HC Deb 01 July 1958 vol 590 cc1280-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. H. Wilson

It might be appropriate to draw attention to the fact that in the last two and a half hours we have passed, with small Amendments, 14 Clauses of the Bill. When one reckons that 40 minutes was taken in discussing an extremely small Amendment to Clause 21—although important to the hon. Member who moved it—it shows the Chancellor the unique co-operation which the Opposition have given to him on the Bill.

Mr. Smithers

Was the right hon. Gentleman co-operating when he tried to count the Committee out?

Mr. Wilson

There was no prospect, hope or danger of the Bill being counted out, but it was desirable to point out that it was becoming a strain on our patience that hon. Members opposite were speaking at such length without the support of their own side.

I hope that the Chancellor will note that we have co-operated fully in getting through this Bill so quickly. On one of the Clauses now before us I could make a speech of several hours on the question of the Treasury Chest. I do not propose to do so. But if we had been in a fractious mood, as we have seen Oppositions on Finance Bills in the past, the Bill would have been a sitter for the purpose. We shall not avail ourselves of that opportunity.

Mr. Amory

Before the right hon. Gentleman changes his mind, I would like to pay tribute to the degree of co-operation I have received and to express the hope that we may maintain the same speed in disposing of Clauses tomorrow. If we can do that, we should make sure of a good night's sleep tomorrow.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 31 to 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

I beg to move—

Mr. H. Wilson

I understood that the Chancellor was going to move to report Progress. We had agreed that if we reached the new Clauses we might deal with the first two. But as we have now gone until 1.40 a.m. I hoped the Chancellor would move to report Progress. I wonder, Sir Charles, whether you would accept such a Motion from me? I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again".

Mr. Amory

Looking at the remainder of the work before us, we have a very full day's work tomorrow. I would very much hope that we could deal with the first two new Clauses tonight. I had a word with the right hon. Gentleman earlier and I do not remember any particular hour being mentioned. I would hope that these two new Clauses would not take more than a few moments.

Mr. Wilson

I am sorry if there has been any misunderstanding. We had our meeting before 3.30 this afternoon, when I explained to the Chancellor that I thought it might be possible to make a start with the new Clauses, while leaving the more contentious new Clauses for tomorrow. But that was only a goal or target. I did not envisage then that we should be talking about this at 1.40 a.m. If the Chancellor had wanted to make progress on the new Clauses there was an obligation on the Patronage Secretary to make some attempt to restrain the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. Practically all the Amendments to the 14 Clauses with which we have dealt since 11 o'clock have been moved from the other side of the Committee. We on this side have greatly restrained ourselves in not putting Amendments on the Notice Paper in order to make progress, and it has been somewhat galling to my hon. Friends to have had some of the Amendments argued excessively by hon. Members opposite.

I suggest to the Chancellor, therefore, that he does not attempt to make further progress tonight. The Committee is entitled to hear his explanations at a more reasonable hour of the day. We have given the Chancellor assurances about the time-table which we have fully kept throughout the Committee stage. At various times we have felt a good deal of optimism and thought that we might get on a little faster, as happened a fortnight ago. We had hoped to make great progress by a reasonable hour.

The Chancellor is quite right in saying that we have a great deal of work to do tomorrow. I should not like to give an undertaking about the time at which we shall finish discussion of the Clauses which you select tomorrow, Sir Charles, but we have certainly no desire to delay the proceedings tomorrow. We hope to fulfil the same kind of self-denying ordinance to speak quickly and briefly and have as many of the Clauses dealt with as possible, because they are of a wide range of interest to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee.

How late we shall go tomorrow, therefore, may very well depend upon the eloquence of hon. Members opposite, as well as that of those on this side of the Committee. While we should not like to give any assurance about the time when the end of the Bill and the final Schedules are reached, I can certainly say that we shall continue to co-operate. Tomorrow, we shall have even more of a vested interest than we have had so far in getting on quickly with the Bill, because we want to deal with as many of the Clauses as possible. In the circumstances, I hope that the Chancellor will move to report Progress. I think that he will find the Committee reasonable tomorrow, and I hope that we shall finish at a not too unreasonable hour.

Mr. Amory

I feel in sporting mood. Would the right hon. Gentleman agree to split the difference here? If so, I would agree that we should complete the first new Clause and let the other go. It seems to me a very fair offer, particularly as I believe that the first Clause is one which will appeal to both sides of the Committee and therefore will be non-controversial. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will feel that that offer is in accord with the spirit of co-operation to which he has referred.

Mr. Wilson

I do not think that that is in any sense an unfair proposal, if it is for the convenience of the Committee. I cannot speak for my hon. Friends—the two of them. I do not know whether they will feel that the Clause is not controversial. They may wish to make long speeches. The Chancellor is taking a great risk, but in view of the spirit in which he has made his offer, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.