only 18 Clauses and eight Schedules. That is an average of over a whole sitting for every Clause and every Schedule.
§ Mr. Butler
That is why I said last week that we thought that sometimes the use of machinery of this kind would ensure the better consideration of the Bill, and that is why I consider that my observation was quite justified by the terms of the Motion which we are submitting today. It is perhaps even more generous than I made it out by a pure mathematical calculation, for several of the Clauses are purely technical or deal with matters that lead up to no great issues which require lengthy discussion. If we compare, for example, the action of the Government of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who allotted 24 sittings for the 137 Clauses and Schedules of the Transport Act, 1947, and 25 sittings for the 114 Clauses and Schedules of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, the House will see the singular generosity with which we have treated the Clauses and Schedules of this Bill. Nobody can say that our allocation of time for the further stages of the Bill is ungenerous, particularly as we allotted two days to the Second Reading debate.
In conclusion, I again express, as I think every Leader of the House should 48 express, my preference for matters to be decided without a Guillotine time-table. Any efforts that have been made in that direction have not succeeded. I do not mean that there has been any particular ill-will. The efforts just have not succeeded. I do not think that this Bill would be enabled to get through its stages unless we allotted a generous timetable of this sort and gave what I believe will be adequate opportunity to hon. Members, including those from Scotland, to debate the Bill.
In moving the Motion, I look forward to hearing the debate, which will be answered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" in line 1, to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:this House declines to accept a motion which seeks to stifle discussion on proposals that vitally and directly affect many millions of Her Majesty's subjects, which imposes a time limit on clauses exclusively concerning Scotland and not yet discussed in detail, and which seeks by a misuse of Parliamentary procedure to avoid the results of differences of opinion among the supporters of Her Majesty's Government.I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House will not think me impertinent if I say that he seems to be rather ashamed of himself. He certainly has every reason to be. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that quotation of what one's opponents have said on one occasion or another does not in itself take one much further. One can occasionally draw out a statement of principle, and I shall proceed to do so in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me, also, that a question of this sort must be decided on the nature of the Bill, and, so far as it is relevant, on the form of the Bill. I shall have a good deal to say about that.
The Guillotine has been used before now on questions of nationalisation, on matters of large and complicated changes, where there was no doubt a matter of real principle and profound difference of opinion between both sides of the House, and it has been so used by both sides of the House. But this is an entirely different Bill. It is a Bill which deals directly and vitally with a large number of our fellow citizens.
49 In the matter of increase of rents alone, which is one side of it, it will double the rent of between 5 and 6 million families, including the poorest people in the country whom it is the special duty of this House to protect, whatever Government may be in power. In the matter of decontrol, the other main part of the Bill, it will make it possible to turn out of homes which they have long occupied a large number of people who never expected anything of the sort, who have made these places their homes, and who will now be evicted on six months' notice in a sellers' market.
This is the one contribution which the Government propose to make in a housing situation which, in London and the large towns, is already critical. It is not just a housing shortage on paper; one can produce facts and figures about it. That has been done several times, and I do not propose to do it in any detail today. But I ask each right hon. and hon. Gentleman in the House to use his own constituency knowledge, his own common knowledge, of what is going on in the place where he lives and to realise what the housing situation is.
In the large towns, at any rate, we all know perfectly well that it is at present impossible for many people, who have every social and moral claim to have a decent house of their own, to get anything of the sort. We know quite well that in London, if the opportunity to evict these people is given, the landlords will make handsome profits out of letting, furnished or unfurnished, to people who can pay more.
It was not so very long ago that the members of a professional association sought to come to London in consideraable numbers for a conference which the association proposed to hold. There was not room for them in London. London has not room for the people who live in it, and it has not room for those who desire to come here, people who, incidentally, might make a considerable contribution towards the dollar difficulties into which the policy of the Government has led us.
All that is not only true, but it is common knowledge not merely to every hon. Member of the House but to everyone who lives in those towns or knows anything about them. One has to go to 50 the extremely remote places to find anything like a sufficiency of housing. The problem is, therefore, fundamentally and absolutely a human one. I heard some hon. Gentlemen opposite murmuring something about nationalisation. Of course that has its effect; so does denationalisation. But it is an effect of a different kind. This House would be utterly untrue to its traditions if it did not recognise that the type of Bill it is discussing today raises different questions, immediate human questions, in a way those other Measures did not.
I have said something about the general character of the Bill and I wish now to say a word or two about its form. I am not going into great detail about it. The right hon. Gentleman was correct in saying that a great many Clauses and other parts of the Bill raise no great issue of importance. There are, however, in the text of the Bill, three Clauses, and only three, which raise profoundly important questions, and, after the figures we have been given about progress, it will be no surprise to the House to hear that, of those three Clauses, Clause I and Clause 2 of the Bill are two.
To introduce these arithmetical calculations—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me—is really completely misleading, because each Bill is profoundly different not merely in its character but in the way in which it is drawn up. Speaking from the English point of view for the moment, this particular Bill has these vital Clauses in it and one vital and exceedingly complicated Schedule. I shall refrain from reading out some of that Schedule; I can only say that it was in the Bill before the present Minister took office, and it must console him for having left the Treasury, since for sheer complication and difficulty of construction it beats almost anything which I have ever seen in a Finance Act, and that is saying quite a lot.
This Schedule and the Bill as a whole will have to be read by the tenants of small low-rated houses all over the country. Is it not our duty to see that any necessary changes in it are very carefully examined here and in Committee, and that nothing is left obscure, difficult or unfair to the tenants who will have to suffer under the Bill?
51 I say without hesitation, considering the nature and form of the Bill, that quite remarkable progress has been made. Counting numbers, of course, can prove anything. Who was the learned judge who said that there were—and I quote, Mr. Speaker—lies, damned lies, and statistics"?This is a humble form of statistics, counting Clauses in previous Bills, when discussing Guillotine Motions. It is just about as misleading as some other forms of statistics can be unless they are fairly used, and used in relation to the subject matter not forgetting the human side of it.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman now supporting what my right hon. Friend has said? Is he not saying that of only three vital Clauses and one vital Schedule, remarkable progress has been made with the first two and, therefore, all the time which is now to be allocated can, in effect, be devoted to one Clause and one Schedule?
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am very glad to hear that the hon. Member, at any rate, understood his right hon. Friend to be saying that remarkable progress had been made with two Clauses. I must have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. I thought him to be saying that the only reason for introducing a Guillotine Motion was that progress had been so unsatisfactory. I assure the hon. Member—I hope he will bear it in mind—that there are far more substantial differences of opinion than that between his hon. Friends on the back benches and the right hon. Gentlemen who occupy the Front Bench.
Let us see what has happened. I shall not trespass on the limits of order or the patience of the House by going into this matter in any detail. It is really fairly simple. The right hon. Gentleman was wise to omit any reference to the procedural discussions. I would only say that they were characterised by one remarkable performance by the right hon. Gentleman who was then in charge, who, of course, since he is now Minister of Defence, is defenceless and I must not attack him. The right hon. Gentleman, however, moved a Motion about future sittings of the Committee and later in 52 the proceedings he voted against his own Motion and moved another. These sort of things happen rarely, but I hope that that, at least, will not be held against the Opposition.
Let us turn to what has actually happened on the Bill. At the first sitting, the right hon. Gentleman then in charge agreed, with reference to the time-table of sittings, that we ought to see how things went and he reserved the right to bring forward a time-table Motion againnext Thursday if we have not made good progress today and next Tuesday."—[OFFICIAL RFPORT, Standing Committee A, 6th December, 1956; c. 9.]There was that sitting, there was another sitting and then came the fateful Thursday.
I must not call it the ides of anything, because I notice that the North Lewisham by-election—it may be more in point than some hon. Members at first sight might think—is on the Ides of March or very near it. [HON. MEMBERS: "February"] I am a day out, am I? Perhaps that was the day that made the difference between the old register and the new one t I am not certain. Let us not for the moment pay too much attention to North Lewisham, however.
§ Mr. Robert Jenkins (Dulwich)
The hon. and learned Member has just said that the Minister then in charge of the Bill upstairs voted against his own proposal. Is it not a fact that at the first meeting of the Committee he did propose sittings on three days a week? We had a discussion about it and then, because of the pressure of the hon. and learned Member, my right hon. Friend withdrew from that situation, and said, "Well, let us see how we get on." If the hon. and learned Member says that the Minister voted against his own suggestion, it was, therefore, in deference to the representations made by the hon. and learned Member.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sure that the House will feel that we must not take up too much time over this. It was not anything of mine. It was an hon. Member who sits on the opposite benches, the 53 hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), who complained that none of the Government supporters had been told anything about it, and there was what I might call a minor procedural mutiny. There is no reason to go into it now.
I have disposed of the first three sittings on the Bill, because no change was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman—on the first two sittings at least. The next thing that happened was a Division on a point and then we had a matter upon which the right hon. Gentleman invited the withdrawal of an Amendment, because he was very anxious to examine the point in the most sympathetic manner to ascertain whether there was any solution which he could propose on Report and he agreed that there was a prima facie case for looking into the point In fact, the Opposition had raised a perfectly good point and had caused the Minister to give an undertaking, which, we hope, will result in Government Amendments on Report. It was on the strength of that undertaking that the Amendment in question was withdrawn. There was another discussion, a Division and a short discussion, with an hon. Member opposite left speaking at the end of it. On that matter, there was a Division the next morning, the moment the Committee met.
The next thing that happened—and there have not been many of these sittings—was that an Amendment was withdrawn, the Minister undertaking to consult the National Assistance Board because it was an Amendment about old folk living in these houses. He undertook to do so during the passage of the Bill. We then came to the Question on Clause 1, the vital Clause on the question of the increase of rent, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." We discussed it for the rest of that day and at the next meeting, other than procedural ones, the question was further discussed and it was voted on, and on 24th January we got down to Clause 2. Here we had another substantial Amendment, with a supporter of the Government saying that he did not like the whole of it but he would have voted for a part of it.
We then proceeded—I trust I am not taking up too much time—to deal with a group of Amendments on which we had two more Divisions, and, I feel certain, a very serious and worth-while discussion. 54 If the Lord Privy Seal has even casually looked at the proceedings of the Committee, I think he will agree that each of those Amendments, though he may not agree with them, raised worth-while, serious points.
The next matter was an Amendment involving about half a dozen or a dozen others in different parts of the Bill, and upon that, for the first time, there was a Closure. That was on 30th January. On the last day—
§ Mr. C. N. Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
Before he leaves 30th January, would the hon. and learned Member care to remind the House that, at the instigation of the Opposition, the Committee then had to suffer six Divisions in succession between a quarter past twelve and a quarter to one, each of which the Government won by 22 votes to 19, exactly the same figures every time, no one leaving the Committee Room? Surely, that could only mean an intention to delay the proceedings in Committee.
§ Mr. Mitchison
All I can say is that if that is the best case that the Government and their supporters can put forward for a Guillotine Motion, it is a very thin one indeed. These were all substantial points. They were on the last day but one of the Committee proceedings that we are now considering, and a short time afterwards the Government come forward with a Guillotine Motion.
Now I come to the last day, and this, I think, is really remarkable. During that day there was one Amendment, and there was acceptance by the right hon. Gentleman of two other parts, one of which he preferred to be drafted in a different form, and the other of which he accepted verbatim. That is a history, not of obstruction in the Committee, but of fairly successful progress, and, certainly, no more than a full discussion of what is virtually one-half of the Bill as far as England is concerned. We very nearly finished the second Clause in the Bill.
I repeat to the House, and I make no apology whatever for repeating it, that these two Clauses between them are the operative instrument to double, or roughly to double, the rents of over 5 million families in the country, and to say that that amount of discussion, on what are perhaps necessarily fairly complicated 55 Clauses, is excessive seems to me completely absurd and quite wrong; and by wrong I mean morally wrong. I do not hesitate to say it.
I come to the next part. I remain entirely unconvinced by the treatment that has been given to this Bill in two respects. One of them is this. We did ask, because of the great social importance of the Bill at the moment, and because of the direct way in which our fellow citizens are concerned with it, that the Bill should be taken on the Floor of the House, and here I quote:I cannot argue"—said the speaker, nor can I—about the decision of the House to send the Bill upstairs, but surely that decision makes it all the more important that the scrutiny which the Bill receives in Committee should be thorough and complete. That is the real crux of the matter. Do the Government want the House to assist in shaping their Bills, or do they simply want to present their Bills to the House and force them through by means of their great majority?"—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1443.]That was Sir Anthony Eden, which I think is the right way in which to describe the right hon. Gentleman now, speaking on the Iron and Steel Bill. It was a perfectly good comment, but a far better comment on this Bill than on that Bill, for the results of the Iron and Steel Bill were not going into millions of homes. Its effect might have been great, but it was not direct, and it was not something that fell to be understood by tenants in poor houses, and by those constituents who come to see hon. Members with their troubles. It was a Bill of a very different character from that. Here, too, that happened, and who is to say that it was right? Does anybody now think that it was right to send the Bill upstairs? I cannot discuss it, so I say no more about it.
I turn now to the Scottish matter, and I do so with deference to my Scottish hon. Friends on this side of the House, because it is primarily their business, but I would not wish to leave it unsaid. The time has passed when we hanged the Scots in Carlisle, and we did it then for their misdeeds, not ours. Let us look at what has happened. The Scots have protested violently against the purely Scottish part of the Bill being sent to a mixed Committee on which, from our side of the House, we have only four 56 Members, and, from the other side, only five. Here our fellow Members have been sitting in silence through all the English proceedings, and intervening very rarely, for it was not their business.
Now we are to be left with nine hon. Members on a Committee to discuss Clauses which concern Scotland and Scotland only, and which, I may add, are rather unintelligible to the English. That is a poor state of affairs, but they are not even to be allowed to discuss it at such length as they wish. They are to have their time shortened and their discussion truncated because the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends think that the English have taken too long talking about it. I have not the least doubt that, at any rate, some Scots may always have that opinion about the English, and we, too, may occasionally have it about the Scots, but, surely, the most elementary principles of justice—and I think that the right hon. Gentleman has lately become an expert on international law, or so he told us—require that we should not guillotine the Scots for what we think are the misdeeds of the English. Yet that is what it is proposed by this Motion to do.
It is true that, time after time, representations have been made on this point to the Government, and that they have all been turned down. I want to put this to the House. If the Government are in such a hurry about this Bill, if they anticipate delay, if it is thought that delay has already occurred, why come here with a Guillotine? Why not save time by sending the Scottish portion of the Bill to the Scottish Grand Committee? This makes me completely mistrust the motives of the Government in coming here with this Guillotine Motion instead of taking that obvious step.
So far as the Bill is concerned, I have been talking of increases of rent. We all know what is causing trouble in Tory circles. They are concerned more with those people who live in slightly better houses and who are to be or may be evicted as a result of this Bill, and evicted at six months' notice. It would be very interesting to hear whether the right hon. Gentleman is to make any concessions and, if so, whether those concessions will be made before or after 14th February.
57 Let us leave that aside for the moment and look at the position. My own letter bag is packed full with letters from these people. Very many of them are Tory supporters who have voted Tory all their lives. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame on them."] What has happened? The landlords have been at them already. I beg the House not to take me as saying that all landlords are bad and that all tenants are good. I do not believe any such nonsense, but landlords have to look, and do look, at what money they can make out of their houses, and they have started. My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) produced one case in Committee. I have a dozen more.
I have a case in a part of Liverpool, where circular letters have been sent to people saying,You do not realise the consequences of the Rent Bill, and that we can kick you out when that Measure is passed.Then comes the conclusion, no uncommon one:You had better buy your house at once, while you have time.That is what is happening, and that Clause will be subject to this Guillotine. Is that right? Is it a question whether the time is or is not sufficient? I think not. I think it is a question of principle, and a very real one, that consideration of a Measure of this character, including that Clause in it, should certainly not be stifled or truncated in a Committee. One asks oneself why, and I myself come to this conclusion.
The right hon. Gentleman knows all about the trouble which is going on, because a great many of the letters I receive are either copies of letters which have been sent to him, or say that the person concerned has written to him. If we start trouble like this, or if it starts itself, what happens? It tends to boil up and to get worse, and there is coming now, gradually but quite definitely, a real mutiny in the country against this Clause, a mutiny by the hitherto disciplined ranks of Tory voters.
Of course, it makes the Government anxious. They do not want too much time to be taken about this. It would be a sheer waste of time, say they, to recount the misdeeds of the Government and their effect on ordinary people. That is a question of how one looks at it, and 58 I cannot agree that a Government who are in the process of causing this sort of feeling all over the country are remotely justified in stopping or shutting down discussion in this House or in a Committee of this House. Whatever the time-table, whatever progress or lack of progress—and, truly, there has been no lack of progress—there has been in Committee, it is quite wrong, on a matter of this sort, when there is that degree of feeling mounting up, to stop discussion.
My last question is: why do the Government want the Guillotine? I have not heard any real reason for it. What was said about the proceedings in toe Standing Committee was altogether too thin. Why is it? What is the reason? What is the hurry? This Bill, they having a Parliamentary majority, unless their own friends force them to abandon it, will come into force quite soon enough for any purpose they have in mind. Are they afraid of something in the future? What is it? Is it a Tory revolt? Is there another sort of group forming on the benches opposite? Is the revolt among the voters in the country? Is it this, that or the other by-election? Is it because of their fear of that, that they are in such a hurry? Or is it that they attribute to the Opposition a wish and a power to obstruct—which, I can assure them, the Opposition does not have?
They have been warned by some of their friends, called, I think, the Bow Group, that it would be very inexpedient to delay the passage of this Bill too long because if that were done it might be remembered too clearly at the next General Election. Is that what is at the bottom of the wish to have this Guillotine? I do not know. I see no ordinary reason whatever for this remarkable invocation of the Guillotine on a matter so human as this, on a matter in which, if there was delay, it could so easily have been met by treating the Scots properly.
Therefore, I say without hesitation that this Motion is really a misuse of Parliamentary procedure. Until someone has defended it better than the right hon. Gentleman was able to do I shall suppose that it has been made for questions connected with differences of opinion between right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, both among themselves and between them and their supporters, their hitherto supporters, in the country. Let me 59 warn them that a Government who have to prop themselves up with a Guillotine will not last long. Guillotines were instruments for cutting off heads. It is only by an analogy but we refer to them in Parliament, and by an analogy too, we hope to see some Ministerial heads rolling in the gutter before long.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I wish to support the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison).
I cannot for the life of me understand why there is this indecent haste in trying to foist this Measure on the Community. I should like the Leader of the House to look for a moment at the Eighth Schedule to the Bill, which it is proposed to push through in the time that he himself has suggested. If he honestly, with his hand on his heart, can tell me that anybody in this House is in a position, in anything like the time he is suggesting by this Motion, to decide what is in that Schedule alone, then there may be some case for his endeavouring to get this Motion passed.
What, apparently, the Government have overlooked is that this Bill is intended to repeal Sections of more than ten Acts which have been in force for various times during the last forty-two years. The entanglements which have ensued during those forty-two years have been commented upon in the courts time after time, and so numerous and complicated are they that it is impossible, I submit, for the House properly to deal with a Measure which proposes to encompass such a wide range of previous Measures which caused them unless it has ample time in which to do it. Certainly, it cannot do it in the time suggested in the Motion.
If hon. Members want to know how complicated the Acts are they need only go into some of the courts and listen not only to the evidence in the cases but also to what the judges have to say about the difficulties that arise in wading through the numerous enactments. How do the Government expect laymen, who, in the main, are the people concerned with the Committee stage, to be able to deal with what judges have taken not 60 days and not months but many years to consider, and in which to arrive at decisions about what the Acts mean? The Government are endeavouring to put a Bill on the Statute Book not with the object of starting the law on these matters afresh. On the contrary, the Rent Bill deals with these complications by trying to amend some of the Acts, to improve others, to add bits there, to subtract bits here. The result will be chaotic. Indeed, none of the hon. Members of the Standing Committee dealing with the Bill will be able to understand the Bill and all the complications to which it is related unless he is given the fullest time in which to consider the Bill, and yet the Government propose to take such reasonable time from hon. Members.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would mind looking at the Bill for a moment, and particularly at the Eighth Schedule, to which I have already referred. I direct his attention to page 34, for instance. In the column headed "Extent of Repeal there are the words:In section seven, the words, from the beginning to 'save as aforesaid'.Again,Sections one, four, five and six.AndIn section eight, in subsection (2) the words, 'standard rent or', subsections (3) and (4), in subsection (8) the words 'Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section' and subsection (9).
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
That is all very interesting, but it does not arise on the Guillotine Motion.
§ Mr. Janner
With the greatest respect, the question that we are asked to discuss is whether, within a specified time-limit, we shall be able to deal with the very intricate matters that arise out of the Bill. Consequently, I am illustrating the difficulties by showing where we shall be landed if we accept the Motion. I should like to take this a step further and say that the two Clauses with which we have dealt in Committee have been in themselves not only Clauses which vitally affect—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It may be an illustration, but it is quite out of order on a time-table Motion.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
With respect, is it not in order to illustrate from the Bill how difficult and complicated it is, and that it is essential that the fullest time possible should be given to discussing it, and to relate all that to the time-table Motion?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If we are to relate anything to illustrations in the Bill it means discussing the Bill.
§ Mr. Janner
With respect, without endeavouring to illustrate what the effects of a Guillotine of this sort will be, it is impossible to deal with the Amendment, otherwise all that one could say is that an Amendment is a had Amendment and that we on this side of the House think that discussion ought to take longer or less time, as the case might be.
Surely, the Guillotine Motion strikes at the very root of the whole of this extremely serious matter, which will upset millions of people. We must consider the Bill very carefully, point by point, and detail by detail, and we cannot do that within the time that it is proposed shall be allotted to us. I have already said that judges themselves, when they have tried to deal with the points with which we are asked to deal, have taken not days but months and even years to do so, and even then have not always been able to decide cases. Here we are asked in a short time not only to decide important Issues but also to decide whether or not we are to repeal provisions of certain Acts and what such repeal will do. All that cannot be done within the time-limit allotted to us.
It is monstrous to ask us to deal, within this time-limit, not only with the protection of tenants but with the removal of the security which has existed for tenants for forty years, by means of a Bill which is to be taken at the indecent speed that is now suggested. Men and women throughout the country desire that we should examine the Bill point by point. We have to go to our constituents and find out what exactly the position is in various districts. Local authorities throughout the length and breadth of the country are passing resolutions opposing the Bill and asking us to examine every single point. If we do not, we shall be disregarding the interests of the community.
62 The Bill is one of the most damaging to the interests of the community as a whole that I have seen put forward in all the years that I have been in the House. Instead of ensuring that, notwithstanding agreement to the contrary, the Interests of the tenant shall be secured, the object of the Bill is to reverse that principle and to say that, notwithstanding the interests of the tenant, agreements shall be reversed and enactments which hitherto have protected the tenant shall be removed. That is why we on this side of the House have already done our best to deal with the points raised day by day in Committee. We have not wasted any time. On the contrary, I doubt whether we have done justice by way of time and argument to the provisions discussed so far, and that is why we are doubly concerned about the Guillotine.
How many hon. Members opposite really believe that they will be able to tackle all the points in the Bill within the allotted time? How many of them are today receiving letters giving various cases of complaint in their constituencies? How many of them are meeting in their so-called "surgeries" people who have endeavoured to grope their way through some of the Clauses in the Bill and who have come to their Member for elucidation and help, and how many hon. Members have themselves been able to explain to their constituents what the Bill really means? If they themselves are in this position—and I am sure that they are—how do they expect to be able to argue the necessary points in the interests of their constituents within the scanty time-limit now put before us?
I know that the Government are falling over themselves to do everything to push the Bill through. I have said in Committee that here is a reversal of the old adage, that it is a case where the few in front cry "Forward" and the mass behind cry "Back." The Government, I believe, are anxious that confusion should be aroused by the Bill so that people will not understand the position and the Measure may possibly escape the notice of the man in the street. I will not go into the effect of the Bill on the man in the street, because that may be out of order. But I know—and the Law Officers know it as well as I do—that thousands of cases will be brought before the courts as a result of 63 the Bill, in any event, and that there will be ten times as many if we try to rush the Bill through without proper consideration.
Litigation will sweep through the courts and the expense of the whole matter will be terrific. The economy of the country will be affected, as it has been affected in similar circumstances in the past. I do not say this in exaggerated terms It is quite true and it has happened previously. Men and women will have to leave their work to be present so that legal issues shall be decided in the courts. Year after year, from now on, unless we have ample time to deal with the points at issue, legal difficulties will crop up. The courts will be full, and the terms of this Measure, instead of being understood, will be accorded different interpretations many of which will be extremely confusing even to the highest legal authorities. Those are some of the reasons why it is important that a Bill of this nature should be properly debated point by point.
We ought to consider how the Bill will affect the existing Acts and examine what judges have said in the past about these various matters. A great many Amendments will be required to bring the Rent Restrictions Acts into shape in the course of discussion of the Bill. The Government do not seem to realise that a hundred and one matters will have to be altered in the Bill because of the terms in which it is drafted.
On the one hand, this is a very important matter from the human point of view because of the possible disturbance of millions of homes. In Committee, I called this the creation of a rent refugee problem. I believe that to be the case. On the other hand, if people are to be turned out let them at least know on what grounds the law says that they can be turned out and let the position be sufficiently clear so as to enable the man in the street to know where he is and prevent the judges from being confused. I believe that, on reflection, the right hon. Gentleman will see that he ought not to proceed with the Motion.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
This is by no means the first Motion of its kind I have heard moved. Whenever there is a highly controversial Bill the 64 Government of the day are, sooner or later, driven to move a Motion of this sort. Whether I sit on the Government or the Opposition side of the House, I have become more and more embarrassed and ashamed each time such a Motion had to be moved. I am embarrassed and ashamed whenever the procedure of this House tends to lack reality. To my mind, debates of this kind lack reality. I am embarrassed and ashamed when the House has to recognise, implicitly or explicitly, that there has been a breakdown of Parliamentary procedure. [HON. MEMBERS: "There has not been a breakdown."] It is a sign of a breakdown of the Parliamentary system of this House when a time-table Motion has to be moved. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I say that it marks a breakdown.
I am not discussing the merits of the Bill or what happened in Committee. I am not arguing whether the Government are or are not justified in bringing forward the Motion. I rise to call attention to the fact that a Motion like this marks a breakdown in our procedure, and I think that sooner or later—I hope sooner—the House will be well advised to consider how the problem should be dealt with in the future.
I do not believe that the country is impressed by the sort of debate we are having today. The country would much prefer that the time given to these debates should be given to the study of the Bill in question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not being tendentious about this. I do not think that the country is impressed by the synthetic heat always engendered by an Opposition against a Motion of this type or by the synthetic enthusiasm with which the Government's own supporters sustain it.
I believe the country thinks that we are being rather foolish in arranging our affairs so that a certain amount of time is spent in Committee, whether on the Floor of the House or upstairs, and then a time-table is introduced and the Bill has to be hurried through. We ought to face that fact.
To my mind, there are two alternatives. The first is to set no time limit at all on the discussion of important Measures. That would only lead to chaos. That is what the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) seemed to suggest.
§ Mr. Janner
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Does he not realise that from time to time the spokesman for the Government calls for the closure of the debate, and is not that in itself sufficient, because the Chair has the right to decide whether the closure Motion should be accepted or not?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I do not think that is sufficient, although I quite agree that it is a perfectly valid point. I think that we get a messy and untidy debate in these circumstances, and the most important Clauses or Amendments do not receive the maximum amount of consideration. We should not forget that the object of Parliamentary procedure is to get Government business through after proper debate. Relying on the Closure and the power of selection of the Chair does not, in my view, allow of proper consideration of the most important points in a Bill.
The other method that might be adopted—and this, I think, is what we should do—is that when a controversial Bill is introduced—everybody recognises and knows the sort of controversial Bill against which the Opposition of the day feels bound to protest with the greatest possible vigour—there should be formally set up by the House a committee or conference consisting of both sides of the House. It should not be left just to the usual channels. There should be a formal ad hoc committee to decide on the time-table before the Bill goes to Committee. Then this sort of unhappy, unrealistic, time-wasting, stupid, foolish, undignified sort of debate need never take place.
I beg hon. Members to face the fact, which I began by stating, that this procedure marks, perhaps not a breakdown, but at any rate a creaking, a lack of efficiency in our Parliamentary system. The matter could be planned. Any Bill debated in Committee can be planned reasonably and rationally. It cannot be planned either by relying on the Closure or the Chair's power of selection. It can be planned under an agreed and voluntary time-table.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I agree. It is going to be imposed.
66 It should be an agreement reached beforehand by a responsible Opposition and a responsible Government. I am not talking about the Opposition or the Government as they are today; I am thinking of the whole future as it unrolls itself before us. If a proper, agreed timetable could be come to the House would be doing itself a great service. It would raise our reputation in the country, which is not heightened by this sort of debate or procedure.
That opportunity having been missed—that sort of approach not, apparently, being in consonance with the views of the House as a whole—I see no alternative in front of me but to save what can be saved from the wreck and to try to see that the Bill receives as good and proper consideration as possible under the timetable. I shall vote for the Motion, but I shall vote for it with shame, embarrassment and reluctance; with shame and embarrassment as a Member of the House of Commons regardless of party, because I believe that the House is not doing itself a good service in allowing this state of affairs, which inevitably involves a time-table whenever a highly controversial Bill is introduced, to continue.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, I should like to save him his shame and embarrassment. Would he consider the possibility that without a Guillotine time-table the Government might have got this Bill in plenty of time for any proper purpose?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I would certainly consider that possibility. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman say with his hand on his heart that he is sure that a voluntary arrangement could have been come to regarding the number of days that the Bill would take in Committee?
§ Mr. Nicholson
The hon. and learned Gentleman says "not a voluntary arrangement," but in the ordinary course of events I do not think it is a possibility, much less a probability. After all, no Opposition can control all its back benchers. Venerable and respectable figures like the hon. and learned Gentleman himself may keep to the rules and 67 to an agreement, but an Opposition cannot bind its back benchers.
The time of the House is too precious to be left to hazard and chance.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The hon. Member has raised some important points about Parliamentary procedure. It may be that one of these days we can spend a day usefully discussing our procedure generally. We are now in February, and it is to be presumed that the Session will continue until October or November. Why should we have a Guillotine Motion on a Bill in February when we have all this time available?
§ Mr. Nicholson
The answer is that it is not right that the time of hon. Members should be wasted either upon the Floor of the House or upstairs. In the course of what must largely be a demonstration by Members of the Opposition of the day—I am not accusing the present Opposition—upon a highly controversial Bill, with deep differences of principle existing between the two sides, no Opposition worth its salt could or should forgo the chance of putting up a really great demonstration in Committee It is not right that busy men—and we are all busy men—should spend their time and exhaust their energy in this way, because nothing is more exhausting than perpetual Committees, mornings and afternoons. It is not right that we should continue in this way. We should streamline our procedure and make it efficient, while safeguarding both the rights of Members and also the need for proper debate upon the most important and essential points in a Bill.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
We have just heard a rather dangerous proposal from the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). This proposal has been voiced before, and it is of the very greatest importance that we should have a very clear statement from the Government Front Bench whether they regard their case for the Guillotine procedure as applying purely to the Bill or whether they are accepting the point of view put forward by the hon. Member for Farnham, who seems to be suggesting that whenever we have a controversial Bill there should be some form of time-table procedure to limit in advance the period of time for discussion.
68 I suggest that that is a very serious proposal, and it is right that we should force the Treasury Bench to state their view upon it. This proposal has also been expressed by other hon. Members opposite. It is of exceeding importance that we should know quite seriously whether the Government feel that the position has now arisen where time-table Motions and Guillotine Motions of one sort or another must be imposed by the Government upon every Measure of a controversial character.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I should like to correct one impression. I was particularly anxious that it should not be an imposition. A time-table Motion of this sort is an imposition. Granted the existence of a responsible Government Front Bench and a responsibly-minded Opposition, it should be possible to come to a reasonable agreement as to how much time is proper and desirable for a given Measure.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
The implication of what the hon. Member has said is that the Government will always impose their view of what is a reasonable time otherwise, what is the point of the hon. Member's proposal? The whole case made out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) is that at the general speed with which the Committee has been proceeding there is no reason why the Government should introduce a Guillotine Motion; indeed, we were supported in that view by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), who seemed very forcefully to agree with hon. Members on this side of the House that, up till now, the Committee had made good progress. He came into conflict with his right hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench for a moment; but we are used to that. It was certainly his view that the Committee had made good progress up to now. It is also our view that good progress has been made, in the sense that serious and important discussion has taken place upon very important matters. We should certainly not suggest that any of that time was wasted in any way.
If that is true, the suggestion of the hon. Member for Farnham that, before Bills are discussed in Committee, we should have an automatic arrangement by which some date line is set, seems to be a quite intolerable proposal. It is high time that we had a full and proper discussion of the matter, if that is what is 69 lurking in the minds of hon. Members opposite, and especially in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen who have the main responsibility for Government business.
I was rather disturbed at the perfunctory way in which the right hon. Gentleman introduced his time-table Motion. He made very little effort to make out a case. To start with, he made no reference to the state of Government business. Sometimes, quite logically, a Government can make the case that without some kind of time-table Motion it is impossible for them to complete their general flow of business, and they argue, as they are entitled to, that they are anxious and determined to get the whole of that Government business through, and that without a time-table Motion it would be impossible, because there are so many other Measures which have to go to Committee that the Committee considering the Bill under discussion cannot possibly continue beyond a certain date.
No reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman to any question of that kind. He did not give the House a list of waiting Bills which have to go to this Committee; he did not attempt to suggest that the House was blocked with business and that it was impossible for the Government to carry on because this Committee was taking an unreasonable time in its discussions. That proposal could not be made in this case, and no reference was in fact made to it.
Instead, we heard the old tale of the right hon. Gentleman's sorrow at having to introduce the Motion. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House are rather tired of that argument. We accept the fact that there are occasions when any Government feel themselves obliged to introduce a Guillotine Motion, and it was therefore rather unpleasant to listen to the right hon. Member introducing such a Motion in terms of sorrow. I very much doubt whether those terms were really meant. It is true that, from time to time, Guillotine Motions are felt by the Government of the day to be necessary, but in this case the argument must be based upon the Bill itself, and the question whether, in the circumstances, such a Motion can be regarded as justified. The first consideration in such circumstances, I suggest, would be the question whether the Government felt that their general business for the House 70 was so great that they could not allow more time for the Bill than they propose in the Motion under discussion. That justification has not been made; there has never been any attempt to make it.
The second consideration was touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman himself, namely, the fact that the public want an early implementation of the Bill. It is right that we should examine that question. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was vital that the Measure should be passed within the time-table laid down because it was in the public interest that it should be so passed. He argued that one difficulty was the uncertainty which existed in the country and that the sooner the uncertainty was cleared up the better. It may well be that the Government have created uncertainty by bringing in this Measure. In that case, a very easy way of solving, the problem would be for the Government to withdraw it.
There is, surely, another matter of great public importance. Clearly, people are just becoming aware of how this Measure will affect them. It is becoming obvious—I hope painfully obvious—to some hon. Members opposite that many groups of tenants of all political persuasions are gathering together to attempt to fight this Bill, either in part or the whole of it. So much is that the case that even the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—I regret she is not present in the Chamber—expressed herself vigorously the other day about how this Bill ought to be amended. It is a pity that the hon. Lady is not present to explain that today, because she is not likely to have a chance to express her views in the future. The hon. Lady is one of many who have their own views about this Bill, about whether it should be thrown out altogether or considerably amended.
It takes time before the contents of a Measure of this complexity can be appreciated. Even today, after quite a period since the Bill was published, there are many misconceptions about its provisions. They must be cleared up. But it may well be that they will not be cleared up at all and the Bill will go on the Statute Book without it being made clear what is happening. It is important for the public good that people should be fully seized of the meaning of this Bill. Public authorities and others will be asked 71 about Clauses in it and there should be a full opportunity for them to consider this Measure and express their views.
Above all, the Minister should have an opportunity to think about the Bill. He has not yet had much opportunity. He has taken over this unwanted off-spring. The right hon. Gentleman has met groups of tenants in different parts of London—I hope he will meet many more—to hear their views. He has already said publicly that he is thinking about the Bill, and that is something we welcome from any Minister. It is a first step when the Minister thinks about a Bill. Everyone will agree that the more the right hon. Gentleman thinks about it, the more curious will the Bill seem to him and the more necessary will he find it to amend it considerably. For his own sake it is important that, instead of giving an impression or rushing this Bill through, the Minister should make clear that he is anxious to hear every point of view about the complicated provisions contained in it so as to satisfy himself about their validity and be in a position to defend this Measure once he has assumed responsibility for administering it.
One must remember that the Minister will not lose charge of this Bill after its passage through the House. He will be responsible for its administration and he will be held to account in this House. The right hon. Gentleman indeed has a heavy responsibility, and surely it is wrong, especially as he is a new Minister, that he should be required to take on that responsibility under such circumstances. We do not know whether this job has been pushed on him by higher political circles for political reasons. But, whatever the reason, it is wrong that he should be forced to push through this Bill so quickly.
So far as we can see, there is no reason, on grounds of public business, why this Bill should have to be passed within the time-table period allotted to it. There is no reason why special pressure should be brought on the Standing Committee considering the Bill. So far the right hon. Gentleman has made no case for moving this Motion. A further point which is frequently raised—it was touched on by the Minister, but not developed in any way—is that there had been a factious opposition and a wasting of time. The 72 right hon. Gentleman was artful enough not to say that the Opposition had wasted time in the Committee discussions. He did not say that; but he hinted at it. He suggested by his statistical analysis—so rightly criticised by my hon. and learned Friend—that a great deal of time in the Committee had been wasted. But the right hon. Gentleman did not attempt to justify that criticism; and it is true that that could not even be proved. There is no doubt that all the matters brought forward in Committee have been of real concern, and not a single Amendment has in the slightest degree been time-wasting.
It might be argued that some speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, about meetings in the morning affecting their private business, could be regarded as a waste of time. It is an unfortunate fact, apparently, that hon. Gentlemen opposite feel badly done by when they have to attend Committee meetings in the mornings. Of course, that wastes time which they might have spent conducting their private business. But that was not a matter raised by this side of the House; it was raised by hon. Members opposite, and a great deal of the time of the Committee was taken up by that sort of criticism.
On none of the normal excuses for a time-table Motion have the Government made out a case. It is true that the Government may say to the Opposition, "We have given you up to a certain date to report back to the House." They do not lay down how many sittings of the Standing Committee should take place. The Government might argue, I suppose, that it would be possible—but highly unlikely—that a large number of sittings could be held within the given time, if the Committee met every morning and every afternoon. I should like to know whether the Government are suggesting that.
Were that the suggestion of the Government, it would be a mockery of Parliament, a much greater mockery than that of bringing forward an ordinary Guillotine Motion. The hon. Member for Farnham said he was ashamed. He thought this a breakdown of the ordinary Parliamentary procedure. It could make for a break down of Parliamentary procedure if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen 73 opposite wish to insist that, to give adequate time for discussing this Measure, the Standing Committee should sit mornings and afternoons and on every occasion when time is available. If that happened, hon. Members could not carry out their other duties. It may be that that proposal is being made by the Government, and we should like to know.
Comparisons have been made with other Measures, but every case has to be made out on its own merits. The Guillotine Motion has to be justified on the Rent Bill; it is no use attempting to make parallels with other Measures. Most of them were of a very different character from this Bill. They were very much less complicated and had a very much less personal effect upon masses of ordinary people than does this Bill. Perhaps the dangers that the Bill provides for exploitation by financial interests moving into the field of house property that they have left to one side in the past have not been fully realised. That point must be explored before we leave the Bill, but it can hardly be explored if the time is to be shortened as proposed.
Therefore, before we leave this Guillotine Motion we need a clear statement from the Government whether they are following up the proposals made from their own back benches that this Guillotine procedure of the House should be applied on any controversial Measures. What is the state of the Government business that justifies this Motion? How does public need justify this rapid procedure when, as far as we can see, there is a clamant public demand for full investigation and proper examination of the alternatives to the Bill?
Finally, I want to know what sort of criticism is made of the Opposition that could conceivably justify the bringing in of a Motion of this kind? Not even an attempt has been made to justify the Motion. The right hon. Gentleman may think he has been very clever politically in trying to get the Bill through quickly enough to avoid a major political catastrophe for his party in the future. Who knows how long the right hon. Gentleman will lead his present Department? In the present state of Government supporters, who knows who will be what in another day's time? At any rate, for the period of time that he remains Minister in charge of this 74 Department he will be held rightly responsible for the Bill's deficiencies, which will become more marked as every day passes.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) spoke of factious opposition to the Bill. I have been a member of the Rent Bill Committee since its inception and have had ample opportunity to study its activities. I have made an analysis of the proceedings on Clause 1, which occupied the Committee for its first seven meetings. Its discussion occupied altogether about 300 columns of HANSARD. A few deductions to be made for divisions and lists of names account for 16 columns. There were, therefore, about 284 columns of discussion. Of those 284 columns, no fewer than 78, rather more than a quarter, are devoted to questions of when the Committee was to meet. No one will convince me that that was a necessary way of filling time on this important Measure.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Does the hon. Gentleman include in the discussion of when the Committee was to sit the whole day that was wasted by the Minister on the first day after the Recess, when the Government found they were not in a position to carry on the meeting and had to ask for the Adjournment?
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I am coming to that point. I have the copies of HANSARD here, and all these things are included. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East suggested that speeches by Government back benchers had delayed the Committee, but I find in my analysis that whereas Opposition speakers filled 145½ columns of HANSARD, Government spokesmen filled only 16 columns and Government back benchers only 10½ columns. That completely destroys the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that we contributed to the delay on the Bill.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I was not suggesting that the Committee had wasted time. I said that it had not, but that the argument could be made that Government supporters spent quite a bit of time discussing purely procedural matters. They seemed forced not to take part on any matters of consequence.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I am very sorry that I made the mistake of thinking that the hon. Member meant what he said in his original statement. To continue: the entire fifth sitting on the Bill was given up to discussing when the Committee was to meet in the future. Nothing will persuade me that a convenient decision could not have been reached very much sooner. I would refer particularly to the sixth sitting, when, owing to changes in Her Majesty's Government, neither the Minister nor the Parliamentary Secretary was able to sit as a member of the Committee. One would have thought it normal in those circumstances for the Committee to adjourn, but the Opposition thought it proper to continue the debate for upwards of half an hour.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
That debate calls into question the sincerity of hon. Members when they argue that they are attacking the Bill word by word and line by line.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Was not what happened that the Minister had not told his own supporters about the time-table that he proposed to move? Does it make the faintest difference if my hon. Friends chose to go on on the second day? Was not the reason perfectly obvious? It could not have made any difference to the timing of the Bill. The reason was the depth of our feeling on the Bill.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I must be allowed to make my speech, but I will take up the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) on this point. There have been so many delays on the Bill that it is no wonder he gets them confused. At the beginning, as the hon. and learned Gentleman rightly said, the Minister changed his mind as to when the Committee was to meet, but there was no division of opinion in his own supporters. I should like to put the hon. and learned Gentleman right on that.
§ Mr. Mitchison
The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. He will find that at the meeting to which he referred the Minister had to withdraw his own Motion and vote against it when it was taken to a Division because he had not consulted his hon. Friends about it.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
I really cannot accept that correction. Hon. Members who are not on the Committee are writing and speaking of the great deeds done by Members of the Labour Party. I have here a quotation from the North London Press in which the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) says:In the House of Commons the Labour Party is fighting this plan line by line and word by word.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
What I have quoted bears out my view that there is a determination by hon. Members opposite to oppose the progress of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is perfectly reasonable and proper, therefore, for the Government to take the steps in their power to the contrary. [Interruption.] I am glad to have this applause from hon. Members opposite, because it is clear that they support the thesis I am propounding, that in Committee we have had one example after another—to quote the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East—of "factious opposition."
Many of us on this side of the House have found service on the Committee not an unmixed blessing; to some of us it has been almost like being in a penal settlement. Of those who originally met in the Committee, two Ministers have changed. One hon. Member has earned remission for good conduct and been posted as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. One, in a desperate attempt to escape, broke his leg in two places.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I wished only to mention the fact that service on the Committee is not an unmixed pleasure, despite the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering and his supporters. I am not surprised that some of our colleagues have taken desperate measures to escape, even by flying to America. I hope that the news of the Guillotine will enable them to return and take their places in our ranks.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
I think the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) has given the best reason yet for this Motion—that Conservative Members of Parliament have been complaining about having to sit on the Standing Committee on the Rent Bill and are bringing pressure to bear on Ministers to give a definite date by which the Bill will be out of Committee.
I wish to intervene somewhat briefly to say a little about the Scottish provisions of the Bill and to give the new Secretary of State for Scotland an opportunity to justify agreement with his colleagues in imposing the Guillotine on Scottish legislation. This is the first time we have ever had a Guillotine on Scottish legislation. It was a serious thing for Scotland that we had a Bill, a substantial part of which had for its purpose the amendment of the Scottish Act of 1954, and which otherwise was mainly English, and then that we had that Bill sent to a Standing Committee on which there were only four or five hon. Members on either side representing Scottish constituencies. We were already guillotined and already prevented from having the normal opportunity of discussing Scottish legislation. This was done by a Government who have consistently boasted in recent years their concern about giving Scottish people more control over Scottish affairs.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Today the Lord Privy Seal referred to the impracticability of the Scottish provisions being dealt with in a separate Bill. Yet, so far back as 30th October—about a week or nine days before the Bill was introduced—the right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), then Secretary of State, was answering Questions in the course of which I asked if he would… bear in mind the promises which he and his colleagues have given to the Scottish people about Scottish Members of Parliament being allowed to look after Scottish affairs?I asked the right hon. Gentleman to follow the precedent of 1954 and to ensure that any proposals he had to deal with rents and decontrol in Scotland would be dealt with in a Scottish Bill. The right hon. Gentleman replied: 78The fact is that we have to deal with a number of Scottish Bills in !the coming Session, important Bills dealing with subsidies, overspill and so on; and this question has always been dealt with on a United Kingdom basis. If it is merely a matter of a couple of application Clauses, as it has been in the past, I think it would be a waste of the time of the Scottish Standing Committee and Parliament to have a separate Bill for Scotland"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1249.]If it had been:…merely a matter of a couple of application ClausesI think we should have agreed with the Minister, but the right hon. Gentleman must have known at that time that it was not. If we had had a Bill dealing with peculiarly Scottish problems and that had gone to the Scottish Standing Committee, by this time it might have been out of that Committee. It does not give me any satisfaction to make this point, but the right hon. Gentleman then misled the House of Commons—on 30th October—because he knew that it was not…a matter of a couple of application Clauses.I feel sorry for the right hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary of State for Scotland—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because it is a little hard luck for him to have inherited the Bill: that he should have fallen heir to a Bill which, if he were a free agent, he might not have introduced. No doubt when asked to take over his new responsibility, he felt obliged to support a Bill which his predecessor had introduced. Of course, that is no reason for him to give in to the Guillotine procedure—none at all. He should not have given in to the Guillotine procedure. He knows full well that, quite apart from the Opposition, responsible Scottish newspapers have said that there should be a separate Bill. On Second Reading. I quoted the Scotsman. I shall not quote that paper again, but, if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the editorial in The Times today, he will see that the complaint is repeated. The Times says that we should have a separate Bill.
During Second Reading, some Scottish Conservative Members thought not only that we should not be dealt with in the same Bill as England and Wales, but that there should not be a Bill dealing with Scotland at all.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) said in the Second Reading debate:I do not share the view that its chief fault is that the Scottish provisions are part of the English Measure I do not even share the view that they should be in a Scottish Bill. I take the view that there should not be a Bill at all at this stage. Scotland is not ready for decontrol, even in the higher ranges."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1956; Vol. 560, c. 1995.]I do not know where the hon. Member for Pollok is today, but one thing we know is that he was not made a member of the Standing Committee dealing with the Rent Bill. He knew too much about this problem; he was too well-informed. There were too many people in his constituency who would be adversely affected by Clause 9 of the Bill, so he had to be kept out and saved from voting.
§ Mr. Fraser
I shall return in a minute or two to the decontrol provisions as they apply to Scotland and the reasons we should not be guillotined in this way. Today the Lord Privy Seal, in introducing the Motion, referred to Clauses 6, 7 and 8 and the Third Schedule which we asked should be sent to the Scottish Standing Committee. If they had been, I have no doubt that that Committee would have reported by this time. The other Standing Committee could have gone straight from Clause 5 to Clause 9.
The Lord Privy Seal said that those Clauses were so interwoven that the rest of the Bill could not be dealt with separately, because we could not have two Committees reaching different decisions which would have been in conflict one with the other. That is just not true. Clauses 1 to 5, which provide for rent increases in England, provide that the rent increases shall be related to the valuation of the houses and that the increases shall be 100 per cent. or, I think, 133 per cent. of the valuation. Those increases are provided for in the first five Clauses. Clauses 6, 7 and 8 provide for a modification of the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that we are getting a little away from the Guillotine Motion now, are we not?—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think that we are.
§ Mr. Fraser
I was seeking, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to reply to what the Lord Privy 80 Seal said this afternoon. You will remember that I challenged him in the course of his statement, and he said that he had been advised in what he had said by the Lord Advocate.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the Lord Privy Seal raised that point, I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I was not here at that time. In this debate we can talk only about the time-table Motion and not about the Bill; but, if the Lord Privy Seal raised the point, I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon.
§ Mr. Fraser
He did, and I think that he probably did so because it was clear from the discusions that we had before, and from the terms of the Amendment put down by the Opposition, that we were concerned at time having been wasted in one Committee on matters which could have been dealt with by another Committee, if they had been sent to that Committee. I am merely seeking to show that the first five Clauses with which we in Scotland have nothing to do—they do not affect us in any way at all—provide for rent increases according to certain principles by reference to valuation of the houses, whereas Clauses 6, 7 and 8, which are the Scottish Clauses, provide for rent increases in Scotland. The Government are seeking to modify the purely Scottish Act of 1954 and to provide for a 25 per cent. increase on existing rents in some cases and for a 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. increase in others, with no reference whatever to valuation.
The Secretary of State, in his Second Reading speech, made quite clear that the principles on which the rents were to be increased in the two countries were very different. He said that the Scottish increases would be purely temporary until we could find a uniform basis of valuation by 1961 or 1962, by which time we should have introduced new legislation to bring us into line with England and Wales.
It is because our rent increases are on a different basis and on a different principle that we ought to have dealt with them in our own way. Members from Scottish constituencies ought to have been able to discuss these matters. Discussion ought not to have been limited to four hon. Members on the Opposition benches 81 and five hon. Members on the Government benches, including the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the Secretary of State himself not being able to say one word during the Committee stage of the Bill because he is not a member of the Committee. It is not too late and the Government could even now, if so minded, do the proper thing and provide that these purely Scottish Clauses should be dealt with in the Scottish Standing Committee. No one has been able to show to me that any decisions that we could reach in the Scottish Committee would render abortive anything done by the other Standing Committee in considering Clauses 1 to 5.
In any case, is it right that Scottish Members of Parliament should be gagged because it is alleged that the English Members have talked too much? That is what is happening. My hon. Friends would not agree that they have talked too much; but, even so, the only justification for gagging the Scottish Members is the allegation that English Members have talked too much. Why should the Secretary of State agree to this proposal? Why should he permit his colleagues to gag Scottish Members on both sides of the Committee because the English Minister of Housing and Local Government says that English Members have talked too much on the English part of the Bill?
I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will pay attention to what some not unimportant bodies in Scotland have to say about this. I hope that he has paid some heed to the representations which, I understand, he received from the Scottish Trades Union Congress. I understand that it sent him a telegram which it will have followed up by a letter. The Scottish Trades Union Congress, representing quite a lot of people—some 800,000 trade unionists in Scotland—protests vigorously against the imposition of the Guillotine preventing proper and normal discussion on Scottish legislation.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress, by calling attention to what is happening at this time, will have called the attention of still more people in Scotland to the provisions of the Bill. Of course, we know that the one thing which the Government are anxious to avoid is that the provisions of the Bill shall become known to the Scottish people. Indeed, there have been some letters in the Press, saying that there 82 is nothing that we can do about it just now; it is not our business to interfere with legislation as it is being made; we have to wait until it becomes an Act of Parliament and then protest. That is a little too late. We have to protest before it becomes an Act of Parliament and do our utmost to ensure that it will not become an Act of Parliament.
The hon. Member for Walsall, South will learn in due time that one of the functions of the Opposition is to oppose, when it feels obliged to oppose, legislation brought forward by the Government, whichever party happens to be the Government.
In Scotland, there are about 700,000 controlled houses affected by this legislation. Of these, 60,000 will be decontrolled at once under Clause 9. We shall not have time to discuss these in any great detail according to the Motion on the Order Paper. In addition, to the 60,000 to be decontrolled at once by Clause 9, I ask the Secretary of State to tell us how many houses he thinks will be decontrolled each year thereafter by tenancies falling in. Will it be 20,000, 30,000. 40,000 or 50,000 each year? Will he tell us whether he thinks Scotland will be ready for that?
The Secretary of State will find that we shall have something akin to the Highland clearance in Scotland. There will be all the old trouble about evictions on a large scale. The evictions, this time, will not be from the Highlands but from the large towns. Ordinary, humble people will be evicted from their homes in the first place. Secondly, I believe that people living in vermin-infested, slum houses will be unable to get tenancies of houses as they fall vacant because those houses will pass out of control and these people will not be able to pay the rents demanded by the house owners.
I am sure that there is no one who could say that we in Scotland are in a position to supply the demand for homes. I was looking at the Government's White Paper on Slum Clearance, Cmd. 9685, published about a year ago, which sets out the number of slum properties to be demolished.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am very reluctant to stop the hon. Gentleman, but I am sure the Lord Privy Seal did not raise this point.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am sorry if I have been going beyond the bounds of the Motion, but the Amendment now before the House calls attention to the fact that purely Scottish legislation is being made the subject of the time-table before it has been discussed at all. I wanted to show that we have peculiar problems in Scotland which, as a consequence of the restrictions imposed upon our time, will not be discussed adequately.
§ Mr. James Stuart (Moray and Nairn)
Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that it was discussed on Second Reading as much as were the English Clauses? How does he now know, unless he knows what the time-table is to be, that adequate time will not be given to the Scottish Clauses?
§ Mr. Fraser
I had assumed—perhaps I was wrong—that the whole purpose of the Motion was to curtail the discussion during the Committee stage. If there is no intention to curtail discussion on the Bill, I do not know why we have the Motion. I should have thought that the Scottish Members would be as likely as the English Members to have discussion curtailed in Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman is assuring me that we shall be given as much time as we like to discuss the Scottish provisions, that is another matter.
§ Mr. Fraser
I do not know what time we shall get, but I assume that the whole purpose of the Motion is to restrict the amount of time which we shall spend in Committee. Is not that the case?
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. William Grant)
To give reasonable time.
§ Mr. Fraser
The Solicitor-General for Scotland thinks he is the judge of what is reasonable.
I must not proceed to the question of unfit houses if I am out of order, although I should have thought that the number of unlit houses in Scotland was a relevant matter in discussing whether or not there should be any restriction on the time which we spend on the Scottish Clauses and on the succeeding Clauses, which are United Kingdom Clauses but which will have a disastrous effect in Scotland.
84 In any case, the Secretary of State knows that we are not, by many years, within sight of meeting the demand for houses in Scotland. Great cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh have not been able to tell us how many slum houses they will pull down because they have not been able to count them. Glasgow has given us proposals for the next ten years, and in the next ten years she will not be able to pull down even all the slums about which she knows at present. In those circumstances, how can it be said that in Glasgow there is an equation of supply and demand which justifies any decontrol whatever?
There is, of course, nothing like equation between supply and demand, if we were to deal with the problem of control or decontrol, increase in rents or no increase in rents, in Scotland, we should have been allowed to deal with it in our own way. We ought not to have been wrapped up in this English legislation, but, having been wrapped up in it, we ought not to be guillotined because it is alleged that our English friends have talked too much. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I know that we have not talked too much, for I have listened to everything said in the Committee, but the allegation from the Government is that the English Members have talked too much.
There has been no allegation that Scottish Members have talked at all. We have just been sitting in the Committee for eleven sittings, listening, being very interested in what we heard from our English colleagues and comparing housing conditions, rents, control and the like in England with the position in Scotland. We have been listening patiently, and it is rather hard if, after listening patiently for all this time, we are now told that we are to be restricted by the Government's decision in the time which we shall devote to discussing similar provisions in Scotland.
I am surprised that the new Secretary of State for Scotland has permitted this to happen. I can well understand his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn, interrupting me and seeking to justify the Motion, because lie was the author of the Bill and he was the Secretary of State who sold Scotland down the river in the first place. One can understand his being concerned about 85 this and his support for the Motion, but one would have thought that a new Secretary of State, newly appointed, would have defended Scotland and protected Scotland. It seems, however, that they are all tarred with one brush. They are not concerned with the interests of the people of Scotland but are much more concerned with the few who own the multitude of slums in which people live in Scotland.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
I have listened with the closest attention to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). I say straight away that I do not like Guillotine Motions, and I said so in no mean terms in 1947; but before I go any further, may I make one point clear? The hon. Member for Hamilton was kind enough to offer me a certain amount of sympathy at the beginning of his speech. I am always glad to have sympathy—
§ Mr. Maclay
—and I may need it, but while I obviously discussed this problem with my predecssor, I must make it plain that I myself studied the position extremely carefully and am in complete agreement with the Government's decision on the Bill and their decision that there needs to be a Guillotine.
At this stage of the debate, particularly when we are discussing the Scottish application of the Motion, it is necessary to separate the question whether there is adequate time from the question whether the Scottish Clauses could have been dealt with differently. If I may first deal with the second question, it will be for the convenience of the discussion.
I have followed, as have all hon. Members, the development of the Scottish Grand Committee with the greatest of interest, and I have been working actively as a member of the Committee for more than ten years.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us when he last made a 86 speech in the Scottish Grand Committee, or even last attended it?
§ Mr. Maclay
I could give a very good record of attendance, and if I have not spoken much it has been in order to give as much opportunity as possible for members of the Opposition to express their views. I was by no means a silent member of that Committee, however, for a good many years.
In considering the evolution of the Scottish Grand Committee, a task in which both sides of the House have been concerned, it is very important to judge carefully how the most effective use can be made of it. It is in that spirit, I am sure, that one has to look at the decisions which have been made by the Government whether there should be a separate Bill for Scotland or whether the Scottish Clauses, 6, 7 and 8 and the Scottish Schedule should be referred separately to the Scottish Grand Committee. I say with all sense of responsibility that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, thinking of the task of government, which it is conceivable they may some time have to assume—only conceivable—must think how they themselves would have made a decision on a matter of such importance to the future stature and effectiveness of the Scottish Grand Committee. If one looks at the problem in that sense, I believe that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will realise that the Government's view on this matter is right.
Could we examine for a minute the different possibilities? First of all, there is the question of sending the three Scottish Clauses and the Scottish Schedule to the Scottish Grand Committee. I want to do no more than a very brief analysis of what is involved. We must realise that while Clauses 6, 7 and 8 and the Third Schedule are exclusively Scottish, it is not practicable to divorce those Clauses from the others, which have a very considerable Scottish interest.
Clause 9—decontrol—has a very major Scottish interest. Clauses 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18, and the Fourth and Sixth Schedules cover such very important points as the letting of furnished houses—that is Clause 10; jurisdiction—Clause 11; interpretation—Clause 16. Clauses 17 and 18 are the application Clauses. In addition, there are the Fourth and Sixth Schedules. All these are of interest 87 both to England and Wales and to Scotland, and it really would be extremely difficult to have a separate discussion on Clauses 6, 7 and 8, and the Third Schedule, completely divorced from the discussion on those other Clauses.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
But is not that what we are to do? Are we not to discuss Clauses 6, 7 and 8 before discussing the others?
§ Mr. Maclay
They will be part of a continuous running discussion. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite may not realise the situation that can arise. They probably have not suffered from this to the extent that we on this side of the House did from 1945 to 1951 in trying to attend the Scottish Grand Committee and other Standing Committees simultaneously.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Does the Secretary of State appreciate that on one particular occasion there were three Scottish Bills, governed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), being dealt with in Committee at the same time? I nearly had to buy a pair of roller skates in order to cope with the situation.
§ Mr. Maclay
That shows the great difficulty involved in having two Committees, certainly if they are dealing with the same subject simultaneously—it is bad enough if they are dealing with different subjects. It really would raise very serious matters of procedure if the Scottish Grand Committee was discussing Clauses 6 to 8 and the Third Schedule while the other Committee was continuing to work on other Clauses of great importance to Scotland. That is what must happen—
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The right hon. Gentleman must know that that would not have happened at all. Had we started to discuss these Clauses in the Scottish Grand Committee when our English colleagues on the other Committee had started discussing Clause 1, I have no doubt whatsoever that we would have got through our work before, or by the time, our English colleagues were ready to start on Clause 9, when we could all have sat down together to discuss it.
§ Mr. Maclay
That is an assumption one cannot by any means necessarily accept, and we must also think of the 88 future. One has to study how to make the best Parliamentary use of the Scottish Standing Committee, which we have been working steadily to improve and to allot a more important part in the affairs of the House. If this matter is studied, I think that hon. Members will find the Government are right.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I have been very interested in this discussion on the Scottish Grand Committee. Is the Secretary of State telling us that this Bill was framed in order to remove it from the Scottish Grand Committee and avoid those complications? Or is he telling us that Clause 9, dealing with decontrol, was wrapped up with the English provisions because the Government dared not put that provision in a separate Scottish Bill, which would not have been passed by the Scottish Grand Committee?
§ Mr. Maclay
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong in both of his hypotheses, if that is what they are. The simple fact is that this Bill is a naturally United Kingdom Bill. It is quite correct that the ten previous Rent Acts—purely Rent Acts—have been United Kingdom Acts. I agree that there was the 1954 Bill—
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Does not the Minister think it completely unfair for purely Scottish Clauses to be considered by a Committee in which the Scottish Members are completely outnumbered—where the majority consists of other than Scottish Members?
§ Mr. Maclay
I have every confidence in Scottish Members on both sides being able to stand up to all the English and Welsh Members who may be brought up against them. I have no doubt about that.
Perhaps I may here deal very briefly with the 1954 Act, which has been mentioned several times. If hon. Members will look at it they will find that Part I is of Scottish application. As far as that Part goes, it is a Housing Act. It provided:Additional powers in respect of clearance areas and other houses liable to demolition.and included Amendments to the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1950—as distinct from Rent Acts. I admit that part of that Act dealt wth Rent Acts—[Interruption.] The first 15 Sections of 89 the Act did not deal with Rent Acts, though Sections 16 to 39 did. I would say that that was a marginal case, in which the Government rightly came down in favour of sending it to the Scottish Grand Committee.
This must be a question of judgment, but I submit that we would have been letting ourselves in for some very curious results had we dealt with this Rent Bill as has been suggested by hon. Members opposite. There would have been the possibility of work being done simultaneously but with possibly differing results, and a divorcing of discussion on these Clauses from discussion on other Clauses of Scottish application. It may be pretty fair to assume that, if the Scottish Clauses had been sent to the Scottish Grand Committee, that Committee would have dealt with them in time for the discussion on Clause 9, but if those Clauses had still been under discussion then, would the hon. Member for Hamilton suggest that Clause 9 should have been held up until the Scottish Grand Committee was ready to discuss it?
§ Mr. G. Lindgren
Does the Secretary of State now say that the Scottish Clauses will take eleven sittings? If that is so, then we Englishmen will have something to say, because there are only eighteen sittings of the Committee left.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am sorry that the prospect of Scots effectiveness in getting adequate time should cause the hon. Member to slip in that remark.
No one could be more keen than I to see the Scottish Grand Committee becoming the really effective body to deal with matters of Scottish application, but I really think that, on a balanced judgment, it will be realised that to have sent these Clauses in isolation to the Scottish Grand Committee would have been a bad precedent, and one which would have been regretted in years to come. Reference has been made to the 1954 Act, which is not a precedent, and to the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, but one can go through all the Acts and see that there are degrees of relevance to Scotland. On every Bill of this kind there will always be a question of judgment as to which course should be adopted, and I am quite satisfied that here we have decided rightly.
I turn now to the possibility of a separate Scottish Bill, which is something 90 I have puzzled over for years and about which, in a previous incarnation, I have made some pretty fierce remarks. There have been times when, in a particular case, I have thought that there should be a separate Scottish Bill, but hon. Members opposite would not have it. Here I would say that there is no shadow of doubt that this is not suitable matter for a separate Scottish Bill—and for quite obvious reasons.
Had we had a separate Bill on this occasion, it would have resulted in a great deal of duplication and repetition of discussion, which would not have been in the best interests of the House. There are a large number of Clauses of common application, and if they had been put into a separate Scottish Bill we would have had the quite fantastic position of separate discussions taking place on something which had exactly the same application, and was of the same common interest to the whole of the United Kingdom.
As I say, each Bill of this kind becomes a question of judgment as to whether there can be a separate Scottish Bill or whether Scottish Clauses can be sent to the Scottish Grand Committee. On any normal test, if we are to get really efficient work out of the House and out of the Committee, this Bill must fall to be taken as a United Kingdom Bill.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
The right hon. Gentleman must remember that, on the Food and Drugs (Scotland) Bill, we discussed in the Scottish Grand Committee exactly the same things as were discussed on the English side, and discussed them for sixteen or seventeen sittings. No one suggested that that was a duplication of discussion, because the conditions in Scotland were different. In fact, we arrived at different conclusions—for the benefit of Scotland.
§ Mr. Maclay
There may be cases when that is desirable and necessary, and on many occasions we have succeeded in doing things much better in Scotland than they have been done south of the Border, but I would suggest that careful study of this Bill and of the implications of doing things to the Clauses will show that, if the precedent were created now, at some distant date when it is conceivable that hon. Members opposite might be on this side of the House they would regret 91 this precedent in the interests of the best conduct of the business of the House and of Scottish affairs in the House.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is it the right hon. Gentleman's view that it would be inconsistent to have parallel discussions going on in two Committees on a subject on which it is the Government's policy to have no discussion at all so far as it is possible to prevent it?
§ Mr. Maclay
That leads me very nicely to the last part of what I want to say. There seems to have been an assumption that there is not going to be enough time for discussion during the remaining part of the Committee stage. I think hon. Members are slightly exaggerating the position.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The right hon. Gentleman seems to imply that it would be undesirable that there should be separate discussions and separate decisions on the question of decontrol. Since the conditions in Scotland are so vastly different from conditions in England, is there any reason why there should not be a different decision in Scotland on the question of decontrol?
§ Mr. Maclay
The whole past history of the Rent Acts shows that a United Kingdom view has always been taken. I think there is great substance in that argument, that it is undesirable to get completely different decisions on this point.
May I say this about the time available for discussion? As has been pointed out, so far the Scottish Members of the Committee have exercised exemplary restraint, and there is no reason to assume that they will not continue to do so, and, as this Motion allows for another six weeks of discussion, it is seen that a very full schedule is possible. Having examined very carefully the Clauses and the Amendments already on the Paper, as well as allowing for further Amendments, it seems to me that there is ample room within the time-table for discussion of the Scottish Clauses—particularly Clauses 6, 7 and 8. I hope there will be plenty of time for rational discussion of Clause 9 as well, with its Scottish implications.
It would be difficult to accuse us with real conviction of gagging this Bill. With 92 six weeks more to go, that is time for very full discussion of a Bill of this length. I would remind hon. Members of what happened to us in the years 1945–50. I do not want to elaborate this point, but I would remind hon. Members that on Bills of immense length the time was cut down savagely. In the cases to which I referred in 1947 when I spoke in this House on this subject, not only did that Motion which I was discussing deal with the Transport Bill, but it dealt with the Town and Country Planning Bill as well. In one day hon. Members opposite did that to two Bills.
§ Mr. Percy Collick (Birkenhead)
If an Englishman may be permitted to intervene in this discussion, surely the whole difference, which the Minister does not seem to understand, is this. In the case of the Transport Act to which he has referred, the Government of the day had a mandate for it. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not attempt to say that the present Government have a mandate for this Bill?
§ Mr. Maclay
I am keeping my eye very carefully on Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but if we are to be allowed to debate this point, the very fact which the hon. Member has stated makes it even worse to have applied a Guillotine in that case. It shows the arrogance and determination of the party opposite to push a Measure through regardless of discussion. I feel that when this time-table is carefully considered, it will be seen that there is plenty of time for useful and constructive discussion of the Scottish Clauses.
I will be frank, although I have some hesitation in saying this. Having objected extremely strongly in 1947 to the imposition of a time-table, I must confess that once it was in operation I found that the standard of discussion benefited considerably. I do not think that that is necessarily the effect, but if one knows in reasonable time what one is trying to do one can achieve a much higher standard. I know that what I have said is giving hostages to fortune in the distant future, but nevertheless it is worth saying. I feel that this Motion should be supported.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)
The speech to which we have just listened from the Secretary of State for Scotland has been a pitiable effort to justify the Government's Motion, and I am not surprised, because the Secretary of State is on record as having opposed Guillotine Motions on so many occasions. Indeed, if he really believed what he said in his concluding sentences, it is more than he did when he last spoke on a Guillotine Motion, when he repeated a previous speech which he had delivered. Tonight, he tells us that after the first occasion he found that the operation of the Guillotine had improved the speeches. If that were true, why did he make his second speech?
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill could not be separated. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) reminded him of the Food and Drugs Bill, on which we came to a different decision with regard to the notification of shops. Even the right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), when Secretary of State, accepted an Amendment, which was resisted in the English Committee. He accepted it after pressure from Scottish Members, and as a result we have a much better Act in Scotland than the English have. All the English Members will admit it. It is the same with the National Health Act. The National Health (Scotland) Act differs fundamentally from the English Act, and English Members would be only too delighted if the English Act contained some of the provisions which are within the Scottish Act.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we could not divide the Bill and send a part of it to the Scottish Grand Committee while the remainder was discussed in the English Committee. But we did exactly that with the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. We dealt with the Scottish part of that Bill in the Scottish Grand Committee, while the English Committee was carrying on with its job, but in the Scottish Committee, where we had a very good chairman, we were permitted to discuss matters which the English Members were not allowed to discuss.
§ Mr. Hoy
Modesty prevents me from telling my hon. Friend.
94 All I am pointing out is that when the Secretary of State puts forward these excuses it shows that he is a little ignorant of what has been going on in Scottish affairs. I do not blame him, because his attendances at the Scottish Grand Committee have been sporadic. True, he was for a time Minister of Transport, and I would have thought that that would have taught him to be a litle more careful when he came to see his Scottish colleagues, but apparently it has not had very much effect.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) wanted to say something about the slums in Scotland and about how this Bill has a greater effect on the Scots than it does in the rest of the United Kingdom. I think I can sum up the matter simply by saying that this Bill not only deals with rent and decontrol, but even under the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954, it increases the bill for certain householders in Scotland from 40 per cent. to 50 per cent.
It is difficult for us to explain these matters to our constituents in Scotland. There is in my constituency a large area consisting of rotten, old slum properties. In fact, in some of them the people are housed underground. There has been a little painting and some pointing done to the properties, and all the tenants have had notice from the landlord stating that as from a certain day the rents will go up by 8s. in the £.
They came to see me about it, and I told them that it was the result of an Act which the Government had passed. I had to point out to them that under this particular Bill there will be a further increase of 2s. in the £, making the ultimate rent increase 10s. in the £. They asked me what I was doing about it; they said they did not understand Parliamentary procedure. I told them that I was prohibited from taking part, and when they asked why that should be so I had to tell them it was because the Government had sent the matter to a Committee upstairs, in which there are only four Labour Members from Scotland.
I said, "There are five from the Tory side of the House, and even the Secretary of State for Scotland cannot take part in the discussion; so you can understand how difficult it is for me, who am only 95 a back bencher." The very action of the Government has prevented the Secretary of State from taking part.
§ Mr. Hoy
What I am saying—and the right hon. Gentleman knows it—is that even on the Report stage the Guillotine is in action. He cannot give us any assurance any more than he could give us correct replies when he was a Minister. Apparently he did not know, or he misled the House, and if he could not reply correctly then he cannot do so as a back bencher. There will be no opportunity for proper discussion. These increases will take place, and hon. Members from Scotland will not have an opportunity of discussing them.
What is happening now has this fundamental difference. We are to have the Guillotine before we have started to discuss the Bill. That is the terrible thing. It is true that we have had some meetings, but let us not be misled by the story about the time it has taken. The Secretary of State, if he would not mind my quoting one of his speeches, dealt with this very point. He said that we should not be misled by the time taken on the first two or three Clauses because they were always the most important and we might have to spend considerable time in discussing them, and the others would go rapidly. Today, he tells the House that the Guillotine is to be imposed.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. It is obvious that he did not take the opportunity he had of replying to some of the speeches he himself delivered on previous occasions. It would have been very interesting.
§ Mr. Hoy
I not blaming him too much today. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman understands what the 96 Bill is about. That was perfectly clear this afternoon.
It will be remembered that the Lord Privy Seal, in attempting to justify the Guillotine proposal, said that Clauses 6, 7 and 8, of course, did not really stand alone, but were all intermingled with previous Acts, and so forth. This advice had come from the Lord Advocate. It was then proved that the Lord Advocate gave wrong advice. The Lord Advocate then disappeared from the Chamber, since when he has never returned. I know that we have the Solicitor-General but, after all, if I may say so, he is a junior partner in this company.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
In defence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, may I point out that that advice was given by me? And I may add that the advice was right.
§ Mr. Hoy
That only makes it twice as bad, because the Lord Advocate, sitting on the Front Bench, accepted all the blame for it. The Solicitor-General was sitting by his side, and if he had been fair to his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate he would have got up and said, "Please teacher, it was me." But not he; he sat still and allowed the Lord Advocate to take the rap. But in any case, if the advice came from the Solicitor-General then he was wrong just as much as the Lord Advocate. And if the lawyers cannot understand it, there is some excuse for the Secretary of State for Scotland.
I come now to consider what the Secretary of State himself had to say on the subject of such a Motion as this. He is on record on the subject; he is one of the experts, and one would have thought that he would have come this afternoon better prepared.
§ Mr. Maclay
I should mention that I did have a look at what I said on a previous occasion, and I must say that I was very impressed by it.
§ Mr. Hoy
I have no doubt that the Secretary of State was impressed by what he himself said; but one does not carry very much conviction by talking to oneself. If that is the state the right hon. Gentleman is in after a week at the Scottish Office, I hesitate to think how he will be after he has been there a month. The right hon. Gentleman really should be careful about making these "Smart Alec" replies—indeed, they are perhaps 97 not so smart—because he had some experience as Minister of Transport and he ought to be careful. Let us consider what he had to say.
In 1948, during the pasage of the Iron and Steel Bill, the Secretary of State said that we were not sent here as Members of Parliament simply to express opinions for or against any proposal, but he also said, and these are his words:We have come here to try to construct sound legislation, whether we are supporters of the Government or Members of the Opposition. For this purpose the Guillotine procedure is disastrous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1484.]Today, the right hon. Gentleman comes to the House and says that the Guillotine must be applied. Whether the solution is disastrous or not, we are, he tells us, to have it.
§ Mr. Osborne rose—
§ Mr. Hoy
I know that the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene, but I have taken a long time and I should like to conclude. I know that he has a Scottish connection through his family.
The Secretary of State, when dealing with the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, had something further to say. He is vociferous on the subject, though he has not the skill of the Lord Privy Seal, who told us today that the Guillotine is as a surgical instrument. The Secretary of State is one of the experts there was not a debate on a Guillotine Motion in which he did not take part, so he is well on record.
Dealing with that part of the Motion which puts down a date for Report, this is what he said on a previous occasion:It surely would have been better procedure if, before the Government put a date in the Motion for reporting the Bills to the House from the Standing Committees, the Business Sub-Committee had had an opportunity of really careful consideration of the amount of time which must be given to the different Clauses;"—now he says the very opposite, and he is still impressed—and if the Government had then come to the House with a Motion. It may prove that, with the utmost sincerity … it will be impossible to fix a date. It may not be practicable. But they are absolutely bound by the terms of the Motion.98 Then the right hon. Gentleman pleaded for the Motion to be withdrawn. Does that not fit in exactly with the position today? The right hon. Gentleman is so impressed that he has not even convinced himself, or he would have asked to withdraw the Motion.
§ Mr. Maclay
The trouble is that I completely failed to impress right hon. and hon. Members who were in Government at that time, and perhaps they were right—I do not know.
§ Mr. Hoy
What the right hon. Gentleman said a moment or two ago was that he had impressed himself. If that is so, no doubt he will now be willing to ask for the Motion to be withdrawn.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:I think it is a very grave disservice to this House that hon. Members of the Opposition should be prevented by this Motion from giving their full, detailed attention to the Bills that they would like to give.That is exactly the action he has himself taken this afternoon. But he went on, further, to say:But it is really going to have disastrous effects on the Members on the back benches on the Government side"—today, that is his own hon. Friends—who are on Standing Committees.Then we had one of the right hon. Gentleman's little witticisms. He does not utter very many, but he has one or two of them. He is so hard up for them that he used this one on two occasions. He said that hon. Members on the Government side—and this, of course, is applicable to the Members on his own side today—will all … qualify for being described as 'yet unvarnish'd brides of quietness.'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 175–6.]Those were the words he used. [HON. MEMBERS: "Unvarnish'd?"] I am sorry, "untarnish'd." Everybody who knows me knows where that expression came from. At any rate, he said, "as 'yet untarnish'd brides of quietness.'" Perhaps I got a little bit mixed up with "varnish" and "whitewash."
§ Mr. Hoy
It was that little witticism that the right hon. Gentleman repeated twice. I am wondering whether, tonight, he is willing to use it against hon. Members on his own side of the House. He has failed completely and miserably to justify the Motion. He has done a great disservice to Scotland and I can assure him that Scotland will neither forget nor forgive.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. C. N. Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
As far as the Scottish part of the debate is concerned—and it is upon that, of course, that we are now engaged—it seems to me that there are two propositions. One is that the purely Scottish Clauses should be remitted to the Scottish Grand Committee and the other is that there should be a separate Bill for Scotland.
As to the first, my right hon. Friend was completely convincing in his submission that the Bill has so many other parts which concern Scotland that if Clauses 6, 7 and 8 were taken out of the Bill and remitted to the Scottish Grand Committee, it really would be a waste of time and it is much better that we should deal with these Clauses altogether in one Bill, preserving the logical sequence.
The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) suggested that we ought to have a separate Scottish Bill to deal with this matter. The answer seems to me to be a perfectly simple one, but it has not been given today. The purpose of the Bill is to unravel the rent restrictions legislation. The Rent Restrictions Acts—dozens of them—apply not only to Scotland and to England and Wales, but are United Kingdom Acts. Every one of the Rent Restrictions Acts which we are now seeking to unravel is a United Kingdom Measure. Therefore, it seems to me to be logical and right that when we come to unravel them, it should be done on a United Kingdom basis.
§ Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)
Would the hon. Member not agree that the methods of unravelling in Scotland and in England, as set out in the Bill, are wholly different?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
Yes, indeed, but we are still dealing with the process of unravelling United Kingdom legislation. 100 It seems to me to be entirely inappropriate between and after the wars to impose restrictions on the rents which may be charged, and so on, on a United Kingdom basis and then to seek piecemeal, on the one hand for England and Wales and on the other hand for Scotland, to unravel that legislation. It has got to be done on a United Kingdom basis.
The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) feared that the Scottish Members would not have a proper opportunity of dealing with matters which are, quite rightly, naturally and understandably, of great concern to their constituents. My right hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart) pointed out, in an interjection, that there are the further stages of the Bill, and that is perfectly true. In the time-table Motion which is before the House this afternoon, we see that the House is to have three whole days devoted to further consideration and Third Reading of the Bill. During those three days there surely will be ample opportunity for Scottish Members from all constituencies to come in and advance the arguments which are made to them by their constituents and in respect of which, no doubt, they feel deeply and, quite rightly, ought to have an opportunity of impressing their views upon the House.
I was a member of the first Standing Committee which was guillotined. You will remember that very well, Mr. Speaker, because you, too, were a member of it. We ought to remember, this afternoon, that the first Allocation of Time Order to apply to Standing Committees of the House of Commons was an Order brought forward by right hon. Members of the party opposite. It was brought forward, as we have been told on more than one occasion this afternoon, in respect of two Measures, the Transport Bill and the Town and Country Planning Bill, of 1947.
We on the Town and Country Planning Bill in Standing Commitee D, as it was at that time—you, too, will remember this, Mr. Speaker—felt very aggrieved that that Allocation of Time Order was brought forward when we had had only four sittings. Even one of those four sittings was curtailed because one of the Ministers in charge of the Bill had not his brief ready and he asked whether the Committee might rise early so that 101 the point could be considered before its next meeting. It was, therefore, rather less than four normal sittings, in the course of which we had disposed of three Clauses of the Bill and we were well into the fourth Clause when the Government of the day, represented by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, proposed a Guillotine Motion.
What a contrast that was with what the present Government are doing. We on the Rent Bill have had 11 sittings. I grant that it is really only nine effective sittings, but we have had nine effective sittings and, whatever may be said, we have not yet passed Clause 2. I do not care what anyone says. I maintain that the proceedings in Committee the other day, when, between the hours of 12.15 and 12.45, the Opposition insisted upon six Divisions in quick succession, one after the other, each one of which was won by the Government by the same majority of 22 to 19, indicated—
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The hon. Member says that the Opposition insisted on having six Divisions one after another. Does he not appreciate that three of those Divisions were on the Closure, moved by his right hon. Friend the Minister, before there had been discussion on Amendments after they were moved?
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
The first Division was on the Closure. [An Hon. MEMBER: "And two others, also."] Unless my recollection is incorrect, most of the Divisions were on Amendments which had been discussed at the previous sitting and at that sitting and which were then voted upon. Whatever the subject of the Divisions, the 22 to 19 majority was maintained throughout. No hon. Member left the Committee between the Divisions and it was perfectly obvious to everyone that each Division would be carried by the same number of votes. The hon. Member for one of the Birmingham Divisions says that it does not make any difference, but what it does indicate is that, at best, the Opposition behaved in an irresponsible way or at worst, with the deliberate intention of delaying the Committee's proceedings.
§ Mr. Wilkins
Would the hon. Gentleman tell us which day he is referring to? There was one sitting when we had six Divisions, but we did not have six Divisions together. According to my recollection, we had a Division very early, and 102 then had four more Divisions later in the sitting—nearly two hours afterwards.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
If the hon. Member will refresh his memory, he will see that on Wednesday, 30th January, starting at 12.15 p.m. and finishing at 12.45 p.m., the Committee had six Divisions, each one of them being won by the Government by 22 votes to 19.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
Would the hon. Gentleman maintain that under a Conservative Government it is an offence to divide either a Committee or the House? That is a very strange doctrine.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
It would be a very strange doctrine under any Government. I think that the right hon. Gentleman heard what I said, but if not I will repeat it.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
I said that that kind of conduct indicates either irresponsibility or a deliberate intention to delay the proceedings of the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I thought that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), in his opening speech, made a rather extraordinary suggestion, which I do not think has been taken up so far, and to which, therefore, I want to refer. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that there was a great deal of opposition on the Government side on the operation or possible operation of Clause 9, and he went on to say that the Government were anxious for this reason to cut down the discussion on this Clause. I think it is within the knowledge of all hon. Members in this House that one thing that happens when a Guillotine Motion or Allocation of Time Order is carried is that it throws open the debate to both sides of the House, which means that we get a full, free and fair discussion on the Motion.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
On the contrary, that is not so. It is the intention that there should be full time for the proceedings of the Committee.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
Under this Motion, we are given until 13th March to report back to the House. Unless I am mistaken, that means that we shall have 16, 17 or 18—and probably 18—more sittings of the Committee. I cannot believe—and here I revert to the Scottish position, because that is what we are discussing—that, when hon. Members of the Committee see the time-table which is proposed—and I have not seen it any more than have hon. Members opposite—they will not find that very adequate time will be given for a full discussion of the Scottish Clauses in the 17 or 18 days that we still have before us.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I find it rather difficult to follow the debate. The Leader of the House, in giving reasons for applying the Guillotine, said that the speeches in Committee had been too long and too frequent. That was the allegation. A few moments ago the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. ThorntonKemsley) complained of Divisions occurring far too quickly. That there should be six Divisions in three-quarters of an hour would appear to me to be evidence that the Committee was getting on with its work most expeditiously.
It is very difficult to follow the reasoning of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I must say that I had a great deal of sympathy with the Secretary of State for Scotland when he rose to reply to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). I sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman, because I realised that the Minister who introduced the Rent Bill to the House was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. He is no longer responsible, nor is the Minister of Housing. Therefore, it falls upon somebody else. The same thing happened with regard to Scotland as far as the Rent Bill is concerned.
The right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart), who went to the Dispatch Box to state the case for Scotland on behalf of the Government, is no longer in office, so it appears that there had to be apologies for two former Ministers. I am very sorry indeed that 104 the present Secretary of State is now in this position. I have listened to him with sympathy on many previous occasions when he was protesting against the use of the Guillotine.
I listened very attentively to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), who opened the debate from this side of the House, and I agreed with what he said. He put up an unanswerable case. He was speaking in respect of a Bill which applies to England and Wales, and, if there is an unanswerable case against a time-table order for the English part of the Bill, what sort of a case must there be for the Scottish part?
When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government introduced this legislation, almost the first thing he said was that the Government would overcome, or would be within measurable distance of overcoming, the housing shortage by the time this Bill reached the Statute Book. That was the only reason for introducing the Rent Bill at that particular time. It was pointed out then that, as far as Scotland was concerned, that could not be the case; indeed, when the question was put to the then Secretary of State for Scotland, he said that the housing shortage in Scotland would not be similar to that which the former Minister and Parliamentary Secretary had claimed it would be in England. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had not a clue as to when Scotland would be in a similar position and would not guess.
Every one of us knows that, so far as Scotland is concerned in the foreseeable future, the housing situation is not such that there will be no competition for houses whatever, which was part of the argument used by the Parliamentary Secretary for introducing this Bill. The Leader of the House today said that unless this Measure could be placed on the Statute Book fairly quickly there was not likely to be proper use of existing houses. How can that apply so far as Scotland is concerned? We look for any excuse or reason for this Guillotine Motion being introduced by the Government, and we find that one of the reasons why this Motion is put down is that the legislation should reach the Statute Book at the earliest possible date.
105 Here is a letter concerning one of my constituents, who finds himself in difficulties because of the bad housing conditions in Scotland in general, and in Burnt-island, which is part of my constituency, in particular. He pleaded with the landlord to have the house repaired. He remembered that the 1920 Act made provision for an increase in rent to enable repairs to be carried out, and he also knew that, where the house was not wind and weather proof, he could have recourse to the town council or its sanitary inspector, who could have the house made wind and weather proof. He also suggested that some steps should be taken to have these repairs carried out, and this is the reply which he received from the landlord:It is our intention to take possession whenever the Rent Restrictions Acts permit, and I hope this warning will give you time to secure a more congenial residence.Perhaps that is the reason why the pressure is on. It seems to me to be a much more logical and probable reason than any of those which the Government have put forward in their arguments so far.
Housing in Scotland is in such a bad state that the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) said that the Rent Bill ought not to be applied in Scotland, and the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns used much the same phraseology, but in spite of the fact that housing in Scotland is so bad we find a landlord in my constituency already threatening one of the tenants of one of those had houses with eviction the moment the Bill goes on the Statute Book, or as soon after as possible.
Has the Secretary of State considered these things? Here is one among several good reasons why even at this late stage he ought to impress upon the Leader of the House the necessity of sending the three Clauses, Clauses 6, 7 and 8, to be dealt with by the Scottish Grand Committee. I regret that the Secretary of State was obliged to speak in favour of the Guillotine Motion. I should have thought he would have realised that all those bad houses should be cleared from the face of Scotland before legislation like this is introduced.
I should have thought he would have realised that many old-age pensioners are residing in those bad houses which ought to have been demolished years ago, and 106 which were in such a state of disrepair in 1920 that legislation was called for to make it possible to repair them then. Old-age pensioners are still residing in them because they cannot be housed elsewhere, and they will not be able to be housed elsewhere in one year or two or even ten years. They will have to continue residing in those dilapidated houses, and yet they are to be called upon to pay an increase of 25 per cent. in their rents even if no repairs are done at all. Is the Secretary of State satisfied that that is reasonable? It is said that old-age pensioners will be able to get from the National Asistance Board the difference between their present and their increased rents. That will mean that the National Assistance Board will be subsidising the landlords.
Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about dividing the Bill between two Committees, whatever he may say about legislation for rents, he must now, as Secretary of State, accept the responsibility for housing in Scotland, and in no circumstances ought he to be a party to imposing this Guillotine today. The housing situation in Scotland is such that Scotland is not ready for this Bill.
I should like the Secretary of State to try to remember some of the speeches Government supporters made to the electors in the last General Election, from whom they got no mandate for this Bill. They repeatedly said that only the Tory Party could give Scotland freedom, and that only the Tories could fairly represent Scotland. Yet the first speech which the right hon. Gentleman makes as Secretary of State for Scotland is a speech in favour of applying to Scotland a Measure for which Scotland is not ready, a Measure which was meant to apply to England, where the circumstances are different from those in Scotland. Not only are circumstances in Scotland different from those in England, but they differ in Scotland between one part of Scotland and another. They vary between the rural areas and the industrial areas and the cities.
We claimed from the beginning that the Bill should be remitted to a Committee of the whole House so that every hon. Member could exercise his rights as a Member to speak upon it and to give us the benefit of his knowledge and experience of the subject. The Government would not have that, and they have 107 not even separated the Scottish Clauses to send them to the Scottish Grand Committee. The four Scottish Opposition Members of the Standing Committee considering the Bill have not yet had an opportunity to say a single word in Committee about how the Bill applies to Scotland, and yet the hon. Member for North Angus suggests that, under this Motion, there will be ample time for them to do so, showing he has no real understanding of the matter whatever. I hope that in the Division tonight the hon. Member for Pollok and the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns will implement what they said on Second Reading of the Bill and come with us into the Lobby so that at least the sill may be properly and fully discussed.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
If a mere Englishman may interpose in this Scottish interlude, amusing as it has been to Scotsmen and to Englishmen, I would draw the attention of my hon. Friends to the florid and rotund oratory that fell from the lips of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), who moved the Amendment, and the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Danner), who was the first to support it, because that was the sort of oratory and eloquence that we have heard during the proceedings in Standing Committee on the Bill.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) says in five words what, of course, can be said in one.
I have been making calculations about the proceedings in the Standing Committee. We have had ten sittings of 2½ hours each, making 25 hours in all, and one sitting of 45 minutes; so, altogether, we have sat in Committee for 25¾ hours. The average attendance in the Committee has been 42, so that the number of man-hours already spent in the Standing Committee is about 1,000 manhours, yet we have got only about three-quarters of the way through Clause 2 of the Bill. Under nationalisation or in private enterprise I should have thought that an enormous expenditure of manhours, and not a very good example of the productivity about 108 which hon. Members opposite are so keen.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
Since the hon. Member cites that as an indication of the measure of man-hours wasted in Committee, is he aware that that total is not equal to the number of hours spent in one sitting in Committee on what was then the Gas Bill?
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
I was not a Member of the House at that time.
To pursue my calculations, even although it is said that statistics may not be relied upon, having heard some hon. Members from Scotland, who will, no doubt, be taking part in the debates later in Standing Committee on the Bill, and considering that we have had ten sittings in the Committee and reached only three-quarters of the way through Clause 2, I calculate that if we progress at that rate, and do not have this Motion, we shall have to have another 85 sittings of the Committee on the Bill,—
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
—and if there are three sittings a week the Committee will still be sitting at the end of next November—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—on a Bill that we started before Christmas.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
If hon. Members opposite think that the Committee should spend a year on a Bill of 18 Clauses they have another think coming.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
I see that 19 Labour Members have made speeches in the Committee, and, between them, have made 124 speeches on two Clauses as far as I can ascertain; they averaged about ten minutes each.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
I am not saying anything against the sincerity of hon. Members opposite.
If I may, I should like to give hon. Members opposite a little advice. If each of them confined himself to three or five minutes, there would be ample time to make all the points that they wish to 109 make. By now, if that had been done, we should have got twice as far with the Bill.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
It is obvious that if hon. Members opposite adjust themselves to the situation and decide among themselves who shall speak on each Amendment, even under the Guillotine they will have plenty of time to make their points and discuss the Bill quite fully and to a proper extent.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
It is rather presumptious of anyone to lecture us for ten minutes on the necessity for making only five-minute speeches, as the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) has just done. His delightful parade of statistics would have been even more fantastic had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), who implied that it was almost criminal nowadays for members of a Standing Committee to proceed to a Division.
I am not a member of the Standing Committee dealing with this Bill, but I do remember going to a Committee meeting and hearing the hon. Member for North Angus addressing it on one occasion and threatening the Minister that if he proceeded with a certain proposal the hon. Member would force a Division and vote against it. The simple fact was that the hon. Member did not want to attend the Committee—that is, not too often. In other words, attendance would interfere with his extra-Parliamentary duties.
I think that that is one of the reasons for this Guillotine and for the joy in the hearts of some hon. Members opposite about the Guillotine. It is a reason which has not been sufficiently stressed. We have not had the criticism of the Guillotine that we ought to have had from hon. Members opposite because it suits the activities of some of them, the part-time Parliamentarians.
§ Mr. Osborne rose—
§ Mr. Ross
I see that the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) is objecting to my remarks, but we have had occasion to meet in the Scottish Grand Committee 110 for three days a week and we have had exactly the same protest from exactly the same people, objecting to corning to the Committee and doing their Parliamentary duty.
The fact is that by its very nature the Bill, touching so many millions of people, is one that demands continued and prolonged discussion. We have to remember, also, that this is a controversial Bill, and because the matter is controversial it does not mean that we should cut down the amount of discussion on it. It is a reason for extending discussion and a reason why there should not be a Guillotine.
Not only is there controversy as between Government and Opposition, but the interesting fact is that, as the sittings of the Committee have proceeded, there has been a realisation in the ranks opposite that all is not quite so well. There is now dissension within the Government ranks as to how they should proceed with the Bill. I think that the Government have an unstated reason for insisting upon curtailing discussion by means of the Guillotine. It is because of disunity in their own ranks—
§ Mr. Ross
That is how many people outside the House describe the utterances of hon. Members opposite, and the recent contribution of the hon. Member well merits that epithet.
People outside the House depend on discussions in Committee for a full picture of what a Bill means. It is because they have had it in the nine effective sittings of the Committee that there has come the realisation among the people of the true meaning of the Bill. The Government should be frank and give us the real reason for the application of the Guillotine, or they should try to give a better reason for what they now propose to do. I was interested to read the leading article in The Times this morning—arrogant and presumptuous, and showing little concern for the conduct of the Chair in this House or, rather, in the Committee. It said thatNot all Labour amendments in the committee's first nine sittings have been very pertinent to the business in hand. …Surely it is a matter for the occupant of the Chair in Committee to decide that and not for someone sitting in the chair of the editorial board of The Times.
§ Mr. Ross
The Times adds:… Labour speeches have been repeated so often that the committee must know them by heart.We have a rule dealing with tedious repetition and that is equally a matter for the Chair. But The Times follows up that comment by admitting that this is a complicated Bill. It speaks of such complexities that… several Labour amendments have caused the Government to think again …That is a complete non sequitur within the sentence itself and a complete denial of what the editorial said earlier.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Surely it is quite consistent, and in line with The Times editorial reasoning, that anything which causes the Government to think again is, ex hypothesi, irrelevant.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
If my hon. Friend will allow me, I should like to point out that the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) is now in conversation with a Whip and apparently is himself being gagged.
§ Mr. Ross
On Second Reading, the then Secretary of State for Scotland was full of quotations from The Times and I was hoping that the new Secretary of State would once again have quoted The Times and its editorial, because today's leading article went on to speak of… three Scottish clauses (so different that they would have come better in a separate Bill) …That is one of the points which we are making in opposition to the Motion.
If the Government are so hard pressed for time, they can give us a separate Bill for Scotland. Failing that, they can take the Scottish Clauses out of the Rent Bill 112 and allow them to be discussed in the Scottish Grand Committee. The Secretary of State for Scotland now tells us that that cannot be done. He said that he was completely in agreement with the Government. That, indeed, was a surprise. He would not have been on the Front Bench opposite if he had not been in agreement with the Government.
It may well be that it was because independence was on occasion shown by the right hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart) that the change in the office of Secretary of State was made. The Secretary of State has told us that it would be only duplicating work and quite unnecessary to have two separate lots of legislation. He is quite ignorant of the fact that we have had separate Bills for Scotland dealing with the health services and town and country planning. He is ignorant of the fact that there is a host of other Bills which duplicate for Scotland exactly what is done in England, and that in the course of that duplication we have succeeded in getting Bills for Scotland.
Now we come to the question of whether or not Clauses should have been debated by the Scottish Standing Committee. Today, the Lord Privy Seal took pride in proclaiming that if this could have been done the Government would have done it. He said that the Government did it with the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. But that was done after weeks and months of pressure from this side of the House, after repeated reiterations from the Government that it just could not be done. Eventually, it was done successfully. There were matters in Clauses of that Bill, tying up with other parts of the Measure, which had to be dealt with later by the Committee.
The position is the same with Clauses 6, 7 and 8 of the Rent Bill. Clause 6 deals with the application of rent increases in Scotland. The formula of application bears no relation whatever to England and Wales; it is completely different. I am sorry that the Law Officers of the Crown are not in the Chamber, although this might have been rubbing salt into their wounds after the well-deserved treatment they received from my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy), in the brilliant speech he made today. Clauses 7 and 8 do not deal with a United Kingdom Act of Parliament 113 at all. They deal with the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954.
It is said that this Bill deals with other things as well, and that it includes the provisions contained in Clause 9. If the right hon. Gentleman had listened to his hon. Friend the Member for Pollok (Mr. George), Clause 9 would never have been in the Bill so far as Scotland is concerned. If he had listened to the former Secretary of State for Scotland, he would have heard that the right hon. Gentleman had not the foggiest idea when the equation of houses available and houses required would be made. He would have had ample proof that Clause 9 has no justified application to Scotland.
The right hon. Gentleman said that this deals with furnished houses. That is related to the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Act and not to any United Kingdom Act at all. Even as I was disappointed with the result of the interview we had with the Lord Privy Seal, so I am completely disappointed with the reasons given today for the failure of the Government, even now, to send these Scottish Clauses to be dealt with by the Scottish Standing Commitee. The point is that Scottish Members have already been guillotined. Here is something which will affect practically every home in Scotland. Take, for example, a city like Dundee, where 71 per cent. of the population are living in houses of one and two apartments. Most of those properties are over a hundred years old, and not only are rents going up, but there is a possibility of decontrol. Yet hon. Members representing Dundee are not on the Standing Committee.
There is no one from Aberdeen or the whole of the south of Scotland. Only three Scottish back bench Labour Members are on the Committee. But the hon. Member for North Angus glibly says that there will be a Report stage and a Third Reading debate. Three days are promised. I suppose it will be two days for the Report stage and one day for the Third Reading. It will be no use saying anything during the Third Reading debate to try to change the Bill. As for the two days for Report, we had two days for the Second Reading and then all the time that was gained by Scottish Labour back bench Members was 38 minutes.
114 So far in the proceedings on this Bill. 38 minutes is the time which has been allotted to the Scottish Members. Some Scottish Members serve in silence on the Committee. So does the Joint Under-Secretary of State, in dignified and languid silence, fighting battles in anticipation and answering the arguments to be put on Clauses 6, 7 and 8. Now he and the Government supporters can relax, for when Clauses 6, 7 and 8 come to be discussed there will be little time for Scottish criticism. We heard it from the hon. Member for North Angus. This is the glory of the Guillotine, No longer need the Government supporters be silent. If they speak at the moment when there is no Guillotine, they are holding back Government business. Now there is a certainty that the Guillotine will fall when Clauses 6, 7 and 8 have been decided at a particular time, it does not matter to the Government who speaks.
§ Mr. Ross
Whatever happened then, a Scottish Bill was not guillotined.
The fact that Scottish Members can support a Motion like this, which affects constituencies and cities like Glasgow—where it is admitted that housing conditions and the social problem involved in such are the worst we have had to face—is something to be deplored. I am disappointed that a Scottish Secretary of State should support a Motion of this kind.
I have said that the Bill is controversial. The very nature of this Measure, with its technicalities and complexities, is such that it is desirable that there should be a full discussion and explanation, even to enlighten Ministers about the meaning of their own Bill. If that was important before, it is even more important now, because we have had a change of Minister. It may well be that the new Minister may have a change of heart and that we may get an opportunity of putting our case to him. But 115 I do not think that that will happen. I am sorry that today we have seen a new Secretary of State for Scotland accepting the Guillotine on Scottish Clauses in a Bill without a single word having been spoken for Scotland in the Committee.
I do not propose to make the point that we are suffering for the sins of our English colleagues. I do not think that there has been too much time spent on Clause 1 and that part of Clause 2 which has been dealt with so far. When we hear that six Divisions took place in 45 minutes, it shows that there has been no obvious attempt to hold up business, but rather to expedite it.
The Leader of the House said today that the public had a right to know what will happen to them, and when. I think so, too. But it is only after a full discussion of the implication of the Clauses that the public will know. The right hon. Gentleman said that there should be no delay. The Times talked about "unavoidable delay", whatever that means. It may well be that by this Guillotine Motion the public will begin to realise what is to happen, and when they do they will probably discover why the Government have introduced it.
The first is that over this controversial legislation war has broken out within the party opposite, and they wish to get this Measure through quickly. Secondly, the Government want to get this Bill through quickly before people realise just what is to happen to them. The Government hope that the law will take effect, they believe that public opinion will be upset, that there will be an uproar for a time and that the public will then forget it. I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that in Scotland, at least, the injustice done to Scotland will not be forgotten. Were he in the Chamber I should be glad to reiterate to the Secretary of State for Scotland our disgust and dismay that he should have been a party to the speeding up in a vicious way of a thoroughly evil Bill.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers
I hope that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his details of the political history of Scotland. I should, however, like to correct him on the point that he came to the Standing Committee and, as he inferred, 116 saw my hon. Friends trying to get less time for the debate. That was not correct. They were trying to get the sittings of the Committee fixed for the morning and afternoon of Tuesday and the morning of Wednesday instead of two mornings and one afternoon. There was no question of cutting down the time of the debate.
I am not one who is responsible for this Guillotine Motion. I have not wasted any time in the Committee, despite the fact that on several occasions I have been tempted by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) who has made comments at my expense and to my amusement. But I remembered the advice given by the former leader of his party, that one should try to be a statesman and not a politician.
I shall not waste the time of the House by trying to reply to irrelevant points. I suggest that Scottish Members will get full time for debate because the Guillotine will be of benefit to them. Instead of only 38 minutes, they will have the whole Scottish field to themselves. English Members will not wish to disturb them.
My anxiety is to settle the uncertainty which exists in the country. Our constituents are extremely worried about what is to happen to them, and that position has been intensified by speculation in the newspapers, especially over the weekend. Hon. Members opposite make it appear that it is only they who have any interest in what happens to the lower-income group. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am interested to hear that, because last year there happened to be in the Central Hall, Westminster, a conference held by the Federation of Old-Age Pensioners. It may interest the Opposition to know that not one member of their party or of the Liberal Party attended, and that I was the only Member of this House at the conference. I was complimented by those present on my courage.
§ Miss Vickers
Quite a lot in my constituency, where the old-age pensioners have an excellent organisation. I will not go into these details now, or I may be out of order. In the Rent Bill Committee we are not thinking, so much about the rich landlords. According to the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. H. Butler), one would think we 117 were back in the Dickens age. I have here a quotation from the Daily Herald, which is certainly not a Tory newspaper. It relates to an ex-marine who is aged 93 and lives in a council flat. Apparently he has decided to get married and his wife is coming all the way from America. There is evidently still hope for some of us. Asked whether he had any troubles, he said, according to this report:The only trouble is that I'd like to get possession of my house, which is let. I draw 10s. rent for it and pay £1 for this flat.That illustrates the difficulty which is found particularly in my constituency among ex-Service men who live in council accommodation and have to pay more in rent than the people who live in their houses pay to them.
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) suggested that the Bow Group report was putting pressure upon Conservative back benchers, but I assure the hon. Member that that is not so. I have read the pamphlets issued by them and have pointed out that in 1931 the overcrowding in England and Wales was 6.94 per cent., whereas in 1951 it had already dropped down to 2.16 per cent. I have not the Scottish figures. Since that time a great many houses have been built, and the percentage of overcrowding is less than it was in 1951. We have not the exact figures up to date. These remarks apply to London.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I do not like to interrupt the hon. Lady, but I must ask her to come a little more closely to the Question before the House, namely, to this Allocation of Time Order. It is natural that one should refer to the Bill which is the subject of the Order, but the merits of the Bill cannot be discussed on this Motion.
§ Miss Vickers
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was trying to reply to what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering about the Bow Group putting pressure upon Conservative back benchers, I was quoting figures which support the Motion and—
§ Mr. S. Silverman
No doubt the hon. Lady will not fail to observe that if the House does not pass this time-table Motion there will be ample time in the Committee to bring up all these points.
§ Miss Vickers
I hope that the Motion will give more time to consider the Bill and that we shall really get down to the point. The real reason for going on with the time-table is that we can the sooner relieve the great anxiety in the country in regard to the Rent Bill, which has been going on day after day, giving no encouragement to people to know what is going to happen. I support the Motion in the hope that we can get something settled by putting the Bill on the Statute Book and so relieving anxiety.
I notice that there are 25 women to 605 men in the House at the present time. If we add up the time taken by them in discussion in Committee, we shall find that the time taken up by the women is a great deal less than the time taken by the men. I hope that we shall get more representation for women in this House, because we shall not find it necessay then to have Guillotine Motions in the future.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
I am glad to be following the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), if only because it enables me to say once again that we have not said at any time that there is no room for improvement in the Rent Acts and that there are not anomalies. Our complaint is that the very people whom we desire to benefit are the very one who will not receive assistance from the proposals in the Rent Bill. We ask the hon. Lady to look at the proposals of the Government and to see whether she can prove to her own satisfaction that they will benefit the people who are most in need of assistance.
I am also pleased that I have the opportunity of speaking after my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and that I heard him say that he was not accusing the English members of the Rent Bill Committee of delaying tactics and of thereby reducing the opportunities of discussion for our Scottish colleagues. As a matter of fact, our Scottish colleagues on the Committee have accused English members of being too restrained and docile in dealing with this outrageous Bill. As English Members, we are delighted to be acquitted on these counts.
I return to the reason for this Guillotine Motion. Obviously it would be quite 119 wrong for the Government to bring before the House a Motion which proposed to curtail debate in Committee on a highly controversial Measure unless they felt they had just grounds for doing so. I believe with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock that there is a very good reason from the point of view of the Government for this Motion today. I do not believe it is the reason which so far has been suggested. Are the Members of the Opposition in Committee A accused of having delayed proceedings on the Bill? I have not yet heard a direct suggestion from the Government benches that that is in fact the case.
This is a very highly controversial Bill. The first Clause deals with "Rent limit of controlled houses." Some hon. Friends may say that Clause 9 is even more important, but Clause I is probably the whole meat of the proposals of the Government. May I once again explode the fallacy, used by hon. Members opposite, that we have had eleven sittings on the Bill? The Committee has sat eleven time, but we have had only nine effective sittings and in those sittings we have handled a great many Amendments.
Are the Government justified in bringing this Motion? Have we delayed proceedings on the Bill? May I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that even since he has occupied a position on the Front Bench in that Committee we have had a debate which dealt with two Amendments together. [An HON. MEMBER: "Three."] No, I checked this because I thought at first that there were three, but I then found that the first was disposed of in a short time. I believe that Amendment was in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks), and then we agreed to discuss the two following Amendments together.
We commenced the discussion at 4.20 p.m. and at 5.20 p.m. we moved that the vote should be taken, which was refused. All our efforts to accommodate the Committee by moving that the Question should be put and that we should proceed to further Amendments we wanted to discuss were rejected. Yet the next time when the Closure was moved on one Amendment which had been discussed for two-and-a-half hours it was accepted.
120 I submit to the Minister that we have not in any way—certainly not by design—impeded the progress of this Bill in Committee. No hon. Member on Committee A can say he has been told to delay the proceedings. We believe we have a very great and grave responsibility upon our shoulders to protect some 5 million people who are unable to come to this House but face the threat of the Government. That, surely, is a responsibility we cannot shirk. When the Government want to curtail discussion on such Clauses as that which deals with decontrol of large numbers of houses, making it almost impossible for some people to secure accommodation when evicted, we ought to discuss that problem. How can I speak for constituents who write and tell me that they will lose not only their housing accommodation but their livelihood after spending 20 years building up a business? These are things for which we need time for discussion in Committee. We plead with the Minister to think about this matter again.
In the Motion there is no actual timetable for discussion of the Clauses. We are simply requiredto report the Bill to the House on or before the thirteenth day of March.I am in the position of being able to offer some advice to the Minister in this connection. Although the right hon. Gentleman has limited the date on which we have to report the Bill, he has not so far put in an actual time-table. We are prepared as Opposition Members, realising the responsibility which rests on us, to discuss this Bill every day in the week, every morning in the week, every afternoon in the week, and, if necessary for full discussion, we are even prepared to agree to some all-night sittings in Committee. That is the importance we attach to this Bill.
By their regular attendance on this Committee my colleagues have shown how assiduous they are in the protection of the interests of the constituents they represent. Their attendance has been extraordinarily good. That, I submit, is the main reason for this Guillotine Motion. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock that one of the main reasons for it is that this is now becoming a burden on some hon. Members opposite who are members of the Committee. They cannot lure Opposition Members away by pairing with them. 121 Our Members say, "No, our duty is here in this Committee". That is very inconvenient for hon. Members opposite, and that probably is the main reason for this Guillotine Motion.
I wish to refer to the speech made by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) who, since making it, has not graced the proceedings with his presence. He suggested that he disliked debates on Guillotine Motions because hon. Members were inclined to make what he called synthetic speeches; there was a display of synthetic anger. I make no bones about it; I do feel extremely angry about this proposal of the Government. The Government might take some notice of what is happening in their own ranks. I recommend hon. Members on the Government side of the Committee to read an article which appeared in Reynolds News yesterday by a Tory landlord and estate agent, who said that they ought to scrap this Bill. The article said in the first paragraph:No Act for years past has aroused so much anger and bitterness within a large section of the community as the proposed Rent Bill. The whole thing is a vicious attack. …
§ Mr. Wilkins
Oh, yes, it is signed "Sidney Bossom," which is a rather familiar name, but I hope it has no connection—[Interruption.] I am sorry, the name is "Bolsom." I always remember the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) making a mistake about the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir A. Bossom), who in those days sat behind the right hon. Member. The article quotes Hampstead as one of the classic examples of where this Measure will bring serious trouble to the Tory Party, but I am afraid that that does not seem to affect the Minister.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I think the man to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) has referred must be the one who put up Tory posters in his windows at every previous Election, but who has now said he will never vote Conservative again.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I do not know to how many hon. Members I am giving way, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but there seem to 122 be quite a lot of interjections coming from all around me at the moment.
I believe that this Guillotine Motion is quite unnecessary. I suggest to the House that the Committee has made reasonably good progress. We have admitted that, with one or two exceptions, there are now many Clauses which we have to discuss which, in our judgment, are of great importance, but which will not need lengthy discussion, although we reserve the right to see that Clause 9 and some of the Clauses which affect Scottish Members have adequate discussion. This Guillotine Motion is nothing more nor less than political gangsterism. This is an attempt by the Government, in undignified and indecent haste, to rob millions of poor people in order to put £100 million into the pockets of property owners. The Government are prepared to shoot their way—perhaps it would be more apt to say cut their way—through the Committee stage of the Bill. In doing so. I believe that they will destroy much of the prestige attaching to this House of Commons, which is accepted as one of the greatest democratic institutions in the world.
I am concerned about this. I have recollection of at least two occasions, probably three, in which this Government have flouted the will of this House. This must be a matter of alarm to those of us who want to see democracy in this country preserved and a good example set to the new democracies to which we are helping to give birth. I hope that when we vote the House will resist the Motion put before us by the Government. It is totally unnecessary. If the Government insist on having a dead-line for reporting the Bill back to the House, I believe that they should meet us by agreeing to meet every day the House is in session, morning, afternoon and, if necessary, in the evenings.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
The hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins), who has just addressed the House, has spoken with sincerity and some degree of passion. I listened to his speech with very great attention. I thought that it was almost unique, because I have been in the House, off and on, for most of the day and have listened to a great many speeches from the 123 other side of the House and, regrettable though it may be, I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), that, to a very large extent, the speeches have been synthetic.
Last Thursday, when the business was announced for today, there was no shout of alarm from the other side. There were a few rough voices and some degree of barracking and opposition was maintained for three or four minutes. During my Parliamentary experience, which goes back over fifteen years, I have listened to the very controversial debates on the nationalisation Bills which came after the war. I saw opposition put up by our side of the House and in 1951, when the Transport Bill was brought in by hon. Members opposite, there was a far greater degree of opposition and a far greater amount of noise when a Guillotine Motion was suggested.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham, that there is practically no value to the country by these debates. My hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port (Miss Vickers) tried just now to bring in an example of acute hardship to individual constituents, resulting from the Government's Rent Bill, but every time it was out of order; it could not be sustained. The public will get nothing out of this debate today. There will be very little reporting of it, I am certain. Hon. Gentlemen have tried to create an atmosphere of great alarm but, in my experience, it is far less serious than it used to be in the past.
The Guillotine canalises the discussion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South said that he had some very important points which he wanted to bring up during the Committee stage of the Bill. He will be able to do so. There will be a Business Committee, which elaborates the hours and the days devoted to particular Clauses. He has all the weight of his influence and his oratory which he can bring to bear on members of that Business Committee to see that they give him enough time. A Guillotine canalises the debate and enables speeches to be made from both sides of the Committee in a way which could not be done if there were no Guillotine.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is the noble Lord trying to persuade the House that a 124 time-table Motion is a good thing in itself and ought to apply to all our legislation? If not, will he tell us to which types of legislation it ought not to apply?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. Gentleman is jumping ahead five or ten minutes in my speech. I propose to say something about that before I conclude.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Before the noble Lord leaves that point, would he explain why Government supporters cannot speak unless there is a Guillotine?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The hon. and learned Gentleman, with his immense experience, knows the answer to that perfectly well. I remember very well the Transport Bill, in 1947, and how right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite sat mum throughout the whole of those debates, unable to speak at any time because we did most of the speaking, and it was left to Mr. Barnes and others, the Ministers concerned, to continue the debate. We would have loved to have listened to Socialists talking on that Bill, but none of them would say a word and we had to wait for the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) to dance a jig on the Floor of the House of Commons before we knew the extent and the degree of—
§ Mrs. E. M. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)
On a point of order. What is the noble Lord talking about?
§ Mrs. Braddock
It is not within the recollection of the noble Lord, at any rate, because he was not here.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I used it as an illustration, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We all know that the moment the Guillotine has fallen and the Business Committee has devised the hours and times of debate the debate will flow evenly from both 125 sides of the Committee, and a very good thing that is.
There is a great deal of growing public disillusionment about the days spent debating Guillotine Motions. The public thinks that it is a waste of time. Even if the public does not read the reports of the Press tomorrow there will be commentators, who observe our proceedings from time to time, who will induce in the public by their writings a feeling that Parliament is not capable of taking control of this situation and doing something positive about it. As I say, in my experience, as the years have rolled by, there has been less and less violence and less and less opposition to these Motions. Gradually, I have not the slightest doubt, the House is drawing to the conclusion that some new procedure should be devised to take care of these affairs.
We have already, for delegated legislation—and that can be just as important as the individual Clauses of the Bill—arrived at a procedural solution which enables a debate to be taken at ten o'clock in the evening for one and a half hours, postponed by the direction of Mr. Speaker, to the following night, and then wound up. No hon. Member on either side of the House can alter a word of such delegated legislation. It has either to be accepted or rejected, after three hours' debate and no more. Some of the delegated legislation with which the House is presented is just as important in its way as the Clauses of the Bill.
I very much hope that we shall arrive at the day when Clauses of Bills which are not of constitutional importance are treated in exactly the same way as is delegated legislation. The House would express its opinion on the Clause under discussion and the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," would be the only issue presented to the House. After the opinion had been taken, the Clause would be passed or withdrawn, as the case may be. If it were withdrawn, it would then be redrafted, as delegated legislation is redrafted, by the Civil Service, and would be reintroduced on$ Report for acceptance.
When I look at the detailed, complicated Clauses of many of our current Bills, I can see no reason that such procedure should not be enacted, and I hope the day will come very soon when we 126 shall present that issue to the Select Committee on Procedure. A Select Committee is sitting at the moment, but, unfortunately, it has not been allowed to take care of topics wider than the narrow topic presented to it. If it is reappointed next year, in my opinion it should consider this, among other questions.
I am not talking about the very early Clauses, the first two or three Clauses, of Bills, which are always of great controversy, because they enshrine the principle of the Bill. There is a safeguard for them even under the procedure we are discussing at the moment. The Business Committee can provide a much longer period for the consideration of those Clauses than for the subsequent Clauses. That is the practice of the House.
In my opinion, we are drawing to a position where it will be possible to pass, as a Sessional Order at the beginning of each Session of Parliament, a Resolution which sets up a Business Committee, which will be a Sessional Business Committee, to which all Bills will be referred automatically for time-tables—except constitutional Bills; the latter, just as in the case of Finance Bills, would be Bills which Mr. Speaker classed as such.
I am perfectly certain that this is the kind of way in which Parliament must clear the decks. I speak, I hope, with some modesty in saying that we are too important public men and women to have to sit here day after day, and sometimes night after night, debating, Clause by Clause, line by line, and comma by comma, tiny little words and shades of meaning in current legislation as it pours out from the Civil Service. It is fantastic. The procedure ought to be changed, simplified and streamlined, and I am quite certain that if the House were able to concentrate its mind upon this subject on a more appropriate occasion, it would set up a Select Committee on Procedure which would consider these topics, and that we should proceed to some satisfactory conclusion.
I have noticed among the public, overseas as well as at home, a growing and widespread disillusionment with the way in which Parliament conducts its proceedings and with the time which it wastes on the minutiae of old-fashioned legislation when many grave issues are pouring in on us from every side. Great events all over the world take place without 127 mention in the House, except at Question Time. Hours and hours flow by when we might be discussing the vital questions of war and peace and what the future of our country is to be; but we are tied down by this old-fashioned régime of the detailed consideration of legislation. It is fully time that the House on all sides—not on a party basis—looked into this matter to see whether it cannot be put right.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
In reply to the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), I can only say that Hitler could have made the same kind of justification for all the things he did. I am not suggesting that our Parliamentary machine is perfect, but it is surely fundamental to it that there should be the fullest and most adequate discussion of all the matters which come before us. Unless we have that, there can be no security for the principle of freedom in this country. The noble Lord, who notoriously is cynically pessimistic about all these things, has advocated something which, in my view, would lead us straight to the situations which exist now in the dictatorship countries, and I hope the House will always resist that.
The point at issue in the debate is whether it is reasonable that there should be a time-table Motion on the further discussion of the Rent Bill in Committee. The only justification which any Government have for introducing that kind of Motion is either that there has been complete reiteration of speeches in Committee or that there has been deliberate filibustering. Nobody has suggested that that has happened yet in Standing Committee A. There has been no filibustering and no tedious repetition of speeches. Indeed, on very few occasions has the Chairman had to call Members to order for not speaking to the Amendment before the Committee.
it is disgraceful that for purely party political reasons, because of what appears to be frightening the Tory Party outside the House and because they want to make sure that the landlords get their share of the spoils, we should have this Motion before the House. The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), who has now left the Chamber, referred to what happened on the Transport Bill in the 1945 128 Parliament. I, too, was a Member of that Standing Committee, and I know the tricks which the then Opposition got up to. I know that the first Amendment which they put down to the Bill was to change one word—the very first word of the Bill; and Conservative Members spent the whole morning discussing the difference between the word "a" and the word "the". It made no difference at all to the effect of the Bill, but it provided a glorious opportunity to filibuster and hold up the Bill. They did that, I admit, with a great deal of success. In fact, they gloried in it, and some of them made speeches in the country saying that they would do it until they wore us to shadows in the House and we collapsed from sheer weariness. That did not come off. It therefore does not lie in the mouth of members of a political party who did that in 1945 to complain that we are keeping the debates on the Rent Bill in Committee going unreasonably, particularly when there has been not a single complaint from the Chair that hon. Members have been out of order.
§ Mr. Osborne rose—
§ Mr. Gibson
The hon. Member has not been there and has not heard the discussions.
Every discussion in Committee has been to the point, and every Amendment has been carefully argued. If there are a lot of Amendments, hon. Members must not blame the Opposition; they must blame the Government who drafted the Bill. I admit that the Government never seem to understand the Bill, nor do the lawyers.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
Would not the hon. Member agree that some of the speeches have been more like Second Reading speeches than speeches in Committee? I am sure that if he refreshed his mind about some of the speeches he would admit that.
§ Mr. Gibson
I do not admit it. Had they been so, the Chairman would have pulled hon. Members up. I can recall only one occasion on which he pulled up an hon. Member for making a speech which was more appropriate to Second Reading. The hon. Member's argument, therefore, does not hold water either.
129 The complaint is that we have had eleven meetings, but the Government themselves wasted two days. The public do not yet realise that. The first day was wasted because the then Minister, who has now been promoted to a higher office, had not consulted his own side of the Committee about the days on which we should meet. The whole morning was spent in debating whether we should meet three times a week, including Wednesday. By one o'clock we had not discussed a single word of the Clause. It was not only the Labour Members who kept that debate going, although I do not deny that we did our best. Members of the Government side, too, objected to coming in on Wednesdays and kept the debate going, and the hon. Member for North Angus was the most prominent amongst them. He threatened to vote against the Government if they insisted on the Motion.
The second day was wasted because the Government forgot to put the new Minister of Housing on the Committee. When the Committee met after the reorganisation of the Government it was discovered that the previous Minister could not attend because he was going to America, the previous Parliamentary Secretary had been given a new job, and the new Minister of Housing and his Parliamentary Secretary had not been appointed to the Committee. In that way another day was wasted. That is one aspect of our machinery that could be altered.
§ Mr. Willis
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not forget that, in addition to those two days, we also wasted practically half a day, once again, because the Minister had not consulted his colleagues.
§ Mr. Gibson
If there is any complaint that we have had eleven meetings and have not yet finished with Clause 2, the Government must bear a good share of the blame.
That makes it all the more unreasonable and more difficult to understand why they should introduce this Motion now. If this were a simple and straightforward Bill one might understand their action, but it is most complex, involved and difficult to understand. Even the lawyers on the Committee disagree as to the meaning of certain words.
§ Mr. Gibson
What the poor devils of tenants will do, I do not know. For instance, one sentence in the First Schedule, which governs the conditions under which rent increases shall be given runs to ten closely printed lines before there is a full stop. One reads it and reads it again, but it is almost impossible to understand it. How on earth the two-thirds of the 5½ million people whom The Times says will have their rents doubled will know what their rights are I do not know.
We should not pass this Motion. We-need more discussion on the Clauses, especially those about to be discussed, so that people may understand what they are up against. Unless tenants understand the Bill, the landlords can use it unfairly against them, and some are already doing so. In this connection, I received a letter this morning, and though I shall not trouble the House by reading it all, I would like to quote two short sentences. The writer does not live in my constituency; he comes from a very respectable part of outer London—Hatch End, in Middlesex.
He writes:I have already met with cases where landlords collecting rent from ageing tenants threaten their eviction … as soon as possible when the Bill becomes law.It has not yet become law. He goes on:The Guillotine method now to be adopted will only hasten the time for grave injustice to be perpetrated.Though that is written by one who is not, apparently, normally a Labour or Socialist supporter, I am quite sure that it represents a very common feeling not only in London but in our other great cities. The Times agrees that at least two-thirds of those affected by Clause 1 will find their rents doubled; and those affected by Clause 9 will, in many cases, have their rents trebled, and will have all protection taken from them.
It is fundamental to democracy that we should have the fullest possible discussion of all matters coming before the House. I agree that Governments must get their business through, but Governments so unreasonable as is this one on such a subject do not deserve public support. I suggest that the Government are running contrary to a sound principle 131 of public life, that democracy involves discussion in order that people outside shall, by reading the debates, get sonic idea of what is to happen.
This Measure affects about 10 million people, 5½ million of whom will be liable to this terrific penal punishment of a doubling of their rents, and nearly one million of whom will be taken from the protection of control altogether and subjected to the threats and pressures referred to in the letter which I have just quoted. For all those reasons, I say that the House should reject this Motion and allow the Bill to continue in the normal way.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) will, on reading some of the Committee speeches again, consider that some of them were more suitable to the Second Reading than to the Committee stage. So far, the Committee has sat 11 times. I agree that two sittings were taken up by procedural Motions, but if one examines the Bill and tots up the time it will take the Committee to deal with the remaining Clauses and the Schedules. I think that hon. Members opposite will, in all fairness, agree that at the present rate of progress we should not conclude our proceedings before the Summer Recess.
This evening I wish to refer to the need for the examination of the work of Standing Committees and of our Parliamentary procedure. This need was recognised as long ago as the days of the National Government, when a Select Committee said that the first line of defence was the prolongation of the Session. I am sure that hon. Members opposite would not wish to prolong the summer part of the Session into August and September—indeed, it would not be practicable.
We have also to consider the working out of some form of procedure. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House quoted from a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), but he did not quote this sentence:These forms are not adequate for the times in which we live."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 125.]132 I found myself in very great agreement as, I am sure, did many hon. Members opposite, with my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), when he said that we must look again into the procedure of Standing Committees and, perhaps, appoint another Select Committee to investigate it. I only wish that another Select Committee could be appointed to consider how to deal more adequately with the little time available for discussion of the many problems that beset us, but that is another question.
From the time when it had to meet the filibustering of Irish Members the House has had to arm itself with new methods to deal with problems, whether it was the Closure or the Guillotine. To quote again the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields, speaking on the Guillotine Motion, in 1947, he said that many of the speeches that the Opposition at that time were making they might later have to withstand from the Government side in terms similar to those used by the then Government. We can all talk to each other, and play the game of party politics, across the Floor of the House, but it does not help the procedure of the House, which, I am sure, all hon. Members wish to improve. As the right hon. Member for South Shields said, since the time of the Closure,there have been … other effective steps by Governments of varying complexions to ensure getting the Business that they required; and successive Governments, Conservative, Liberal and Labour, have used the various methods which have been employed by their predecessors …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 124.]
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
Would the hon. Gentleman depart from his academic lecture to explain why this Bill should be rushed through and tenants be forced to pay more rent?
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I am not suggesting that we are rushing the Bill through. I hope that we can have adequate discussion, but, as a comparatively new member of a Standing Committee, I have noticed that, with the procedure as it is at present, the Opposition get all the time in which to speak but the Government do not, because if the Government supporters were to speak, more time would be occupied and the proceedings would continue for much longer than at present. That is how I look at the problem.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it is the function of the Government to legislate and the function of the Opposition to criticise, which means that the supporters of the Government should keep quiet and give time to the Opposition to do the criticising?
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I am not suggesting that only the Opposition can criticise. I am sure that hon. Members opposite would not wish that to be so. The point I am making is that if the proposed timetable is used in a spirit of helpfulness by the Opposition they can put every argument they wish. Government supporters, also, will be able to state their point of view, which at present they are not able to do.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
It is very difficult, in a Standing Committee, to express our opinions without occupying undue time.
In support of my argument, academic as it may be, I should like to quote what was said by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor), in the 1947 debate. I thought it was a very fair and reasonable intervention. He said:If the Time Table laid down by the Government is observed in a spirit of helpfulness by the Opposition, they can put every argument which it is possible to put to influence the minds of the Government in the time available to them … if the Opposition agree to waste time on the first Clauses dealt with, I admit it is quite possible for them not to have adequate time for discussion on the remaining Clauses, but the responsibility rests not on the Government but on the Opposition.… I say that if you want Parliamentary procedure to continue, then we must be reasonable in these matters …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, cc. 99–101.]That speech was made by an hon. Member who is now a member of the Opposition. He has not spoken in today's debate, possibly because he remembers the words that he used in 1947, but I am sure that hon. Members opposite, in their heart of hearts, know perfectly well that if they had been on this side of the House today they would not have said some of the things they said in 1947. It is all in the game.
I appeal to hon. Members to press for a Select Committee so that we may have 134 the Standing Committee procedure altered, in accordance with the sensible request made by my noble Friend the hon. Member for Dorset, South.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
I have listened with very great interest to what has been said by hon. Members opposite in support of the Government's Motion to guillotine the Rent Bill. I am afraid that I cannot subscribe to many of the arguments which have been advanced.
Some hon. Members opposite take the view that this is an instance where Parliamentary procedure has failed in 'its main purpose. I do not agree. In fact, the procedure has not been utilised by the Government to the extent that it could have been utilised to get the business through. What hon. Members opposite must realise, as I said by way of intervention to the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale), is that it is the function of the Government to legislate, if we believe in democracy, as we all do, and it is the function of the Opposition to criticise.
Hon. Members who support the Government must make up their minds about whether or not they support the legislation of their own Government, and if they do they must give to the Opposition adequate time to criticise legislation which passes through this House or through Standing Committees. It is our prerogative as an Opposition to be critical, and this is a Bill which arouses fierce controversy throughout the country and affects a large number of people. The Opposition are, therefore, entitled to criticise.
Today the Government are trying to throttle our criticism of a Bill which we think is very bad. It is not my job to tell the Government what they might do, but, as a back bencher who has sat in this House for some time and has attended a good many Standing Committees, I think the Government have failed to make the proper use of the facilities which are at present at their disposal.
It is true that the Standing Committee has been meeting three times a week since the end of the Christmas Recess. The Government have the power to ask us to meet six times a week, or as often as they think necessary. It is true that as an Opposition we should not like that at all, because we do not want the Bill, but 135 the Government have the majority and, if they want to get the legislation through, there is no reason why the number of sittings should not be increased. The facility is there and, if necessary, the Standing Committee could continue to meet in perpetuity in order to dispose of the Bill.
Merely to increase the number of sittings of the Committee from two to three a week and then to throw up the sponge and say, "We must have a Guillotine" is a very childish thing to do. The Government have other opportunities which they could well use to get their legislation through the Standing Committee without asking for the Guillotine procedure.
In reply to some hon. Members opposite who have protested at the penance which they have to endure in meeting three times a week in order to see the Rent Bill through and who complain that this is likely to continue for several weeks, I would ask: what right have they to be in this House if they are not prepared to accept the responsibilities which fall upon them as Members? We know that it is quite impossible for all of us to know everything about everything that comes to this House. The man who knows everything about everything has yet to be born. Therefore, it means that sooner or later we specialise in those subjects of which we have a very intimate knowledge.
On the Rent Bill, I should think that on both sides of the House are Members who have some special knowledge of the subject. Why hon. Members opposite should want to shirk their Parliamentary duties by not attending meetings of the Standing Committee sufficiently in order to get the Bill through passes my comprehension. It is true, as I have said, that we do not like the Bill, and if we had our way we should not have any sittings at all; but the Government have the power and the majority, and if they decide that three, four, five, or six sittings—whatever it may be—are necessary to get the legislation through, they can so determine and we, as the Opposition, should have in the final analysis to accept that situation.
This decision to cut short proceedings in Standing Committee and introduce the Guillotine procedure is one which has 136 only recently been considered, presumably as a result of the reorganisation of the Government and having a new Minister of Housing and Local Government. We have on previous occasions considered this matter in Standing Committee. At the first meeting, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government proposed that the Committee should meet three times a week from the start, and there was a revolt on the Conservative side about it. We would be expected to revolt, because we did not want three sittings if two would do, and that was our right as an Opposition; but there was a revolt in the Conservative ranks, and the Minister gave way. He decided that he would continue with two sittings a week for the time being.
At the fifth sitting of the Committee on 20th December, the then Minister movedThat the Committee, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Wednesday, 23rd January, at half past Ten o'clock and thereafter do meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at half past Ten o'clock.In moving his Motion—and when hon. Gentlemen opposite criticise us for wasting time, it would be just as well that they listened to the Minister's words—As the Committee will remember, at the beginning of our proceedings I moved a Motion to the effect that we might sit for three mornings a week, but in deference to wishes expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I agreed that we should proceed in the first place on the basis of two mornings a week and see how we got on, We have certainly not made bad progress.He went on to say:It is therefore in everybody's interest that the Bill should proceed upon a reasonable time-table, and I suggest that if we are to give it the full consideration which a detailed project of this kind requires it would be to the advantage of the public and of Parliament to revert to the proposal which I made earlier, that we should sit on three mornings a week." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 20th December, 1956; c. 189.]It will be noted that the Minister refers tothe full consideration which is detailed project of this kind requires,That cannot be achieved under the Guillotine procedure.
A little later at that same sitting he said:I think that to sit three times a week is unavoidable at our present rate of progress. I am not anxious at this stage to consider a 137 timetable Motion in the House. I am at all times open to any reasonable arrangement which can be made on an unofficial basis for seeing that we get through our business in an orderly and efficient manner. … It has been possible with other Bills, and I have no reason to suppose that it is not possible in this case. I should be happy to discuss through the usual channels any form of agreed timetable. Timetables always have a certain amount of elasticity. I am not suggesting that we have got bogged down, or into a serious fix over the Bill. We have not."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 20th December, 1956; c. 210.]Those are the words of the then Minister on 20th December, the last meeting of the Committee that he attended. Although the right hon. Gentleman proposed that we should come back on the Wednesday after the Christmas Recess, we, the Opposition, desired to come back on the Tuesday in addition to the Wednesday and Thursday, and, as a result of our suggestion, the Minister agreed in the final resort that we should come back on the Tuesday, so that there would be three sittings that week instead of two.
Something has happened in the meantime. I do not know whether, since the new Minister has been appointed, he has approached my hon. and learned Friend, as the late Minister suggested, to get some unofficial agreement about the passage of the Bill through its remaining stages. In the absence of the right hon. Gentleman making such approaches, I think it is most unfair and unjust that he should, without notice and without warning of any kind to the Committee, rush down here today and pass through this Motion to impose the Guillotine and gag debate in the Standing Committee.
I do not agree with hon. Gentlemen opposite who say that it is necessary to have a Bill of this kind neither do I agree that, if there were no such Motion as this, discussion on it would go on until June or November or the end of the year. That is just sheer nonsense.
§ Mr. Sparks
There has been some argument that we have taken a long time on Clause 1. Hon. Members who have sat on Standing Committees know that the substance and basis of most Bills, if not of all Bills, is contained in Clause 1. Clause 1, as a general rule, is the Clause which is most hotly debated, but once one has settled the terms of Clause 1 and 138 passes on, having thus settled the basis of the Bill, one automatically restricts in point of order Amendments to the Bill which may be taken, because many Amendments may be put down at later stages which are out of order merely because Clause 1 has been passed and the basis of the Bill established.
My experience of Standing Committees on which I have sat is that, as a general rule, though there are exceptions, one does get a fairly substantial debate on Clause 1 and the farther one advances into the Bill so one takes less and less time until one reaches the end. The fact that we have got over Clause 1 and have got into Clause 2, and that the farther we get into the Bill the speedier is the rate of progress, indicates quite clearly that the amount of time that would be taken upon subsequent stages of the Bill, perhaps with one or two exceptions, would not be unreasonable or unduly protracted.
In any case, as I have said, the Minister has the remedy in his own hands. He can increase the number of sittings if three a week are not enough. When all is said and done, although our opposition to the Bill is fundamental, there is a physical limit to what even the Opposition can do. There are Standing Orders which govern our proceedings in Standing Committee and the Chairman has power to rule out of order any speeches that are repetitious. When hon. Members opposite accuse some of us of repeating ourselves, that is a reflection upon the Chair. Therefore, the safeguards all exist. If speeches are to be in order, they must not be repetitions of speeches made by previous speakers.
With the Chairman carrying out the Standing Order in the way that it should be carried out and the Minister using his power of the Closure—although we of the Opposition dislike it, it is his prerogative to use it—together with the fact that he has power to increase the number of sittings to any number he likes and at any time he likes, there is no ground whatever for the proposal which is before us today. One can only come to the conclusion that it is based upon either sheer panic or upon a desire to throttle the Opposition and to prevent hon. Members on this side from exposing what they consider to be the injustice of the Bill.
139 If the Guillotine procedure goes through, it will mean that a time will be placed on some of the important matters that remain to be discussed. It will place in the hands of hon. Members opposite and Government supporters the determination of the amount of time that the Opposition can have to debate the Clauses. We consider that the time now is inadequate, but under a time-table procedure hon. Members opposite can reduce to very small proportions the amount of time available to the Opposition. They could, in fact, take up at least 50 per cent. of the time, if not more, which once again would reduce the function of the Opposition to very small and inadequate proportions.
As I said at the beginning, it is the function and purpose of the Opposition to be critical of Government legislation. However much hon. Members opposite may not like it, it is our duty to the country and to this House to criticise, and we have a perfect right to ask for sufficient time from this House to carry out our duties as an Opposition. We consider that under the Guillotine procedure there will not be adequate time to fulfil our purpose as an Opposition, and it is for this reason that we oppose the proposal. We think that it should be defeated because it is an attempt by the Government to stifle the Opposition in the exercise of its Parliamentary function. It is also an indication that supporters of the Government are not prepared to give the time and attention which is necessary to this very important Measure. I therefore hope that in the Division Lobbies tonight we shall be able to secure the defeat of the Motion, because it certainly is not in accordance with our democratic traditions of government.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present:
§ House counted, and, 40 Members being present—
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I apologise to the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) for not having heard the whole of his speech, but, having listened to most of the debate, I went out for something to eat. I apologise, therefore, if I do not follow all that the hon. Member was saying. I do, however, agree entirely with what I did hear from him.
140 It is quite true that members of the Opposition feel that a Guillotine Measure is monstrously unjust, stifles Parliamentary discussion, stops hon. Members from saying exactly what they feel that their electors would like them to say, and is a wicked device to stop honest and honourable men from expressing decent opinions. But this is exactly what we did when we sat over there between 1945 and 1951.
Therefore, the point that I want to make—and it affects both sides, because I shall produce evidence that will not suit either side of the House 100 per cent. —is that Guillotine discussions are an utter waste of time, that they are complete shadow boxing and so unreal that we even have to have a count to get enough hon. Members here to listen to what is taking place. As a matter of fact, about an hour ago, I counted the number of hon. Members in the House, and there were then not 20 hon. Members on both sides of the House.
The wasting of a whole Parliamentary day in arguing against the Guillotine procedure seems to me to be futile, because during the twelve years that I have been in this House—and in that time I have heard quite a number of discussions on Guillotine Motions never once have the Government of the day altered their mind as a result of the discussion. It it just a waste of time—a complete waste of time.
Therefore, it seems to me that to get highly indignant, as we did between 1945 and 1951, and as hon. Members opposite are doing now—and, if there were a change of Government, we should no doubt do it again—seems to me utterly childish, and, as my hon. Friend the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said, is bringing this House into disrepute in the country. One day there will have to be some reform in our method of discussion, so that the Government of the day, whichever colour it may be, may be able the better to handle the necessary business of the day.
My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) told us that he had calculated that if the remaining Clauses of the Bill were to take the same amount of time as has been expended already, the Bill would not be finished by the end of the year. Just as it is the function of the Opposition to 141 oppose, so it is the function of the Government of the day, whichever party may be in power, to see that the business is carried through. The Queen's Government must be carried on, and, therefore, it seems to me that to wax indignant over a Guillotine Motion like this is, if you will allow the expression, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, playing silly devils and a waste of time.
§ Mr. Sparks
Does the hon. Member appreciate that the point we were trying to make was that the Government have power to increase the number of sittings in the Standing Committee from three per week to any number they like, and to cover any time which they like, in order to get the Bill through? They can have all the time they require, without having to use the Guillotine procedure.
§ Mr. Osborne
if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make my own speech I will be able to tell him what his own Leader said when we sat on that side of the House. [Interruption.] No, hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like that. The hon. Member was then a Whip, telling his own people not to talk, and threatening them with what he would do. He was telling them to go to the Smoking Room and have a drink, so as not to delay getting the business through. All Governments, of whatever party, have the same problem, and all I am saying is that we, as House of Commons men, are not doing the House of Commons a good service by wasting a whole day like this.
I agree with the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South that there are other things happening in the world today of such great import to us all, and also things happening at home. Look at the state of affairs at Ford's and the industrial trouble there. Look at what is happening in Hungary. Think of all the other things that we are likely to debate.
§ Mr. Osborne
I must refer to what was said by—I nearly said my hon. Friend—the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who is my hon. Friend outside the Chamber. He complained that the Guillotine was being imposed because hon. Members on this side of the House were half-timers, and were earning money 142 outside and, therefore, would not give their full time to their work here. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is true"]
This is another instance of the kettle and the pot calling each other black, for the most notable absentee from the House is also one of our most famous and distinguished lawyers, earning the most money in the country. If he were to sit again on that Front Bench opposite I should be tempted to spy strangers. He is distinguished as a member of a previous Labour Government as well as being one of the greatest lawyers in the country and one of the richest men in this House—a very rich Socialist. Half-timers can be found on both sides of the House, so that that criticism by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock was not fair.
§ Mr. Willis
The hon. Gentleman cannot, of course, be aware of what has been going on. Not only in Standing Committee A but in the Scottish Standing Committee the only people who have protested that they have not been able to get away from their private business have been members of the hon. Gentleman's party. The protests which have been made against proposed meetings of the Committee have come from them because they could not attend.
§ Mr. Osborne
It would be impertinent of me, as a mere Englishman, to try to solve Scottish problems—
§ Mr. Osborne
—or, indeed, to try to satisfy Scottish Members. I remember reading that King James I of England and VI of Scotland complained that Scottish Parliamentarians talked far too much even in those days.
Then the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock complained about an article in The Times today, which, he said, was rather impertinent. I am sure that hon. Members opposite would not wish to support that criticism, and that, on reflection, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock will not wish so to do, because if a responsible newspaper like The Times is not to be allowed to make criticisms of current affairs we shall be led at once to control of the Press. Hon. Members should be very careful in their demands, unless they want to gag the Press.
143 I would remind hon. Members of what has happened before about Guillotine Motions. It is no good the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) shaking his head.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
I do not quite see what the hon. Member is driving at. Does he want a discussion on the Guillotine or does he not? Why does he prolong it if he thinks it is of no use?
§ Mr. Osborne
To satisfy the hon. Member, I would point out that the discussion has to go on until half-past ten.
§ Mr. Osborne
Hon. Members opposite are trying to persuade me to vote with them, and to convince me that the procedure proposed by the Government is unfair and that the Government ought not to impose the Guillotine. I would remind them of what has happened on similar occasions. I was in the House in 1947. It was then that I had one of my first experiences of the Guillotine. In fairness to both sides of the House, I would remind hon. Members that both sides have used the Guillotine and of what each side has said when the other has proposed it.
§ Mr. Osborne
If we on this side were on the other side of the Chamber, we should be saying just what hon. Gentlemen opposite are now saying; and if they were to come over here and propose what the Government are proposing, they would say what we are now saying. In the eyes of the public, this makes the House look stupid.
§ Mr. Osborne
In March, 1947, the then Socialist Administration proposed a Guillotine, and I would quote what was said by the late Mr. Arthur Greenwood, a respected Member and a great House of Commons man, with a wide and long experience of the House.
§ Mr. Osborne
The allocation of time to the Transport and Town and Country Planning Bills.
He said:I am saying that the progress on these two Bills is too slowThat is exactly what is being said today.Therefore, we propose to apply the new procedure … we have decided that we must, and will"—No nonsense about Arthur—carry out the programme … [OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Commons, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 67.]That is just what he said, and the present Administration could use the same words.
§ Mr. Osborne
Sir Anthony Eden, then Mr. Eden, then replied to Mr. Greenwood, and I give this to hon. Members opposite—I am absolutely amazed that it should be a Socialist Government which comes down to tell us that we must use the Guillotine …There was the same farcical, synthetic 'shock which he did not feel. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He added:… it seems to us utterly scandalous to use the Guillotine in this way …That is what hon. Members opposite have said.
§ Mr. Osborne
Finally, Mr. Eden said:…I say that the Government, by the action they are taking, are deliberately choking the Parliamentary machine. They are making it impossible for Members of this House however diligent they may be, and wherever they may sit, to carry out their duties as they should be carried out. I beg them "—That is, the Socialist Government of the day—even now, for the sake of our Parliamentary traditions, and for the sake of their own reputations, to withdraw this monstrous proposal, and to give the House an opportunity to be something other than merely a rubber stamp for Socialist dictatorship."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 68–78.]145 That was the case put up against the Guillotine. What was the reply? It was made by an equally experienced Parliamentarian. I am sorry that he is not in his place today, because I am sure that he would enjoy this quotation from one of his speeches. It was the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who is also a very good House of Commons man. He said it to justify his Administration at the time, and it is a complete justification of what the Government are now doing.
§ Mr. Osborne
The hon. Member should listen. Do not exhibit to the public that you have such a closed mind, I beg of you.
§ Mr. Osborne
That was a technical error, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I beg to withdraw that, but it applies to many of the lawyers opposite.
This is what the right hon. Member for South Shields said to justify his Government doing at that time what the present Government are doing now, and we then wasted a day, just as we are wasting one now. It is to the futility of it all that I object.
§ Mr. Osborne
The right hon. Member for South Shields said on that occasion:Since that time there have been, one after another, other effective steps taken by Governments of varying complexions to ensure getting the Business that they required; and successive Governments, Conservative, Liberal and Labour, have used the various methods which have been employed by their predecessors, and have also, from time to time, introduced new methods to deal with this particular problem.The right hon. Gentleman was justifying what was then regarded as rather a new departure. It was similar to the one we are adopting tonight. He finished by making a comment which, I think, absolutely justifies the Government in the steps they are now taking. The right hon. Gentleman said:My experience of the House has been that under no Government of modern times has legislation been too swift.146 That is what we are saying about the Rent Bill—The danger to Parliamentary democracy in this country …This supports the contention of my noble Friend, and is something that hon. Members on both sides of the House should seriously consider—is not from the speed but the slowness of the forms that were used when this country was less populous than it is, and when the range of Government activities was far less than it is today, and when the franchise itself was very limited, and was confined to a miserable minority of the population."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 124–5.]
§ Mr. Osborne
The hon. Gentleman's own leader said that.
For hon. Gentlemen to get up in this House and to exhibit anger which they really do not feel, and to give us this synthetic heat of protest about the wickedness of the Government, is unreal in view of what they themselves did when they were in power and what they will do again if ever they return to office.
§ Mr. Osborne
I hope that this will be the last of the debates that we have on Guillotine Motions. When the Government of the day have made up their mind to carry certain legislation by a given date, the arrangements ought to be left to the usual channels. Then we could devote days such as today, which we are now wasting, to the discussion of a useful subject. As it is, this is a wasted Parliamentary day, and I shall protest about this kind of thing whether I stand on this side of the House or whether, in future, I stand on the other.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
If the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) really wanted to save time in order to devote it to the debate of really important matters, he should have used his influence with the Government not mearly not to have a Guillotine, but to avoid the cause of the Guillotine by scrapping the Rent Bill itself. Then we should have had plenty of time to deal with the real problems facing Parliament.
§ Mr. Osborne
The hon. Gentleman must be aware that my power over my Government is just as little as his was over his Government.
§ Dr. King
I am always fascinated by the tactics or the strategy of the Conservative Party. One would almost suspect that the word "synthetic" had been written by Tory headquarters into the brief of every speech made today.
In opposition, the Conservative Party fought bitterly in this House. It boasted throughout the Press of the country how bitterly its members fought the Labour Government, but once they got into power again they returned to the tactics which have made them the cleverest ruling class in the world, of playing down the struggle, just as they are playing down today's debate and as, indeed, they play down every effort of the Opposition to oppose the Measures of the Government. They do that in the hope that they will disguise the simple fact that today is an act of war which is one stage of the battle between the property owners and the rest of the people.
§ Dr. King
The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) and the hon. Member for Louth suggested that the British public will think it foolish to have a debate on the Guillotine Motion. I believe that the average British elector knows more about Parliamentary procedure than some people imagine. I think he will understand that when we sacrifice, as we do, the rights of free and full debate guaranteed by 500 years of Parliamentary democracy, it is right that we should not make that sacrifice without discussing it, without the Governments' having to justify the need for such a sacrifice, and without the Government's having to sacrifice a Parliamentary day for it.
I believe the exercise of the Guillotine procedure on certain Parliamentary occasions to be essential. My criticism today is not of the action of the Government in introducing the Guillotine, but the purpose for which the Guillotine is to be used. I think that before moving this Motion the Government ought to prove that the Opposition has been filibustering; but the evidence is that local authority experts, housing law experts and Ministerial experts on this side of the House have been making valuable contributions to the debates in the Standing Committee.
148 If the Guillotine procedure is used it should be for some good purpose; for something which will be of value to the country in the present economic crisis. Were that the purpose of this Bill, it would be different. Were the purpose, as the Daily Telegraph innocently suggested this morning, to stop people from spending £100 million; were it something which would contribute to cutting down the cost of living, we might imagine the Government being able to make a case for using such procedure. But today we are merely facilitating the transfer of £100 million from the pockets of 5 million of the poorer people in the country into the hands of the property owners.
I wish to state clearly that I am not opposed to the Guillotine procedure but to the purpose for which it is to be used today. Yet if anyone should not use this procedure, it is the present Government. The hon. Member for Louth referred to the famous debate on 3rd March. 1947. I only wish I had time to regale the House with a detailed description of that debate. Then the Government were introducing a Guillotine on the work of a Standing Committee for the first time. Speaker after speaker, including the former Prime Minister, the present Lord Chancellor, the present Minister of Education and the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) all denounced the Government; not because of the Transport Bill, but because of a passionate devotion to Parliament itself. They attacked the Labour Government for daring to use the Guillotine procedure on a Bill which had gone to a Standing Committee.
They pointed out their objection to this on principle in terms which were by no means synthetic. Those were the days of Belsen and when the German generals were on trial at Nuremberg and not commanders of N.A.T.O. armies. The present Minister of Education accused the Government of turning Parliament into the Reichstag. The right hon. Member for Woodford charged the Government with acting as the Russian Czars and issuing ukases. One by one, ex-Ministers and future Ministers who were then in Opposition denounced the Labour Party for daring to introduce the Guillotine procedure on a Bill which had gone to a Standing 149 Committee. They said that debate on a Bill which went before a handful of Members in a Committee ought never to be limited in that way.
Although I approve of the Guillotine in itself, I deplore the use to which it is being put on this occasion. I protest at the hypocrisy of Her Majesty's Government in using this instrument, because, on its first use by this side of the House, they thought that it was utterly unconstitutional and against democracy and the Constitution.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The Leader of the House shares with me one advantage—or disadvantage—in this debate. I believed he said that it was the first occasion on which he had moved a Guillotine Motion. This is the first occasion on which I have taken part in any of these time-table or Guillotine Motions in my twenty-one years in the House.
I shall not discuss whether in certain circumstances the Guillotine is right or wrong. We have had cross-quotations on that subject this evening. I submit one proposal which is of importance: there ought not to be a Guillotine on Bills which affect the ordinary people so vitally as does the Rent Bill.
I have had the very great privilege of piloting Bills through this House. Among them were the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill and the National Insurance Bill, and I had the very great honour of piloting those two very important Bills through the House of Commons in one Session. They were both very big Bills, much larger than this, and they vitally affected everyone in the community. We carried them through the House of Commons, including their Committee stage, without any attempt at Guillotines, gags or time-tables. It was my view then, and it is my view now, that all Bills of that character deserve the fullest debate at every stage. That is a responsibility which we owe to the people.
The Bill which is before us affects everybody in the country. One hon. Member has stated that the Bill unravels legislation that has been built up over the last forty years and which had its origin in the First World War. I remember that too; but is there any hon. 150 Member who does not think that for over forty years this legislation has served this country well? Would we have got through the First World War, through the years of depression, and through the Second World War, without putting the protection of Parliament behind the tenant and against the landlord? We are now proposing to take very large steps towards the abolition of all that protection.
The consequence is that every corner of the country is affected by the Bill. People have fears, apprehensions and lots of worries, not among one section but among all the people. I put it to the House and to the country that if the worst impression goes out from this House this evening, as it will if we pass this Motion on a matter which affects the security and well-being of the people in their own homes, the Government will be doing a grave disservice to the people.
I have listened to the debate. I thought that the Lord Privy Seal moved the Motion without very great enthusiasm, and I did not think he made out his case. The strongest case ought to be made out on matters of this kind which affect the ordinary people and which impose a Guillotine in Committee, where the details of legislation are of great importance. That is true of this Bill; everyone knows it. The right hon. Gentleman did not make a case this afternoon that the proceedings so far in Standing Committee have been subjected to undue delay or obstruction. The Lord Privy Seal did not attempt to make a case on those grounds. No one else has tried to do so.
The only complaint I have heard in speeches made today—and I have heard most of them—was that by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) that my hon. Friends had wasted half an hour of the time of the Committee by having six Divisions. The hon. Member was almost coming to tile point of suggesting that there ought to be a Guillotine on Divisions as well as on debates, which would certainly be a new interpretation of our democratic rights. The only other complaint was by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), who has not been here since he made his speech. I do not complain about that, as perhaps he has another engagement. His complaint was that speeches of my hon. 151 Friends had averaged ten minutes each. That was not filibustering; the hon. Member should have been here last Friday. The Lord Privy Seal put up only a shadow case on the ground that there had been obstruction, and that was completely destroyed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). We have to decide on a Motion without the charge that there has been obstruction in Committee.
The second thing which the Government have not proved is that there is real urgency for this Bill. There has to be a very strong case for arguing a Guillotine Motion, that it is urgent for the Bill to be passed through the House quickly, that there are great, important, urgent, national needs which make it the responsibility and duty of the Government and the House to pass the Bill quickly. Are there? I hope the Minister will tell us what the urgency is. I have not taken part in debates on rents for many years, but I have followed them, listened to them, and read them. I put it to the Minister, why is it so urgent in the interests of the country that this Bill should be passed—I was going to say "at all"—and rushed? Why the haste?
We had a Bill dealing with rent and repairs, not exactly from this Government, but from a Government so much like it that it makes no difference. There have been one or two changes in the pack, but not many. In 1954 they brought in a Bill to deal with these problems. The Minister of Housing and Local Government at that time was the present Prime Minister. He introduced the Bill to deal with all the problems I have heard discussed this evening, and which have been discussed in the Committee. We were issued with a White Paper, "Houses—The Next Step". That White Paper ended with the kind of peroration we had already learned to associate with the Prime Minister and which we associate with him even more since he has been Prime Minister. This is what it said of that Bill in 1954, and which now is an Act of Parliament:Her Majesty's Government feel that they are setting out on a new and inspiring adventure. They are conscious of the difficulties and complexities. There is no quick and easy remedy for a long-standing evil. They are, nevertheless, fortified by the experience of the last two years and are confident of the national response to a supreme national need.152 They have got all that. The Minister of Housing and Local Government is now the Prime Minister. He moved a Guillotine Motion and made a longer speech than was made this afternoon by the Lord Privy Seal. He said that the Bill was urgent in 1954. It was absolutely urgent, for what purpose? I hope the Minister today will deal with this and tell us what this Bill is for. The then Minister of Housing and Local Government said in 1954:If we are to get on with our work to clear the slums, to begin the humane task of patching, and to provide for the repair and improvement and conversion of the old houses, then we must get the Bill as soon as we can. The Bill is urgent—for the job is urgent"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1954; Vol. 524, c. 46]Well, he got the Guillotine; he got the Bill. The job was urgent and he wanted to get on with it. If he has been getting on with it, what is this Bill for? The Government have a Bill to clear the slums. I am sure that the Minister does not deny that. They have a Bill to begin the task of patching. They have a Bill to improve the old houses. What then is this Bill for? Why is it so urgent? Is it not clear that this is merely a Bill to hand over to the landlords huge sums of money—£100 million per annum more money to the landlords? That is what the Bill is for, and that is why the Government are rushing it through.
Both sides of the House have been responsible for Guillotines. It is interesting to look at the Guillotines for which the other side have been responsible. The first Guillotine which they introduced for the sake of the brewers was in connection with the Licensed Premises Bill. This Government started their career with pubs in new towns. They will end it in some pub very shortly. It was a Bill for which they had no mandate and one which they rushed through the House. They have had two Guillotines to hand over public property to private owners who are their friends and in whom they are interested and from whom they derive some of their party funds.
Two of these have been Bills dealing with rents. This is the last one. I say that on the grounds of urgency they have not proved their case. There is no urgent task in this field of housing which—to use their own words—they could not perform by the Bill of 1954. They said 153 that they could do all these things. So there is only one purpose in having this Bill, and that is to hand over this money to the landlords.
It is vitally important that there should be adequate time for the Committee stage of this Bill, and we cannot be sure of adequate time. I want, therefore, to raise one or two things with the Minister, because it is very important that people in this country shall understand the position. We as their representatives will be questioned, as we have already been questioned, about what is going to happen.
I have been talking to a friend who is widely experienced and very knowledgeable on this subject. He is worried about the whole of the Bill, and he is hoping that when we come to the Schedules of the Bill there will be ample time to discuss the First Schedule. I did not know all the implications of the First Schedule, and he has worked them out for me. I ask the Minister if we are to be given adequate time to deal with the First Schedule under this time-table. My view is that there should be full time given to it, because the First Schedule states the provisions which are made presumably to help and protect the tenants under the Bill. It sets out the machinery.
When this Bill becomes an Act, we shall have people asking us, "What can I do? What is my protection? What are the steps that I can take?" People are familiar with the advice which they can obtain at the present time when they have complaints and problems about their houses.
The procedure to protect tenants under existing legislation is very simple, well known and very easy to follow. Where a tenant has complaints about his house, about repairs and about the rent, there are three simple processes: first, the tenant drops a postcard to the local authority to complain; secondly, the local authority instructs the appropriate officer to inspect the house and, if he thinks it is necessary to do so, after his inspection issues a certificate, if that is justified; and thirdly, the tenant, having received a certificate from the appropriate officer of the local authority, is entitled to withhold part of the rent until the local authority cancels the certificate. That is simple and well known.
154 My hon. and learned Friend tells me of the new procedure. The Minister can correct me if I am wrong, but my hon. and learned Friend is widely experienced. He says that there are three short, simple, well-known steps under the existing legislation. Under the new legislation, he says, there are eight; and here they are, as detailed to me. First, the tenant writes to the landlord on a prescribed form listing defects in the house. Thus, the Government are bringing back the forms to our people; the ration books and the forms are here. The tenant must write on a prescribed form.
Secondly, the landlord can give an undertaking to carry out the work. Thirdly, if the landlord does not abide by his undertaking, the tenant must send a list of defects to the local authority. Fourthly, the local authority will inspect the property and, if it agrees that there are defects, it will ask the landlord to give an undertaking to put them right. Fifthly, if the landlord does not abide by the undertaking, the local authority will then issue a certificate to the tenant. Sixthly, the tenant will then withhold part of the rent. Seventhly, when the landlord informs the local authority that work has been done, it writes to the tenant to ask him whether this is so. Eighthly, unless the tenant writes to the local authority saying that the work has not been done, the local authority will cancel the certificate.
My hon. and learned Friend adds this important point, which I hope hon. Members opposite will explain to their constituents, after they have voted for the Guillotine to prevent full consideration of this problem; in due course, when a certificate of disrepair is issued—and under existing legislation the tenant withholds some rent when it is issued—the rent will not be reduced to the 1956 level but only to the level of one and one-third times the gross value. That is a change which the Bill proposes and which we are deciding this evening we must rush through without adequate consideration. In doing that, if the House passes this Motion, we shall all be unfaithful to the trust which our constituents have put in us.
I turn, if I may, to other anxieties. This is a very controversial Bill and, like all other hon. Members, I have attempted to try to understand it. There are the most 155 conflicting views about its provisions. For example, there are the most conflicting views about what the effect of Clause 9 will be and what is the possible maximum increase in rent which can flow from the Bill. Surely we must discuss this very fully in Committee, for this is a Committee point. We must discuss it in very great detail.
I noticed an article in the Daily Telegraph on 17th January by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). In it he talked about a group of people, the professional, technical classes, who are worried and anxious about the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] There is nothing personal in this; I merely wished to refer to the article and did not notify the hon. Member of my intention.
It is important to get this clear, because this is one of the many anxieties. In the article he talks of a group of technical, professional people who have been in touch with him. He writes:Hundreds of members of this group of the middle classes throughout London have sent me full particulars of their income, rent, rates and values of property and I have taken the opinions of surveyors, valuers and estate agents. The widespread fear of these classes, confirmed by professional views, is that in the London area rents will be at least four times and more the gross value.That is one example. Does the Minister say that, when there are fears of that kind, we should rush through and timetable this Bill and so give no adequate time for its discussion?
This evening I have been handed a Press cutting from a London local newspaper, the St. Marylebone Record, headedA Tory-Labour plan to end Rent Bill fears.The Tory revolters and the Labour people have joined forces, but only because they happen to be tenants of an estate and have come together to discuss the Bill. They say that they have put five important points to the Minister for his consideration, because they are anxious about the effects of the Bill. That is from the middle class.
This will be the first occasion on which the Minister has addressed us in his new dual rôle. We all have an interest in the right hon. Gentleman as Minister of 156 Housing and Local Government, but, as Member for a Welsh constituency, I have a special interest in him because to him has also been assigned the responsibility for Welsh Affairs. He is not starting his latter rôle very well. Today was to have been devoted to a Welsh debate, and he has allowed it to be put on one side for a debate on this Guillotine Motion. That is a disservice to Wales.
I should have thought that the Minister, with his dual responsibility, would have wanted to spread his work and not have this Measure rushed through. He has many jobs in Wales alone. He has Treweryn on his hands—all of us in Wales know what that is. He has a new Report from the Council of Wales. There is the problem of redundancy, which is again becoming of concern to all in West Wales and elsewhere; and, if I may be permitted to say so, one of these days he will have to say why, if Scotland can have a bridge across the Forth, we cannot have a bridge across the Severn.
The right hon. Gentleman may soon have another matter on his hands. The representatives of 30,000 miners in West Wales meet once a month to consider their problems and difficulties and to discuss their own business. On Saturday they met at Swansea and, among other things they had a report from their officers on this Bill. They discussed it from their own standpoint, and one thing in particular worries them, and I want to ask the Minister for Welsh Affairs about it. I see the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster sitting there. I am very glad to see him—I am giving him a problem of relations between the Government and miners in West Wales, who are not unimportant.
The resolution passed at that meeting refers to their fear of the effect of the Bill and, in particular, speaks of its progressively serious and far-reaching effects. They say that the Bill gives house owners the right to evict the widows of men killed in the pits or of men who have died from industrial diseases. Is that true? Is that the message we are to give to miners and factory workers? Do the Government realise what dynamite this is? Should there be one case of such a widow being evicted in those circumstances, not the Bill but the Government 157 will be guillotined. Here we are discussing this evening a Bill which affects everyone. We are allowing the moneylenders to enter the temple of the people's hearths —[Laughter.]
§ Mr. Griffiths
I thought that they were sniggering at each other, which is perhaps appropriate. The Trades Union Congress asked the Government a long time ago to pause on this Bill. I presume the Government want the co-operation of the Trades Union Congress. I should think they do after the speech which the Prime Minister made during the last weekend. What a remarkable speech it was, in which he talked about troubles in store and difficulties ahead. If the party opposite do not circumvent those difficulties they will be done in. That is what he said—eloquent words.
Of course, there are difficulties. Last December the Trades Union Congress appealed to the Government, quite apart from the merits or demerits of the Bill and the assumption upon which the Bill is based. Incidentally, no one whom I have yet met accepts the assumption upon which the Bill was introduced last November—the assumption that when it conies into operation there will be such a balance in the supply and demand of houses that everything will be all right. No one accepts that assumption. It has been exploded. The whole time-table has been exploded by the fact that no one now seriously accepts the assumption put forward when the Bill was introduced.
The Trades Union Congress realises what the situation is in the country. Unemployment is increasing, short time is spreading and fears are growing. I have lived through this before. I have seen it, and I have seen some of it returning for the first time since 1945. All the signs of 1930 are beginning to appear. There is no mistake about that.
Now the Government bring forward this Bill and this Guillotine Motion, which means that if they achieve their plan the Bill goes on the Statute Book and comes into operation in June, doubling rents, decontrolling, producing eviction orders and throwing people on 158 the streets—six months from the day in June when they themselves planned to end Parliamentary discussion. That is the plan.
We are voting against this Motion this evening because, in our view, to rush a Bill of this kind through the House and through Committee without adequate discussion is not only unfair to this House but is an injustice of the worst kind to the people whom we represent. All I say to the Government is this. If we thought of this as a party Bill we would say, "Go on with it." If all we thought of was our party ends we would say, "This will end hon. Members opposite." If we were guided by partisan considerations we would say, "Take your Guillotine. Rush it through. It is you who are rushing to the end."
We are concerned also about our country. We say that this country of ours, already facing the consequences of adventure by this Government, cannot afford to have this in addition. Therefore, in voting against this Motion and for our Amendment this evening we shall carry to the Lobby with us not only our supporters; I am sure we shall carry many Conservatives too, and I am certain that we shall carry the majority of the country.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
This debate has hardly fulfilled the expectations which the Press had raised of furious, bitter, relentless parliamentary battle. It may be that the Opposition did not call up its troops until the peroration at twenty-six minutes past nine. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where are the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters? "] For most of this debate, hardly 30 Members of the Opposition have been present. At the end of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) 200 Members of the Opposition were absent from the Chamber, no doubt because they felt that they would be better employed elsewhere.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not a little unfair to rebuke Members for making a noise when the Minister is taunting us for not making a noise?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I must confess that there is some sense in what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has said. But I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will so speak and conduct themselves as not to encourage an undue amount of noise.
§ Mr. Brooke
With respect, Sir, it was not I who referred to noise. I was referring to physical presence, and I was presuming that hon. Members opposite abandoned hope of any effective attack being launched against this Bill at the moment when the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, their leading spokesman, the spearhead of the attack, got the Ides of March confused with St. Valentine's Day.
There was, of course, one thrilling and bloodthirsty moment when the hon. and learned Gentleman said that he hoped to see some Ministerial heads rolling in the gutter before long. The only Minister who up to that moment had spoken was my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, but I have an ugly presumption that the hon. and learned Gentleman included mine among the heads. It certainly would not be a more exciting or sensational experience than that which was ascribed to me earlier in the proceedings on the Bill, when the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) vividly described me as leading the people over the precipice with my head in the sand. I suppose that one gets one's neck stretched either way.
My right hon. Friend and other of my hon. Friends have said that they supported a Motion of this kind with great reluctance. That is, I think, the feeling of all of us who have any connection with a time-table Motion, but in this case it was only too clear that there was no chance of a voluntary time-table. [HON. MEMBERS "Has the Minister tried?"] Both my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Defence and I inquired whether there was any chance of it. It was quite clear to us that there was not. If there was, I will certainly sit down and stand to be corrected. [Laughter.] 160 It is that confusion of mind over St. Valentine's Day that has affected me, too.
There is, in fact, no certainty that the Bill, which was introduced in November of last year, could become law by the time of the Summer Recess but for the introduction of a Motion of this kind. Indeed, when one of my hon. Friends said that the Bill might not become law by November if nothing were done, it was the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) himself who interrupted and said, "Why would that matter?"
§ Mr. Griffiths
The reason I said that was the reason I advanced later, when I said we had already been told by the Government, three years ago, that they had all the power they wanted. That was why I said that it did not matter.
§ Mr. Brooke
This is, in fact, the Parliamentary necessity for the Guillotine. It is accepted on both sides of the House that if we are to conduct our democratic institutions in the way we all wish, it must be practicable for a Government—for any Government—to be able to produce a Bill at the beginning of a Session and get it passed before the end of a Session. It is because it became clear that that would not be practicable in this case that I asked my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to bring forward this time-table Motion.
All the criticism today, I have noted, has been of the principle of Guillotine and not of the length of time allowed under the time-table Motion. I have analysed the Bill as closely and as carefully as anybody, and in my view it would be quite possible to debate properly every substantial point in the remainder of the Bill, both the Clauses and the Schedules, within five weeks, sitting three days a week.
For my part, however, I am extremely anxious that the time in Committee should be ample, for exactly the same reasons which have been voiced from both sides of the House, namely, that this is a Bill which vitally concerns millions of people, is not a Bill which Parliament should treat lightly, and is not a Bill on which discussion should give way to vain repetition. It is a Bill on which we should 161 be concentrating on the points at issue and examining them with practical care. It was precisely for this reason that I asked for a period of six weeks, and not five weeks, to be included in the time-able, giving the prospect of 18 sittings.
It is, as a matter of fact, common ground between both sides of the Committee that a number of the remaining Clauses not yet discussed are practically formal and give rise, so far as I am aware, to no point of controversy whatever.
§ Mr. Mitchison
In those circumstances, why does the right hon. Gentleman want a Guillotine at all? He knows perfectly well that there has been no obstruction in Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He knows quite well that there has been no obstruction in Committee and that he would get his Bill if he did not persist in this Motion.
§ Mr. Brooke
The reason I want the Bill is because of the experience I have had as a member of the Committee for five sittings and as a watcher of the Committee's proceedings in the sixth sitting, when I could not yet be a member of the Committee. The fact is that it is wholly untrue that the Government intend to rush the Bill through Committee or through the House.
§ Mr. Brooke
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West said, in his speech, that he doubted whether he and his hon. Friends had done justice to the points that had arisen in Committee. My hon. Friends in Committee will agree with me that if, in the time so far available to him, the hon. Member has not been able to do justice to them, there is little likelihood that he would do greater justice if he had more time.
We intend to guard against waste of time and repetition, but, equally, we intend to arrange the time-table in such a way that there will be ample opportunity for going through the Bill in a sensible and systematic way, Clause by Clause and Schedule by Schedule. There has been no word of criticism during this debate of the period of six weeks mentioned in the Motion. I remember that one hon. Member, speaking for the Opposition, said that they would be willing to sit in perpetuity for these six weeks. I 162 wonder exactly what would happen if the Government were to accept that offer.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I referred to this question of the time-table, and I said that the Government could suggest that the Committee should sit both mornings and afternoons throughout the six weeks, and thereby get more time for discussion, but that would be quite imposible for the sake of the conduct of the other business of the House.
§ Mr. Brooke
It seems to me that the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) has answered the argument put by his hon. Friend who said that the Members of the Opposition would sit in perpetuity.
I have heard no word of criticism tonight of the three days allotted to Report and Third Reading of the Bill under this Motion. Indeed, it was the hon. and learned Member for Kettering himself who said that it was not a question whether the time was or was not sufficient. It was, he said, a question of principle. I am not surprised that he adopted that line of argument, because a comparison between this Time-table Motion and, on the other hand, the Motions which the party opposite when in power brought forward in 1947 is striking and, indeed, sensational.
In the case of the Town and Country Planning Bill of 1947, a Guillotine Motion was introduced when there were 105 more Clauses to be discussed—in this Bill, there are 16 more Clauses to be discussed—and 21 sittings of the Committee were allotted to them. In the case of the Transport Bill, 1947, there were 121 more Clauses to be discussed, and 23 sittings were allotted to them.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly read from a document which stressed the importance of the First Schedule to the Bill. I was not quite sure why the right hon. Gentleman had only just become aware of the importance of Schedule I, as he had been in the House during the two days of the Second Reading debate, when the Bill was discussed fairly fully. I am going to propose to the Business Committee, which will be set up if this Motion is passed, that the Committee should devote three full sittings to Schedule I. But, of course, in the Business Committee we take into account the 163 views of the Opposition, and I conceive my function as being that of suggesting a time-table and listening to the views which right hon. and hon. Members opposite wish to put forward. The right hon. Member for Llanelly is far astray from the truth when he says that we are seeking to rush this Bill through under the Guillotine without adequate consideration.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East asked why the public need demanded this time-table, and the right hon. Member for Llanelly repeated that question in more flowery language. I will give the House two reasons. The first is that people throughout the country want to know where they stand. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Unnecessary anxiety will be caused if the Bill is allowed to drag on and uncertainty continues as to the manner in which it will emerge from Committee. It is particularly the tenants who want to know precisely what their position will be under this Bill, and who are wondering what form our Committee discussions will take and what Amendments will be accepted.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, this Bill affects millions of people. We in this House have to shape it so that it will be to the best advantage of everybody. [Laughter.] Yes, everybody; and, above all, to the best advantage of the houses which we need to preserve for the benefit of the nation. It does not help to keep millions of people in suspense and anxiety as to the form which the Bill is eventually to take. I know that because I receive, I imagine, more letters than most hon. Members about the Bill, and I read everything in the Press about the Bill.
People want to know whether the Bill is going through as it stands, and they also need to know the facts about the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes. They need the absolute contradiction that I can give here from this Box to the allegation made by the right hon. Gentleman that under the Bill the miner's widow will be evicted from her cottage if her husband dies. It is wholly wrong and unworthy that that sort of cruel allegation—
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The resolution I quoted was a resolution passed by a meeting of miners—[HON. MEMBERS: "But the right hon. Gentleman knows 164 better."]—who were advised by their officer. It shows plainly to the Minister that a Measure of this kind ought not to be pushed through the House.
§ Mr. Brooke
As far as I can judge, the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to increase the anxiety. I do not think that he can claim to be a friend of the people.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Can the Minister tell us under what Clause of the Bill the miner's widow or any other widow continues to be protected?
§ Mr. Brooke
I am in a difficulty. I should be out of order—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—if I discussed the Clauses of the Bill, but I have already given an absolutely straightforward statement on this matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are not discussing the Bill now. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Minister is."] It has been referred to on both sides of the House. Contrary opinions have been expressed as to its import, but surely we can go into all that when the Bill comes before us.
§ Mrs. Jeger
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely it cannot be in order or in the public interest for statements to be made from that Box which may mislead the public. Surely that is an adequate reason for our asking for a reply to a question.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that certain people were thinking that the Bill would do this to them. It was quite in order for him to do so in his argument that anxiety should be relieved, and so on, and that the Bill should be fully discussed. It is also quite in order for the Minister to deny that. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has not."] That is his opinion. I could not, however, allow on either side references to the Clauses of the Bill. That would be discussing the Bill in detail.
§ Mr. Brooke
I gave an unqualified denial of the allegation by the right hon. Member for Llanelly, and now I will go on to the second reason.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Will the Minister now give me his word that the anxieties expressed in that resolution are quite unfounded in the Bill and these people can be sure that they will not be evicted?
§ Mr. Brooke
They are completely unfounded, and I hope that I can rely on the right hon. Gentleman to help to allay them.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. There is nothing to withdraw at all. Contrary opinions have been expressed. That happens more than once in the House.
§ Mr. Brooke
The second reason that I want to adduce why it is desirable that there should be no undue delay in the passage of the Bill is that at this moment there are thousands of houses which are likely to stand empty longer than they really need, because it is quite unrealistic to expect the owners of those houses to enter into new lettings of their controlled property before the Bill becomes law. The sooner the Bill reaches the Statute Book, the sooner those houses will be let.
This is not only a question of the landlords' interest. It is a question of the future tenants' interest. Until the Bill becomes law, all the young married couples and couples wanting to get married and wanting to get unfurnished rooms that they can rent are forced to wait, because when the Bill becomes law these empty houses will be let and more accommodation will be released.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East also said, and I think that he was intending to be kind to me, that I had not had much time, as a new Minister, to think about the Bill. He said that his hon. Friends welcomed my thinking about it, yet when I went to North Kensington, a week ago, and said quite mildly, at a public meeting, that I was thinking about the Bill, hon. Members opposite proceeded to attack me about making any such far-reaching disclosures outside the House. I suppose that they took that attitude because to think out legislation contrasts so strongly with what they did when they were in power.
The case of the Opposition, as stated quite simply by a number of speakers in the debate, is that the Committee has made good progress. My hon. Friends 166 who are members of the Committee will have their own views of that. I would judge that the Committee was hardly in the running for Olympic honours, but it is not for me to pass a final verdict on the rapidity with which the Committee has approached its work and the success which it has had in examining and going through the Bill. I would prefer to rely on the Press.
This is a quotation from a newspaper of 19th December:After four sittings lasting ten hours, not even the first of the Government's 18-Clause Rent Bill has been passed in the Standing Committee. Yesterday, determined Labour opposition prevented the progress of Clause 1.That was in the Daily Herald, so it must be true, and the Opposition newspaper has now demolished the whole case that has been made by hon. Members opposite during the course of this debate.
I have one further piece of evidence. I received this morning a letter from a complete stranger. He is not a constituent of mine—[Interruption.]—I am not sure whether the Opposition wishes to hear this letter. It reads:Sir.I was the only member of the public present throughout the session on the 20th December. 1956, of the Standing Committee on the Rent Bill and came away thoroughly disgusted with the concerted Socialist filibuster which prevented a single line of the Rent Bill being discussed. Faced with such childish tactics, what alternative remains to you but to use the Guillotine to force the Opposition to devote their time to the business on hand?
§ Mr. Mitchison
Was not this the occasion when the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor had not considered the timetable with his own hon. Friends, let alone with us? He moved a Motion and then voted against it and moved another one.
§ Mr. Brooke
The hon. and learned Member thinks that he has a get-out, but he knows perfectly well that the business that day could have been completed in a much shorter time. It would have been possible to proceed with the Bill had it not been the case that, as disclosed by the Daily Herald, the Labour Opposition was determined to prevent its progress.
Providence and the good sense of the British people together may combine to save this country from ever again having a Socialist Government. But, if by any chance there was ever any failing of Providence or of good sense, I infer from 167 today's proceedings that a future Socialist Government introducing their far-fetched and unwise proposals for solving the problem of rent restriction will, when their Bill has had a Second Reading, refer it to a Committee of the whole House, take the discussion at length on the Floor of the House and, bearing in mind what they have said today, resolutely set their face against any Guillotine Motion. To that the Socialist Government are tied because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, "This is a responsibility we owe to the people."
Last Saturday morning a lady went out shopping in my constituency and was stopped by a group of people who urged her to sign a petition to me against the Rent Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] She made inquiries about it. She said to the man holding the petition, "Are people angry about the Rent Bill?" He replied, "Some of them are." She said, "Are you getting many people to sign this petition?"—
§ Mr. Brooke
I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, that I have successfully engaged the attention of the one impartial person in this Chamber.
When she said, "Are many people signing this petition?", the man holding the petition said, "Not as many as we would like."
I say with complete confidence to the House, at the end of this highly hilarious debate, that hon. Members opposite will find, both in the Division Lobbies and in the country, that those opposed to this Motion are not nearly as many as they would like.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the lady shopper was the vice-chairman of the Hampstead City -Council Housing Committee?
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 310, Noes 255.171
|Division No. 51.]||AYES||[10.5 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Braine, B. R.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||du Cann, E. D. L.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Bryan, P.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Armstrong, C, W.||Burden, F. F. A.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Ashton, H.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Erroll, F. J.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Campbell, Sir David|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Carr, Robert||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fell, A.|
|Balniel, Lord||Channon, Sir Henry||Finlay, Graeme|
|Barber, Anthony||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C,|
|Barter, John||Cole, Norman||Fort, R.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Foster, John|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Cooper, A. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cordeaux, Lt. -Col. J. K.||Freeth, D. K.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Crouch, R. F.||Gibson-Watt, D.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Crowder, Petre (Ruisllp—Northwood)||Glover, D.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Cunningham, Knox||Godber, J. B.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Currle, G. B. H.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan|
|Black, C. W.||Dance, J. C. G.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Body, R. F.||Davidson, Viscountess||Cower, H. R.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Deedes, W. F.||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. (Nantwioh)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Green, A.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Gurden, Harold||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Robertson, Sir David|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||McAdden, S. J.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Maodonald, Sir Peter||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||McKibbin, A. J.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfd)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Russell, R. s.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow. E.)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||McLean, Nell (Inverness)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Sharpies, R. C.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Shepherd, William|
|Heskett, R. F.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Simon, J. E. S (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W, W.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maddan, Martin||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Speir, R. M.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Spenoe, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hope, Lord John||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hornby, R. P.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Steward, Harold (Stookport, S.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Marples, A. E.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Marshall, Douglas||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mathew, R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Maude, Angus||Storey, S.|
|Howard, John (Test)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Mawby, R. L.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr., S. L. C.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Teeling, W.|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Mott-Radolyffe, Sir Charles||Temple, J. M.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Irving, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Neave, Airey||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon. S.)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thorneycroft Rt. Hon. P.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'mth, E. & Chr'oh)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Ormsby-Core, Hon. W. D.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Kaberry, D.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Keegan, D.||Osborne, C.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Page, R. G.||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Kerr, H. W.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Kimball, M.||Partridge, E.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Lagden, G. W.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. D. C.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Woroester)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pitman, I. J.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynernouth)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pott, H. P.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Leavey, J. A.||Powell, J. Enoch||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Price, David (East-leigh)||Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Peters-field)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Profumo, J. D.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Ramsden, J. E.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Rawlinson, Peter||Woollam, John Victor|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Redmayne, M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Remnant, Hon. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Renton, D. L. M.||Mr. Heath and Mr. Oakshott.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Beswick, Frank||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Blenkinsop, A.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blyton, W. R.||Burke, W. A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Boardman, H.||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Butler, Herbert (Haokney, C.)|
|Baird, J.||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Balfour, A.||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Cailaghan, L. J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bowles, F. G.||Carmiohael, J.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Boyd, T. C.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Champion, A. J.|
|Benson, G.||Brookway, A. F.||Chapman, W. D,|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Clunie, J.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Randall, H. E.|
|Coldrick, W.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Rankin, John|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Janner, B.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch &Finsbury)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Reeves, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jeger, George (Goole)||Reid, William|
|Cove, W. G.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn &St. Pnes. S.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Crossman, R, H. S.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Daines, P.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Ross, William|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Royle, C.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Short, E. W.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, C.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Deer, G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lawson, G. M.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill|
|Delargy, H. J.||Ledger, R. J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Snow, J. W.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dye, S.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Soskioe, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lewis, Arthur||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edelman, M.||Lindgren, G. S.||Steele, T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Lipton, Marcus||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Logan, D. G.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacColl, J. E.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||McGhee, H. G.||Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Tront, C.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||McGovern, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mclnnes, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Fienburgh, W.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Finch, H. J.||McLeavy, Frank||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fletcher, Eric||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Forman, J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mahon, Simon||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Caitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Thornton, E.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Marquand, Rt, Hon. H. A.||Timmons, J.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mason, Roy||Tomney, F.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mayhew, C. P.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mellish, R. J.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Grey, C. F.||Messer, Sir F.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchlson, G. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Monslow, W.||Wade, D. W.|
|Grimond, J.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hale, Leslie||Mort, D. L.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Clenvil (Colne Valley)||Moyle, A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mulley, F. W.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hannan, W.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||West, D. G.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hayman, F. H.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Healey, Denis||Oliver, G. H.||Wigg, George|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Oram, A. E.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Orbach, M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Oswald, T.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hobson, C. R.||Owen, W. J.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Holman, P.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Holmes, Horace||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Holt, A. F.||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Parker, J.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Parkin, B. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Paton, John||Woodbum, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Peart, T. F.||Woof, R. E.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pentland, N.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hunter, A. E.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Probert, A. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Proctor, W. T.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 253.177
|Division No. 52.]||AYES||[10.16 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Armstrong, C. W.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Ashton, H.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Astor, Hon. J. J.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Arbuthnot, John||Atkins, H. E.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Gough, C. F. H.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gower, H. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Balniel, Lord||Graham, Sir Fergus||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Barber, Anthony||Grant, W. (Woodside)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich;||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Barter, John||Green, A.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Gresham Cooke, R.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Gurden, Harold||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Marples, A. E.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow. E.)||Mathew, R.|
|Black, C. W.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maude, Angus|
|Body, R. F.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Mawby, R. L.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. s. L. C.|
|Boyd Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Hesketh, R. F.||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Hope, Lord John||Neave, Airey|
|Bryan, P.||Hornby, R. P.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hornsby, Smith, Miss M. p.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Horobin, Sir Ian||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Howard, Hon. Creville (St. Ives)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Howard, John (Test)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Carr, Robert||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hurd, A. R.||Osborne, C.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Page, R. G.|
|Cole, Norman||Hyde, Montgomery||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Iremonger, T. L.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Pott, H. p.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruisllp—Northwood)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Cunningham, Knox||Joseph, Sir Keith||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Kaberry, D.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Keegan, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, H. W.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|D'gby, Simon Wingfield||Kimball, M.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Kirk, P. M.||Redmayne, M.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lagden, G. W.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Lambton, Viscount||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Leather, E. H. C.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Leavey, J. A.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leburn, W. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Erroll, F. J.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Ropner, col. Sir Leonard|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Russell, R. S.|
|Fell, A.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Fort, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Foster, John||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Shepherd, William|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Longden, Gilbert||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Freeth, D. K.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lucas, P. B.(Brentford & Chiswick)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Speir, R. M.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||McAdden, S. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Glover, D.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Godber, J. B.||McKibbin, A. J.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Stony, S.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Turner, H. F. L.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)||Vane, W. M. F.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Vaughan Morgan, J. K.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Vickers, Miss J. H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Teeling, w.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Temple, J. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. D. C.|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wall, Major Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thorneycroft Rt. Hon. P.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lewis, Arthur|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fernyhough, E.||Lindgren, C. S.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Fienburgh, W.||Lipton, Marcus|
|Allen, Soholefield (Crewe)||Finch, H. J.||Logan, D. G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Fletcher, Eric||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Forman, J. C.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Baird, J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Balfour, A.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||MeGovern, J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Gibson, C. W.||McInnes, J.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Gooch, E. G.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Bonn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Benson, G.||Greenwood, Anthony||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Beswick, Frank||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Blackburn, F.||Grey, C. F.||Mahon, Simon|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddrsfd, E.)|
|Boardman, H.||Grimond, J.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hale, Leslie||Mason, Roy|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Hamilton, W. W.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hannan, w.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hayman, F. H.||Monslow, W.|
|Brookway, A. F.||Healey, Denis||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Mort, D. L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Herbison, Miss M.||Moyle, A.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mulley, F. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hobson, C. R.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Holman, P.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Holmes, Horace||O'Brien, Sir Thomas|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Holt, A. F.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Carmichael, J.||Houghton, Douglas||Oram, A. E.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Orbach, M.|
|Champion, A. J.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Oswald, T.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hoy, J. H.||Owen, W. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hubbard, T. F.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Clunie, J.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Hunter, A. E.||Parker, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, John|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Peart, T. F.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pentland, N.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Janner, B.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Daines, P.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Probert, A. R.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & st. Pncs, S.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Randall, H. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Rankin, John|
|Deer, G.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Redhead, E. c.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Reeves, J.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reid, William|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rhodes, H.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Kenyon, C.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dye, S.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||King, Dr. H. M.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Edelman, M.||Lawson, G. M.||Ross, William|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Ledger, R. J.||Royle, C.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Short, E. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wigg, George|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Simmons, C. it. (Brierley Hill)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Skeffington A. M.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Thornton, E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Snow, J. W.||Timmons, J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Tomney, F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don valley)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Turner-Samuels, M.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Sparks, J. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Steele, T.||Usborne, H. C.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Viant, S. P.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stones, W. (Consett)||Wade, D. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Warbey, W. N.||Woof, R. E.|
|Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Weitzman, D.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Welts, William (Walsall, N.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Swingler, S. T.||West, D. G.|
|Sylvester, G. O.||Wheeldon, W. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||White, Mrs. Elrene (E. Flint)||Mr. Popplewell and|