HC Deb 06 December 1961 vol 650 cc1399-500

4.14 p.m.

The Chairman

In calling the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) to move the first Amendment on the Notice Paper, I would inform the Committee that I think it would be convenient to discuss with it Amendments Nos. 7 to 15, except Amendment No. 9, which deals with the Republic of Ireland and is the subject of a separate Amendment. All those Amendments are to page 1, line 19.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, at the end to insert: (d) a citizen of Ghana. As you have pointed out, Sir Gordon, it is common sense that this Amendment and the other Amendments you have mentioned should be taken together, because it was the purpose of the hon. Members on this side of the Committee that these Amendments should be considered as a whole since the argument for one of these Amendments is the argument for all of them.

In moving to delete Ghana from the operation of Part I of the Bill I am taking Ghana as just one example of the self-governing territories of the Commonwealth. The effect of this group of Amendments would be to except independent members of the Commonwealth from the operation of Part I. Clearly, it is the intention of this side of the Committee that this group of Amendments should be complementary to the first Amendment which was moved yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.

I hope that the Home Secretary, having yesterday objected to that Amendment, will not now treat us today to another tendentious taunt that in moving this Amendment and speaking to its accompanying Amendments we are showing that we are in favour of the principle of control. I should have thought that it was as obvious today as it was obvious yesterday that in seeking, as we are, to amend Part I, if not to get rid of it, we are whittling down the principle of control rather than accepting it.

I also hope that the Home Secretary will not repeat his argument of yesterday that in relation to Part I and seeking to secure success for our first Amendment yesterday and for this Amendment and the others, except Amendment No. 9, we have shown that we are putting forward wrecking Amendments. That comes very ill from the Home Secretary, who announced to us yesterday that he was taking Ireland out of the Bill. It is certainly a wrecking Amendment of the ostensible purpose of the Bill to take the Irish out of it, because that at once alters the whole colour and complexion and effect of Part I of the Bill. When, on Second Reading, the Home Secretary was asked why the Irish were not to be included in the Bill, he replied that one of the reasons—

The Chairman

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady, but she will appreciate that the Republic of Ireland is mentioned in the next Amendment and not in this series.

Mrs. Castle

I appreciate that, Sir Gordon. But if I may be allowed to complete my sentence, the fact that it is in order may become clear. I am using this merely as an illustration of my argument on this group of Amendments. The Home Secretary argued that it was not necessary to include the Irish in Part I, because Part II would still apply to them. That argument relates to this group of Amendments, also.

Even though we lost our battle over the first Amendment which we moved yesterday, we are still trying to limit the damage done by the Bill, the damage done by the introduction of control. There are some powerful arguments in favour of the limitation of the operation of the control measures, as proposed in the Amendments. In opposing our efforts to get the Colonial Territories removed from the operation of Part I, the Home Secretary himself said—

The Chairman

The hon. Lady keeps going astray. We dealt with that Amendment yesterday.

Mrs. Castle

I appreciate that, but the Home Secretary used certain arguments in connection with that Amendment and I am about to point out that they support my case for these Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman said that we were wrong to try to take the Colonial Territories out of the Bill because they formed a diminishing part of the Commonwealth. One of his complaints against us was that a number of the Colonial Territories would become independent members of the Commonwealth and would, therefore, be removed from the exemption rights which we were trying to apply to them.

If that was his complaint against our first Amendment yesterday, he cannot object to these Amendments. This group of Amendments covers and includes former Colonial Territories which have now become independent and self-governing. As the Home Secretary rightly pointed out yesterday, the colonial element in the Commonwealth is diminishing and an increasing number of territories is becoming independent and of Dominion status. It is the group covered by our Amendments which form the solid base of our multi-racial Commonwealth.

Every hon. Member will agree that greater freedom of movement within the Commonwealth is a goal at which we should aim. Freedom of movement between the members of any association forms an essential link in the existence of that association. That is one of the reasons why the right to freedom of movement is one of the basic elements of the Treaty of Rome, which set up the European Economic Community. If there is to be a cohesive community which is to develop an organic unity, then freedom of movement among its peoples is an essential part of it.

Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome and the Reports of the Commission of the European Economic Community have made it clear that the principle of the freedom of movement is vital to the whole idea of a European community, Therefore, if the Commonwealth is to continue to thrive with anything like a parallel vitality and an inner power of growth as is foreseen for the Common Market, the establishment of the principle of freedom of movement within the Commonwealth is essential.

Some of the newly independent territories which are covered by the Amendments have been setting the Mother Country an excellent example in this direction. Ghana and India. for example, ever since they were granted their independence, have responded to that greater freedom by attracting more people to their shores from this country rather than repelling them.

India has been glad to welcome people from this country to work side by side with her own people on their problems.

I am sure that everyone will agree that there are more people from this country now working in Ghana than there were during the period when she was technically subordinate to our rule. Both those countries are ardent supporters of the Commonwealth idea and they know that it is a violation of the Commonwealth idea to close doors to the free flow of traffic between this country and their territories.

It is the duty of this House of Parliament, which is the Legislature of the Mother Country, to encourage the tendency towards greater freedom of movement. It is true that some constraints on that freedom of movement within the Commonwealth have been put up by some of the Dominions which we are now discussing, but we ought not to welcome that. We should be the one to set an example the other way. If we put half the energy and enthusiasm and faith into the development of our Commonwealth idea as some of us now seem prepared to put into the development of the idea of a unified Europe, we would be taking all kinds of positive initiatives to get rid of what barriers already exist.

The Commission of the European Economic Community can set us a considerable example in this direction. In Europe, the Six are finding ways of breaking down the barriers between their member States, and we ought to be doing the same within the Commonwealth. How can the Commonwealth hope to survive or hold its own against the European idea if we prevent the same constructive attitude towards it as the pro-Europeans take towards Europe? What encouragement does the Bill give to this unification of the Commonwealth and the removal of the barriers to that unification? Far from encouraging the tendency towards freer movement among members of the Commonwealth, it is deliberately discouraging it.

That is why, despite the fact that we would have liked the Colonial Territories to have been exempted from Part I, we still believe that, even if they are to be retained by the Government's edict, it is still important for the growth of the Commonwealth idea that these Amendments should be accepted and that as our Colonial Territories move towards greater and then complete independence, they, too, should benefit from this principle of freedom of movement which is enshrined in the Amendments.

4.30 p.m.

I suggest, however, that there is another special reason why these territories should be exempt from control, and that is that a large number of them are in process of being cut out of the right of association with the Common Market. According to reports of the progress of the negotiations in Brussels, lists are being drawn up at present of probable and possible Commonwealth countries which could be associated with the Common Market.

According to a report in The Times yesterday, it looks as if there will be two lists. On the one hand, there will be the group of African States and the Caribbean which may be allowed to have association with the Common Market just as certain French African territories have been given it and as the Dutch Antilles have been given it. The Caribbean does not look as if it will provide a stumbling block in this direction.

But The Times goes on to say: Britain has not put forward Canada, Australia, and New Zealand … for association, . . and the Six will not accept India or Pakistan. Germany, it is believed, raised objections to considering the association of India, whose population would far out-number the entire Community. Whether the Six would consider any Asian countries—Malaya, for instance—remains to be seen. … The French have not shown any eagerness to commit themselves on possible associates from the Commonwealth, because of prior concern for French Africa …". The effect of that would be that, although some formula might be found for associating certain of the African States of the Commonwealth and the Caribbean with the Common Market, it seems clear—

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. W. R. Williams)

I am sorry, so soon after having taken the Chair, to have to suggest to the hon. Lady that I think she is getting rather wide even of the fairly wide Amendments which are under consideration by the Committee at the moment. I hope that she will bear that in mind.

Mrs. Castle

I would ask you, Mr. Williams, just to allow me to develop my argument a little further. I believe that this is strictly relevant to my argument why we should exempt this group of countries from control under the Bill.

Although the Committee has not exempted the Colonies from control under the Bill, the argument I am putting forward—it has previously been argued in connection with discussions about who should or should not be exempt under Part I of the Bill; the argument was put forward yesterday—is that there is a widely held belief that the Government are ready to close the pipeline to the Commonwealth because they are in process of negotiating opening the pipeline to Europe through the Common Market negotiations.

Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome makes it clear that if we join the Common Market there must be no discrimination on our part or on the part of our fellow members against foreign workers from member States. Therefore, unless the United Kingdom applies in this Bill controls against British subjects, once we join the Common Market other members of the Six will not be able to do so. It is for that reason that I am suggesting that if, as it clear from these reports, there is a possibility that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan—all countries covered by these Amendments—will not be allowed to associate with the Common Market at the same time as we become associated with it—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I am quite satisfied now, after listening further. What we are trying to do here is to advance arguments about whether these countries should be exempt, and we must confine ourselves to possible arguments in support of the Amendments.

Mrs. Castle

Yes, Mr. Williams, but my argument is that unless, in the Bill, we exempt these countries from our control provisions, they will, in fact, have had their access to Europe closed.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I am sorry, but I must ask the hon. Lady now to depart from that form of argument, because I do not think that it is permissible under this series of Amendments. 1 hope that she will accept my Ruling.

Mrs. Castle

Mr. Williams, without any disrespect, I really do wish to urge this point upon you, because I believe that it is a point of considerable substance. What we do under this Bill is important. It is a Bill to abolish the principle of the open door. It is relevant, and has been held relevant by the Chair in our discussions up to now, to consider the fact that we are also discussing the principle of the open door in Europe and how it will affect, and how far it will affect, different Governments.

The Temporary Chairman

No. I am sorry, but I cannot follow that argument at all. We cannot reiterate all sorts of arguments on all sorts of Amendments. The purpose of dividing up the Amendments is to deal with specific points. I hope that the hon. Lady will now finally accept my interpretation of what is in order.

Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)

On a point of order, Mr. Williams. May I draw your attention to the discussion which took place yesterday, which is reported in column 1265 of the OFFICIAL REPORT? Yesterday, we were arguing the case for exempting Colonies from the terms of the Bill, and part of the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), when winding up the debate, was the disadvantage suffered by our own Colonies under the Bill compared with the Colonies of other European countries, and the whole effect of this on the Common Market situation.

I would point out that the discussion covered about three columns, and that the speakers were never ruled out of order, which surely shows that the future of the Commonwealth vis-à-vis the Common Market is certainly in order under the Bill.

The Temporary Chairman

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am responsible only for what I interpret the rules to be on the Amendments now before the Committee, and my interpretation is that the Ruling which I have given is a perfectly sound one on these Amendments. I do not want to receive any more submissions on that aspect.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

On that point of order, Mr. Williams. I understood you to say that the Amendments had been divided. I understood your predecessor in the Chair to say that all the Amendments, with the exception of the Amendment about the Republic of Ireland, were being taken together. I also understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) is actually moving the first Amendment on the Notice Paper today, that relating to citizens of Ghana. The rest of us, if we participate in the discussion, will be applying our minds to a whole series of Amendments, excluding that relating to the Republic of Ireland. May I—

The Temporary Chairman

Perhaps I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman, because he is not travelling the same road as I am. What I said was, of course, that the purpose of putting down Amendments to a Bill was to have specific debates on specific subjects. I was not talking about the division of the Amendments that we are now considering and taking a number of them together. What I was saying was that the purpose of putting down Amendments to a Bill is to have tidy debates on specific issues. I think that my Ruling is a perfectly sound one.

Mr. Hale

May I seek your guidance, Mr. Williams, on the point which I have in mind, which, I think, is a perfectly genuine one? We are informed that a political refugee from Ghana is at this moment in Sierra Leone. Surely, it would be appropriate to discuss what would be the position if a political refugee from Ghana living in Sierra Leone came to London, and whether he should be deported to Ghana or not? If that be true, I suggest that the point which my hon. Friend was putting—which also raises the question of a citizen of Ghana living in France and seeking to come to Britain under the provisions of the Treaty of Rome, which I understood to be the point my hon. Friend was dealing with, or, indeed, the position of a citizen of Ghana domiciled in China being deported to Ghana and left to pay his own expenses of transport back home—concerns matters that may be relevant to this discussion.

The Temporary Chairman

I have no doubt at all that these point could be relevant to certain issues, but I do not think that they would be relevant to the issues before us now.

Mrs. Castle

I am suggesting to the Committee that there is a reason why we should accept this Amendment and thus discriminate in the Bill in favour of the territories mentioned in the Amendments, because our Colonial Territories in the Caribbean and Africa will have the right of direct association with Europe, whereas these territories, apparently, will only have a right of association through this country and through their right of access to this country.

I suggest that this is a matter of considerable substance and is a reason why we should keep that right of access inviolate; otherwise, they would be discriminated against, as compared with the Commonwealth, when this country joins Europe and becomes an integral part of another community, in which there is free movement of labour. That is why it is extremely relevant for us to discuss the importance of maintaining free movement of labour in our Com- monwealth, because they will be going into another community, in which we shall be committed to it.

I suggest, therefore, in regard to these territories, that we must keep this principle of the open door inviolate, because, in a year's time, when we are members of the Common Market, we shall then find that these people are placed in a specially invidious position in regard to circulating in a wider community of which this country will then have become a member, probably before this House ever has a chance of discussing this Bill, or this kind of provision. It is impossible for us to discuss the free movement, and the principle of it, at all, bearing in mind that in a very short while, this Parliament and this country will be part of a wider community.

The Temporary Chairman

I do not want to get emotional at all about this. My object is to get a tidy debate on the issues before us. I hope now—and I say this advisedly—that the hon. Lady will come to a further part of her speech.

Mrs. Castle

I should be glad to do so, provided that the Minister will reply to that point.

Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)

On a point of order. I am sorry to labour this point, Mr. Williams, and I do not wish to embarrass you in the Ruling you have given. My only worry about this is that the hon. Lady has said things and has been allowed to develop this argument for so long, and there have been so many inaccuracies in what she has been allowed to say, that some of us will be placed in a difficult position if it is now ruled that we cannot talk about it, because it will enable this crop of inaccuracies to get a good deal of publicity without being challenged. I respect very much your Ruling, and in many ways I agree with it—[Laughter.]—I am sorry for that. In every way, I accept it. It should go on record that by no means all of us share the view that the hon. Lady has been allowed to get away with.

The Temporary Chairman

It is very nice of the hon. Member to try to help me out of a difficulty, but unfortunately he is putting me into a worse difficulty. However, I may assure him and all other hon. Members who may catch my eye on both sides of the Committee, that if they transgress in the way in which I have been trying to prevent the hon. Lady transgressing I shall ask them not to pursue that line. It is perhaps unfortunate that certain things have been said, but I tried my best to stop the hon. Lady. I will not countenance anybody else going out of order, because I have been trying to stop her.

4.45 p.m.

Mrs. Castle

I should be only too delighted if the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) were to be allowed to try to answer my argument, because I feel that it would strengthen my case.

I suggest, finally, that the Government's decision announced yesterday that Southern Ireland is to be exempt from this part of the Bill makes Part I intolerable, in its present form and without these Amendments. As the Home Secretary made quite clear yesterday, what we are to do under Part I is to tell Southern Ireland that we will allow her citizens, who are not even British subjects—because the Republic of Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth—to come in, provided that she will conspire and collaborate with us to keep our citizens out of her territory. This is to make the Bill highly discriminatory, and some of us believe that it makes it discriminatory in colour.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I am very sorry and I would not intervene if I did not think it my duty to the Committee. My understanding is that we are not discussing the Republic of Ireland in this series of Amendments, but an opportunity will be provided later for hon. Members to do that. I hope therefore, that we shall not waste any more time on the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)

Surely, it would be proper, while not discussing again the whole question of the Republic of Ireland, to discuss that aspect of it which affects the people we are now discussing. In this case, which I understand is the point which my hon. Friend was putting, it is very difficult to discuss these Amendments about these Commonwealth citizens unless we can discuss the effect upon their status of certain other things that happen under this Bill. I agree that it should not be an elaborate argument, but it seems to me to be an essential part of any sensible discussion on the Amendments before us.

The Temporary Chairman

I think it is essential that we should have some sort of order in the debate. The wider we spread ourselves the more difficult it will be to deal with the issues which the hon. Lady and other hon. Members want to discuss. I have no objection to the point being referred to in passing, but it is not the substance of the debate on this series of Amendments.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

On a point of order. I think that the Committee will be grateful for what you have said, Mr. Williams, at this stage. Surely, it would be conceded to be relevant to an argument whether citizens of Ghana should or should not be restricted in their entrance into the United Kingdom to compare their condition under the Bill with the condition of other analogous 'persons such as those in Ireland? I respectfully accept your Ruling that it is not for us at this stage to discuss whether citizens of Eire should or should not be allowed here or should or should not be affected, but in view of the fact that the Home Secretary has said that, at any rate in operation, citizens of Southern Ireland will not be affected by these restrictions, it is surely open to hon. Members of the Committee to argue that it is one of the relevant considerations in deciding the question we are discussing, namely, whether citizens of Ghana should come in or not.

Mr. Chapman

Further to that point of order. An exactly parallel situation arose yesterday when we were discussing very similar Amendments dealing with other parts of the Commonwealth and points of order were raised on how far Ireland should be mentioned. One of your predecessors in the Chair, Mr. Williams, then said: An opportunity will occur later—on Amendment No. 141—to deal purely with the Irish question. But as the debate has gone from the two leading speeches from the Front Bench, Ireland has been recently mentioned and undoubtedly it will not be out of order for hon. Members on the back benches to follow that example to a certain extent, bearing in mind that Amendment No. 141 will be debated later."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1192.] This is an exactly parallel situation to that occasion when without our wanting to debate the Irish question it was admitted that we had to bring it in.

The Temporary Chairman

As I have said before, one of the fortunes or misfortunes of the occupant of the Chair is that he is not here continuously throughout the debate, and I am responsible only for what I do. Whilst I am allowing some liberty for people to make reference to other countries for the purpose of building their arguments on the issue before us, I think that we should not overwork that part of it if we are to deal with the debate in a proper manner.

Mrs. Castle

My purpose is not to discuss the merits of whether Ireland should be in or out, but the consequence of the relevant decision on other members of the Commonwealth named in this series of Amendments. Whether or not the omission of Ireland means that there is no colour discrimination in the Bill, it definitely means that there is discrimination in it against members of the Commonwealth in favour of persons who are not members, namely the Irish.

What the Government are saying is that the Southern Irish can come into this country provided that they help us to keep Ghanaians, Canadians, Indians and Australians out of the country, and I suggest that this is to deal a grave blow once again at the unity and morale of the whole Commonwealth. What is to become of the value of Commonwealth citizenship if this is the relationship that we are to establish under the Bill? It is because one section, the Irish, have been relieved of discrimination that I suggest that it strengthens our case that discrimination should not now continue against Australians, Canadians, Indians, Ghanaians, Pakistanis and all the others mentioned in the Amendments.

I should like to say a few words in conclusion to the Home Secretary. In answer to the Amendments he will probably repeat something of the same argument that he used against us on the first Amendment yesterday, by complaining that what we would do by exempting from control one section of the Commonwealth would be to draw an invidious distinction between citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and the rest of the members of the Commonwealth. Our answer to him on that point is that he is drawing an equally invidious distinction between citizens of Southern Ireland and members of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the argument of invidious distinction will not hold.

If we had our way we would not make any distinctions of any kind between any Commonwealth citizens in this matter, because we would get rid of control altogether, but we have not succeeded and cannot succeed in doing that. Some will be subject to that control and therefore an invidious distinction has already been created. I do not believe, however, that the people of our Colonies would begrudge our making this distinction in favour of our independent self-governing territories, hoping and believing as we do that they will eventually join the happy band and that they will be considered worthy of the free access to this country which we are now giving to the Southern Irish.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has moved an Amendment and spoken to a series of Amendments for the exclusion from the provisions of the Bill of certain self-governing territories within the British Commonwealth. In the latter stage of her remarks she pertinently inquired what would be the value of the Commonwealth association if we were to include these territories under the Bill. That was a proper and pertinent question for her to ask, but I would point out with respect that I as a citizen of the Commonwealth cannot freely pass into all the territories she has mentioned. I cannot go without let or hindrance to Australia, Canada and most of the territories named in the Amendments. Nevertheless, although I have not that unlimited right to go into those territories I yet deem the Commonwealth association to be of great value to me and to my country.

I suggest, with great respect to the hon. Lady, that she has been speaking to the Amendments as though what is envisaged by the operation of the Clauses which she wishes to amend is the utter exclusion of the residents and peoples of these territories from the British Isles. She must know that the only thing that is conceived and intended is some control of the rate of entry from these territories.

Mr. Dingle Foot (Ipswich)

Does the hon. Member not agree that any British subject can enter India at present without any obstacle being put in his way and without a visa being required?

Mr. Gower

The circumstances of the two countries are somewhat different. If India were populated to the same density as is the United Kingdom her population would be incredibly larger.

Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)

Is the hon. Member aware that there is a vast unemployment problem in India and, therefore, there is generosity on the part of Indians when we from this country are allowed to go there with complete freedom of access and are allowed to obtain jobs there?

Mr. Gower

A man who goes there from this country either goes there with money to support himself or goes to employment which his firm provides there and in no case competes for employment with the nationals of India.

I claim that my argument is still valid and that in most of the countries named in the Amendments I should not be able to have uncontrolled entry as a right at any time. In spite of that, I deem the association of this country with those countries and those countries with this country of paramount importance in the world today. I recognise the difficulties under which the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn was labouring, as we all must labour, in discussing a series of Amendments about territories which although they have something in common have a great many differences. I do not want to be unfair in this observation and I make it only in passing, but I suggest that the general case for the exclusion of these territories from the provisions of the Bill is decidely weaker than the case for the exclusion of the Colonial Territories.

I should like to give my reasons for saying that. Firstly, there is a fair assumption that a country which remains a Colony has not yet either the political attainments or the economic power to stand on its own feet. To that extent, any kind of restriction must be deemed to be likely to bear more heavily on such a territory than on a dominion or self-governing country. When any country accepts self-governing institutions and independence, inside or outside the Commonwealth, it is a fair assumption that, in the opinion of its nationals, it has reached such a degree of political progress and economic self-sufficiency that it can contemplate such a step without fatal consequences to its nationals.

5.0 p.m.

Therefore, without over-stating the position, I submit that the case for the exclusion of these countries may be somewhat weaker than the case for exclusion of those territories which we may call colonial. It would be positively undesirable to exclude Australia, Canada and New Zealand. That would surely increase the impression of this being a colour Bill. If we excluded them, people would validly say that we were excluding what used to be called the old white Dominions, but were including the countries where most of the inhabitants were not of British stock. Therefore, it would be positively undesirable that Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be excluded, when it has already been decided that certain Colonial Territories shall be included.

Let us consider for a moment the nature of these countries. I have already mentioned one aspect which contrasts vividly with the position of the United Kingdom. In relation to their present populations, most of them are much more spacious than the United Kingdom.

Mr. Chapman

What about jobs?

Mr. Gower

I will come to that. At the moment I am talking about space and the availability of accommodation in terms of space for the inhabitants. The hon. Member may snigger, but a snigger is not always an intelligent comment.

Another very important aspect about Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, is that, in the last decade, or in some cases in the last year or so, they have embarked upon the rather difficult job of self-government. They are thus the very countries which can ill-afford to lose large numbers of their most adventurous and effective people. Although it may very well suit our economy and our economic needs to take some of their best people, it may be most undesirable and injurious to these countries in tackling the great economic tasks which they face. While we may plead that it is noble to allow and to encourage the idea of what the hon. Lady described as the "open door" it may be most undesirable for those countries.

Mr. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

Would not the hon. Member admit that a large number of these immigrants who come here become much more efficient in their technical knowledge and ability by having been in this country, and that they then return home with an added contribution to the economic life of their countries?

Mr. Gower

I accept that, and such people will continue to come in under this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Will they? "] Yes. As I understand it, the only people who will be affected in the first place will be any excessive number who come here to look for jobs without any certainty of finding them immediately. The people referred to by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) are the very people who are likely to come here if not with an assured job but with every expectation of getting one soon after arrival.

Mr. Brockway

I am sure that the hon. Member knows from his knowledge of these people, as I know from mine, that large numbers of them come to this country without any fixed jobs, but that after being here a week or perhaps two weeks they find jobs. It is in the experience they gain in those jobs that they improve their technical knowledge and ability, which they can then take back home.

Mr. Gower

To that degree that may well be so in the present haphazard method, but I do not think it will necessarily be the case in the future. I imagine that the sort of arrangements now obtaining in recruiting people for the British Transport Commission, for instance, may well obtain in future in the case of many of those referred to by the hon. Member.

Mrs. Castle

The hon. Gentleman is getting his argument upside down. He began by saying that the newly independent countries were the very ones which ought to retain skilled workers for their own use, and that we should not be attracting those workers or allowing them to come here. But these are the very people who, according to the Bill, will get the vouchers from the Ministry of Labour, because those vouchers are to be given to those … who possess training, skill or educational qualifications likely to be useful in this country. What these countries need is a little help in having less skilled workers trained and sent back home.

Mr. Gower

The hon. Lady mentioned some of the people involved, but students and others have come here in the past and will continue in the future, it is also pertinent to note that so many of the best people of these territories come here as students or for industrial training and perhaps tend to remain here. That is a loss to their countries.

The people who will be affected by the Clause are mostly those who are not coming here either to be students or to take up employment which they have a fair expectation of getting. In other words, there is no likelihood that the Bill will be used to stop the necessary arrival of the sort of people we can accommodate, even from the large countries which the hon. Lady wants to except from the provisions, countries like India and Pakistan. She will recognise that the argument that people could come too quickly would seem to apply more to India and Pakistan than to anywhere else, because they have such unlimited reservoirs of population.

There is a lot in what the hon. Lady says. I am not suggesting that the issues in this are—

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

Black and white?

Mr. Gower

—right and wrong. I chose not to use the words "black and white". These are very difficult issues and we on this side of the Committee have made it clear from the beginning that legislation of this kind is something we hoped always to avoid and which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has only introduced with the greatest reluctance.

Those of my hon. Friends who support the Bill do so with reluctance. There is nothing wrong in that, and our reluctance is understandable. We have to face the nature of the problem which has certainly arisen and which in some parts of the country is very real. I believe that the Clause as it stands will mean that we will be able to control this problem by ensuring that the people from these Dominions will, on arrival, be able to have reasonable conditions and reasonable facilities, and that we will not be at the mercy of sudden increases, in arrivals, or seasonal changes, or unforeseen increases in the number coming here. Bearing in mind what I have said about the exclusion of the white Dominions being most undesirable, I hope that on reflection the Committee will feel that the inclusion of these Amendments would destroy the Bill and, indeed, would have unfortunate consequences in relation to the Dominions refered to in them.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

I am grateful for the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). The Committee is discussing matters of great complexity. I do not know whether my hon. Friends share my view, but I am fast coming to the conclusion that not only can this Bill not work under any circumstances, but that it is not intended to work.

When one considers the statements which are being made, the exceptions which are being written into the Bill, the statement of the Prime Minister to Sir Grantley Adams that the Bill is to be interpreted liberally, and the statement of the Home Secretary yesterday that he and his officers will interpret the Bill liberally, one wonders who will be kept out, and why the Bill was ever brought in.

The hon. Member for Barry assisted me in coming to the conclusion that this Bill is one of the greatest pieces of political confidence trickery perpetrated on this country for many years. Whatever form the Bill finally takes, it is becoming pretty clear that very few people, if any, will be kept out of this country, if we take notice of what we have been told. The hon. Gentleman said two things. First, that the Bill was intended to control the rate of entry. There is nothing in the Bill about doing that. The Home Secretary said nothing about there being a quota system and only a certain number of people being allowed into this country. There is nothing to suggest, as the hon. Member for Barry did, that the Bill will control the rate of entry.

Mr. Gower

There is a residuary power for the issuing of vouchers. It is an executive power, and will provide some form of control. I admit that it is a limited power, but it is a residuary power which can be used.

Mr. Howell

I am coming to the voucher system, which was the second point made by the hon. Gentleman.

The Home Secretary has been careful to say to Sir Grantley Adams, and to the Committee, that the Bill will be interpreted in the most liberal way, whatever form it finally takes. We all know what the right hon. Gentleman means by that. It means what the hon. Member for Barry said. It means that the Bill will affect only those who come here to obtain employment and not those who obtain employment before arrival. In other words, provided an intending immigrant can get a voucher in his own country, the Bill will be liberally interpreted and there will be no restriction on his entry here.

If an intending immigrant writes to a hospital, or to a transport authority, or to one of the many employers in this country who want labour, and asks whether employment is available and is assured of a job, he will be all right. If an intending immigrant writes to the Birmingham Hospital and asks, "Have you a vacancy for a cook, or a porter, or a domestic", and the hospital writes back and says, "Yes, we can employ you", the man will automatically get a voucher. That is what the hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Gower indicated dissent.

Mr. Howell

It is no good the hon. Gentleman shaking his head. If the voucher system does not mean that, it means nothing at all.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

Does it not mean that a circular will go out from this country saying, "If you want to be a domestic, we can provide you with the best job in the world"?

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Howell

I am obliged to my right hon. Friend, because that is the logical point I was hoping to make next.

We know that the Birmingham city transport undertaking has for a long time had recruiting officers in Dublin to recruit labour for its buses. Without such labour the bus services would have come to a halt a long time ago. Also, as 25 per cent. of the labour force of the Birmingham city transport undertaking consists of coloured West Indians, any reduction in the number of West Indians coming here would obviously have a serious effect on the system. My right hon. Friend is right. The logic of this is that somebody will go to the West Indies and establish recruiting agencies to provide labour in this country.

Whether the recruiting agencies are established by public authorities, or by private employers who in prosperous times want more labour, or whether the individual from any of these countries writes and obtains proof in writing that a job is waiting for him, the result will be the same. Provided he can establish that he has a job to go to, it will not be possible to keep him out if the Bill is interpreted liberally.

The hon. Gentleman's point is that the only people who will be kept out under the Bill will be those who have not taken the trouble to write, and therefore cannot produce evidence that they have a job to go to. I submit that when the Bill is on the Statute Book and it becomes known that provided one has evidence in writing that a job is available, the intending immigrant who has relatives in this country will be supplied with such written evidence by them. As a result, very few people, if any, will be kept out.

I am amazed that we are in the midst of this tremendous Commonwealth crisis, for such it is, and that these protracted discussions are taking place for no purpose.

Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)

The hon. Gentleman is right about skilled workers and those with pre-arranged jobs, but he is not right in saying that the Bill does not take power to control the entry of what I call the residuary quota, that is to say, the unskilled man with no pre-arranged job to go to. These are the people who will be most affected, and this is one of the reasons why I am unhappy about the Bill.

We do not know how many will fall in that category, because we have had no information from my right hon. Friend about them, and many West Indians and others who are not skilled and have no pre-arranged jobs to go to will be controlled under what I call the residuary quota in the Bill.

Mr. Howell

The hon. Gentleman is right, and I am obliged to him.

Once the Bill is on the Statute Book, everybody who wants to come here will know that the thing to do is not to arrive in this country without evidence of a job to go to, but to produce evidence and apply for a voucher.

It will not matter whether they are skilled or unskilled, because most of the vacancies in our great industrial towns are for unskilled workers. I do not want to take the argument too far, but in one of our great hospitals in Birmingham, for which I have some responsibility, there is a crisis over food. It is quite impossible to get people to cook and prepare food, especially in the evening. The only people we have who will do this in the evenings are immigrants from across the Atlantic. If anybody writes to me, saying, "Can you fix me up with a job?" or "Is there any employment?" I shall be in duty bound, as a member of a management committee responsible for many of the large hospitals in the centre of Birmingham, to say, "Yes", because at the moment we are not able to give the service that should be provided for the people of Birmingham.

When this procedure starts to work, anybody who wants to apply for a permit will be able to get one, because he will easily be able to produce the necessary evidence.

Mr. Leslie Seymour (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

Does the hon. Member agree that the system of permits now proposed will remedy the situation existing in Birmingham, where hundreds of immigrants are now walking round the city trying to find jobs? I have many of them coming to my factory every day.

The Temporary Chairman

This seems to be my unlucky day. I am sure that we are now galloping away from anything that is really relevant to this debate.

Mr. Howell

I have no wish to trespass upon your great generosity, Mr. Williams, but as I see it the only people who will come into this country under the voucher system are bound to end up in cities like Birmingham, where there are other difficulties, including housing difficulties. This system will not help to integrate these people.

Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)

There is practically no unemployment in Birmingham among coloured workers.

Mr. Howell

My hon. Friend is right; there is a tremendous number of places in Birmingham. I will leave the hon. Member for Barry with that thought. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has left you!"] My attention is drawn to the fact that the hon. Member has left me without any thought at all. It is most unusual for an hon. Member to leave in the middle of a reply to his speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is coming back."] I am delighted to see the hon. Member scraping back. I hope that he has brought his voucher with him.

Many Welshman left Wales and came to cities like Birmingham, and we were delighted to have them. The fact that they left Wales made a tremendous contribution towards solving the very similar unemployment problem facing Wales. In those circumstances, I am astounded that any Welsh Member could make the sort of speech which the hon. Member for Barry made this afternoon.

My Amendment concerns Australia, and would exempt all citizens of that country from the provisions of the Bill. I am very anxious to see countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada take action to help to solve this problem. My first reason is a most important political one, affecting the Commonwealth. It arises from the problem of population in India, Pakistan and the West Indies. Those who passionately believe in the Commonwealth, as some of us do—and I am one—believe that the Commonwealth means so much that when we are faced with this kind of tremendous difficulty we ought not to try to solve it in isolation, and without conferring with the other Dominions.

Australia is not facing its responsibilities. At the moment it is not giving any thought to the way in which it could help to make a contribution towards solving this tremendous problem, and thus make the Commonwealth work. To me the Commonwealth means nothing if its only purpose is to get Commonwealth Prime Ministers together every now and again in order to sign a communiqué drafted by our Prime Minister. That is not the purpose of the Commonwealth. It must deal with tangible matters.

Countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada could make a greater contribution towards solving the population problem, by helping to disperse populations, than almost any other country. But if we want to press that policy upon them, as I do—and as Her Majesty's Government should—we cannot start by saying that we will make the citizens of those countries subject to the provisions of the Bill, so that they may not be allowed to come here. In order to show Australia, New Zealand and Canada what the Commonwealth should really mean we must start from a logical premise. On that basis there is every reason for exempting citizens of Australia from the provisions of the Bill.

I do not want to do Australia any injustice. It takes a considerable number of emigrants from this country. The hon. Member for Barry, by opposing my Amendment seems to be suggesting that citizens of Australia should in certain cases be placed in a worse position than citizens of Britain who seek to emigrate. It is possible for us to get the Governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to make a contribution to this problem only if we treat their countrymen with generosity. Many people go from this country to Australia every year. One of the regrettable facts about the whole debate is that we have not been given any specific figures to enable us to see the overall picture of immigration into, and emigration from, this country.

Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

This is a very interesting Amendment. The hon. Member has mentioned Australia, New Zealand and Canada specifically, and I understand his argument quite clearly. He wants a completely open door for the citizens of those three countries. How far does his argument go? Would it apply to every one of the countries listed and, indeed, to the whole of the Commonwealth and Colonies?

Mr. Howell

I do not know whether I am losing my powers of eloquence, if I ever had any, but the hon. Member has been here throughout the whole of my speech, and if he does not understand that I do not want the Bill at all then it seems to me that I have been completely wasting the last 30 minutes, in which I have been discussing the point. Naturally I want the open-door policy, not least for moral and ethical reasons. I had hoped that I might carry the hon. Member with me. Considering the matter from the moral, ethical or Christian point of view, I do not understand how any hon. Member can justify the Bill or any of the arguments put forward in support of it.

5.30 p.m.

I am in grave doubt indeed, from a moral point of view, how hon. Members opposite could have made the speeches which they have made without talking about the necessary corollary. It is that if we are not going to allow these people to come here because of unemployment in their own countries then there is an overwhelming obligation on the House and on the country to put matters right in their countries so that they will not wish to leave them to come here to work.

In a dissertation in the Birmingham Mail some time ago on this very point, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Spark-brook (Mr. Seymour) said that it was un-Christian—I think that I quote him rightly, but if I do not he will no doubt correct me—to allow people to come into Birmingham and live in conditions of bad housing. That is a position which the hon. Member could take up if it were not for the fact that he is obviously prepared to send these people back to their own countries to live in worse housing conditions than they would experience in Birmingham. How anyone trying to argue this matter from a Christian point of view can take that stand is beyond me.

The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) specifically stated yesterday that we could not expect the West Indies, for example, to think that economic development and investment were going to solve their problems. We have not had one tittle of evidence from hon. Members opposite in respect of this great moral question regarding how they propose to put things right in the countries from which most of these immigrants come so as to avoid the necessity for their coming here in the first place.

Mr. Seymour

I did not say that we were going to send them back. Indeed, there is no intention under the Bill to send them back. It is quite true I said that, because there was no accommodation for them in Birmingham, they were having to live in terrible housing conditions.

Mr. Howell

The hon. Gentleman cannot slide out of it on that one. What he is now saying is that people are not going to be allowed to leave the most abyssmal, disgraceful and disgusting housing conditions in the West Indies as are to be found anywhere in the world in order to come here even though their improved lot is by our standards not satisfactory. I know that all these things are relative, but the hon. Gentleman is obviously prepared to condemn these people to live in worse conditions in their own country than they would do in this country. I agree that there is a tremendous housing problem in this country, but that is another question which it would be out of order for me to debate today.

Finally, in recommending my Amendment to the Committee, I want to remind hon. Members of a memorable phrase used by one of the greatest Foreign Secretaries we have had since the war. Ernest Bevin. He was not a man to make memorable phrases, but one phrase which he uttered in the House, and which was endorsed by hon. Members on both sides irrespective of political thought, was that the object of Government policy and of foreign policy should be that people should be able to go to Waterloo and buy a ticket for anywhere in the world. He was talking at the time about going into the Communist parts of the world. I am surf-that we all agree with what he said. The question of inter-communication and of the privilege of going to Waterloo and buying a ticket to anywhere in the world should be the object of our foreign policy.

The people who cheered Ernest Bevin to the echo when he said that are now the very people who under the Bill are clamping further restrictions on a greater number of people in the world. If when Ernest Bevin made that pronouncement anyone had said that in a few years' time a Conservative Government, far from extending the area of free movement, would be stopping members of the Commonwealth from buying a ticket to come to this country they would have been howled out of court, and quite rightly and properly so. So greatly has the position changed.

I hope that the Home Secretary and the Committee will understand the importance of including the white Dominions in order to make them face up to their responsibilities and to treat the Commonwealth as a Commonwealth and to face up to the obligations of Commonwealth membership which all of us must share if we believe in this great ideal.

It is for these reasons that I have pleasure in commending the Amendment to the Committee.

Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester)

If it were the intention of Her Majesty's Government to stop emigration from the countries mentioned in these Amendments I, personally, would support the Amendments. But that is not the intention of the Government. Their intention is to introduce some form of control over emigration from these countries.

Let me make it perfectly clear that, personally, I hope that the rate of emigration from these countries will be as high as possible. I feel that we are faced with a tremendous task at present in trying to relieve unemployment in the Colonial Territories and to help as many as possible of their nationals to obtain training in this country. But it is to the advantage of the people concerned to have some form of control over their emigration to this country.

We have already heard of the problems created by immigrants going only to isolated areas in this country where housing problems are very great and how much better it would be if they could be spread to a greater degree throughout the country. I suggest that the important point at issue is how the Bill is to be interpreted in the future. If. over the coming years, we find that its provisions are used to prevent immigration from these countries, I hope that when we review the Bill in subsequent years, as we shall be able to do, we shall rescind the Measure.

Provided we find that under the Bill people are allowed to come here from these countries under reasonable control, and are assisted in every way, I believe that the Bill could do a great deal of good for the Commonwealth. I invite my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to say how he considers that people of these Commonwealth countries are to hear of the opportunities to obtain employment here.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) raised some interesting points concerning the working of these labour vouchers. I hope that the Government will establish some form of Commonwealth employment bureaux attached to our offices in the Commonwealth countries so that people may know what opportunities are available to them here. I hope also that my right hon. Friend will make available to these offices details of the maximum number of vacancies available in this country. Unless this is done, there could be the danger of a nasty, vicious black market being created in the obtaining of labour vouchers by people in these territories.

There is a very important issue at stake, because if we can use the Bill to encourage sensible emigration from these African and Asian countries, in particular, to the United Kingdom it could do a great deal of good. Is it my right hon. Friend's intention under the controlled immigration which will result from the Bill to look into the position as far as housing accommodation is concerned when these people come to this country with labour vouchers?

We shall have the position that people coming from abroad, with or without labour vouchers, will cause a great problem from the housing point of view in those areas where there are employment vacancies, because it is in those very areas where a lack of labour force exists that we get the worst housing problem. It is important that if the Bill is to work in a sensible way, and is to control immigration from these Commonwealth countries, some arrangement should be made with the local authorities to make suitable provision for housing those who come here.

There are some aspects of the Bill about which I am very unhappy, because there is the possibility of it being interpreted as a racial Measure. I believe that this Committee has no greater duty than to try to make the experiment of a multi-racial Commonwealth a success. Anxiety has been expressed from both sides of the Committee on this issue.

If my right hon. Friend can say that the numbers of those coming to this country under a system of controlled immigration will be as high as possible, that they will have facilities of knowing in their own countries the number of employment vacancies here and will also have certain social amenities provided for them, then the Commonwealth will see that the Bill could, in fact, assist it and not hamper it.

Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)

The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) began his speech by saying that the object of the Bill was to restrict immigration from these countries. It would be more accurate to say that the object is to restrict immigration from some of them, mainly, of course, as we realise, from the West Indies and some of the Dependencies and other countries of the Commonwealth.

The more we hear of speeches from hon. Members opposite the more we realise, and the more clear it becomes, that this is a colour bar Bill. That is why hon. Members on this side of the Committee are opposed to it root and branch. That is why, yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition moved an Amendment to exempt the Colonial Territories, and that is why my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has initiated a debate today on an Amendment to leave out the countries of the Commonwealth.

We have heard a great deal about some of the newer countries of the Commonwealth and I wish to say a word about some of the older member countries. I am quite sure that never in their wildest nightmares did hon. Members opposite dream that they would be asked to support a Bill which would put immigration restrictions on citizens from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But hon. Members opposite must face the fact that this is what they are now being asked to do. It shows the muddle into which the Government have got themselves. If anything more was needed to show that, it was provided by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), who made confusion worse confounded by his floundering speech.

Now the position is that Canadian citizens can enter the United States with a mere formality, but they are subject to immigration restrictions if they seek to enter this country. Now, in common with all citizens of the Commonwealth, they will be in one of two restricted categories, aliens or Commonwealth and Colonial citizens. Hon. Members opposite must face the fact that they will be voting to make a change in the status of Commonwealth citizens for the first time in history.

Commonwealth citizens seeking to come to this country will be subject to the jurisdiction of immigration officers at the ports. They will decide whether these citizens qualify to enter under the provisions contained in this Bill. Yesterday, hon. Members told the Committee something about the history and the relations of this country with the West Indies and other Dependencies and the responsibilities we have towards them. I wish to say something about some of the obligations and responsibilities which I think that we have towards the older members of the Commonwealth. They are drawn from the same root stock—Welsh, English, Scots and Irish.

You will observe, Sir William, that I put first things first. I try to get my priorities right. Here we are, with the same common traditions and history; with the same common debt and obligation which we have to pay after two great world wars. During the war years there were no immigration officers at the ports to interrogate Australians and Canadians. We were very glad to see them. I recall a grim moment when, I think in 1941, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) made a famous broadcast, when he was preparing the citizens of this country to face the worst, and he said that in the future we might have to entrust the keeping alive of British civilisation to the countries of the Commonwealth.

These are some of the responsibilities, some of the common memories and the heritage which we have with the members of the Commonwealth. Now this Government, a Tory Government—the party of Commonwealth and Empire as they would have us believe—are prepared, for the first time in our history, to introduce immigration restrictions upon these members of the Commonwealth. I wonder what hon. Members opposite would have said had a Labour Government attempted to bring in this Bill. Well, I do not really wonder. I know. They would have waved the flag.

5.45 p.m.

This Bill is a symptom of a great change which is taking place in the Commonwealth, and the party opposite is just beginning to realise the full impact of this change. They are beginning to realise that the Colonial Empire has become the Commonwealth and that a great part, indeed the greater part of the people of the Commonwealth are coloured. For the Government it will never be quite the same again. The glory has departed. That is the truth. Hon. Members opposite had better face the fact that this is an odious and distasteful Bill which they have brought before Parliament. I hope that the Government will accept these Amendments. 1 hope that better still, that they will withdraw the Bill. I should like to give them the same advice that the right hon. Member for Woodford gave to another Government about another Bill, on another occasion—"Take it away and cut its dirty throat."

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)

It may be convenient if I intervene for a short period in the debate. The Amendments cover a great many different countries. They have all been brought into the discussion in one way or another. I notice that the countries not mentioned are Malaya and Cyprus, but I presume that the Amendments, taken together, are designed to be complementary—as was said by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—to the amendment moved yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition.

That was honestly said by the hon. Lady. It means that, had we accepted the Amendment moved yesterday by her right hon. Friend, and were we to accept these Amendments which are today being discussed together, it would mean that the Bill would be rendered utterly inoperative. Therefore, the justice of what I said yesterday becomes absolutely clear. It was derided yesterday in some quarters. But it is absolutely clear today that a combination of the Amendment relating to the Colonies moved by the Leader of the Opposition, and the Amendment which has been moved today, would render the Bill completely inoperative.

As it is the decision of the Government that a Bill of this sort is necessary at present, it must be obvious to the hon. Member for Blackburn, and to the Committee, that we cannot accept this series of Amendments; any more than we could accept the Amendment relating to the Colonies which was moved yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. It is our belief—we have used the expression, "a sad necessity"—that the Bill is necessary, for reasons which I have given and which I need not reiterate today. But I am certain that if we are to have the Bill it would be impossible to eliminate the countries referred to, the members of the Commonwealth, including what were called by the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) the old Commonwealth, and leave in the Colonies. That would be a form of discrimination of the worst sort. The hon. Member for Blackburn said, "I do not believe that the people of the Colonies would begrudge this Amendment being accepted" but I am perfectly certain that they would not understand if those countries were exempted and the Colonies brought in. For that main reason I find it impossible to accept the Amendments.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) had an interchange with other hon. Members for Birmingham constituencies and devoted a great deal of his speech to the City of Birmingham. That is typical of our procedure in Committee.

Mr. Denis Howell rose

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member need not interrupt me, because I am not attempting to traverse his argument. He referred to the great nations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They were referred to also, in moving terms, by the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen.

Lady Megan Lloyd George

And India and Pakistan.

Mr. Butler

We feel very deeply the need to impose immigration control on those great countries, but it surely lies very ill in the mouths of Opposition speakers perpetually to taunt us by saying that this is a colour bar Bill and to taunt us at the same time when we include those great nations of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other great nations of the Commonwealth. Particular points were made by these two hon. Members about those great nations, but the fact that we have thought it necessary to include them is a striking answer to what has been perpetually said in our debates to the effect that this is a colour bar Bill.

We have deliberately decided that—with the exception of Eire, which we shall discuss when we come to the next Amendment and which it would be out of order to discuss now—there must be no discrimination as between different members of the Commonwealth for colour or for any other reason. That is the reason I am unable to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Denis Howell rose

Mr. Butler

I was interrupted quite a lot yesterday. I wish to make a short speech. We are in Committee and I think it much better that we should make short speeches to allow other hon. Members to answer back.

The next point made in the debate—to every word of which I have listened—was that made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). He said that there was no likelihood that the Bill would be used to stop those who really want or need to come here. That argument was elaborated by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), who also asked that the Bill should be so interpreted that sensible and reasonable immigration from those great countries should take place.

When I was speaking about Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the hon. Member for Carmarthen interrupted to mention those other great Commonwealth countries, India and Pakistan. This gives me an opportunity of paying tribute to the manner in which the Governments of India and Pakistan, especially in the difficult years of 1958–59, during my time as Home Secretary, attempted to control their emigration. They have attempted to the utmost to co-operate with us in the difficulties with which they know we are faced.

It is only because their efforts have largely broken down, and because the numbers of those coming from those two countries have increased, that we have been obliged to consider, as we did in dealing with the Amendment referring to colonial countries, the numbers coming in and have been obliged to introduce a Bill of this sort. It is a pleasure to me to be able to pay a tribute to what those Governments have done and to the extent of the co-operation that we have received from them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Worcester asked, in particular, that not only should we do our best to ensure the social conditions of incoming migrants, but that we should also encourage sensible controlled immigration. It is under Clause 2 that we have to deal with the voucher system and I must retain my remarks until we discuss that Clause. It is our intention to use the new Housing Act, which took particular powers to deal with bad conditions in overcrowded areas and overcrowded houses, and the rest of our housing policy to improve the grim housing conditions which have been one of the reasons why this present Bill has come to our attention.

It is in the White Paper which introduced the Act of 1961 and it has been said in Ministers' speeches that one of the reasons for this Bill is that if we were to allow a completely uncontrolled flow of immigration it would not be possible, even with the extreme efforts of housing authorities, to keep pace with the inflow. Because we want to balance the inflow with the sincere efforts we are making to improve housing conditions, there is the need for the Bill.

My hon. Friends also asked about controlled immigration. I have said that on this Amendment I cannot go into greater detail about the voucher system, but the Minister of Labour is sitting by me and I can say that there should be no difficulty about vouchers for those coming to work and those judged suitabe for admission because of skill. We hope to establish a system of consultation with the Governments principally concerned, with the High Commissioners and others to facilitate those accepting jobs or coming here because they have skill. It is our intention, under Clause 2, to give fuller explanations of these matters which I hope will satisfy my hon. Friends that we are trying to help not only with the social conditions, but also with the working conditions of those coming in.

As I have said, we were obliged to negative the Amendment relating to the Colonies and Dependencies which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. For the same reason, we have to reject this Amendment, although we appreciate the sincerity with which it has been moved.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

Since my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. D. Howell) referred to figures of immigration and emigration to and out of this country and since the Home Secretary and the Minister of Labour are both with us, I want to put one or two further questions about the figures which I think should be cleared up before we conclude the debate.

On Second Reading, when I asked the Home Secretary the true net figures for immigration and emigration, he had not at that point got them with him, but at the end of the debate the Minister of Labour gave us some figures which purported to show that in the last three years immigration to this country had exceeded emigration from this country. Yesterday the Home Secretary gave figures relating to particular countries such as India and Pakistan which he described as net figures for emigration, but those were not the true net figures because they were figures of immigrants from India to the United Kingdom less Indians returning from this country to India. The true net figure is the total of all immigrants to this country less the total of all emigrants out of it.

Since the Second Reading, when the Minister of Labour gave us those rather strange figures, the Annual Abstract of Statistics has been published. It gives some figures which present a totally different picture. I do not wish to be dogmatic about these figures, but my main question to both Ministers is: what is the explanation of the discrepancy between the two sets of figures? If we turn to page 41 of the Abstract of Statistics, we find figures which are described as of movements direct by sea of immigrants and emigrants between the United Kingdom and non-European countries. They give for each year the total of immigrants to this country by sea from non-European countries and the total of emigrants on the same basis from this country by sea to non-European countries. I take it that that excludes Irish immigrants and emigrants both ways since the Abstract refers to non-European countries.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

Does this document include immigrants in the strict sense of the word, or does it exclude those who come or go on holiday or for pleasure?

Mr. Jay

That is precisely what it does not include. The hon. Member will find that that is what the Minister of Labour has done but not what I am doing.

6.0 p.m.

The figures of immigration and emigration, on the basis which I gave, show that in practice every year from 1952 to 1957 the emigrants from this country exceeded the immigrants into it by about 100,000. For instance, in 1952 the immigrants into this country were 82,000 and the emigrants to non-European countries from this country were 182,000. In 1957 the immigrants into the United Kingdom on this basis were 63,000 and the emigrants from this country were 163,000. The difference is 100,000 in each case. On this basis in the last three years, 1958, 1959 and 1960, total emigration from this country exceeded total immigration into it. I want to put the point quite fairly; I take it that this excludes movement to and from the Irish Republic.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

But those who went from this country were, by and large, white, and quite a large proportion of those coming into the country were not white. Is not that one of the main reasons for the Bill?

Mr. Jay

That may well be so, but at the moment I am confining myself to the figures.

Then we come to the Second Reading speech by the Minister of Labour. He said that he was taking his figures from the Annual Report of the Oversea Migration Board, and on that basis he produced what he called a net inward balance of about 40,000—a net immigration into the United Kingdom in the years 1958, 1959 and 1960. But if one looks at page 17 of the Report of the Oversea Migration Board one finds these figures, but one also finds the definition which the Minister did not give us of what the figures mean. The Report says: The gross inward movement will coyer (but does not distinguish between) immigration proper, i.e. for more than a year; the re-entry of former emigrants; and overseas visitors. This deals with the point made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth). From any inexpert reading, therefore, it appears that the figure which the Minister of Labour gave us includes the American tourists, for example, who come here in the summer. But I am only searching for knowledge in reading the Report and I ask the Minister of Labour to look at the point again. He did not mention that those visitors were included in the figure. He called them migrants, and on the face of it that seems to be somewhat misleading.

The main question which I want to put to him is: did the figures which he gave us include American tourists and other tourists coming into the country? I think that the ordinary British public will distinguish between coloured immigrant workers from the West Indies and these visitors. If they do not include them, what is the explanation of the discrepancy between his figures and those in the Abstract?

I can see only three possible explanations, and I am asking which is right. The first may be that the figures in the Abstract merely include those travelling by sea whereas the figures of the Overseas Migration Board also include those travelling by air. Subject to contradiction, however, I think that a higher proportion of the American tourists come by air than of coloured workers from Jamaica, and if that is true it means that it is improbable that the distinction between air and sea is an explanation of the discrepancy.

The second possible explanation is that the Minister of Labour's figures include the movement of Irish workers both ways and those in the Abstract of Statistics, as I understand it, do not. But even if that is the true explanation, it still remains a fact that, apart from the movement of Irish workers, the immigration into this country does not exceed the emigration from it. On any interpretation of the figures which I can see, if we leave out the movement of Irish workers both ways for the moment, it remains true that there are as many people emigrating from this country as there are immigrating into it.

The third possible explanation—and I ask the Minister whether it is right—is that his figures included tourists, presumably tourists both ways, and that the figures in the Abstract of Statistics do not. Is that the true explanation? If it is, it puts rather a different complexion on the whole matter.

All I am doing is searching for knowledge—and no doubt I know much less about the figures than do the Minister of Labour and the Home Secretary. What are the true facts and what is the explanation of this curious discrepancy between different official figures?

Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West) rose

Hon. Members


Mr. Denis Howell

On a point of order. If my right hon. Friend is right about his assumptions, is it not a fact that, wittingly or unwittingly, the Minister of Labour—

The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. That is not a matter for the Chair. I called the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt).

Mr. Pavitt

I delayed addressing the Committee in the hope that we might have further information from the Government which would perhaps have helped in the contribution which I wish to make. I must confess that having heard yet another Front Bench speech on this important Bill, I still find the Bill extremely confusing and entirely ramshackle, and I am not convinced by the Government's case against the series of Amendments initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) mentioned that many hon. Members opposite were unhappy about the Bill, and I formed the impression that the Home Secretary was still unhappy about it—not perhaps quite as unhappy as yesterday but still very unhappy. He was also very unconvincing in asking the House to negative these Amendments.

I look at the problem from two ends of the scale. The first is from the point of view of the Commonwealth—and I have tabled an Amendment about Sierra Leone for which I shall make some special pledge. The second is from the point of view of immigrants from the Commonwealth, many of whom come to my constituency. West Willesden. This is a constituency matter, and I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I first look at it from a constituency point of view.

One reason why I am opposed to the Bill, and every line and every comma of it, and particularly the inclusion of the Commonwealth in it, is that it is tackling a real problem in entirely the wrong way. It does not deal with the real problems which we face. In West Willesden we have succeeded in bringing about a high degree of integration with a large number of people who have come from the Commonwealth and Colonies. This Bill will hinder the efforts which we have made because it diverts attention from the problem of integrating these people and it pretends that there is some other reason for its introduction.

The integration in my constituency has been brought about not by an unconscious effort but by a very conscious effort. We had to establish a multiracial committee to deal with the special problems. That was a point made by the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall). At this time of the year, when I go to my schools for their prize giving, I look upon a sea of faces, many coloured and many white. As a member of the Central Middlesex Hospital Committee I cannot attend any function in my hospitals without seeing the integration which has taken place with people coming from the Commonwealth and Colonies and serving in the hospitals.

In industry we have a very high level of employment. The hon. Member for Worcester is right when he says that the two things go together—when one has high employment one has a heavy housing problem. I cannot go to any factory in my area without finding integration working extremely well, and not just accidentally. We are bringing in people from the Commonwealth because we feel that they are part of the family and we are able to take special measures to make sure that they become integrated into the area.

I will give the Committee one example. Some time ago we wanted to introduce some people from the Commonwealth into one of the canteens in a factory in my area. The canteen is divided into two parts. One part is for V.I.P.s—the directors—and the other part is for the ordinary workpeople. The coloured help was first introduced into the directors' part and afterwards into the ordinary workers' part. This meant that the coloured people were easily assimilated and there was no problem.

Despite the Home Secretary's assertion that the Bill does not constitute a colour bar, it has become apparent from our previous debates that it is nothing but a colour bar. He resists our Amendments which seek to exclude the white Dominions from the operation of the Bill so that he can pretend that it is not a colour bar. This is whitewash. There is no real point in his doing this, because he knows that in its actual operation the Bill will have very little impact upon Australia, Canada and New Zealand, whereas it will have a great impact upon the coloured parts of the Commonwealth and the Colonies.

Some years ago I had the privilege of travelling through India and Indonesia. Our Commonwealth conception was plainly alive in India, despite the fact that the political leaders with whom I spoke had often been imprisoned years ago by the British Government. In Indonesia I found that the Dutch were hated by the Indonesians because they had failed to incorporate them into the family. The Bill will weaken the tradition we have been able to build up since the Labour Government gave independence to parts of the Commonwealth. It will create barriers. It will give the impression that we no longer treasure the relationships which formerly existed. We are particularly concerned that the Bill may prevent people from India and Pakistan coming to this country.

Many of my hon. Friends have mentioned that in hospitals and in transport—the more menial tasks—-service is often provided by people from the Commonwealth and the Colonies. However, it is not only in the lower grades. This is true right the way through our hospital service. I sat on an appointments committee on Tuesday to consider the appointment of an ophthalmic registrar. There were nine applicants—four from India, two from Pakistan, one from Cairo, and two from this country. Anyone who knows anything about the hospital service will agree that unless people from Pakistan and India served in the registrar and senior hospital officer grade the hospital service would immediately break down. This is because of the very poor way in which the Government have organised the medical student intake. From the point of view of the organisation of our country and the point of view of relationships with Commonwealth and Colonial countries, I very much regret that the Government wish to negative these Amendments.

I was very disturbed by the very interesting article by Mr. E. R. Braithwaite in the Observer on Sunday. I expect many hon. Members know him for his excellent book, "To Sir with Love". He worked in my part of the world in East London. He showed just how a person can become integrated into a community. Speaking as a friend of this country who works here, he made it quite clear that there is a growing opinion against colour and that it is necessary, if we are to stop this opinion growing, to be active in ensuring that integration is complete.

I have on previous occasions mentioned the housing problem. 1 cannot attend any of my Friday night "surgeries" without having at least one case of a coloured landlord's white tenant in a controlled tenancy. This is an acute problem. For every one bad coloured landlord there are ten good ones. My constituency is giving a lead in tackling this problem by our multi-racial committee, which acts as a kind of arbitrator in trying to smooth out the problems.

The moment the Bill came before the House, instead of directing themselves to the housing problem, the Government said, "But there is no housing problem. It is only because all these coloured people are coming here and taking our houses". In my area there are 700 slums and 400 prefabs to be cleared. There are 191 cases of overcrowding which should by law be given other accommodation. But there is no accommodation to give them.

This situation exists because of the breakdown of the housing policy. This is what we have to tackle. However, the moment the Bill was discussed in the Press credence was given to the notion that it is not a problem of housing. It was suggested that if instead of 100 per cent. admission we could have only 85 per cent. admission somehow or other the problem would be magically solved. The Home Secretary added to this when he mentioned the Housing Bill. He said that he hoped that this would alleviate the housing problem. He knows full well that under that Bill bricks and mortar and dwellings will not emerge for at least one or two years. But this Bill will have immediate implications.

6.15 p.m.

We must look at the social problem and try to solve it. We must also try to solve the economic problems. The Government have so far failed even to tackle them. People who come to this country produce wealth. They give us service. They are able to create a larger and expanding economy. But rather than face this challenge and solve the problems it creates the Government introduce this ramshackle Bill which seeks in a very inadequate and inefficient way to pretend that there is a way round it if only some restriction can be imposed. The four speakers to whom I have listened from the Government Front Bench all seemed to have very little idea of what the Bill means and how it is to be operated.

I want to make a special plea for Sierra Leone, in respect of which I have tabled an Amendment. I had the privilege of being one of the representatives of the House of Commons who attended the independence celebrations in Sierra Leone, which was the last country to enter the Commonwealth last year. In spite of the blanket way in which we have to discuss this subject, I want to argue that Sierra Leone is a special case. Hon. Members will remember that the country gained its independence startlingly suddenly. Nobody expected when the Constitutional Conference started that it would finish with Sierra Leone becoming independent by last April.

The suddenness of independence has created a number of very special problems in Sierra Leone. There is a fresh Constitution. Sir Milton Margai has taken over the Prime Minister's job. Eventually their will be elections. At the moment there are no elections; there is a Coalition Government. Sierra Leone is passing through all the teething troubles of early independence. There is physical independence, but enfranchisement is not yet established. The country is faced with all the problems of transferring from the umbrella of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund.

In these circumstances, I make a special plea for an absolutely open door so that people from Sierra Leone, who are now building up their own country, can come here for a few years, not just for twelve months or two years. I want them to be able to come to this country to study our techniques with a view to establishing a strong and broad economy in their country. At the moment Sierra Leone's economy consists entirely of agriculture and diamonds. Kind as the Government were in letting me participate in the independence celebrations, they did not allow time for a visit to the interior, where I understand that when it rains heavily diamonds can be picked up in the street. The diamond industry is certainly a very heavy part of the economy. If the economy is to be broad and if they are to move towards industrialisation, people from Sierra Leone should be able to come to my constituency, for instance, where we have the finest knowhow in the world, and visit our factories. They would be able to absorb our industrial techniques and take their knowledge back to their country and build it up into a more balanced economy, less dependant upon one single form of economic strength.

These are the reasons which have prompted me, in company with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), to table the Amendment, because Sierra Leone is a special case. Tanganyika will become independent next week, but up to the moment Sierra Leone is the most recent entrant into the Commonwealth. It deserves our very special consideration.

Our discussions so far on the Bill have shown that those hon. Members opposite who have most knowledge of the Commonwealth and the Colonies are the most unhappy about the Bill. The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), who does such a sterling job of work for the Caribbean and devotedly gives his time, attention and trouble, has been one of the most unhappy men in the House during these debates. He has many reservations. In view of this, I reinforce the plea of my hon. Friends that even at this late stage the Government should withdraw the Bill and get rid of it.

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)

This Bill is one of control and is not designed to ban. Hon. Members should get that firmly in their minds before the debate continues. Perhaps it would be as well if hon. Members also recognised that the Opposition's efforts to try to transfer this debate into one of a colour bar will surely fail, because I believe that the British people are in favour of the control of persons coming here, as long as it is fair control.

Some play has been made about the question of Christianity, but I suggest that we might give some consideration to the question of humanity. Members may have seen a television broadcast concerning a boatload of 700 people who were leaving Britain to return to their own countries. The explanations they gave for leaving were many and varied, but nearly all of them were unhappy people wanting to go back to their own environment and homes.

Those who have had the opportunity, as I have, of going to Tilbury and seeing boatloads of these people arriving cannot help but notice and be very perturbed that so many of them arrive here without any preparation for a job, without a house in which to live or even lodgings and very little knowledge of the circumstances of the country. It is common knowledge that on arrival many of them are met and exploited by the most undesirable people of their own countries who have preceded them here.

Should anyone doubt this I have chapter and verse to confirm that many of these people are actually unloaded from the boat, stand on the dockside bewildered, are approached and taken in taxis to houses which are already overcrowded and are scandalously overcharged for accommodation which is quite unfit. I have proof of this in my constituency.

It is not a very good basis for good relations with our fellows in the Commonwealth if we are to allow them to arrive here and find that state of affairs and then to find that the district to which they have been enticed contains very little employment for them.

This sort of control—which, I repeat, is not a ban—would have the effect of taking these people on arrival to places where employment exists and where they can be suitably housed. It is not good enough to merely allow them to get off a ship in this country and find themselves in conditions which we would not expect, in many cases, even an animal to tolerate. What I have said needed saying, for I am certain that the people of this country still have an open mind on this issue and say, "By all means let them come here when work and houses are available for them," but do not let us try, for political or party purposes, to turn this into a wrangle on the colour bar.

Miss Lee

The hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) has not quite faced the fact that if we waited until good housing conditions and an absolute guarantee of jobs were available before allowing immigrants from the Commonwealth to Britain we should have half our hospitals and half our transport system brought to a standstill.

Mr. Lagden

I think the hon. Lady has made my point; that if there are jobs waiting, by all means let them come, but the moment those jobs are fully filled by all means do not let them come.

Miss Lee

The argument is not quite that. The hon. Gentleman went beyond that point and said that the whole matter should be put on grounds of humanity and that it would be a kindness for us to be certain that decent living conditions were available before Common- wealth immigrants were encouraged to come to Britain. In an ideal world I would agree with the hon. Gentleman. I do not think that having to leave one's own land, language, habits, family, customs and institutions in order to earn one's daily bread in an alien part of the world is necessarily a desirable thing.

Indeed, it would have been a good thing if more Scotsmen had stayed in Scotland and more Welshmen in Wales—and I am neither anti-Scot nor anti-British. I am a Scot—and very much so. If civilised Governments of the past had planned our industries and cities there would not have been this desperate need for successive waves of emigration even from one part of these islands to another. I should like to have seen more jobs made available in Jamaica and the West Indies. Instead the same pressures exist in those parts of the Commonwealth as existed in Ireland in the middle of the last century. At that time Irish families were hungry and their farms were derelict. Due to these conditions, often one son of the family went to England or Scotland to earn a little money. The member of the family who came to England or Scotland to earn a living often lived in conditions of abject poverty. He lived even more humbly than he need have if his earnings had been spent only on himself. Instead most of it was sent home to sustain his family on the farm.

The same sort of thing is happening to some of the Commonwealth people now coming to these islands. I am fully aware of those background considerations. Nevertheless, I am utterly opposed to the Bill. There need not be any hypocrisy on the part of hon. Members of either party. Most of us know—and for those who do not know the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) underlined the point—that the emotions and prejudices that have been raised are not due to the extent of our population but because of its changing nature.

We all realise that there has been emigration from this island as well as immigration into it. No one can read the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite or articles in the Press or examine the pressure groups that led to this Bill being introduced without realising that countries like India, Pakistan and the West Indies are also aware of its fundamental racial nature. We are not suffering from over-population or from an unmanageable tidal wave of unemployment. We are suffering from the profound colour prejudice of some hon. Members opposite who, while they are preaching to South Africa and other parts of the Commonwealth—and while they say that they accept the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights—nevertheless dislike the fact that about 1 per cent. of the population of this island now has a colour of skin rather darker than their own.

Before the Committee votes on the Amendment I hope that hon. Members will give serious attention to a statement that was made by Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, when he returned to his country after his last visit to Britain. Mr. Nehru, on his arrival in Bombay on 20th November, was asked at a Press conference what he thought of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. The Prime Minister of India replied: I hope no Indians will go to Britain. I do not want Indians treated differently. I hope that we shall consider the consequence of such remarks. Anyone who has any knowledge of Indian public opinion knows that again and again the Indian Prime Minister has been jeered at as the "Brown Englishman." In his political, intellectual and moral leadership he has been an enormous force seeking to hold together the Commonwealth in which we are all supposed to believe. It has not always been easy for Mr. Nehru or for other leaders of opinion in India to stand up against powerful currents in India, demanding "What is the point of the Commonwealth? What does it do for us?" particularly when we bear in mind the present background of our application to join the Common Market. First we alienate a great deal of Indian and other Commonwealth interests because they are worried about the economic consequences to them of our joining the Common Market. Then we add insult to injury by introducing a Bill of this kind.

6.30 p.m.

I wish to draw attention, particularly of hon. Members opposite, to something that has happened again and again in the history of the human race, of something which they may not be so aware as we on these benches are. If you insult a race or a country or a class you may think that you are dealing only with the weak, but if the insult is one that can be felt to be against the whole group, then you have got to answer not to the weak but to the strong.

We have seen this happen again and again in the bitter class conflicts which have taken place in this country. We have seen it particularly in our coalfields. The men who have come forward as leaders of the coalminers have not been weak either physically or intellectually. Remember that it was not the most downtrodden who answered back. We have had to carry on our backs the weak in spirit and in body. It has been the outstandingly gifted men among our industrial workers who have said, "Touch the weakest among us and you shall answer to us." I hope that we shall not overlook this historical lesson.

India has its many problems and its religious differences. There are the Moslems, Buddhists, Christians and the rest? But what are we seeking to do in a Bill like this? We insult the lot. We are not dealing with one racial group or one religious group. We are not even dealing with one economic class. It is not good enough for hon. Members opposite to say "The door is wide open to the rich. There is a penny in the slot turnstile for the poor"—or, if you like, a voucher in the slot turnstile. It is not good enough to say, "The poor can come in one by one, but it is all right for the rich. If you are rich enough you can come here and spend your money and no question will be asked. You can come here temporarily or permanently. But if you are poor we shall look at you twice. If, in addition to being poor, you have no particular skill, profession or job, we shall look at you thrice."

When dealing with India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana and all the rest of the Commonwealth—I make no exceptions—we should not have a Bill of this kind which says, "We will take a certain number of your skilled workers. We are going to make everything neat and tidy. Whenever we need your services you can come in, but we do not want to make any contribution to the solution of your problems—problems which are harder than our own, including the drag of mass poverty and illiteracy. Hon. Members opposite must be very careful what they are doing. This Bill is lacking in good sense. I am also deeply offended because it is lacking in good manners. I dread the consequences of this Bill because the Government are uniting against us people of every religion, race and income group. Let us not forget that.

I do not feel very proud that the Government are trying to make coloured immigrants from the Commonwealth the scapegoats of the Government's failure to solve the housing problem. One would think hon. Members opposite had been newly elected into government. The Home Secretary told us today, "We are going to control the situation very carefully, and we are going to build up our housing to make provision for the incoming immigrants." I hope the party opposite will realise that not many of the immigrants will be able to buy houses. We have already exposed, and we all regret, the racket that goes on when some Jamaicans exploit other Jamaicans.

But it is all a question of relativity. Bad as are the housing conditions which some of them have to tolerate in this

country, they are better than the conditions that they have left behind them. At least they have clean water. We should also remember that when they come into this country and do many of the dirtiest, hardest and worst-paid jobs, they are helping us towards an expanding economy which in itself should help us to speed up the rate at which we build the type of houses which are most needed.

Like other hon. Members, there is much more that I could say, but I think I have said enough. I do not think there is a single point left for hon. Members opposite, and so although I despair of the Government withdrawing this Bill, I do not despair of the people of Great Britain having the dignity to withdraw this Government.

Mr. Michael Hughes-Young (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury) rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 268, Noes 192.

Division No. 24.] AYES [6.38 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Fell, Anthony
Aitken, W. T. Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Finlay, Graeme
Allason, James Cary, Sir Robert Fisher, Nigel
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Channon, H. P. G. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Arbuthnot, John Chataway, Christopher Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)
Ashton, Sir Hubert Chichester-Clark, R. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Simon)
Atkins, Humphrey Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Freeth, Denzil
Barber, Anthony Cleaver, Leonard Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.
Barlow, Sir John Cole, Norman George, J. C. (Pollok)
Barter, John Cooke, Robert Gibson-Watt, David
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Gilmour, Sir John
Bell, Ronald Corfield, F. V. Goodhart, Philip
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Costain, A. P. Gower, Raymond
Berkeley, Humphry Coulson, J. M. Grant, Rt. Hon. William
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.
Bitten, John Craddock, Sir Beresford Green, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Critchley, Julian Gresham Cooke, R.
Bingham, R. M. Crowder, F. P. Grimston, sir Robert
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Cunningham, Knox Gurden, Harold
Bishop, F. P. Curran, Charles
Black, Sir Cyril Currie, G. B. H. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bourne-Arton, A. Dalkeith, Earl of Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Box, Donald Dance, James Hare, Rt. Hon. John
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Deedes, W. F. Harris, Reader (Heston)
Braine, Bernard de Ferranti, Basil Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Brooman-White, R. Doughty, Charles Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Harvie Anderson, Miss
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Eden, John Hastings, Stephen
Bryan, Paul Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hay, John
Bullard, Denys Elliott,R.W.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne,N.) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Emery, Peter Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward
Burden, F. A. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hendry, Forbes
Butcher, Sir Herbert Errington, Sir Eric Hiley, Joseph
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(SaffronWalden) Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Farey-Jones, F. W. Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Farr, John Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Hinchingbrooke, viscount Mawby, Ray Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn
Hocking, Philip N. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Skeet, T. H. H.
Holland, Philip Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Smith, Dudley(Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Hollingworth, John Mills, Stratton Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Hopkins, Alan Montgomery, Fergus Stevens, Geoffrey
Hornby, R. P. More, Jasper (Ludlow) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Morgan, William Studholme, Sir Henry
Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Morrison, John Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Talbot, John E.
Hughes-Young, Michael Nabarro, Gerald Tapsell, Peter
Hurd, Sir Anthony Nicholls, Sir Harmar Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Iremonger, T. L. Nugent, Sir Richard Taylor, F. (M'ch'ter & Moss Side)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
James, David Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Teeling, William
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Temple, John M.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Osborn, John (Hallam) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hail Green) Page, John (Harrow, West) Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Joseph, Sir Keith Page, Graham (Crosby) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdate) Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Kerby, Capt. Henry Partridge, E. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Turner, Colin
Kitson, Timothy Peyton, John Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth van Straubenzee, W. R.
Leather, E. H. C. Pike, Miss Mervyn Vane, W. M. F.
Leburn, Gilmour Pilkington, Sir Richard Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Pitman, Sir James Vickers, Miss Joan
Lilley, F. J. P. Pitt, Miss Edith Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Linstead, Sir Hugh Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Walder, David
Litchfield, Capt. John Price, David (Eastleigh) Walker, Peter
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Prior, J. M. L. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Longbottom, Charles Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Ward, Dame Irene
Longden, Gilbert Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Loveys, Walter H. Pym, Frances Webster, David
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Quennell, Miss J. M. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Ramsden, James Whitelaw, William
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Rawlinson, peter Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
MacArthur, Ian Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
McLaren, Martin Rees, Hugh Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Rees-Davies, W. R. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Renton, David Wise, A. R.
Maclean, SirFitzroy(Bute&N.Ayrs.) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
McMaster, Stanley R. Robson Brown, Sir William Woodhouse, C. M.
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Roots, William Woodnutt, Mark
Maddan, Martin Russell, Ronald Woollam, John
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. St. Clair, M. Worsley, Marcus
Markham, Major Sir Frank Scott-Hopkins, James Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Seymour, Leslie
Marshall, Douglas Sharpies, Richard TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Marten, Neil Shaw, M. Mr. Noble and Mr. Peel.
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Shepherd, William
Ainsley, William Deer, George Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Delargy, Hugh Griffiths, W. (Exchange)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Dempsey, James Grimond, J.
Awbery, Stan Diamond, John Gunter, Ray
Bence, Cyril Dodds, Norman Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Benson, Sir George Donnelly, Desmond Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Blackburn, F. Driberg, Tom Hamilton, William (West Fife)
Blyton, William Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Hannan, William
Boardman, H. Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Hart, Mrs. Judith
Bowden, Herbert W. (Lelcs, S.W.) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hayman, F. H.
Bowies, Frank Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Healey, Denis
Boyden, James Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Evans, Albert Herbison, Miss Margaret
Brockway, A. Fenner Finch, Harold Hill, J. (Midlothian)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Fitch, Alan Hilton, A. V.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Fletcher, Eric Holman, Percy
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Holt, Arthur
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Houghton, Douglas
Chapman, Donald
Cliffe, Michael Forman, J. C. Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Collick, Percy Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Hoy, James H.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Crosland, Anthony Galpern, Sir Myer Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Darling, George Gooch, E. G. Hunter, A. E.
Davies,Rt.Hn. Clement(Montgomery) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Gourlay, Harry Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Grey, Charles Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Irving, Sydney (Dartford)
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Oliver, G. H. Steele, Thomas
Jeger, George Oram, A. E. Stones, William
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Oswald, Thomas Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Owen, Will Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Padley, W. E. Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Symonds, J. B.
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Parker, John Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Paton, John Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Kelley, Richard Pavitt, Laurence Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Kenyon, Clifford Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Peart, Frederick Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
King, Dr. Horace Pentland, Norman Thornton, Ernest
Lawson, George Plummer, Sir Leslie Thorpe, Jeremy
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Prentice, R. E. Timmons, John
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Wade, Donald
Logan, David Probert, Arthur Wainwright, Edwin
Loughlin, Charles Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Warbey, William
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Randall, Harry Watkins, Tudor
McCann, John Reid, William Weitzman, David
MacCoil, James Rhodes, H. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
McInnes, James Roberts, Albert (Normanton) White, Mrs. Eirene
McKay, John (Wallsend) Roberts, Coronwy (Caernarvon) Wigg, George
McLeavy, Frank Robertson, John (Paisley) Wilkins, W. A.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Willey, Frederick
Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Ross, William Williams, D. J. (Heath)
Mapp, Charles Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Mason, Roy Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Mellish, R. J. Short, Edward Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Millan, Bruce Silverman, Julius (Aston) Winterbottom, R. E.
Milne, Edward J. Skeffington, Arthur Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mitchison, G. R. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Woof, Robert
Monslow, Walter Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Moody, A. S. Small, William Zilliacus, K.
Morris, John Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Mort, D. L. Sorensen, R. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Moyle, Arthur Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Mr. Redhead and Mr. Cronin.
Neal, Harold Spriggs, Leslie

Question put accordingly, That those words be there inserted:—

Mr. Michael Noble (a Teller for the Noes) announced the result of the Division as: Ayes 268, Noes 193.

Division No. 25.] AYES 16.48 p.m.
Abse, Leo Edwards, Rt.Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hoy, James H.
Ainsley, William Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Awbery, Stan Evans, Albert Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bence, Cyril Finch, Harold Hunter, A. E.
Benson, Sir George Fitch, Alan Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Blackburn, F. Fletcher, Eric Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Blyton, William Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Boardman, H. Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Irving, Sydney (Dartford)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leles, S.W.) Forman, J. C. Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Bowles, Frank Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jeger, George
Boyden, James Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Galpern, Sir Myer Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Brockway, A. Fenner George,LadyMeganLloyd(Crmrthn) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Gooch, E. G. Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Butter, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Gourlay, Harry Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Grey, Charles Kelley, Richard
Chapman, Donald Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Kenyon, Clifford
Cliffe, Michael Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Collick, Percy Griffiths, W. (Exchange) King, Dr. Horace
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Grimond, J. Lawson, George
Crosland, Anthony Gunter, Ray Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Darting, George Hail, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Logan, David
Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery) Hamilton, William (West Fife) Loughlin, Charles
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hannan, William Mahon, Dr. J. Dickson
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hart, Mrs. Julian McCann, John
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hayman, F. H. MacColl, James
Deer, George Healey, Den's McInnes, James
Delargy, Hugh Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Dempsey, James Herbison, Miss Margaret McLeavy, Frank
Diamond, John Hill, J. (Midlothian) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Dodds, Norman Hilton, A. V. Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Donnelly, Desmond Holman, Percy Mapp, Charles
Driberg, Tom Holt, Arthur Mason, Roy
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Houghton, Douglas Mellish, R. J.
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Millan, Bruce
Milne, Edward J. Rhodes, H. Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Mitchison, G. R. Roberts, Albert (Nortmanton) Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Monslow, W alter Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Moody, A. S. Robertson, John (Paisley) Thornton, Ernest
Morris, John Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Thorpe, Jeremy
Mort, D. L. Ross, William Timmons, John
Moyle, Arthur Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Wade, Donald
Neal, Harold Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wainwright, Edwin
Oliver, G. H. Short, Edward Warbey, William
Oram, A. E. Silverman, Julius (Aston) Watkins, Tudor
Oswald, Thomas Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Weitzman, David
Owen, Will Skeffington, Arthur Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Padley, W. E. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Wigg, George
Parker, John Small, William Wilkins, W. A.
Paton, John Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Willey, Frederick
Pavitt, Laurence Sorensen, R. W. Williams, D. J. (Heath)
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Pearl, Frederick Spriggs, Leslie Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Pentland, Norman Steele, Thomas Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Plummer, Sir Leslie Stones, William Winterbottom, R. E.
Prentice, R. E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. John Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R, (Vauxhall) Woof, Robert
Probert, Arthur Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Symonds, J. B. Zilliacus, K.
Randall, Harry Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Reid, William Taylor, John (West Lothian) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Redhead and Mr. Cronin.
Agnew, Sir Peter Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Aitken, W. T Craddock, Sir Berestord Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward
Allason, James Critchley, Julian Hendry, Forbes
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Crowder, F. P. Hiley, Joseph
Arbuthnot, John Cunningham, Knox Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Ashton, Sir Hubert Curran, Charles Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Atkins, Humphrey Currie, G. B. H. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Barber, Anthony Dalkeith, Earl of Hocking, Philip N.
Barlow, Sir John Dance, James Holland, Philip
Barter, John d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hollingworth, John
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Deedes, W. F. Hopkins, Alan
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton de Ferranti, Basil Hornby, R. P.
Bell, Ronald Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos & Fhm) Doughty, Charles Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)
Berkeley, Humphry du Cann, Edward Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Hughes-Young, Michael
Bitten, John Eden, John Hurd, Sir Anthony
Biggs-Davison, John Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bingham, R. M. Elliott,R.W.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne,N.) Iremonger, T. L.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Emery, Peter Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bishop, F. P. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn James, David
Black, Sir Cyril Errington, Sir Eric Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Bourne-Arran, A. Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Box, Donald Farey-Jones, F. W. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. Farr, John Jones, Rt.Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Boyle, Sir Edward Finlay, Graeme Joseph, Sir Keith
Braine, Bernard Fisher, Nigel Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kerby, Capt. Henry
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Brooman-White, R. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kitson, Timothy
Brown, Aran (Tottenham) Freeth, Denzil Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Leather, E. H. C.
Bryan, Paul George, J. C. (Pollok) Leburn, Gilmour
Bullard, Denys Gibson-Watt, David Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Gilmour, Sir John Lilley, F. J. P.
Burden, F. A. Goodhart, Philip Linstead, Sir Hugh
Butcher, Sir Herbert Gower, Raymond Litchfield, Capt. John
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A,(Saffron Walden) Grant, Rt. Hon. William Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Longbottom, Charles
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Green, Alan Longden, Gilbert
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Gresham Cooke, R. Loveys, Walter H.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Grimston, Sir Robert Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby
Cary, Sir Robert Gurden, Harold Lucas, Sir Jocelyn
Channon, H. P. G. Half, John (Wycombe) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Chataway, Christopher Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) MacArthur, Ian
Chichester-Clark, R. Hare, Rt. Hon. John McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cleaver, Leonard Harris, Reader (Heston) Maclean,SirFitzroy(Bute&N Ayrs.)
Cole, Norman Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Cooke, Robert Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) McMaster, Stanley R.
Cordeaux, L t.-Col. J. K. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Corfield, F. V. Harvie Anderson, Miss Maddan, Martin
Costain, A. P. Hastings, Stephen Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Coulson, J. M. Hay, John Markham, Major Sir Frank
Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Prior, J. M. L. Teeling, William
Marshall, Douglas Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Temple, John M.
Marten, Neil Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Pym, Francis Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Mawby, Ray Quennell, Miss J. M. Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Ramsden, James Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Rawlinson, Peter Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Mills, Stratton Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Montgomery, Fergus Rees, Hugh Turner, Colin
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rees-Davies, W. R. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Morgan, William Renton, David van Straubenzee, W. R.
Morrison, John Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Vane, W.M. F.
Mort-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Nabarro, Gerald Robson Brown, Sir William Vickers, Mist Joan
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Roots, William Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Russell, Ronald Walder, David
Nugent, Sir Richard St. Clair, M. Walker, Peter
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Scott-Hopkins, James Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Seymour, Leslie Ward, Dame Irene
Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Sharpies, Richard Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Osborn, John (Hallam) Shaw, M. Webster, David
Osborne, sir Cyril (Louth) Shepherd, William Wells, John (Maidstone)
Page, John (Harrow, West) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn Whitelaw, William
Page, Graham (Crosby) Skeet, T. H. H. Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdate) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Partridge, E. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Stevens, Geoffrey Wise, A. R.
Peel, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Peyton, John Studholme, Sir Henry Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Woodhouse, C. M.
Pike, Miss Mervyn Talbot, John E. Woodnutt, Mark
Pilkington, Sir Richard Tapsell, Peter Woollam, John
Pitman, Sir James Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Worsley, Marcus
Pitt, Miss Edith Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Taylor, F. (M'ch'ter & Moss Side)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Noble and Mr. McLaren.
The Chairman

The Ayes were 268, the Noes 193, so the Noes have it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is the wrong way round. The Ayes have it.

Mr. Gordon Walker

On a point of order. Once the result of a Division has been announced from the Chair, surely it is part of the record of the House and is binding on us.

The Chairman

The next Amendment is—

Mr. Gordon Walker

On a point of order. May I ask, Sir Gordon, whether both your remarks will be recorded in HANSARD? Will both results of the Division be recorded in HANSARD?

The Chairman

I do not know what HANSARD reports. That is for HANSARD.

Mr. Gordon Walker

If they were both reported, what position would we be in?

Mr. S. Silverman

Is there not a question of prior importance to what is recorded in HANSARD? After all, HANSARD is only a report of the speeches. Is not the important thing what the Votes and Proceedings record as a result of this Division in view of what you have said, Sir Gordon?

The Chairman

The next Amendment—

Hon. Members


7.0 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Sir Gordon, your announcements of two different results of the Division were made in the hearing of the whole Committee, and. presumably, of the person who keeps—what is it called?—the Votes and Proceedings. Therefore, I should like to ask you—this may affect our discussion of subsequent Amendments; in fact, it must—whether both of these decisions are to be recorded in that important record.

The Chairman

The Ayes to the right were 193 and the Noes 268, so the Noes have it.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

Further to that point of order, Sir Gordon. We understand you now to be saying, though originally you said exactly the opposite, that the Ayes have it. This is more than just a small matter. If it is open to the Chair on any grounds, no matter what the grounds are, to reverse its declared decision, then there is no finality in the proceedings of this House. You made a clear announcement. We are asking you whether the Votes and Proceedings will carry your previous announcement as well as the one you are now declaring to be the correct announcement.

The Chairman

The Votes and Proceedings will carry the correct announcement.

Mr. Brown

But what is the correct one?

The Chairman

The next Amendment is No. 141.

Mr. Gordon Walker

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. I was hoping that you would call for a Division—not, of course, for discussion, because we agreed to discuss them together—on the various Amendments that we have been discussing together. It is, of course, clear—and you announced it at the beginning of the debate—that we were to discuss them together, but it is, I submit, extremely important that these Amendments, each of which concerns a different sovereign member of the Commonwealth, should be separately divided upon.

It would really be very extraordinary if we recorded our decision—however it was, in fact, recorded—on Ghana and not on Nigeria, Canada, Australia and other great and equal countries of the Commonwealth. It is, as you have heard, Sir Gordon, part of our case that the Government are introducing discriminations into the Commonwealth, and I am sure that the Chair would not want to do that. Therefore, I hope that you will allow us to divide on each of these Amendments.

The Chairman

I called the first Amendment, and the others were to be discussed with it. I did not call the other Amendments. They have not been moved, and I have not called them to be moved.

Mr. Jay

Further to the point of order, Sir Gordon. Surely this is a very extraordinary Ruling. It is, of course, within the discretion of the Chair not to select an Amendment for discussion at all, but these Amendments were clearly selected for discussion, because they were discussed—not adequately, but they certainly have been discussed. What power has the Chair first to select an Amendment for discussion and then to deny the Committee the right to divide on it? I submit that it certainly has not that power.

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that. He must be very well aware that this is a most familiar practice. The Chair calls a number of Amendments; one is the selected Amendment, and the rest are debated with it.

Mr. Jay

Further to the point of order, Sir Gordon. The familiar practice, which has often been followed in the Finance Bill proceedings, is that a number of Amendments are discussed in a group. If the Committee does not wish to vote on more than one of them, then only one vote is taken. But, of course, the understanding is—and, so far as I know, the Chairman has no right whatever to deny it to the House—that if a sufficient number of hon. Members wish to vote, then we are entitled to do so.

The Chairman

The Chair has the right to select Amendments, but it has not selected the other Amendments.

Mr. Hale

Further to the point of order, Sir Gordon. I was present when the debate opened, and I would venture to try to recall to you the circumstance under which it opened. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) rose to move her Amendment. The intervention came from you, Sir Gordon, sitting in the Chair. You said, "I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we proceeded to discuss certain Amendments together", specifying the ones which we have been discussing and excluding that which deals with the Republic of Ireland.

So a discussion was opened on the invitation of the Chair, not because someone on the back benches or the Front Benches rose and said, "Is it permissible for us to make reference to other Amendments that you have not selected, Sir Gordon?" There was no suggestion that they were not selected. We were not given any intimation that they were not selected.

With respect, Sir Gordon, had you said, "I select Ghana, but I do not select Nigeria" we might well have had a very respectful but rather prolonged, or at least intent and earnest, discussion on why the Chair had thought fit to select Ghana and not Nigeria.

After you left the Chair, Sir Gordon, and Mr. Williams took your place, there was some discussion, and some points of order were raised about the extent and ambit of the discussion in relation to Sierra Leone. I would, therefore, suggest—I am sure that I am expressing the very strong feeling of the Committee—that if there has been any misapprehension at this stage then it is not our fault. If there is a misapprehension and it had not been your intention to call the Amendment about Nigeria, it will, I submit, now be open to us to raise with you the question whether the Amendment about Nigeria should be called, because the Committee has never been aware of a decision not to call the Amendment about Nigeria.

I suggest that in all these circumstances the position would surely be met by accepting the implication of the intimation that was given from the Chair and by calling the Amendment relating to Nigeria, even if it be only for a vote.

The Chairman

No. This is the usual procedure. One Amendment is selected and the Chair will say that other Amendments may be debated with it but it is not proposed to call the other Amendments. The other Amendments in this case have not been selected by me and cannot be moved or be divided upon.

Mr. G. Brown

Further to the point of order, Sir Gordon. How does one debate an Amendment which has not been selected or called? The usual procedure, which we understand, is that to ensure that the Committee shall not have repetitious debate, a debate takes place on one Amendment in the course of which points raised by other Amendments may be discussed, and we understand—it is the usual procedure—that when a Division takes place on the first Amendment, there is no further discussion on the other Amendments. But it is surely the most unusual procedure to refuse the Committee the right to express its opinion on the other Amendments.

The first of the Amendments today raises the subject of Ghana. One can understand your saying that, for the purpose of debate and the better use of our time, many of the principles—or most of the principles—concerning Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Australia, or Canada arise on the Amendment dealing with Ghana, but what one cannot understand is your saying that because the House has decided about Ghana, it has, therefore, also decided about Sierra Leone or about Australia or about Canada.

I submit to you, Sir Gordon, that it would be quite out of keeping with the ordinary practice of the Committee for you to deny the Committee the right to express its view on Amendments which you have permitted to be discussed—not only which you have permitted to be discussed, but which you yourself suggested should be discussed at a particular time, which, I understand, appeared on the list which is posted somewhere at the portals of this Chamber by your command, showing the Amendments that are to be discussed.

By every act which you have taken Sir Gordon—by posting the list showing which Amendments were selected, by calling the Amendments, by indicating to the Committee what in your view would be the most convenient way of discussing them; by every overt action which you could take—you have indicated that, in your view, these Amendments were Amendments proper for debate this afternoon.

You then indicated that you thought that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if those Amendments were, in fact, debated together. My right hon. and hon. Friends did not choose to argue that with you. They fell in happily with your wishes. But what we are now faced with is that, we having fallen in with your wishes about meeting the convenience of the Committee from the point of view of discussion and securing the economy of our time, you are now seeking to deny us the right which we should otherwise have asked for at the very beginning—to vote, to express our views and to be counted on each of the Amendments which you have yourself selected.

With very great respect, I submit to you that to say, as you have done three or four times, that this is quite a usual procedure is not so. It is a most unusual procedure. What is usual about it is the grouping of Amendments for discussion. I submit to you that what is most unusual is that when the House has been induced to agree with you on that, then to deny hon. Members the right to divide on the individual Amendments. I beg you to reconsider this Ruling—it will give rise to a great deal of heart searching—and to allow us our right to stand up and be counted on the Amendments which have allowed us to debate.

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman will see that we have followed the usual procedure, for if one looks at the notice which I had placed in the "Noes" Lobby, one will see that the Amendments to be discussed together are shown in brackets, and separate from those which are not selected. The Committee cannot give a decision as to which Amendments were not selected. They have not been selected, cannot be moved and, consequently, cannot be voted upon.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

May I put another point to you, Sir Gordon, which, I think, will show that the situation in which we now find ourselves is unique, and can be differentiated from any similar occurrence. At the outset, it was proposed by you that we should embark on a discussion on the Amendment about Ghana, and it was indicated, at the same time, we could discuss other Amendments on the Notice Paper.

During that debate, a number of my hon. Friends, one after the other, made it clear that they were concerned with specific territories. One of my hon. Friends referred specifically to Ghana, and another of my hon. Friends devoted a whole speech to Canada, while another referred specifically to Australia, making it quite clear that a number of hon. Members were concerned to argue the merits of each of these members of the Commonwealth. That debate continued for some time, when the Closure was moved.

You will appreciate, Sir Gordon, that at that time some of these countries have not been mentioned at all. One of my hon. Friends had not been called to speak about India, and another had not mentioned Ceylon. Therefore, the argument in respect of some of these Commonwealth countries had not been mentioned at all at the moment when the Motion was moved from the Treasury Bench, "That the Question be now put." The Committee agreed to the Closure Motion, but I am quite sure that the Committee, in agreeing to closure the debate on Ghana, must not be construed as having reached a conclusion that it was time that the Committee reached a decision on territories other than Ghana.

The Committee could not possibly have considered, when that closure decision was taken, that it was time to bring to a conclusion of the debate on Ceylon, which had not been mentioned, or on Pakistan, which, also, had not been mentioned. Therefore, I think that in all seriousness—

The Chairman

Order. The Committee has not been asked to take a decision on Pakistan.

Mr. Fletcher

With great respect, Sir Gordon, I am urging that you having now accepted the Closure Motion, and that Motion having been voted upon by the Committee, the correct interpretation to he put upon that Closure vote was that the Committee then wished to reach a decision on Ghana. Surely we cannot interpret the vote of the Committee to come to a decision on Ghana as meaning, that the Committee was also prepared without a vote to reach a decision on Australia or Canada, which had been debated, and still less on India or Pakistan, or Ceylon, which had not been raised at all.

Therefore, it seems to me that in this particular case, where a Closure Motion was moved in respect of Ghana, and where it has been recognised that separate and distinct issues arise in respect of other territories of the Commonwealth, the Committee ought not, in any circumstances, to be deprived of the right of expressing its opinion on whether these other countries should be included in or excluded from the Bill.

The Chairman

I understand that the hon. Member objects to the practice of one Amendment being selected, and other Amendments being discussed with it.

Mr. G. Brown


The Chairman

The alternative to that, of course, is for the Chair to exercise much more drastic action in the selection of Amendments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I do not think that that would be for the convenience of hon. Members. What we have done in this case is to come to a decision on the Amendment which was moved. Of course, the Committee has not come to a decision on the Amendments which are not selected, because they were not moved.

Mr. Charles Hoyle (Salford, West)

May I put another point to you, Sir Gordon? We have a list here of about 10 Amendments which it was agreed should be taken together, and you kindly agreed to this so as to facilitate the business of the Committee. After a debate of two and a half hours on nine Amendments, the Government Deputy Chief Whip rose in his place and moved the Closure Motion. I submit to you that two and a half hours was quite insufficient—

The Chairman

Order. We cannot debate that.

Mr. Royle

If we cannot debate that, Sir Gordon, may I point out to you that we have not had the opportunity of having a full debate? We surely have a right to have an opportunity of expressing ourselves. For example, I never had the opportunity of making the impassioned speech which I wanted to make on India, which might have taken quite a long time. I therefore submit that I have a right to go into the Lobby and declare myself on this matter, because I was unable to make that speech on the Floor of the Committee. I submit that there is no real reason why we should be prevented from voting on each of the Amendments relating to these important territories.

The Chairman

I was looking for the hon. Member to make his impassioned speech on India, but I could not find him there at the time.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

May I submit to you, Sir Gordon, that your decision on this matter must surely reflect on the debate we have had. From all my experience in this House, and I admit that there are many hon. Members with more experience, we have never been allowed to discuss on any Amendment another Amendment that has not been selected? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] No, never. We were always called to order. The very fact that we were able to discuss these things was by virtue of the fact that you had selected the Amendments for discussion. Surely it has always been the practice of the House for the Chair to do that, and to invite the Committee to agree to it, from the point of view of convenience and the saving of time in debate.

7.15 p.m.

Is it not also the practice of the House that the selection of Divisions on particular Amendments that have been so discussed is a matter for those hon. Members whose names appear at the top of the Amendments? From the point of view of the convenience of our proceedings, I can quite see that if, in future, we group Amendments in this way, anyone will be able to rise to a point of order, and ask whether or not it is in order so to do, when we are only to have a proper orderly debate on the first Amendment to be moved.

The Chairman

I do not see the hon. Member's difficulty. It is usual to have a debate on one Amendment and discuss other Amendments with or without calling the second or further Amendments for a Division.

Mr. Hale

May I submit this point to you, Sir Gordon, because this is a personal problem? I claim that my name has been associated with civil liberties, and I would not have voted for the exclusion of Ghana if I had not thought that we should be able to vote for the exclusion of Australia, Canada, and so on. Why should I select to do this only for Dr. Nkrumah? The result is that the Committee has taken a decision under a misapprehension, and I think there are many hon. Members who will be concerned if they feel that people in Toronto tonight think that the House of Commons was quite willing to exclude a State where civil liberties are beginning to disappear, but was not prepared to give the same privilege to a senior Commonwealth country with which we have had such close and friendly relations for very many years. This is a serious point, and I hope that it will be possible for some of us to vote according to our consciences on this matter.

The Chairman

That is an interesting point, but I do not think that it is a point of order.

Mr. Denis Howell

This is a most serious matter, as you, Sir Gordon, no doubt appreciate. I spoke for 30 minutes during the debate and never mentioned Ghana. I conducted my speech on the basis of Australia, particularly, but also Canada and New Zealand. My submission to you is that if you had not selected the Amendment relating to Australia and other Amendments the whole of my speech must have been out of order. Therefore, in some way it is a reflection on the Chair that I was allowed for 30 minutes to address the Committee on a matter which was not in order.

The Chairman

It was not out of order. It was agreed by the Chair that the other Amendments could be discussed with the first one. I would point out to hon. Members who are raising this matter that they are suggesting that in future the Chair should use a much more drastic power of selection.

Mr. G. Brown

That is not what we are asking you to do at all, Sir Gordon. A decision taken by the Chair is not taken for any bargaining purposes. You did not bargain with anybody about this. You made a decision, as the Chair, about the rights of the situation and in the full exercise of your duties and responsibilities you decided that it was proper that we should debate some Amendments and not others. There was no element of bargaining in that and you would never permit us to bargain with you about it. But I suggest that when you have exercised your duties and you have decided that certain Amendments may be debated, albeit you then suggest that we should debate them together, certain consequences follow.

One consequence that follows is that we should be able to divide on the Amendments which you have selected, even though we understand that we may not debate them subsequent to the first Division and that the rest will be purely formal after the first Division. The Committee may not want to divide on all of them, but we suggest that as a result of your first decision, taken with all your responsibility in the Chair, you have made one other consequence naturally to follow and that is the right of the Committee now to declare itself on the Amendments you yourself chose—

The Chairman

It is the duty of the Chair to select Amendments. It can select Amendments to be debated and to be voted on and can suggest that other Amendments can be discussed though they are not selected. The other Amendments can be debated but they are not selected to be moved.

Several Hon. Members rose

Miss Lee

On a point of order. Will you please explain, Sir Gordon, whether when I voted in the Lobby I was voting only on the issue of Ghana or was I also voting on the issue of India, Australia and all the other countries that come into this? Furthermore, will you explain what protection the Chair can give to any hon. Member who might wish to vote for Ghana but might not wish to vote for Australia or Canada?

The Chairman

The hon. Lady was voting on the Amendment which was about Ghana.

Miss Lee

And nothing else?

The Chairman


Mr. Hugh Delargy

May I draw your attention, Sir Gordon, to the title of the Bill, which is "Commonwealth Immigrants Bill"? It concerns the Commonwealth. Is it not therefore rather odd that we are not allowed to vote about Australia, Canada and New Zealand which are sovereign States inside the Commonwealth?

The Chairman

I am afraid that we cannot discuss now the selection of Amendments by the Chair.

Mr. Delargy

That is not my point. We have not been allowed to vote on member States of the Commonwealth, but presumably we shall vote on the next Amendment which concerns Southern Ireland which is not in the Commonwealth at all.

The Chairman

We are concerned now with these Amendments. The next Amendment is not a matter for me.

Mr. E. L Mallalieu (Brigg)

May I draw your attention, Sir Gordon, to the notice which you kindly put up in the "Noes" Lobby and to the heading on it? I have it in my hand for the purpose of greater accuracy. The heading is "Provisional Selection". I submit that the word "selection" means that an Amendment can be discussed and voted upon, and I submit to you that there is no authority for the proposition that "selection" means only "debatable". When for many hours this afternoon we were discussing the Bill—

The Chairman

Order. Has the hon. and learned Member any point of order to raise? The notice quite clearly names the Amendments selected and the Amendments to be discussed with them are named in brackets, but if the hon. and learned Member deprecates my having put up the notice, as having caused misunderstanding, I will refrain from putting up a notice in future.

Mr. Mallalieu

No, I am not deprecating that. It was for the convenience of the Committee and the Committee is most grateful to you for having put it up, but on the meaning of "selection" there is no authority for the proposition that "selection" does not mean "debatable and votable". The fact that it was provisional is quite irrelevant to this question.

The Chairman

I am sorry if it is not clear in the notice and if the notice may have led to some misunderstanding. It has been used many times in the past.

Mr. Ross

You said, Sir Gordon, that these Amendments had not been selected. This means that in our practice in the past we have been able to vote on an Amendment which was not selected. How was that possible?

The Chairman

Those Amendments were discussed with other Amendments. When an hon. Member has voted a second time it has been when the Amendment has been formally moved with the leave of the Chair because it has been selected.

Mr. Fletcher

We all accept, Sir Gordon, and it is of great convenience to the Committee that you should make a provisional selection of Amendments and put up the notice in the No Lobby. We accept that that is very useful, but it is what it says—it is provisional. There is nothing rigid or final about it. It is completely within your competence to change it.

You can change your mind about the selection of Amendments just as you were able to change your mind about the recording of the Vote. It is perfectly competent and within your duty to decide on the existing situation now whether it is right or wrong that the Committee should have an opportunity of recording its votes on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sierra Leone and other places. It is not fair to the Committee to say that because you made a provisional selection of Amendments and discussed that with interested Members some time ago that that is final and binds you, the Committee, or anybody else.

The Chairman

I do not feel bound by the notice which I have put up in the Division Lobby and therefore that point does not arise.

Mr. Fletcher

But what we are asking you to do—and we can forget the provisional selection—is that in the circumstances of the moment, you having made a few days ago a provisional selection, and we having had a debate which was inconclusive and ranged over a fairly wide field but did not touch some of the subjects and that debate having been closured, is in your sole discretion to decide whether or not it is right that the Committee should be able to vote on the other Amendment.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is asking me to alter my selection of Amendments. I do not propose to do so.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Fletcher

I must try to make this point plain, Sir Gordon. With great respect, we are not asking you to do anything of the kind. We are not challenging your provisional selection, or your selection, or anything in the way in which you have conducted our discussions up to this moment. It may be the fault of myself and of my right hon. and hon. Friends if we have not made clear to you what we are asking.

We are asking you now, in the circumstances of this moment, not to feel yourself bound or fettered by a provisional selection of Amendments, but to say that it is right and fair to the Committee that it should have the opportunity of expressing its views on Amendments that are on the Notice Paper, some of which have been discussed and others of which have not been discussed. I beg of you to say that that does not in any way involve any challenge to your selection or any departure from the way in which our discussions have been conducted so far.

May I make two propositions? The first is that I contend that you are perfectly competent to decide—and it is open to you to do so in your discretion at this moment—to call for Divisions, but without further debate, on these other Amendments. You are perfectly free to do that. There is no rule of the Committee, or of the House, or in Erskine May, that debars you from doing that.

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is asking me to change my decision about the selection of Amendments. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We cannot discuss the selection of Amendments by the Chair.

Mr. Fletcher

Further to that point of order, Sir Gordon. We are not asking you to change any decision about selection. We are asking you, in the circumstances which have arisen, to have regard to the rights and wishes of the Committee, particularly the grievance and difficulties—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is out of order now.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

I have a new point of order, Sir Gordon. I understood that we were allowed to discuss a group of Amendments, but that now we can only vote on one. That means that, from the point of view of debating, these proceedings have become, in a sense, a farce. If there had been a vote on each Amendment, which we consider to be necessary, it could have worked out that I would have voted about Ghana and about Nigeria, and so on. but that when it came to Canada [ might have opposed my party. The position in which you have put me is that I have voted on one Amendment, but that that vote embraced a whole lot of Amendments. I thought that we were to vote on each Amendment.

This is not a debating Chamber if, at the end of the day, after we have been discussing individual Amendments as a group, we do not have the right to express, by vote, our opinions on the rest. Is not that illogical?

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman has not really raised a point of order at all. We cannot vote on a number of Amendments which have not been selected.

Mr. Mellish

May be. But it is very interesting.

Mr. Denis Howell

May I return to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross)? He asked you about previous practice in the Committee in respect of this situation, and how it was that, in debate on the Finance Bill in Committee, we have a combined discussion on three or four Amendments.

The Chairman

Order. I am sorry. I have tried to explain the situation to the best of my ability. We cannot go on discussing this indefinitely on points of order. We must get on with the debate.

Mr. Gordon Walker

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again".

The Chairman

I cannot Motion at this stage.

Mr. Jay

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. Surely this is an intolerable situation and is really bringing the whole proceedings of this Committee to a farce. First, our attempt to have a serious discussion on the Bill is closured by one of the Whips after an obviously inadequate period for discussion.

Hon. Members


The Chairman

Order. I cannot hear the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Jay

Secondly, the Committee was deprived of voting on a number of Amendments on which, clearly, it wished to vote. Thirdly, are you really suggesting that the Committee should be denied the right even to discuss the Motion to report Progress in order to discover whether it is possible to go on with the discussion at all in these circumstances?

Surely it is absolutely intolerable if we can neither debate the Bill nor vote on it nor even discuss a Motion to report Progress, for that means that our proceedings are being brought to a farce. Hon. Members and the country will draw the inference that the Government are not merely ashamed of the Bill, but are ashamed for the House even to be allowed to discuss it.

The Chairman

I cannot accept the Motion to report Progress at this stage. The next Amendment—

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon.

The Chairman

There is no point of order. The next Amendment—[Interruption.]

Mr. G. Brown

May I raise a point of order, Sir Gordon? I distinctly heard you say to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), who was asking leave to raise a point of order, "There is no point of order." At that stage you had not heard my hon. Friend. I put it to you, with great respect, that firm chairmanship is one thing, but that, if we are to be denied everything we seek to do because you are determined to move on, it constitutes an invidious and impossible situation.

I have no means of knowing how you know what is the point of order my hon. Friend wishes to raise, but I submit that it is the inalienable right of any hon. Member, if he feels that he has a point of order, to put it to you before you tell him that he has not got a point of order.

The Chairman

It is not the inalienable right of any hon. Member to get up when the Chair is standing. No point of order has been made.

Mr. Brown

Will you, then, say how an hon. Member can raise a point of order? If what you have just said means that, so long as you stand on your feet and reel off a series of Amendments, none of us will be allowed to rise and the whole lot can be carried whilst we vainly protest, then that Ruling cannot make sense. I ask you to give your serious consideration to this, because otherwise we shall get the Committee into a tangle—perhaps the Leader of the House would like to help—not only on this Bill, but on our whole proceedings.

If you are standing, and are clearly inviting the Committee to proceed to next business, and an hon. Member wishes to catch your eye to raise a point of order, he can only do it by standing up and asking leave to do so. I submit that, in those circumstances, it is the age-old tradition of the Chair to allow that hon. Member to seek to raise that point of order.

If, at any stage while he is doing so, the Chair apprehends or decides that it is not, in its view, a valid point of order, then the Chair interrupts the hon. Member, notwithstanding the fact that he is on his feet, and declares it not to be a point of order. In my fifteen years as a Member of the House of Commons, I have never heard anyone in the Chair rule out a claim for an opportunity to raise a point of order before the Chair has heard it, merely on the ground that the Chair was on its feet when the hon. Member concerned chose to raise his point of order.

There are here involved not the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, not the rights of the Opposition, nor even the rights of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). There are here involved the rights of every hon. Member. If any hon. Member thinks that he has a point of order, I claim the right on his behalf to put it to you and to be heard by you before you decide that he is not to be allowed to put it.

The Chairman

The Chair is not bound to sit down because an hon. Member raises a point of order.

Mr. Ellis Smith

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. I think that you will agree that I always show great respect for the Chair. I think that the Chair should reciprocate and hear hon. Members in accordance with our Standing Orders.

My point of order is that a serious conflict has arisen with regard to the correct interpretation of Standing Orders when the House is sitting as a Committee. As this conflict has arisen, I suggest, with respect, that, as a way out of the difficulty, you ought to accept the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend.

The Chairman

I cannot accept that Motion.

Mr. Ellis Smith

This is a serious matter. Some of us have been here fighting for extra coppers and shillings on unemployment benefit, and what was at stake on those occasions is at stake now. As there is a conflict between the Chair and the Committee, I suggest that the correct way out of the difficulty is for you to accept this Motion so that we can send for Mr. Speaker.

The Chairman

We cannot debate a decision of the Chair.

Mr. Ellis Smith

The time has arrived when the only way to resolve this conflict between the Chair and the Committee is to send for Mr. Speaker, so that we can put our case to him. I know what has happened in the past when situations like this have arisen, and I suggest that in accordance with the usual practice the Chair should accept the Motion so that Mr. Speaker can take the Chair.

The Chairman

I refuse to accept that Motion.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Sir Gordon, you refused that Motion some time ago. May I ask leave, once more, to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."

The Chairman

I am not prepared to accept that Motion.

Mr. Gordon Walker

May I move, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair"?

The Chairman

I cannot accept that Motion, either.

The next Amendment—

Mr. Jay

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. What remedy has the Committee in a situation like this? I would have thought that you would have regarded it as your responsibility to uphold the rights of the House and to maintain confidence in the Chair.

The Chairman

If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to criticise the Chair, he must put down the usual Motion.

Mr. Jay

I am not criticising the Chair. I said that I assumed it would be your wish to uphold the rights of the Chair and the liberty of hon. Members. It is surely perfectly clear that a large number of hon. Members on this side of the Committee wish to continue the debate and to have a number of Divisions which you did not allow, and now wish to discuss the Motion, " That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."

Surely when that is the plain wish of a large number of hon. Members, at any rate on this side of the Committee, it is reducing the Committee to an extraordinary situation to deny hon. Members their rights, and deny them the possibility of discussing the Motion.

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman cannot go on debating the decision of the Chair.

Mr. Jay

I asked you a question, Sir Gordon. I asked how, in these circumstances, it was possible for the rights of the Committee to be maintained, and for confidence in the Chair to be maintained.

7.45 p.m.

The Chairman

It has been maintained. The normal procedure is being followed.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon.

The Chairman

I cannot accept any more points of order.

Mr. Driberg

It is a new point of order, Sir Gordon.

The Chairman

If we cannot go on with the debate, it may be my duty to adjourn the Committee.

Mr. Driberg

On a point of order. With respect, Sir Gordon, you said that the only alternative course before hon. Members was to put down a Motion regarding yourself. May I, with great respect, remind you, although I am not sure that I heard your last observation, that there is one other alternative? There are precedents for the suspension of the sitting when there is grave disorder. I hope that you are not going to drive us to grave disorder.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

Sir Gordon, I find your Ruling difficult to understand. Would you give us the precedent which has disposed you to make this Ruling, because, frankly, I do not know it?

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman clearly does know it.

Mr. Dugdale

I am referring to your Ruling about not being allowed to vote on Amendments in these circumstances.

The Chairman

I should have thought that the right hon. Member knew that a long time ago.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

There is one Member of the House who has a special responsibility to defend the rights of the House, and that is the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House. I suggest that he should not remain silent, but should speak on behalf of hon. Members.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)

Sir Gordon, if this is a point of order, let me make it quite clear that it is not for me, or any Member of the House, to instruct the Chair in its duty, but to support the Chair in the Rulings it gives; and that we will do.

Mr. G. Brown

Further to that, Sir Gordon. I gather that the Leader of the House was allowed to rise to a point of order. May I now put this to you? The right hon. Gentleman was asked to rise as Leader of the House. He spoke as Leader of the House, and not as a Government Minister. You must have heard his remarks. They must have caused you grave perturbation. He said, "We will uphold the Rulings of the Chair". At that stage—[Interruption.] Would the Leader of the House like to repeat what he said? If the Leader of the House does not correct me it must be presumed that what I am saying is what he said. What I am putting to you is that if the Leader of the House rises at the invitation of individual Members, at a time when those Members are in difficulty with the Chair, and declares, without any question about the merits of the case, that he regards his duty, as Leader of the House, in all circumstances to support the Chair, that is a grave dereliction of his duty as Leader of the House.

We all come new to various jobs, but I would have thought that what anyone who aspires to his office would understand is that he is here to defend the rights of minorities and the rights of the House. If he takes the view that under no circumstances can the House have any protection from the Leader of the House, there can be very little respect for the office that the right hon. Gentleman claims to hold.

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to be raising a point of order.

Mr. Brown

May I endeavour to make clear to you the point that I am raising, Sir Gordon? On the point of order which the Leader of the House claimed to be making he made a statement as Leader of the House which was completely out of harmony with our traditions—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is not a point of order."] This is my point of order: we now find ourselves in a position in which, for more than an hour, every point that we have raised has been ruled out by the Chair without any reason being given; the Leader of the House now tells us that in no circumstances will he do other than support the Chair.

I ask you what are our rights, short of doing things that we would not want to do, in a free Committee—and this is not the Reichstag—[Interruption.] What are the rights of the Committee during the discussion of a hotly contested and largely detested Bill? What rights have we to protest when we are being steamrollered by the Chair and the Leader of the House?

The Chairman

One of the rights of the House is to debate the Bill—

Mr. Brown

And to vote on it.

The Chairman

—which we are not doing at present. I hope that the Committee will now proceed—

Hon. Members


Grave disorder having arisen in the Committee, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report the circumstances to the House.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER resumed the Chair; and, pursuant to Standing Order No. 24 (Power of Mr. Speaker to adjourn House or suspend sitting), suspended the Sitting for half an hour.

Mr. G. Brown

How can you suspend the House without the Mace?

Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair;

Whereupon the House again resolved itself into a Committee on the Bill.

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

8.25 p.m

Mr. G. Brown

On a point of order. At the point at which we concluded our previous proceedings the Mace was clearly, as it is now, below the Table. At a subsequent point, without anything being said, so that none of us was able to follow what was happening, you walked to the upper Chair and declared that the sitting suspended for half an hour. At that point the Mace was still where it is now. The Serjeant at Arms arrived after you had in fact left the Chamber and hurriedly raised the Mace to the upper position. May I ask you, on a point of order, which sitting was suspended? Did you understand that you were suspending the House at a point when the House was still in Committee, as, I submit to you, Sir, with the Mace down there, it clearly was?

The Chairman

The House ceased to be in Committee when I left the Chair. Later, I suspended the House.

Mr. Brown

Further to that point of order. In that case, what significance does the Mace have in our proceedings? It has always been the understanding of many of us that the Mace occupied a particular place according to the status of the debating Chamber at that time. Are you saying that this is quite meaningless ceremonial and that the House is whatever you say it is at any given moment? May I ask you to consider this point? Are we to be guided both by where you are and where the Mace is?

Further, may I submit to you that the constitutional practice is that the Chair is itself guided by where the Mace is and that the normal procedure is that when you leave the Committee Chair you go to the side and wait until the Serjeant at Arms comes here and moves the Mace, and then you assume the other Chair, just as on this immediate occasion you reversed the proceedings. When Mr. Speaker left the Chair of the House you waited until the Mace was removed down below the Table before you came in to take the Committee Chair. I therefore submit to you as a point of order that our proceedings at the end of the last sitting must have been wholly out of order since, I submit, you could not suspend the House at a time when clearly the House was still in Committee.

The Chairman

I have explained the position about that.

Sir Peter Agnew (Worcestershire, South)

On a point of order. It seems that the microphone at your Chair is a little weak, Sir Gordon, and it is very difficult to hear all your Rulings at this end of the Chamber.

Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)

On a point of order. When the House is in grave disorder which demands suspension, is it right for the Chief Patronage Secretary to be in contact with the Clerk during that time?

The Chairman

That is not a point of order. I think that we ought to get on with the Committee.

Mr. G. Brown

I raise this, I ask you to believe, Sir Gordon, only because it must have a historical meaning. You have not answered my point, with respect, about the significance of the placing of the Mace. Each time you have said that you have answered, but you have not. Can we conduct proceedings in the House at a time when the Mace clearly indicates that we are in Committee?

The Chairman

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Brown

This is what caused the trouble before. Every time we rise to a genuine point of order, properly taken, we are merely brushed aside. Sir Gordon, what is the meaning of the place where the Mace resides? At this moment we are in Committee because it has been removed to below the Table. Could you suddenly again rise and conduct proceedings in the House while the Mace still lies down there? Before the Committee is asked to proceed any further, we must know the rules under which we are proceeding. I ask you, Sir Gordon, to say whether the House can go into session as a House while we are still in Committee. If we cannot, were not the whole of the proceedings which purported to suspend our sitting completely Out of order?

8.30 p.m.

The Chairman

Everything was done regularly.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

Let me say at once, Sir Gordon, that I was not in the Committee at the relevant moment, as you probably know. However, I think that the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is important. It is quite a simple point. We are not concerned so much with the question whether the Committee continued in session after you had left the Chair. I take it that your Ruling was that, the moment you left the Chair, whatever happened to the Mace the Committee was no longer in session.

We are concerned with the point at which the House comes into session. My question is a very direct and simple one. Does the House come into existence as a House immediately you take your seat in that Chair, even if the Mace is below the Table, or does the Mace have to be put above the Table before the House can be said to be sitting?

The Chairman

I cannot discuss the position of the Mace.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would you mind repeating that, Sir Gordon? I cannot hear.

The Chairman

I am afraid that I cannot discuss the constitutional position of the Mace.

Mr. Gaitskell

This is really a very bewildering situation, Sir Gordon. We have raised what I think most hon. Members who have been in the House of Commons for some time will recognise to be a perfectly legitimate point. It is surely our right to have an answer from the Chair on this point. If you feel that you are unable to give any Ruling on this point, we do not know in effect whether the House was correctly dismissed or suspended a little while ago. That is the point, and it is of some importance. If you, Sir Gordon, feel unable to do this, would it be possible to send for Mr. Speaker and ask him to give a Ruling?

The Chairman

The House was correctly suspended.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I take it from that that the position of the Mace is not relevant to whether the House is sitting?

The Chairman

The position of the Mace is not relevant to that.

Sir P. Agnew

On a point of order. Without presuming to pronounce upon the constitutional position, which in any case would probably be out of order, has it not been generally observed by those who notice the practice of the House of Commons that the position of the Mace adjusts itself to the position of the Chair, and not the other way round?

Mr. Brockway

Sir Gordon, may I give you a precedent regarding the Mace? In 1930, a Division took place in the House of Commons on my suspension from the House. When my Tellers came to the Table one of them thought that if he removed the Mace I could not be suspended. He himself was suspended, but on that occasion Mr. Speaker ruled that I could not be suspended from membership of the House until the Mace was returned upon the Table.

The Chairman

The House was suspended and it has now resumed.

Mr. G. Brown

It must be apparent to you, Sir Gordon, that in consulting our dignity—and the House of Commons has great dignity extending over many centuries—and in consulting the dignity of the House we cannot legitimately be asked to proceed with a strongly and hotly disputed Bill like this when we are not clear under what constitutional rules we are proceeding.

May I, therefore, since we cannot agree on exactly what happened, ask leave to move "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again", which will give all hon. Members an opportunity to consult the precedents, to consult each other and to reconsider the position if we are to discuss this matter with a clear understanding.

The Chairman

I am afraid that I cannot accept that Motion.

Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

May I put this to you, Sir Gordon, with respect. My hon. Friends and I below the Gangway are trying to follow what is happening and, for that reason, in order to enable us to he informed of the correct procedure, would it be possible for me to move that we do now proceed from Committee to the House and that you take Mr. Speaker's Chair so that we can then hear what your Rulings are?

The Chairman

That would not be in order. I hope that we can now get on with the next Amendment.

Mr. Gordon Walker

May I have your leave, Sir Gordon, to move "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again"?

The Chairman

I cannot accept that Motion.

Mr. Fletcher

On that point, Sir Gordon, surely the whole House would agree that it would not be very satisfactory for us to proceed in this way until we are clear about what really happened when the House was suspended. I am sure that in the interests of the whole House, and the future of the House, one point should be made clear. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and others of my hon. Friends have said that we are quite clearly under the impression—and I do not think it has been disputed, for the Leader of the House would no doubt have disputed it if it were not the case—that when the House was suspended the Mace was below the table. That is a matter of fact.

It is quite easy for anyone to make a mistake in the circumstances then prevailing, and it may well be that you thought, Sir Gordon, that the Mace was on the Table. Surely, for the purposes of the record, we should have it clearly established—just as it was in the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) in 1930—that the House cannot function unless the Mace is on the Table. Sir Gordon, whether you are or are not actually sitting in Mr. Speaker's Chair, you have no authority to treat the House as being in session for any purposes, least of all, I would suggest, to suspend it, unless the Mace is actually on the Table.

You did, in fact, purport to suspend the proceedings of the House and, in fact, there were no proceedings in the House for 30 minutes. It seems to me—and I think that the Leader of the House and hon. Members on the Government Benches will agree—that the point which my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper raised is one of great constitutional importance. We have always proceeded in this House on the assumption that when the House is sitting as a House the Mace must be on the Table, and that when the Mace is below the Table we are sitting in Committee. During the interval which elapses to enable the Serjeant at Arms to move the Mace there is a kind of hiatus in a sort of no man's land during which time no steps can be effectively taken.

Important as this Bill—the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—may be, I suggest with great respect, Sir Gordon, that this is a matter of great constitutional importance which will affect the whole of our proceedings. It is something which should be clarified, and it can be clarified effectively only in the House as a whole. I would, with great respect, suggest that you allow us to move to report Progress so that we can then clear up this matter of grave constitutional importance. I am sure that it is a matter on which we should wish to hear the Leader of the House.

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. During the previous part of the sitting I was seated on the second bench below the Gangway. I was, therefore, in a position to see clearly what happened. You had gone into the Speaker's Chair, Sir Gordon, and suspended the sitting before the Serjeant at Arms even reached the Table. I suggest to you that in those circumstances the sitting was not validly suspended.

The effect of that, I suggest, is this. You had left the Chair in Committee, the House had not been suspended, and, therefore, at this moment neither the House nor the Committee is sitting. Therefore, any business that we transact from now on will not be valid.

Mr. G. Brown

May I draw your attention, Sir Gordon, to Erskine May at page 248, where reference is made to the office of Mr. Speaker as the presiding officer of the House. It says: The symbol of his authority is the Royal Mace which is borne before him when entering and leaving the chamber … and is placed upon the table when he is in the chair. It is our submission to you, Sir Gordon, that you acted for Mr. Speaker in suspending the House at a time when the Royal Mace, the only symbol of your authority, had not been placed on the Table nor borne before you, nor, so far as the House knew, was in the precincts at all. Therefore, you acted then with no symbol of authority, with no evidence of your right to do so.

Therefore, I again submit to you, Sir Gordon, that in those circumstances, following Erskine May as we do in these matters, it must be clear that you suspended the House when the House was not in session. Therefore, we could not have been called back and we could not have gone again into Committee. For the purpose of any further consideration this night of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill in Committee we are technically not here. I submit to you that were we to proceed, anything that is purported to be done this night will be the subject of great conflict and contest about its legality. We are presuming to make laws applicable to members of the Commonwealth throughout the world, all of whom will have recourse to legal action to test their legality.

I therefore submit to you, Sir Gordo ii, with sincerity and with respect that in view of the fact that nobody disputes that the Mace was not on the Table, it would really be much wiser for you to accept a Motion or for the Leader of the House to move a Motion, in whatever is the appropriate form, that we now cease business tonight. There will be plenty of time for consultation to take place in order to clear the matter up. But to try to proceed as though nothing irregular and unconstitutional, or at any rate of great dubiety, had happened is to put ourselves all in great mischief for the future. I hope, therefore, that, on reflection, you will be willing to accept a Motion to report Progress and to ask leave to sit again.

The Chairman

I think that the right hon. Gentleman's fears are quite unfounded. I cannot accept that Motion.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)

Further to that point of order, Sir Gordon. Would you explain to the Committee how it is possible for right hon. and hon. Members to raise points of order when, according to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), the Committee does not exist at all?

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. My point of order is different from the point which has been discussed so far. The question so far has been the question whether the House was reconstituted according to the position of the Mace.

As I understand it, when a Committee is suspended it can reassemble only if it has the leave of the House to do so. The Motion for a Committee to suspend is a Motion that the Committee be suspended, and leave is sought to sit again. On this occasion, the Committee was suspended without leave to sit again being obtained. No leave has been granted for us to sit again, so we have no right to sit here as a Committee. When Mr. Speaker left the Chair, the House was suspended, but as there was no leave granted to the Committee to sit again, we have no right to sit here as a Committee now. The House and the Committee are suspended.

The Chairman

The Committee was suspended when I left the Chair. It does not require leave to sit again. I left the Chair to report to Mr. Speaker. That is a course of action which I took.

Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. In order to save time, could not our proceedings be suspended for five minutes, in accordance with everyone's wishes and agreement, and then could we not get on with our business thereafter? I suggest, Sir Gordon, that that will solve the problem.

Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

On a point of order, Sir Gordon. A little while ago, you yourself raised a very important constitutional point. You said that we could not discuss the constitutional position of the Mace. By that very remark, you indicated that a very serious situation had arisen affecting the normal conduct of our business in the House. Erskine May clearly lays down that the constitutional form governing how we conduct our debates in the House is indicated by the position of the Mace, and you yourself very clearly referred to that constitutional point.

I submit, with respect, that in a moment of difficulty, perhaps understandable in the heat of what was taking place at the time, you make a mistake in taking the Chair of the House and suspending the sitting before the Mace was placed on the Table. You now refuse to take any further action even though you admit that there is a constitutional question affecting the business of the House.

In view of this, Sir Gordon, will you not accept the Motion to report Progress in order that we may have the matter clarified? If your Ruling remains as it is now, that the Chair can do as it likes irrespective of the Mace, it will change the procedure of the House of Commons which, to say the least, has stood the test of time for many years. Until the position is cleared up, can we observe the traditions of the House? As you, Sir Gordon, have indicated, there is a constitutional question here in what is taking place, which brings the whole conduct of the business of this House into gross disrepute and makes an important change in our Parliamentary procedure. I suggest that what is taking place is not in the best interests of debate in this Chamber.

The Chairman

It is not a question of disrepute. The House was suspended because of disorder.

Sir Robert Grimston (Westbury)

I am rather jealous of the dignity of the House. Of course, it is open to the Opposition to make all that they can of this incident, but I think there is something in it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We are, I think rightly, very jealous of the proprieties, our rules of order and, indeed, of our ceremony. It is all part of the make-up of Parliament.

I was not in the House at the time, but it seems to be generally agreed that at the time that you, Sir Gordon, went into Mr. Speaker's Chair and adjourned the House, the Mace was not in its proper position. That may be to some people a very small thing, but it is part of the whole make-up of Parliament. I think that we ought to get out of this position. If you, Sir Gordon, made a mistake and acknowledged it, I think that the House would be very ready to understand that. Quite frankly, I should like the position established as to what part the Mace plays in our procedure. It is not very clear at the moment.

I would, therefore, make this suggestion, with great respect, that you suspend again and ask Mr. Speaker to come back and give us his Ruling. We can then get on with our business. I think that that would be for the greater dignity of the House.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I warmly support what the hon. Baronet the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) has said? We must get out of the tangle that we have got into. I think that all of us appreciate that the Bill which was under consideration is of very great importance. We certainly do not want proceedings on it to be treated in any way with levity or in a manner which suggests that we are indifferent to it and more concerned with points of order, and so on. But, as the hon. Baronet said, we are in difficulty and I feel that the course he has proposed is the best way out of the situation. I very much hope that you, Sir Gordon, will follow it.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Sir Gordon, I should like to state my own position. I was watching you and listening to the words that you spoke. I have no doubt at all that the recollection of hon. Members concerning the Mace is right. I am not questioning that. I am merely saying that I myself did not see the position at the time, but I accept what right hon. and hon. Members have said.

May I follow what my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) and the Leader of the Opposition have said. If it be true for various reasons—perhaps because a mistake was made at the exact moment at which you spoke your words, Sir Gordon—and if we have to find a way out of this difficulty, would you think it right—I am sure that if you did you would have the support of the whole House—to suspend the sitting until the position can be cleared up?

The Chairman

If the Leader of the House moves to report Progress, I will, of course, accept that.

Mr. Gordon Walker

May I ask leave to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again"?

From what you have said, Sir Gordon, I understand that such a Motion is now in order. If it is in order for the Leader of the House to move such a Motion, it is surely in order for any other Member of the House to do so.

Mr. G. Brown

The Chairman said that he would accept it.

The Chairman

Such a Motion has not been moved. Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to move it?

Mr. Gordon Walker

Sir Gordon, I am only asking leave to move the Motion. I have not moved it at all, because you denied me leave. I heard you say that if the Leader of the House were prepared to move the Motion, you would accept it and allow him to develop it. I had not moved the Motion. I have said once or twice that I should like to do so, but that is different. I have not been allowed to do it. If the Leader of the House could do it and it would be in order, surely what I am trying to do, which is exactly the same thing, is in order.

Hon. Members

Move the Motion.

The Chairman

I will accept the Motion if the right hon. Gentleman will move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."

Mr. Gordon Walker

I will do that, Sir Gordon. With the leave of the Committee, I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I will speak to this Motion very briefly, and I will do it in the spirit of the last few contributions. Sir Gordon, we are really trying to do this to help you to help us. There would be some doubt about the exact status of our proceedings if we went on with the Bill—the proceedings that we should take from this moment—because, clearly, there is doubt about what would be their validity. It would be very wrong for us to continue in the knowledge that our proceedings might be called in question by the House when it meets tomorrow, that the things that we are purporting to legislate about might not be valid. In order that we might carry out in the only way open to us the very wise suggestion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston), I move this Motion so that we can get out of the difficulty that all of us want to get out of.

The Chairman

The Question is, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."

Mr. Denis Howell rose

Hon. Members

Off-side. Send him off.

Mr. Howell

I am used to being booed and heckled, and so I shall not be put off now. In my view, the Motion is debatable. While I respect very much the intentions of my hon. Friends to debate the specific incident of the Mace, which I acknowledge to be of great constitutional importance, this is the first opportunity that some of us have had to draw attention to the fact that there are two other matters of equal gravity and importance. One is the conduct of the Patronage Secretary, who, quite clearly, before the suspension of the House discussed the question with the Clerk, who then, Sir Gordon, discussed the matter with you. Indeed, at that precise moment there were objections from all my hon. Friends about what was happening. This is equally a matter of considerable importance.

Then there is the further point, the main point, the point on which it all started, which transcends in importance, constitutionally, to the Commonwealth all the other points, and that is whether we are to debate each Dominion in the Commonwealth and have a vote on each separately. This is a matter of paramount importance. The Motion which you have now accepted from my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) gives some of us our first opportunity to raise that subject and debate it.

There are three matters before the Committee which are all of great constitutional importance and they ought not to be brushed aside, and it is because of that that I have exercised my right, even at the displeasure of some people, to raise them now.

Sir Charles Taylor (Eastbourne) rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put; but The CHAIRMAN withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. S. Silverman

I think that my right hon. and hon. Friends will agree with me in saying that all this procedure of the last hour and a half or two hours would not have taken place if the Government had not been so ill advised as to move the Closure at the time when we were last discussing an Amendment of substance before the Committee. I hope that the Leader of the House will take warning from what has happened, and will be far more discreet in future in curtailing discussion on a Bill which everybody on both sides of the Committee regards as being of as grave an importance as we have had to deal with in many years.

Having said that, I should like to suggest, with the greatest possible respect and diffidence, that the Committee should not accept the Motion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has moved. I think it would best suit the convenience and the dignity of the Committee if we were now, in some sort of way, able to resume discussion of a serious kind on matters on which deep feelings are held on both sides of the Committee.

I do not know whether, if my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is right in the submission which he made to you, Sir Gordon, a little while ago, we can properly discuss the Motion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick moved. If my right hon. Friend is right in his submission that the Committee is not, in fact, in session at all, by reason of what was wrongly done before, there can be no Motion in front of it, and we have not resolved the dilemma to which the hon. Baronet drew our attention. It seems to me that there is an easier way out of that dilemma. [An HON. MEMBER: "A General Election."] I assume that my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper was right in saying that the position of the Mace invalidated the suspension of the sitting, and the only logical conclusion from that fact is that the sitting was never suspended. If the sitting was never suspended, the Committee was never suspended, either, and therefore the Committee is still in session as if the suspension of the House had never taken place. That seems to me to be the plain logic of the situation, on the assumption that my right hon. Friend was right. If, on the other hand, he was wrong, then the House was properly suspended, and was properly resumed. I think it would be very much better, now that the Government have learned their lesson about premature Motions for the Closure, that we should resume our discussion and get on with the Bill.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I am not concerned with the submissions that have been made to you, Sir Gordon, because they are secondary to the fundamental issue which caused this conflict between the Chair and the Committee. Therefore, I support the Motion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has moved, and I want to ask you, Sir Gordon, if you will be good enough to raise with Mr. Speaker—[Interruption.] I thought there was only one Chairman in the Committee. The point I was making was that the Committee has not been informed of Mr. Speaker's opinion with regard to the conflict which has arisen between the Chair and the Committee.

I have sat, like some of my hon. Friends, all through the proceedings. We are, therefore, well informed and well armed to deal with the matters which gave rise to the conflict. We have proved by our record as Members of this House that we respect the Chair. We have come through very many conflicts, and this has not arisen before, except on one unfortunate occasion, for which we can be forgiven, because we were all involved in all-night proceedings. This time we are all fresh.

We are making progress. It is nice after the experience we have had in the past two hours to see you, Sir Gordon, smile like that. We are making progress if we can bring about this sort of atmosphere. Several appeals have been made for support for proposals to resolve this difficulty. We, to assert our rights as private Members, as members of our party and as elected Members of Parliament, are bound to ask the Chair what is now the position in relation to what created this conflict.

We all know from past experience that the Chair has had the right to select Amendments and that we are not entitled to challenge the decision because the Chair has all the advice that the Table gives it. In the Committee we loyally accepted that position and there was no quibbling worth talking about. When the Chair ruled several of my hon. Friends out of order, they immediately accepted that and proceeded to make their speeches. [Laughter.] Oh yes, I happen to know Shakespeare. He who laughs last, laughs best. They made their speeches because they accepted the Chair's decision on the assumption that we should have the right to carry out the normal Parliamentary practice of voting on each Amendment.

Surely that is good reasoning. If so, do not let us differ with one another and have incidents—because there will be incidents, as we are all so sure that we are right. We are being put to the test whether we are real men or not—and some of us have not been trained to talk in circles before we became Members of Parliament. Throughout our lives we have been fighting for working-class rights and we intend to go on fighting. Having studied the Standing Orders and Erskine May, we intend to go on doing that as long as we are elected by our fellow-countrymen to come here. That is not intended for the Chair at all.

I want to ask you, Sir Gordon, whether you will be good enough to consider our reasoning, in view of the fact that we have put our points of view in a reasonable manner. I ask that we should be allowed to vote on what my hon. Friends now want to vote on.

Mr. R. A. Butler rose

Hon. Members

Who is the Leader of the House?

Mr. Butler

I was moved to intervene by the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It would really be most unfortunate, both in this country and overseas, if we were to appear to suspend consideration of a Bill of this importance. I will come back to that point, but I would add to it another consideration, that I think there are doubts and anxieties which are of a constitutional character. I am not able to assess their value myself tonight, but they are of a constitutional character. and want resolving.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) and with the words of the Leader of the Opposition and others who have intervened in this way. We should find it very difficult to accept the Motion moved by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) because that would mean that we should not be able to make further progress with the Bill tonight. I think that some further progress, a reasonable progress tonight—and we shall not be unreasonable—would be as constitutional as it would be to investigate what the solution is. If we accept the Motion we cannot go back to the Bill at all tonight, and that would be a pity.

As one who has spent the greater part of his life as a Member of Parliament, I was rather keen on a Motion like this to come, because I thought that it would be the solution of our difficulties. We have been much aided by the good humour of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). Whenever he intervenes to address the House, he gets us back to the right atmosphere. We should all regret it if this sitting ended in anything like what the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) and other hon. Members referred to as grave disorder. I do not myself, in my sense of the situation, see that there is grave disorder about, but I think there is a feeling on the part of the Opposition that they are not at all sorry that a little time has been taken up. [Interruption.] But they are also worried about the constitutional issue which is before us.

I suggest that the right hon. Member for Smethwick should be good enough to withdraw his Motion on the understanding that Mr. Speaker gives a Ruling tomorrow—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—or at his early convenience, on the issues before us. If anybody else can suggest a better arrangement, let us accept it. But we should get this matter ruled upon by the Chair. If that is done, the matter can be resolved properly, we can then revert to a modest consideration of at least one further Amendment, or more, and we shall be enabled to make progress and preserve our dignity. It is because I want to preserve our dignity, and, at the same time, examine what has gone wrong, that I make this proposal.

Mr. Gaitskell

The Home Secretary has indicated that he agrees that there is grave constitutional doubt about the events of the last hour and a half, and that there may be serious trouble if it is discovered that the suspension of the House was not in order. He also asked how we could find some way out of this. He himself has given the answer. He supported, as did the Leader of the House and as I did, the proposal of the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) that you, Sir Gordon, should suspend the Committee or the House in the appropriate way. Having done so we could no doubt get back into it again and carry on our proceedings. That would remove the element of doubt which is the real trouble in the present situation.

Of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has said, if the Opposition are right, then the Committee has never been suspended. There is this element of doubt which might make our proceedings later on tonight out of order. Obviously the Government do not want that to happen.

Therefore, merely to carry on, with the possibility that everything we say and do would be meaningless, would be most unsatisfactory. Of course, we understand that the Government do not want to adjourn completely tonight, and they can stop us from doing so. Equally, they do not want everything to be out of order. The sensible course to pursue is the course suggested by the hon. Member for Westbury, by the Leader of the House, by the Home Secretary and by myself as Leader of the Opposition. Surely this is the right thing to do?

The Chairman

A sitting can only be suspended because of grave disorder.

Mr. Gordon Walker

The Home Secretary asked me if I would withdraw my Motion, but I find myself in difficulty because, as you, Sir Gordon, have indicated, it is not possible to do what the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) wanted because the Committee can only be suspended, as I understand, because of grave disorder—and we are not being invited to commit grave disorder.

9.15 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that we have to find a way out of this. Unfortunately, suspension is not the way out. I do not think that his proposal is the way out, because Mr. Speaker may rule that all our proceedings were invalid. It would be foolhardy now to embark on this, with the risk that everything we do may, by a subsequent Ruling of Mr. Speaker, be rendered retrospectively invalid. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman cannot have intended to ask us to do that. Therefore, the only way out of a position which almost every hon. Member agrees we must get out of is for me not to withdraw the Motion but for the Committee to carry it.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Nottingham, West)

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has openly boasted that all our present troubles derive horn the fact that the Closure was moved earlier. Having sat here throughout these proceedings, I agree with the hon. Gentleman.

I have been in the House for only a short time, but I understand that the Closure is one of our recognised procedures. Is it not a disgraceful reflection on Her Majesty's Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] The Opposition are very fond of shouting people down, but they are not going to shout me down. Is it not a disgraceful reflection on the Opposition that when they dislike a Motion which has been properly put and accepted by the Chair they promptly turn on the Chair? Is not this precisely what happened during the debates on the National Health Service Bill earlier this year? Will not the country regard as being extremely unsporting an Opposition who, when they dislike the rules, turn on the referee?

Mr. Ede

I understand that the suggestion is that Mr. Speaker should be asked to give a Ruling about something which has happened during the sittings of a Committee of the whole House. Let us be quite certain of this. Historically we sit in Committee of the whole House so that we shall be protected from the Rulings of Mr. Speaker. This goes back to the time before Mr. Speaker Lenthall's retort to His Majesty Charles I. Prior to that Mr. Speaker was too often regarded as being the conveyor of messages from the Crown to the House to tell it what to do, as was evidenced on the occasion a few years before the visit of King Charles I when Denzil Holies held Mr. Speaker in the Chair to insist on him sitting after the King had sent Mr. Speaker instructions to adjourn the House.

One has heard from time to time various Speakers say, "I know nothing about what goes on in Committee".

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

Except in the case of grave disorder.

Mr. Ede

I have every respect for my right hon. Friend, but I do not want to go beyond what I believe to be historically ascertained precedents.

I am as anxious as any other hon. Member to see the Committee get out of a difficult position, but I am certain that with regard to what happens in Committee, unless a Motion is put on the Order Paper challenging the decision of the person occupying the Chair at the time, the Committee will sooner or later have to settle the difficulties which have arisen today.

I regret having to say that I think the Opposition were treated with grave discourtesy by the Minister in charge of the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) asked some very pertinent questions with regard to the statistics on which these debates had been conducted. It was quite evident that it caused some perturbation on the Government Front Bench, because the Minister of State immediately went to the Official Box, and papers were handed to him. He discussed them with the officials in the presence of the whole Committee. If he had been instructed by the Minister in charge of the Bill that it was his duty to do that. I am making no complaint about it.

He then came back. The Minister of Labour as well as the Minister in charge of the Bill were then on the Front Bench, and they considered these papers. Then the Parliamentary Private Secretary was dispatched to the Official Box and he had a discussion there. Then the Home Secretary went to the Official Box. Those of us who were here at the time know that I am merely reciting history. The Home Secretary went out through those doors and came back shortly afterwards, and then threw a note across the Table to my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North.

My right hon. Friend showed it to me. It started off by saying, "I am not going to discuss the statistics on this Amendment." I gathered that to be an intimation that there would be some discussion of the statistics at a later date. I saw the document for only a minute, but I think that I have conveyed its gist quite accurately to the Committee.

If the Home Secretary was anxious to get a decision from the Committee, I suggest that the courteous thing for him to have done—and I say this as an ex-Leader of the House—was to put at the bottom of the note, "Do not you think it is about time that we moved on to the next Amendment?" Instead of that, when the hon. Member then addressing the Committee sat down one of the subordinate Whips jumped up and moved the Closure. That has been the cause of the trouble today. I am very sorry, Sir Gordon, that you have been involved in something that did not really originate from any action of yours.

I therefore suggest that the proper thing would be to accept the position that we were in after the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) spoke, and that my right hon. Friend's Motion to report Progress should be put and carried. It is true that that will involve the Government in some loss of time. They will be more sorry for that than I shall. I also suggest that between now and the next sitting of the House, or between now and the beginning of next week consultation should take place about the difficulties that arose over the Mace, but I hope that any Ruling as to what happened to the Mace on this occasion, and its effect on the proceedings of the House while we were in Committee, will be a matter for the Committee and not for a Ruling by Mr. Speaker.

The Chairman

I am in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. The position is that proceedings in Committee are matters for the Committee and not for Mr. Speaker, but any question about the Mace when I was in Mr. Speaker's Chair is a question which comes within the province of Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)

I am puzzled, as I am sure are many hon. Members, by the behaviour of the Leader of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I mean the official Leader of the House, and I am saying this in all respect. A short time ago he confessed that he was in doubt about our constitutional position at the moment. He accepted the general view that the Mace was not in its proper place. So gravely in doubt was the right hon. Gentleman that he suggested to you, Sir Gordon, that you again suspend the sitting so that we could resolve our difficulties. Apparently you cannot do that because the resolve is not great enough at the moment.

If, therefore, the Leader of the House is still in doubt about our position. surely he must accept this Motion and vote for it. Otherwise, whatever we do for the rest of the night, whether it turns out to be right or wrong in the end, is something about which the right hon. Gentleman himself will be in doubt and will continue to be in doubt all night if this Motion is not carried. So I think that the whole Committee would be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he made his position clear.

Mr. G. Brown

I rise to make an appeal to the Government on this Motion. If this Motion were now to be accepted, the Government would not lose anything that is final or really very harsh for them. We should go away half an hour before the end of the normal Parliamentary day. The admitted dubiety about part of our proceedings could then be cleared up tomorrow in a dignified and respectful way. The House, or the Committee, could then return to its labours on the Bill without the rest of the proceedings being subject to doubt or subject, as inevitably it otherwise would be, to a good deal of tension and high feeling.

I submit to the Leader of the House, if he is to answer, or to the Howe Secretary, that it really would be in accord with the feelings of all hon. Members if we were to bring this to a dignified and an orderly end now. Clearly, it cannot be brought to an end in any other way than by accepting the Motion. I listened carefully to the Home Secretary when he suggested that somehow we should find a way of carrying on, subject to what Mr. Speaker might rule tomorrow. But I suggest that upon reflection the Home Secretary will not feel that that would be a dignified way for the House to go on. It is tantamount to saying, "Let us go on for hours, and purport to have a debate and take decisions and then, maybe, tomorrow afternoon we shall find that they are all ruled out of order."

I do not think that anybody would suggest that a sovereign Parliament should behave in that way. It might be all right for a debating society but not, I suggest, for the House of Commons. The point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was dealt with by your predecessor in the Chair, Sir William, when he pointed out that the issue is not whether we were a properly constituted Committee when the Committee was abruptly brought to an end. The issue is whether any of the subsequent proceedings in the House were in order on the ground of whether we were at that time properly constituted as a House.

I submit that on every ground the right thing to do now is to accept that we have got into a tangle. We need not go over the question again of who is to blame and how it arose. We know it arose. One of the good things about this debate—despite some of the speeches which have been made—is that nobody has challenged the recollection of those of us who were here at the time when we went back into the House. There is no dispute about the facts. There is grave dubiety about the constitutional position as the result of those admitted facts. That being so, I should have thought that there is everything to be said, for the sake of this Bill and for the future of the House, that we should bring this to an end in an orderly and dignified manner.

I therefore say to the Home Secretary that since there is no way of suspending, short of going into grave disorder—and that we have not done and there is no point in doing so—and since we cannot do it in that way, he recognises that the only possible way out is to accept the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I willingly respond to the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). When I made my suggestion I was aware of the point made by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that Mr. Speaker does not know what happens in Committee, but I was also aware, Sir William, of what your predecessor in the Chair said, namely, that when the Chairman was acting as Mr. Deputy-Speaker and the Mace was in question the matter was one for Mr. Speaker. That is why I suggested that the ruling might be one for Mr. Speaker, which, in my opinion, might be the right solution.

The Leader of the Opposition pointed out a valid constitutional fact which I cannot counter, that if my suggestion were adopted there might be doubt about the validity of our proceedings. I have to accept that, and I ask my right hon. Friends, hon. Friends, and the House generally to accept that as a fact. I think that the matter will be cleared up by the Ruling from the Chair. But if there is dubiety, then the whole question of the dignity of the House arises.

In the circumstances, I think that I must revise what I said to the Committee, not in respect of the constitutional position or the procedure of the House, in which I was not wrong, but on the subject of dubiety on which I was not correct arising in the later proceedings. I think that we have to accept that as a stark fact—and the Government have to accept it whether they like it or not—because, if we have dubiety about our proceedings, progress on the Bill will not be accelerated.

I am, therefore, in a position to say that I consider that there is no other constitutional development which we can follow in view of the dubiety which has been acknowledged by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House than to accept the Motion of the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). I do not want to say very much more, because I have acknowledged exactly the position in which we find ourselves about this constitutional dubiety, but I must say that it is the Government's intention to get this important Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has referred to the point. I cannot accept that it is the Government's fault that we have not made greater progress. The fault does not lie on this side of the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I can- not accept the position as stated by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Government will have to review the position of the Bill and its future. All I can say tonight is that I will accept, in the spirit put by the right hon. Member for Belper and by the Leader of the Opposition, the fact that we should be right constitutionally to accept the Motion.

Mr. G. Brown

If I may, I should like to express our thanks to the Home Secretary for the way in which he has responded to the point which we put to him? As to his complaint that as an Opposition we have been criticising and exercising our Opposition functions too strongly, I imagine that there has never been a Government all through the ages which did not feel the same about any Opposition; and no doubt it will go on like that whichever party occupies the Government benches. I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I will not keep the House for more than a minute, but I must strike a slightly cynical note. The fact that the Home Secretary has been kind enough to be generous to the Committee, I suggest, is for one reason, and one reason only. I hope that I am not being too cynical when I say that I am sure that before many hours are over there will be a time-table Motion on the Order Paper providing for a Guillotine. In other words, the right hon. Gentleman has given us exactly nothing.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.

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