HC Deb 31 July 1958 vol 592 cc1609-24

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Thursday, 23rd October, at Eleven o'clock.—[Mr. R. A. Butler.]

4.8 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

I do not propose to keep the House long, but I would be failing in my duty badly if I allowed this opportunity to pass without registering my protest at the suggestion that we should leave Westminster for so long a period when there are vital issues which, I believe, ought to be commanding our attention.

I will not deal with the broad issue of foreign affairs, or with the question of unemployment, serious as it is in South Wales, where, in Cardiff alone, 4,000 people have been unemployed for the past six months or more. I think it very serious that we should be going away for this long period during which we shall be unable to bring these cases to the attention of the House. There is, however, another issue to which I want to refer.

Before the House meets again, as one of my hon. Friends reminded us this afternoon, the Rent Act will come into operation, and those people who are to be evicted will have been evicted before we meet again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Many of them will be, and they cannot appeal under the last relieving Measure which was brought before Parliament. I know now that there will be cases in the City of Cardiff which will give cause for great anxiety before the House meets again.

I hope that hon. Gentlemen will give me credit for knowing my own constituency better than they do. I am speaking from knowledge. It is my custom, every week while the House is sitting, to hold a "surgery" and meet my constituents. I have had a list of cases piled up in which the new Measure that has been passed will not give the relief that is desired. I feel that a long Recess of this character is unjustified and indefensible at a time like this, and that is the main reason for my speaking now.

The second reason is this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members should not tempt me. It is a long time since I addressed the House, and this is one of those opportunities that I do not like to miss. The other reason is that, for three months, it will be impossible for us to do justice to those of our constituents who are the least privileged of all. I am thinking of the pensioners, and their demand for a better and more adequate allowance on which to live. They will be moving into the winter by the time we return, and any Bill that may be introduced then to relieve the suffering of these old folk could not possibly be applied until the following spring, if any of our previous experiences are a guide.

For these reasons, I hope that the House will not carry the Motion that we adjourn until 23rd October.

4.12 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

I have no desire to detain the House unduly long on this Motion, or to obstruct the important debate on unemployment in Wales which is to follow. Nevertheless, I feel that it would be quite wrong for us to depart for such a long period without a few remarks from the official Opposition on the present situation. I also wish to put one or two questions to the Government, and to seek certain assurances from them.

I do not think that it will be denied by anybody that we are going into this Recess at a time when, in many different parts of the world, there are extremely disturbed conditions, and, in consequence, very serious anxieties both here and in other countries. We have our own troubles as well. I have mentioned already the coming debate on Welsh unemployment, but I think that there is widespread anxiety that unemployment generally may possibly increase during the coming months in the country as a whole. The visit of the T.U.C. to the Chancellor of the Exchequer shows that that possibility is certainly in their minds.

We are glad that the President of the Board of Trade has decided to follow certain policies which we have long recommended, and that he is willing to reintroduce suitable controls to guide the movement of industry into appropriate areas. We hope that the Government will also follow an expansionist policy for taking up the slack which, I am very much afraid, will otherwise develop.

But I am not as much concerned, in the few remarks that I want to make, with the home situation, because I know that other hon. Members will speak on it, as I am about the situation abroad. I will begin by drawing the attention of the House to the situation in Cyprus, about which we are exceedingly disturbed. Perhaps I could take this opportunity of thanking the Prime Minister for following up a suggestion of mine at Question Time the other day that there should be a joint appeal by the three Prime Ministers—the right hon. Gentleman himself and the Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers—to end violence. I hope that that will be successful.

I should also like to ask the Government whether, before we go into Recess, they will give an assurance that everything possible through N.A.T.O. will be done—[Interruption.] I am asking the Government, not the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke); he is not, at the moment, in the Government.

I am asking for an assurance that everything possible through N.A.T.O. will be done to bring the utmost pressure to bear on both the Greek and Turkish Governments to do all they can to stop violence in Cyprus. I feel that, as they are both Allies of ours in N.A.T.O., it would not be very difficult to persuade them to behave in a manner less dangerous to the alliance as a whole in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Then there is the matter of Northern Rhodesia. We appreciate very much, Mr. Speaker, your kindness in allowing that matter to be raised tomorrow. It will give my right hon. and hon. Friends an opportunity of saying what they feel about the proposed action of the Government in connection with the new franchise. But we cannot forbear from saying that it might well be that, during the course of this Recess, when Parliament is not sitting, what would amount to an irrevocable decision will be taken, which could have very serious consequences not only for Northern Rhodesia, but for the whole of East and Central Africa.

Of course, it is particularly with the Middle East that we are most concerned today. I have no desire, and indeed it would be quite wrong for me, to attempt to repeat the discussions which took place in this House in the last fortnight, but I must say that everything that has happened since these debates seems to me to confirm, broadly speaking, the rightness of the point of view expressed from these benches. Let us take Iraq, to start with. It is very gratifying to find that the Iraqi Government—

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)

On a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to introduce last-minute, last-shot, partisan, political points on foreign affairs questions in a debate which is strictly related to the Adjournment of the House? Short reasons for objections have always been admitted and may be adduced, but this has never been the occasion for lengthy speeches on these aspects of foreign affairs, which, I am sure, the Government are not prepared to answer at this stage, and which, if persisted in, will only invite further speeches from hon. Members on this side of the House in contradiction.

Mr. Speaker

I have frequently ruled in the past on these debates that hon. Members are entitled to argue that, because of certain circumstances surrounding the country, it would be unwise to adjourn for a prolonged Recess. What I have always said is that that does not really mean an opportunity to go precisely into the merits of various policies and problems, but that Members should confine themselves, as I think the right hon. Gentleman himself has done hitherto, to arguing that it would be unwise to adjourn.

Mr. Gaitskell

I am much obliged. Mr. Speaker. I have no intention of going at any great length into this matter, or of arguing or re-arguing What was debated a day or two ago. Perhaps the noble Lord would try to contain himself. Sometimes, he takes a view on foreign affairs which is not in accord with that of his right hon. Friends, and what he thinks is partisan may not be quite so partisan to them.

I was saying that the position in Iraq was certainly better than we might have anticipated. The attitude adopted by the new Government there to some extent reassures us. I wish to ask the Government whether it is proposed by Her Majesty's Government to recognise the new Government of Iraq? That is the first step that should be taken to try to re-establish friendly relations with some of the Arab countries.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I think it is quite normal, as those who have been a long time in this House will agree, for people to adduce reasons, but I do not want to disappoint the House if it should imagine that, in fact, I can give a full answer on questions involving the Royal prerogative, the conduct of foreign policy and everything else, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman.

I will do my best to answer the right hon. Gentleman and any others who may speak, and to give the reasons and the mechanism for the recall of Parliament, and so forth, but I do not want to disappoint the House because of the impression that I can transcend what I have always thought to be the normal practice, by giving a full range of policy statements for the Government before the Recess.

Mr. Gaitskell

I do not think that I have asked for a whole range of policy statements. I am bound to say that I think the Opposition would have been very remiss in not putting a question about the recognition of the new Iraqi Government. I would have hoped that the Government would have been able to give an answer; if they cannot, it is too bad. At least, we are entitled to put the question before we agree to this Motion. Apart from the situation in Iraq, our troops are in a very precarious position in Jordan. We should like further information from the Government about their intentions in that matter.

We hope that most of these issues will be cleared up at the Summit Conference and we certainly hope that that conference and the discussions in the Security Council will enable a solution to be found—perhaps the substitution of U.N. troops or observers for British and American forces. If the right hon. Gentleman would tell us anything further on that, I should certainly be grateful to him.

However, we should not delude ourselves about the underlying dangerous situation in that part of the world. We were all gratified to hear of the proposal that the Summit Conference should begin on 12th August and I can only repeat what I said in supplementary questions to the Prime Minister, that I very much hope that Mr. Khrushchev will accept this proposal. Nevertheless, we must face the fact that there may be further delays and possibly obstruction from one quarter or another. The Summit Conference is not absolutely certain.

That brings me to the particular assurance which I would like to get from the Government. If it should, unfortunately, happen that within a fortnight or three weeks no definite arrangements for the Summit Conference have been made and agreed by all the Powers concerned, so that we are all driven to the conclusion that no conference is likely, then we shall have to consider very seriously whether Parliament should not be recalled. I put that in all seriousness, because it seems to me that if there is no Summit Conference a new situation will have arisen. I cannot say, of course, whether it will be profoundly dangerous, but it certainly could be, and I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, supposing that were to be the case, he will give an undertaking on behalf of the Government that at least they will seriously consider any representations which might be made to them by the Opposition for the recall of the House.

There is the other and more attractive possibility that the Summit Conference does take place and there then remains the question of what its outcome will be. It would be pointless to try to discuss that now, but it may well be that when the Summit Conference is concluded there will be reason for the recall of Parliament. I put it no higher than that. One cannot decide in advance. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind all those possibilities and give us the reasonable assurances for which we are asking before we agree to the Motion.

4.24 p.m.

Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)

I fully understand the reasons which made my right hon. Friend so restrained and I fully appreciate what he has said about the possibility of the House being recalled in the event of the Summit Conference not taking place in the very near future. However, I am not as restrained as was my right hon. Friend. The House should be pressing the Government not to rise at a moment like this, and not to rise until we are sure that a Summit Conference will take place.

It is all very well to say, Mr. Speaker, that with your good will the House can be recalled at very short notice, but I should have thought it wise for the House to remain in session for at least another week, to make sure that the Prime Minister's offer is accepted. I regard it as dangerous that hon. Members should depart at this time.

I know that in similar debates on previous occasions hon. Members have objected to the rising of the House, while at the same time hoping at the bottom of their hearts that their objections would not prevail. However, I am very serious when I say that I believe that we are making a great mistake to permit the House to rise tomorrow while circumstances are so uncertain.

I had hoped that my right hon. Friend's advice to the Opposition would have been to vote against the Adjournment for the Summer Recess at this time. I should have regarded it as my duty to support such a move and to keep the House in session during this very vital week.

4.26 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

There is no doubt that hon. Members have had a very heavy burden of duties and responsibilities in the past months, especially over the past weeks, but the actions which the Government have been taking in our name have laid even heavier responsibilities upon hon. Members in respect of many people. This is, therefore, a singularly inappropriate time to announce to the world that we are leaving this place for three months—admittedly, with the possibility of recall.

Apart from the political aspects of the Middle East situation, we are responsible for many thousands of British citizens who are in Iraq and about whom we have heard scarcely a word in all the recent debates. I wonder how they will feel when they hear on the radio that Parliament is to dissolve for three months—the people in Kirkuk, Bagdad, Basrah and the Persian Gulf.

How do our constituents feel? I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that my constituents are very concerned about Parliament adjourning for so long, in view of the spreading unemployment and the fall in earnings while costs are rising. Unemployment is now causing so much concern to the President of the Board of Trade that he is trying to persuade European countries that they should not do what the British Government have been doing for the past few years. As a result of Government policy the rent of practically every house in Kilmarnock, privately and publicly owned, is going up.

All these matters make people in my constituency wonder why it is that Parliament should dissolve for so long. I hope that we will be given some very cogent reasons by the Leader of the House to explain why it is absolutely essential that the Recess should be so long. Quite apart from the possibility of the Summit Conference and the new problems which may arise from that, there are the difficulties of the spread of unemployment, the problems of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The right hon. Gentleman should not hesitate to follow the advice of my right hon. Friend about the recall of Parliament.

We sometimes consider these matters far too narrowly, forgetting the psychological effect all over the world when at a time like this the British Parliament goes away for so long. Problems were never more grave. Never did peace seem to hang so much in the balance, and yet we go away and leave it to the Government to carry on without that day-to-day criticism and prodding which are so essential to the proper working of democracy.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

This date of the Adjournment for the Summer Recess is becoming a sort of obstacle that Ministers are desperately trying to reach over a month of tergiversation and a month of postponements and discussions in order to take decisions planned for several weeks, some of which are likely to be unpopular and all of which are likely to be forgotten at the end of the three months' Adjournment. That is one of the reasons why the threat of the Queen of the Fairies, that You shall sit if he sees reason, Through the grouse and salmon season", becomes less menacing, particularly to those Socialist Members who do not possess salmon rivers or grouse moors.

I do not want to sit during August. I would like a holiday, but I suggest that there are one or two considerations which make this long Adjournment undesirable. We have come to the stage when we should reconsider the whole question of the sittings of Parliament. Every year, for the last six or seven years—indeed, if the House wants me to make a non-party issue of this I might say that it has happened for the last fifteen years—a whole series of Orders, Statutory Instruments, and so on, is published within a day or two of Parliament rising.

The cotton industry of Lancashire faces the most tragic position it has had to face for a very long time. What has been happening? We had a debate on 3rd June, when the President of the Board of Trade said, "I am trying to negotiate with Hong Kong. I have provisional agreements with India and Pakistan, but it all depends on Hong Kong." The whole emphasis of these discussions has been to say, "Let us get past the deadline date, when Parliament rises. Let us not have to make an announcement which will provoke a further discussion before Parliament rises. Let us shuffle it all off. Let the unemployed of Oldham look for other jobs. Let Lancashire settle down to the fact that Parliament is not sitting, and hope that by October the position will have solved itself in some way or other, or at any rate that the pressure will have ceased."

We are told that Mr. Speaker can recall Parliament at a day or two's notice, but the decision to occupy Jordan was taken between the sitting of Parliament at 10 o'clock one night and the sitting of Parliament at 2.30 p.m. the next day. By the time we had assembled at 2.30 Jordan was being occupied. Without wishing to raise highly controversial matters—and I accept that they should not be raised in this debate—when there is talk about an invitation to the Turks to occupy Iraq we are dealing with a situation in which the recall of Parliament at two or three days' notice provides no remedy and no answer. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman, who is always personally courteous to the House, and to the Prime Minister, who always speaks with courtesy, that we are getting to a situation in which Parliament is being continually flouted; when decisions are announced after they have been made, and when we are confronted invariably with a fait accompli. This is a serious matter.

Serious things have been and are still happening in France. A democratic assembly can be treated merely as an institution which will ratify a decision by a vote or as an institution which has the right to discuss a matter constructively and effectively. If we forget the important part of democracy, democracy may forget us. That is one of the problems that we face in connection with these long and quite unnecessary adjournments. The right hon. Gentleman has quite properly said that we shall reassemble for one day to prorogue, because we have completed our programme, but that means that unless there is one of these hurried resummonings of Parliament to discuss a special situation we can say not one word about these problems until 28th October.

The public do not understand it. The authority of Parliament is undermined when the public are told that Members are going on holiday. I know that many of us are not; many of us will go on to various spheres of activity, where much hard work must be done, and our constituency work must be continued. But in the eyes of the public we are going on holiday at a time of great crisis. That is one action which undermines the authority of Parliament.

Perhaps I may speak in a lighter vein. This morning I heard on the wireless that the Cabinet had been sitting this morning and was to sit again this afternoon. I have not seen the early evening newspapers and have not yet found out what the Cabinet was discussing, but it is at least relevant to mention that at the time when we are rising the Cabinet is discussing something of such supreme importance that it has to sit twice. The B.B.C. may have been misinformed, or I may have misheard the B.B.C. Then I was told that the Prime Minister was dining with the Archbishop of Canterbury. So long as the Prime Minister discusses ethics, on which he speaks so well, and the Archbishop speaks on politics, which he understands so thoroughly, I do not anticipate any harm from that, but if the reverse process takes place it might be necessary to resummon Parliament at a moment's notice.

All these matters are points that we must keep in mind. I seriously suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, whom I know has the health and welfare of Parliament at heart, that the time has come when instead of staging this sort of discussion for a few minutes at the time of the Adjournment we should consider the whole question of the sittings of the House, and whether something like a ten or twelve weeks' Adjournment, with the world as it is today, is not gravely impairing the utility and reputation of Parliament.

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)

I want briefly to support my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I would tell him that the problem of unemployment is not peculiar to Lancashire. I would also tell my Welsh friends—and I do not want to delay their debate—that in Cumberland there is rising unemployment, particularly in the region of Silloth, through the closing down of establishments. Only yesterday the Government announced a Development Area policy—but not in this House. We had it reported in the Press this morning. I know that the news was given in a Written Answer, but there was no possibility of question and answer on the floor of the House. This major statement of Development Area policy was announced by way of a Written Answer.

This is a matter which affects many parts of England and Wales, and particularly my own area, and I would have liked to press this matter by way of question and answer, and also in various other ways that are open to me as a Member. My constituents will say, "Parliament is adjourning for a long period; it is much too long." I, representing a West Cumberland constituency, should have had an opportunity to press these issues before the Minister, on the Floor of the House of Commons. That is why I have great sympathy with the point of view expressed by my hon. Friend.

I believe that Recesses are too long. We should have a much better arrangement about the Summer Recess, and I hope the question will be looked into. Again, we must bear in mind what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has said. There is a danger that summit talks may collapse for various reasons, and there is a need for assurances that Parliament will be recalled. There are other great issues, which affect the Middle East. The recognition of Iraq is important. If there is delay in this matter it could prejudice our whole position in the Middle East. These are vital issues, and I should have thought that it would have been better for Parliament to continue sitting at this time.

We all need a holiday, certainly, but many of us will be doing other political work elsewhere. Despite the burdens placed upon us, we feel that it is right that Parliament should be sitting, so that this Chamber can check the Executive. In a period of crisis the Executive must consult Parliament, and we must have an opportunity of putting forward the points of view of our constituents and ourselves on these major issues which affect peace, and which the whole country is thinking about.

4.40 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

It is quite usual for hon. Members to express their doubts and anxieties and for some of them to express a strong wish to remain almost permanently in session. This occasion has been characterised by sincere contributions by all concerned. Anxieties have been expressed about constituency problems. Apart from some of the usual gems from the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), I think that he is deeply moved at the idea of having to return to his constituency and to leave us for a while. We shall miss him and he will miss us.

There is a general proposition which we have to consider, namely, the extent to which it is possible for Parliament to continue in session under the very considerable pressure at which we have been working recently. I think that it would be undesirable for Parliament to be permanently in session. It never has been throughout our history. There always have been periods of Recess. It is always possible for the public outside to regard the period of Recess as a complete holiday, but for most hon. Members it is not a holiday.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West was quite right in pointing out that he has no grouse moor to go to, but neither have several other people. On this occasion the Prime Minister is showing a sense of duty by attending an important meeting in a certain place instead of indulging in recreation in another place of a classical character. Times change, and we must change with them, but we should not change to the extent of altogether altering the relationship of the legislature to the Executive. We must remember that the Executive does not stop work during a Recess.

We must also remember that there is probably no Executive in the world, under any constitution, written or otherwise, which is more constantly in touch with the legislature than the British Government is with the British House of Commons. That means that there must also be period of refreshment on both sides. There must be times for hon. Members to refresh themselves in their constituencies or elsewhere, and for Ministers to refresh themselves in their Departments. I wish to make my speech quite balanced, so I would add a parenthesis by saying that while the House is sitting Ministers often do not spend long enough in their Departments or elsewhere. The Recess enables us to keep an exact balance between the humanity of hon. Members and the humanity of Ministers. It is therefore wise to have a Recess.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) talked about the specially long period, as one or two other hon. Members did, but if we look back over the years from 1952 to 1957, and even further back to the period of the Labour Government in 1949 and 1950 we find that the Recesses have been periods of approximately eighty days. This one will be for a period of approximately eighty-two days. There is therefore nothing unusual in the procedure suggested, either by precedent or otherwise.

There have been occasions, in 1948 and 1949, and once or twice recently, notably in 1956, when the House was recalled, and I want to give my first major assurance to the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition, and to the House, by saying that the Government intend to follow the usual practice and to invoke Standing Order No. 112, which I shall shortly read to the House, should any event occur which in the public interest would involve such a course. The Standing Order reads: Whenever the House stands adjourned and it is represented to Mr. Speaker by Her Majesty's Ministers that the public interest requires that the House should meet at any earlier time during the adjournment, Mr. Speaker, if he is satisfied that the public interest does so require, may give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice. In order to get the machinery correct it is only necessary for me to remind hon. Members that the method by which Her Majesty's Ministers make up their minds is by obtaining or receiving representations. When they have received such representations all they have to decide is whether they are of such a character that it is in the public interest for Parliament to meet.

I can therefore give my second major assurance: not only will the spirit of the Standing Order be carried out in this very difficult year, but we shall pay due attention to any representations made to us, either by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends officially, or by any body of hon. Members which we would regard as involving a weight of opinion which would cause us to examine the question whether the House should be recalled in the public interest. Having said that, I hope it will be seen that we propose, if necessary, to recall the House in what may be described as a national emergency which involves the national interest.

The right hon. Gentleman referred in particular to the summit talks. I think that what was behind his language—he was kind enough to inform me and I could not take any possible exception—was that if there was no summit meeting, there might well be a feeling of doubt and anxiety in the country that this meeting, upon which so many hopes have been placed, was not taking place, and that therefore the situation was dangerous. I cannot give an absolutely literal undertaking about what the Government would regard as being in the public interest before the event arises. I can only say this. We arranged within our own Government procedure that the Prime Minister should make the statement to the House, which he made this afternoon and which I think we all would feel was a helpful statement. It seems, therefore, very likely—I hope virtually certain—that some such meeting would be held, in which case the question of the right hon. Gentleman need not necessarily arise.

If there should not be any such development, and if things should take such a turn as to create what one might call an emergency or an emergency situation, then, I repeat, the machinery which I have described will certainly come into operation and the right hon. Gentleman can make what representations he may wish. The only absolute undertaking which it would be wrong for me to give is, suppose a situation developed in which there was not actually the type of summit talks at present envisaged, but a release of tension, that the Government would regard it as a type of emergency which involved the public interest or necessitated the immediate recall of Parliament. It is all a question of judgment. If the public interest is involved, and indeed it is at present involved because it is a difficult year, we should certainly wish to consult Parliament.

Having been a member of various Governments for many years I should like to say that some hon. Members probably underestimate how important it is that Ministers should have contact with Parliament. The more difficult the position the more one wishes to feel that one has the buoyancy, not only of one's own supporters, but, if possible, the whole spirit of the House behind one in taking an important decision. I am absolutely certain that I am speaking on behalf of all Her Majesty's Ministers when I say that it would be our wish to consult Parliament, should any issue of major importance come before us which did involve the public interest. I hope, therefore, that that will be satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned various other issues, the question of Cyprus, for example. Clearly, it is the intention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Colonial Secretary to follow up any opportunity possible for bringing peace to that island; and I feel quite certain that in that respect the period of the Recess will not be wasted. My right hon. Friend, I am convinced, will encourage any initiative—if that is any consolation to the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends—leading to the solution of the extremely difficult situation in that island.

One or two other matters have been raised by hon. Members in relation to unemployment, to the difficulties of pensioners and to problems in the constituencies. Here again, the Executive will not rest. They will not be absent from their posts. I think it a good thing that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade took the opportunity, before its rising, to let the House know of the possible weapons he has in his armoury to deal with local patches or local degrees of unemployment, either severe or moderate. It is satisfactory to know that there are those weapons available.

The only remaining major question that arises is the question of procedure raised by the hon. Member for Oldham, West. He said he was not entirely satisfied that we should continue indefinitely with long prorogations of the House. In coming back on 23rd October and starting the new Session on 28th October, we are not doing anything which departs from precedent. There is nothing abnormal in such a course. It follows almost exactly the precedent of 1947 under the Labour Government. But if the hon. Gentleman and his friends feel that some alteration in our procedure is necessary, I must remind him that a Committee is sitting—it will resume its labours in the autumn—which is discussing procedure and any matters such as this would be quite apt to be put to that Committee.

Mr. Hale

I cannot do that, because I am not a member of the Committee.

Mr. Butler

In that case the hon. Member has all the more opportunity of voicing his own views, without even having to give evidence. If he sticks true to form, I feel certain that he will have something to say during the course of the proceedings of that Committee.

Those are the answers to the points which have been simply and sincerely put to me. I hope that with the assurances I have given we may now depart, not all of us for a protracted holiday, but, at any rate, for a change of work.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Thursday, 23rd October, at Eleven o'clock.

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