§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I beg to move,
That this House regrets the action of the Chairman of Ways and Means in accepting a 1026 Motion for closure of debate on the Ways and Means Resolution during the sitting of Wednesday, 8th February and thereby infringing the rights of minorities by such acceptance when large numbers of Members still wished to speak and the Minister had not yet replied to points made during the debate.
Any Motion which reflects upon the conduct of the Chair, whether it be upon the conduct of Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means, the Deputy-Chairman, or any other person who occupies the Chair temporarily, is a very serious matter. It is serious not least because it involves criticism of an individual who, by tradition, does not take part in this debate, or, indeed, in any other debate. Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means that, in putting down this Motion, we intend no personal animosity towards him. There is no hostility towards him personally on our side whatever. He is a deservedly popular Member of this House and has many friends on both sides of the House. But we have put it down because, unhappily, we 1027 felt that his conduct as Chairman during the proceedings in the early hours of last Thursday morning was at fault.
A debate of this kind is important for another reason. The whole of our proceedings in this Chamber are intimately bound up with the respect for the Chair, which is traditional, indeed one might say inherent, in our Parliamentary history. And we all of us without exception much prefer a situation when throughout the House all hon. Members have full confidence in the impartiality, the firmness and the determination of the Chairman to conduct our proceedings in accordance with the rules of the House. So, of course, any challenge to this principle in a particular case should not and must not be made lightly.
Nevertheless, the right of such challenge must be upheld. There have been right hon. and hon. Gentleman who have seemed, in earlier debates of a similar kind, to question that right and to deplore the putting down of a Motion of this kind by any hon. Member on the grounds that we must never do anything which in any way could undermine confidence in the Chair. But if we were to accept that point of view that the Chairman was, so to speak, beyond criticism, it would seriously interfere with our own rights as hon. Members of this House. In fact, in our Parliamentary history critical Motions on the Chair have been quite frequently put down. There is no need for me to quote the examples of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) in the debate earlier this afternoon on another Motion. There are, of course, far more frequent and far more recent occasions. Indeed, since the war, in this House of Commons we have, I think, had at least four Motions of this kind put down and debated.
The noble Lord, Lord Hailsham, who was then an hon. Member of this House, put down a critical Motion regarding the present Lord Milner. Lord Crookshank, then Captain Crookshank. with the support of the then Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) put down an equally critical Motion of Major Milner as he then was. My hon. 1028 Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) put down a Motion which criticised Mr. Speaker in, I think, 1952, and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) put down and spoke to a Motion on the Chairman of Ways and Means equally critical in the December of that year.
Perhaps it is not without significance that the last two of these four Motions criticised the Chair on the ground of the acceptance of Closure Motions. It is not surprising that the acceptance of a Closure Motion should sometimes provoke a strong reaction on the part of the Opposition because, after all, the Closure is far the most powerful instrument the Government have to railroad their business through the House of Commons if they so desire. I am not for one moment questioning the need for the power to closure our debate to exist. Obviously, the Government in the last resort must be able to stop a long period of obstruction and delay on the part of the Opposition. Nobody questions that, and without it, or something akin to it—the Guillotine on Committee stages of Bills—certainly the power of the Opposition would, I think, be too great in relation to Government business.
But having said that, I must emphasise that the right to closure must be very carefully exercised and the manner in which it is used must be properly confined so far as possible within clearly defined limits. For this protection, to ensure that the Closure is not used unfairly or in an arbitrary manner, or in a manner which infringes the rights of minorities, we depend upon the person who occupies the Chair. This is, indeed, laid down very precisely in our Standing Orders, in Standing Order No. 29, which I will quote. In its first paragraph, it states:After a question has been proposed a Member rising in his place may claim to move, "That the Question be now put.' and, unless it shall appear to the chair that such motion is an abuse of the rules of the House, or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the question. "That the question be now put," shall be put forthwith, and decided without amendment or debate.That makes it perfectly plain that the Chairman, the person who occupies the Chair, has to accept this Motion unless, in his opinion, it isan abuse of the rules of the House, or an infringement of the rights of the minority.1029 The exceptions are of the most vital importance. It is, in effect, because we believe that the acceptance of the Closure Motion by the Chairman on the occasion to which I have referred was an infringement of the rights of the minority in this House that we have felt obliged to put down the Motion. That is the gravamen of our charge against the right hon. Gentleman.
There is one other thing which I think proper to say at this stage of my remarks. The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy-Chairman, as we all know, are appointed by the Government. I do not seek to alter that arrangement. It is sanctified by many years of usage, but it does, I think, make it especially important that as Chairmen they should not only be but be seen to be totally independent of the Government, since precisely because they are Government nominees there is perhaps a greater danger that it might be supposed that contacts exist between them and the Government. It is impossible to avoid saying that an Opposition must always be very sensitive to any possible idea of collusion—of understanding—between the Chairman on the one side and the Government Front Bench on the other.
I now turn to the particular incidents which have led us to put down this Motion. I must refer, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper did earlier this afternoon, to the debate which had begun on Wednesday evening last week. As hon. Members know, it was a debate on the Ways and Means Resolution preceding the National Health Service Bill. This is a matter, we all agree, of intense party political controversy. It is certainly the most controversial matter which the Government have introduced since the beginning of this Session. It is quite inevitable in these circumstances, combined as it is with a number of other changes, that there should be high emotion raised on both sides of the House or Committee.
It is not surprising that both in the debate which took place during the afternoon and in the debate on the Ways and Means Resolution a great deal of emotion was displayed, quite naturally, by hon. Members in the course of the proceedings. I do not think we need apologise for that. It is a well understood thing in this House that hon. Members feel keenly about these matters.
1030 Although there are occasions when in the course of our business relatively non-controversial discussions take place, equally there are other occasions—there have been many famous ones in our history—when intense controversy arises. This was such an occasion. The debate opened at 10.25 p.m. with a speech by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He said in the course of that speech, indeed, right at the beginning, that he would confine himselfto an exposition of the Government's proposalsand wouldnot indulge in a great deal of argument or justification".He went on to say:There will be plenty of opportunity for more argumentative discussion in which I and others will be delighted to take part.I do not know what exactly he meant by that, whether he meant that in the course of debate on the Ways and Means Resolution there would be plenty of opportunity, or that he was saying there would be opportunities later on when the Bill was debated. Certainly his remarks could have been, and I think were, understood by hon. Members in the first sense.
After his speech which, as one hon. Member complained, he delivered somewhat rapidly and which contained a fair number of figures which were not altogether easy to follow, five hon. Members spoke. They were: my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), replying from the Opposition Front Bench, my right hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper), and my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White). I do not propose to refer to any of those speeches which proceeded—although the debate was a lively one—in a more or less normal fashion until the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East. She was interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond), who, as reported in column 567 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, rose on a point of order and referred to the behaviour of the Government Chief Whip. He said: 1031Now that the Chief Whip has resumed his seat, Sir, may I ask, with deference, whether you propose to disclose the conversation that has just taken place between you and the Chief Whip?The Chairman, I think quite properly, refused to disclose the nature of that private conversation. Nevertheless, it was that movement of the Chief Whip to the Chairman which started all this trouble, because it was evident, or at any rate it appeared very likely, to my hon. Friends that what they were in fact discussing was the question of whether and when the debate should be closured. This point was taken up by a number of hon. Members shortly afterwards. For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) at 12.15 a.m. expressed his concern when he said:On a point of order. Before my hon. Friend begins his speech, may I draw your attention, Sir Gordon, to the fact that twelve of my hon. Friends rose to their feet? In view of the fact that at the end of a speech it is sometimes known for the Chief Patronage Secretary to ask for a Closure Motion to be accepted, will you take into account that if he does that, it would be, in the words of the Standing Order,'… an infringement of the rights of the minority … 'This point was pursued somewhat further by other hon. Members, and finally, at 12.30 a.m., the Chairman called upon the Financial Secretary to reply. Of course, it is natural that when that happened the Opposition should suspect that it meant the beginning of the end of the debate, that the Financial Secretary was being called and that the Chief Whip, after his speech, would closure the debate altogether. Whereupon my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper got to his feet and put this position to the Chairman, and a number of hon. Members did the same.
The Chairman was asked whether he was going to allow the Closure. The Chief Whip was asked whether he was going to move the Closure. The Financial Secretary was asked whether it was his intention to reply to the debate finally or merely to answer some of the questions that had been asked. No clear answers were forthcoming from any of the hon. or right hon. Gentlemen concerned.
Later, my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper, failing to get satis- 1032 factory answers to any of these interventions about what was to happen to the debate, proceeded to move to report Progress and made a speech in which he repeated the arguments which had been implied by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East, saying, in effect, that the Chief Whip had quite clearly gone round to the Chairman in order to discuss with him the question of the Closure Motion "and then", to use the words of my right hon. Friends:prodded to his feet the up-to-then somnolent figure of the Financial Secretary."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 8th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 567, 570, 579.]He went on to point out that there were not twelve but at least twenty hon. Members on this side of the Committee and one hon. Member opposite who were still anxious to speak.
The Financial Secretary began his speech eventually by saying that it had been the custom in debates in which he had taken part in Committee for a Minister to rise after two hours to answer some of the points put to him. I do not know quite where he got that idea. I know of no particular rule, and the Chairman, asked for his guidance on this matter, said that it could not be accepted as a principle and, to use his words, thatThere is no particular rule.Interventions occurred for some time in circumstances which are familiar to us all and against a background which I think I have adequately described. Eventually, rather surprisingly, the Patronage Secretary got to his feet—rather surprisingly, because Chief Whips do not often make speeches. He made what was for him quite a long speech and attempted to answer some of the things which had been said about his behaviour. He explained that he had meant no discourtesy to my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East, and he continued:As for my other movements about the House, these are common form in the House. I have certain duties to perform on this side of the House, just as the hon. Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Bowden) has certain duties on the other side of the Committee.In saying that, he naturally increased the suspicion on this side of the Committee that the Closure was to be moved.
1033 He continued—which made it even worse:My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, in accordance with ordinary procedure, proposes to answer some of the points which have so far been put in this rather complicated debate. … If, after that, I, as Patronage Secretary, choose to move the Closure in my own poor wisdom, it is entirely up to the Chair whether it is accepted. I move it at my own risk. If the Ohair does not accept it, I look a precious ass.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If I may say so to the Chief Whip, that was a very unfortunate phrase to use, because unless one were to assume that he wished to look "a precious ass", clearly he would have taken the precaution of making sure that he would not be made to look "a precious ass". The very clear implication of that remark, therefore, was that he had made sure with the Chairman beforehand that he would not be made to look "a precious ass".
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper then proceeded to challenge the Patronage Secretary, as he said this afternoon, and to give him a number of warnings about what might take place if he moved the Closure. I should have said earlier that the Chairman had refused my right hon. Friend's Motion, to use his own words, "at this stage". The Chairman said:I do not propose to accept that Motion at this stage.There followed another short interval, during which there were interjections of one kind or another and points of order were raised, and there was a very natural and growing suspicion not merely that the Chief Whip would move the Closure but, because of the words which he had used, that there had been collusion between the Chair and the Chief Whip. There was growing concern on our side.
Shortly afterwards the Patronage Secretary rose and made his second speech. If possible, it was even worse than his first speech—even more unfortunate, First of all he said:This is a most difficult situation.1034 Indeed it was for him. Then he said:The fact of the matter is that this debate is only, as it were, a paving stage for a Bill which will have a Second Reading and a Committee Stage on the Floor of this House. It is, therefore, in a different set of circumstances from many of our stages of procedure.I do not accept that for one moment. Has the Patronage Secretary forgotten that the whole of our Budget debate takes place in Committee of Ways and Means on Resolutions which are required before the Finance Bill is introduced? Do we dismiss it in a couple of hours? We do not. We spend several days upon it. In a controversial issue of this kind, we completely disagree with the idea so blatantly put out by the Patronage Secretary that because this was only a paving stage, he had the right to intervene. He went on to say:As Patronage Secretary, I am in an awkward position. I said before that responsibility for moving the Closure is entirely mine, and that it is up to me to risk whether or not it will be accepted.He then went on:As it is obvious that at this moment we shall not make any progress in this way, I must put the matter to the test."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 585–8.]He moved, "That the Question be now put", and the Chairman accepted it.
I want to comment on the last words of his last speech. They show that he was moving the Closure not because he thought that the subject had been adequately debated but because he was not making any progress. What it suggests to our minds is that the Chairman accepted it on precisely the same grounds.
When we turn to consider the Chairman's conduct, we must certainly bear in mind that the situation was not an easy situation to handle and that passions were roused. But it is the test of a good Chairman, when passions are roused, whether he can adequately control them and continue to direct the business of the House in a manner broadly satisfactory to all Members of it.
The Chairman first of all refused to accept my right hon. Friend's Motion "at this stage". The phrase "at this stage" suggests to most people that he might consider accepting it at a later stage and that he feels that there ought to be rather more discussion. At least, quite clearly the Chairman at that point had in mind—I do not think that there 1035 is the slightest doubt about this—that he wished the Minister to reply. He had already called upon him to reply, and no doubt it was in his mind not to accept the Motion, although indeed he could have allowed it, there could have been a Division, and it could have been defeated; he was not then prepared to accept the Motion. He wanted the debate to go on, and he had called the Financial Secretary.
Yet, although the Financial Secretary had spoken what amounts to only a few paragraphs—barely paragraphs; a few lines in HANSARD—when the Chief Whip suddenly moved the Closure with the words which I have mentioned, the Chairman proceeded to accept it.
This is an extraordinary state of affairs. If the Chairman calls a Minister to reply, because he thinks that he ought to reply, and then proceeds to accept the Closure before the Minister has replied, how can he reconcile that with his previous intentions? Clearly he could not have changed his mind. The Chairman could not have changed his mind about whether the debate should go on or not. I am afraid that it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that, just as the Chief Whip moved the Closure because not enough progress was being made, so the Chairman accepted the Closure on the ground that there was too much disturbance in the Committee.
I venture to say that that is not an adequate reason for accepting the Closure. If there is disorder in the House, there are other means open to the Chairman. This matter has arisen already in the course of the earlier debate, although it was mostly cut short because it was clearly out of order.
We know the other courses which are open to the Chairman. He can name an hon. Member, or more than one if he thinks that they are causing disturbance which they should not do. If he considers that there is grave disorder, he can proceed to adjourn the House. It is true that, in order to do so, he must first occupy the seat of Mr. Speaker. That is a simple matter. He has only to rise to his feet to say, "Order, order". The Mace is then put in its place and he himself has to occupy Mr. Speaker's Chair. Then, as Mr. Deputy-Speaker, he is entitled to, and can, adjourn the House without any further Question.
1036 The significant thing is that the right hon. Gentleman did not name hon. Members. At the point at which the Patronage Secretary was intervening he apparently did not consider that at that stage there was a grave state of disorder in the Committee. Instead, he accepted the Closure. Yet, apparently, as soon as the business was through and the Government business was safe, he proceeded to adjourn the House on the ground of grave disorder.
I very much regret to say this, but in these circumstances it is very hard for the Opposition not to believe that there was some form of collusion between the Government and the Chair. I wish to make it plain that, in my view, the main responsibility for the whole of this affair rests principally with the Patronage Secretary and his extraordinarily clumsy and stupid handling of the situation. The quotations I have given from his two most maladroit interventions show very clearly how true that is.
We cannot take the view that, because the Chief Whip has behaved badly, the Chairman is not to blame. If, indeed, the Chief Whip was wrong, as I believe he was, to move the Closure in those circumstances, the Chairman was doubly wrong to accept it. He was not right to accept it instead of taking the other action which I suggest he should have taken, and could indeed have taken somewhat earlier, particularly bearing in mind that only a short while later, after the business had got through in a manner which we have discussed very fully this afternoon, profoundly unsatisfactory to this side of the House, he proceeded to use Standing Order No. 24 after all.
The whole procedure, taken in its context, was in our view a serious infringement of minority rights. In standing up for these, we stand up not only for ourselves as the present Opposition but for all future Oppositions. It is our duty as Her Majesty's Opposition to ensure that the use of the Closure is properly limited and is not allowed to become an instrument which simply imposes the will of the Executive upon the Legislature.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Before coming to my main point I want to say a few words about the words Mr. Speaker used last week when he sought 1037 to admonish the House for doing something at a time when he was not present. These words should be said. It was Mr. Speaker Lenthall who said, in the Chair, that he had only eyes to see or ears to hear or tongue to speak such as the House directed him. It is very unfortunate if Mr. Speaker tends to take on himself the task of giving even an implied rebuke to the House, except by direction of the House.
Further, this can get the Chair into serious difficulties. There was an occasion in 1914 when Mr. Bonar Law answered that one. That was the occasion on which Mr. Speaker of the time attempted to admonish Mr. Bonar Law and ask his opinion. Mr. Bonar Law's reply was one which could serve us now. He said to Mr. Speaker of the day:I would not presume to criticise what you consider your duty, Sir, but I know mine, and that is not to answer any such questions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May, 1914; Vol. 62, c. 2214]Therefore, I think that Mr. Speaker, with great respect—I have a great respect for him—had better not take on to himself the task of admonishing the Opposition at a time such as this.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order, order. I am becoming a little worried by what the hon. Member is saying, because the Motion relates to the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means.
§ Mr. Pannell
I, also, am very worried, but I have finished with the point now. It was necessary to say it. I know that Mr. Speaker will resume the Chair at about a quarter past nine. I am only sorry that I could not have said it when he was present. It is part of the background to the difficulty that we are discussing today.
The real point of the difficulty, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) said, is that the Patronage Secretary moved the Closure When the Financial Secretary was literally on his feet and took on to himself the function of the Chair. We do not want to exonerate the Government in order to "slate" the Chairman of Ways and Means, but today the Parliamentary wicket is beginning to take a little more spin. We feel very strongly about this matter.
1038 What is charged against the Chairman of Ways and Means? It is not that we think that he is a bad man doing something which he knows is wicked. We do not even think that he is a good man thinking that he is doing right. We think that he is a rather kind and inadequate man who made an awful mess of things at a crucial moment. Consequently, in effect, he lowered the tone of the debate and tended to destroy the belief in the impartiality of the Chair.
The offices of the Chair are within the gift of the Government, but the Chairman of Ways and Means may never look on himself merely as a Parliamentary placeman. We say that last week he acted in the manner of a Parliamentary placeman. It would be a very bad thing indeed if the Chairman of Ways and Means appears to connive in any way with the Government to limit the rights of free speech. We have a great deal of compassion for the Chair, but we must bring to it people, and we must see that the people are brought to it, who have the ability to rise to a crisis. The Chairman is always protected to a degree by the Clerk, but we must not refer to what the Clerk has done because, eventually, the Chair it is who must take responsibility.
There have been great Chairmen and Speakers of this House who, with not a Standing Order to guide them, have risen in their place and mastered a crisis. That is What we look for. We say that in the choice of people Who are the Chairmen and Deputy-Chairman the Government must ensure that they get people of sufficient calibre to rise to their opportunities. After all, after ten years of Tory office the benches opposite are simply bristling with baronets. There are about ninety knights, most of them discards, having previously been Under-Secretaries. It does seem to me that they might reasonably do a stint of that sort.
It is not the man in the office who counts, it is the office itself that counts and the dignity of the office. When there are matters as emotive as the question of charges on the sick, the old and the poor, the Chairman should have a sense of atmosphere. If we just considered the Chairman and his rights, and let him go scot-free, then, to paraphrase Paine's famous saying, we should just be thinking of the plumage, forgetting the dying bird. I hope that no hon. Member opposite will say that this is all 1039 rather improper. [An HON. MEMBER: Nobody did."] Nobody did, but I hope that nobody will say it is all rather improper, all rather heresy hunting and not the done thing.
I was reminded of this because the other Saturday I went to see Lord Milner, in hospital. I am sure that the House will sympathise with him in the amputation of his leg, which springs from a long-continuing illness resulting from a wound in the 1914–18 war. I am reminded of the treatment to which he was subjected by hon. Members on the other side, particularly on 21st June, 1951. It is well-known that the Chairman of Ways and Means seeks the guidance of the Clerk of the House in the selection of Amendments on the Finance Bill, and that is all that Major Milner had done—because, after all, he had had sixteen years as Chairman of Committees or Deputy-Chairman.
That did not stop a full-scale attack being mounted on him, led by Captain Crookshank and supported by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). There were then attacks on the impartiality of the Chair which expressed concern and it might be appropriate today to quote the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford on that occasion. He said:… one may be unfairly treated just as much by an error of judgment as by want of good faith or malice. We do not impute malice. There was an error of judgment which resulted, in practice, in what we consider unfair treatment of the Opposition in regard to important Amendments … That is what has brought us to this point today …and that is, of course, the charge that we are making tonight.
The right hon. Gentleman added:If it is to be negatived let it be done by the House."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1951; Vol. 489, c. 739–40.]The Conservative Party did not think about that then. They were not in favour of withdrawing the Motion, having said their piece, any more than they were eighteen months previously when the present Lord Hailsham—then Mr. Quintin Hogg, the hon. Member for Oxford, moved the Motion. On that occasion Mr. Anthony Eden, as he then was, or Mr. Quintin Hogg, advised his party that he thought it would be best if 1040 the House disposed of it, not by withdrawing the Motion but taking the feeling of the House without a Division.
In fact, there was no withdrawal of the Motion at all. That is what was done and I should have thought that was the worst of both worlds—willing to wound, but afraid to strike. From that day on there was plenty of gossip around the House which suggested that Major Milner should not be the normal heir to Mr. Speaker's Chair. We remember that, too; and I do not want to refer to that later controversy when we had to divide the House on the selection of Mr. Speaker.
I have said all I want to say, but I do express the deep feelings of the back benchers on a matter such as this. I go a little further than my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, there is no personal rancour in this. It is merely the fact that I judge Mr. Speaker, the Chairman, or even you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as to whether you are an adequate tool for your job—to use the phraseology of my own trade. In that capacity, I suggest that the Chairman of Ways and Means has failed. If this is a matter on which my Front Bench decide that we should go into the Lobby to express that opinion I shall cheerfully go in behind them.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
It seems to me that the second debate we are having today is much more important than the first one and raises much deeper issues. I have taken some care to read carefully and to analyse the debate as reported in HANSARD.
The first point, and this is not so important in itself, is that there were 32 bogus points of order between the opening of the debate and the Division. There is nothing very unusual about that—it very often happens in our proceedings—but those bogus points of order do supply some commentary on the quality of the debate.
The more interesting point in this context is that, certainly by length, rather more than one-third of those points of order were about the Closure. I do not remember a previous debate where the Chair has been subject to exactly that sort of treatment. The first Question, the House may remember, was: what 1041 did the Chief Whip say to the Chair? Then there was a clear implication that to grant the Closure—which is, of course, entirely in the Chair's discretion—would be an infringement of the rights of minorities.
It is perfectly all right to abuse the Chief Whip—that is what he is there for; he is abused by everybody, on both sides of the House—but it is quite a different matter to try to exercise pressure on the Chair in this way. Any fair-minded person who reads that debate will get the impression that the Chair was being threatened. The Chairman of Ways and Means was first accused of being a creature of the Chief Whip, and it was then made perfectly clear that if he did, in his wisdom, grant the Closure, there would be hell's own row. That was made absolutely clear to him.
Whether those threats were in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, whether they had any effect on him in deciding to grant the Closure, I do not know, but I think that they certainly should have had. After all, if the Chair is to be subject, over a long period, as it was in this debate, to abuse and threats about the Chief Whip, two things will happen. It is quite simple. First, it may be difficult to get Government business through—and hon. Members opposite will not mind about that. Secondly, and more important, it may be very difficult indeed to get anybody to be Chairman. Not many people would really wish to suffer the sort of treatment that my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means got—[Interruption.] It will not be at all easy to get people to take on the job if they are to be threatened and bullied in this way.
Personally, I very much hope that there will not be a Division this evening but, if there is a Division, I hope that there can be no question whatever of the Chairman of Ways and Means resigning his post. He is one of the fairest and most courteous men I have ever met, and it would be an evil day for this House if he were hounded from his position.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I feel that I should intervene in this debate as being one of those who was here throughout the proceedings we are now discussing and, perhaps, as one of the more fortunate 1042 ones, in that I had already been called to speak before the debate was closured.
I appreciate the point put by my neighbour, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), and I am sure that we all have the utmost sympathy with the Chairman of Ways and Means personally. He was placed in a very difficult position. I have had nothing but perfect courtesy from him, but I think that in the very difficult circumstances in which he found himself he made an error of judgment that might happen to anyone placed in similar circumstances. It was a very difficult position.
The real culprit, we have no doubt at all, is the Patronage Secretary. There are, of course, minor villains of the piece—if the Leader of the House does not mind being called a "minor villain". His Parliamentary Private Secretary was here for the greater part of the debate. When it became clear that difficulties were arising between hon. Members and the Chair, the Parliamentary Private Secretary left the Chamber. One can only assume—we have been assuming a good deal today—that he went to acquaint the Leader of the House with the nature of the difficult situation which was arising. I wish to be entirely accurate, since I could not myself see that part of the Chamber behind Mr. Speaker's Chair, but I have been told by several of my hon. Friends who saw him that the Leader of the House stood behind the Chair for some time and then withdrew. His Parliamentary Private Secretary had meanwhile returned to the Chamber, having done his duty, very properly.
It is very difficult to know just what was in the mind of the Leader of the House at a time when things were already becoming difficult during what was bound to be a highly emotional debate. The right hon. Gentleman's mind is a complex one. I would hesitate to say that I could read it. It might be said of him, as was said of Robespierre, that "his reputation for virtue won for him the name of Incorruptible". I do not add the adjective "sea-green". It is a little difficult for those of us who are concerned about the conduct of business in the House fully to appreciate what were the motives of the Leader of the House in coming in and then retiring 1043 at a time when there was no senior Minister on the Government Front Bench. The Clerk-Assistant was at the Table. The learned Clerk himself was not there. It was perfectly plain that things were likely to be difficult, and it is not easy to appreciate for whom the Leader of the House was anxious that they should become more difficult.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
I am sure that the hon. Lady wishes to be fair. Has it occurred to her that last Wednesday night the Leader of the House as Home Secretary may have had grave matters on his mind which none of us would care to have to consider?
§ Mrs. White
With respect, I think that at that hour of the night, then past midnight, the Leader of the House should have put his first duty to the House of Commons. He surely could, during the earlier hours of the day, have had time to consider his duties in other public offices he may hold. I contend that his first duty in the circumstances was to the House of Commons.
I say these things because, while the Motion refers, as it constitutionally must refer, only to the Chairman of Ways and Means, there were other villains in the piece, among whom, I myself think, the Leader of the House was one. He failed to appreciate what was happening in the Chamber, and the Committee was led into a position which did not add to its dignity or to the proper conduct of Government business.
The other villain, quite clearly, as we have all said, was the Patronage Secretary. He started by arousing a slight suspicion in our minds by going round among Members of his own party on the benches behind him in the most ostentatious way, so that we were not entirely surprised when, later, not one single hon. Member opposite rose to speak. Again, we were making assumptions. It is just possible that they were discussing the weather, but it seems improbable that they were.
While I myself was speaking, the Patronage Secretary rose and, again with extraordinary and quite unnecessary ostentation, went to speak to the Chairman of Ways and Means. With equal ostentation, he returned to his place.
1044 Before my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) had intervened at all, I myself remarked on the disturbing behaviour of the right hon. Gentleman. At the bottom of column 567 in HANSARD, it is recorded that I paused in my speech and said that I would wait until the Patronage Secretary had taken his seat. It is quite true that he did not come between me and the Chair and he was not guilty of any discourtesy in that sense, but I should not have made a remark of that kind had not the Committee been already disturbed by the right hon. Gentleman's behaviour. It was that which led me to say what I did.
When I came to resume my speech, I said that the Patronage Secretary had interrupted the debate. He did not interrupt it by word of mouth, but he had most clearly done so by his demeanour. It was from that moment, as the interjections which were made clearly show, that we on this side felt that our suspisions were confirmed and that the Patronage Secretary had no intention of allowing the very large number of Members on this side who wished to speak to do so.
Those of us who have had any Parliamentary experience know that there are some oocasions when the Opposition quite deliberately set out to obstruct Government business. It is not unknown. I shall never forget my first baptism of fire in this House during the Parliament of 1950–51 when members of the party opposite, which was in Opposition, were pastmasters of the art. I emphasise that on the occasion that we are discussing that was not so. The speeches which were made were not in any sense filibustering or obstructionist speeches. One has a sense whether hon. Members are speaking with their tongues in their cheeks, even when they are one's own colleagues. This was not one of those occasions, and I should like most emphatically to underline that, especially for the benefit of those hon. Members opposite who were not present at the time. Merely reading HANSARD does not always give one the complete feeling of the House.
I say with the utmost sincerity that the speeches which were made on Thursday morning were made because people felt 1045 that they had to make them. They were not filibustering speeches or made deliberately to obstruct Government business. They were brief and to the point. They were entirely appropriate to the debate which was taking place. I do not think that anyone could lay any complaint against the standard of the speeches or their relevance or helpfulness. We therefore felt that we were morally justified as an Opposition, on a matter about which we felt very strongly, in thinking that we should be given a proper hearing. It was not our fault that hon. Members opposite were taking such a small part in the debate. That was a matter between themselves and their Chief Whip. In those circumstances, we could not see why we who felt deeply about the matter should not be permitted to express our opinions.
To have allowed us to proceed would have been no great hardship to anyone, except possibly to the staff of the House who are asked to stay late when the House extends its deliberations. There was no necessity to curtail the debate from the point of view of Government business. It was the ill judgment of the Patronage Secretary which led him to suppose that he could ride roughshod over the feelings of the Opposition. I repeat that his demeanour in so doing was deliberate provocation. He himself suggested at one point that he might have looked "a precious ass". He has taken to himself the nickname of Bottom the Weaver, although he hardly has the figure for it. He behaved towards the Opposition in such a contemptuous way that we regard him as contemptible.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
There are three things on which I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. First, I agree that this is a serious matter. It is serious in two ways—first, from the point of view of the procedure of the House of Commons, and, secondly, because a person is involved. Secondly, I agree that my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means is deservedly popular. I think that everyone would agree with that. Thirdly, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that he has the right to challenge any decision made by the Chairman of Ways and Means or, for that matter, Mr. Speaker. Democracy would not work unless that challenge was there.
1046 I hope that nobody on the other side will suggest that we on this side disregard, or want to disregard, the right of anybody in this House to challenge it in the way in which it can be done in accordance with the rules of the House. From the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and other speeches made by hon. Members opposite tonight, I think that the real gravamen of the Motion is in a way misdirected. For technical reasons, the attack has to be on the Chairman of Ways and Means, but, in fact, the charge which hon. Gentlemen made is an attack on the Chief Whip, and maybe on the Leader of the House; and that was exemplified in what the hon. Lady was saying. That is fair game. We all attack the Chief Whip at one time or another.
§ Mrs. White
The hon. Gentleman will recollect that I said that in my view the Chairman of Ways and Means was guilty of an error of judgment, which, in the Chairman of Ways and Means, is a serious matter.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I said that the main charge was against the Chief Whip and perhaps the Leader of the House, and I will leave it at that. The record is there.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I want to say only one thing more. I do not want myself to go into the argument whether the Chairman of Ways and Means made an error of judgment, as the hon. Lady thinks, or not. I do not want to go into that, because in my view, for what it is worth, in the circumstances of that night, he did not make an error of judgment. Even if he had, I should like to say that in my time, when I used to play cricket I was often out 1.b.w. wrongly when the ball was well outside the leg stump, and I accepted it. I used to play football, and I was judged offside when I was not offside many times, but I accepted it.
This is the first occasion on which the conduct of the deservedly popular Chairman of Ways and Means has been called in question at all. If this was the culmination of a series of charges, it would be a different thing altogether. I believe that the House of Commons will be doing its best and finest duty to democracy if the Opposition, having 1047 made this challenge, to which everybody has agreed they have the right, now drop the matter and not have a Division.
I should like to appeal to the Opposition, and to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who is temporarily in charge at this moment. The consequences of a Division might have a very serious effect on my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means, and as I believe that the attack is mainly directed not against him, but only for technical reasons, on an error of judgment, I hope and believe that there will not be a Division tonight, so that the question of my right hon. Friend's resignation does not arise.
But if the Opposition are determined to divide, I would echo what my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said, and hope that the Chairman of Ways and Means will not resign in any case.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I rise as an individual who has never yet, in fifteen and a half years in this House, opened that well-known book known as Erskine May. I do not want to go into all the things that happened in regard to the constitutional procedure concerning the conduct of this House. Sir Walter Citrine's book on good chairmanship was enough for me, and my chairmanship and knowledge of the conduct of affairs was gleaned in a hard school amongst ordinary men.
I want to speak as an ordinary man who expects to be treated as such, who expects to be treated as an elected representative by good people on both sides of the House, and who expects, on occasions such as last Wednesday, to be treated as men should be treated. The hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) hit the nail on the head when he referred to his cricketing days. When I was captain of my cricket team and things got a bit sticky, I tried to rearrange the batting order. I did not try to stop people going into bat. I did not try to stop people using their wiles in the use of the ball.
The Chairman of Ways and Means has been alluded to as a fine and fair-minded person. I would not know. I have never gone into his job sufficiently 1048 to know whether he was or was not. On the occasion to which we are now referring, however—if he could put his hand on his heart and say otherwise, I should have less faith in myself and my judgment—I honestly and sincerely believe that there was collusion to stop Members on this side from saying their piece.
I sat throughout the whole of the proceedings. I had a quiet word with the Leader of the House afterwards. I would say for him—he would probably be prepared to say it for himself—that he was sincerely sorry to know that this had happened. These things are the forerunner to the breakdown of democracy. Do not let us kid ourselves. It only wants somebody to raise a hand or for an elbow to be raised for a free-for-all to happen in the conditions that arose. We have seen that kind of thing happen, on radio and in television, in other countries.
I am as rough a Member of the House as there is in it. I am not one of those chaps who is given to finesse and to all the wonderful raising of points of order that are not points of order. I did not raise any of the thirty-two alleged points of order that were not. I am not good at it. Some people are too clever at it and it counts for nothing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That goes for all sides of the House. Members who cannot get called to make a speech raise a point of order and get it in the paper. That sort of thing cuts no ice with me.
The Patronage Secretary was utterly failing in his judgment of the atmosphere of the House. He utterly failed to judge the atmosphere that was prevailing. The last buses had gone and there were no more trains to catch, unless there was somebody who could run a damned sight faster that I can. It was early in the morning. There was no desperately urgent other business. There was a situation in which a lot of honest-to-God representatives of honest-to-God people were anxious and wanting to raise something which bites deeply into their souls—the question of what we consider to be the ill treatment of the poorest of the poor. Rightly so, hon. Members on this side wished to raise their point of view and to press it home. They knew that at the end of the day the Question would be 1049 carried against them. No Patronage Secretary, or any other secretary, or Chairman of Ways and Means, or, indeed, Mr. Speaker, has the right in the atmosphere then prevailing to do what was done.
We saw then an attitude of mind. We have done it ourselves. Bosses in industry do it. Big men in the trade union movement do it. We get too big a sense of our own importance, and we are not as important as all that. Democracy must survive. My allegation is that the Patronage Secretary arranged to shut the shop. He shut up the membership of his own party and he made provision to shut up the membership of this party.
Let us get it right and be honest about it. Hon. Members on this side rightly, and by means of their democratic privileges and rights, decided that there would be the devil of a row about it. In the interests of this great land of ours, which is one of the few remaining democracies, I hope and trust that treatment of the kind that I saw here, between man and man, by the Patronage Secretary, by the Leader of the House or, indeed, by Speakers of this House, will never arise again through what I consider to be a misjudgment of the atmosphere of decent people.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I have listened with great interest to the speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and I agree with him that it is not the first time that a Motion has been put down which is critical of the Chair or of the Chairman of Committees. He reminded us of the occasion on 8th December, 1952, when there was a Motion by the Opposition on the conduct of Sir Charles MacAndrew, as he then was, in accepting the Closure.
There has also been reference to the occasion on 21st June, 1951, When there was criticism of Major Milner in selecting Amendments to the Finance Bill. I would agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) and hope that we may send a message of good will to Lord Milner, who is at present in hospital after his serious operation.
Then there was the occasion on 13th April, 1949, of the Motion by the then Mr. Quintin Hogg on the conduct of Major Milner for refusing to order a Member to withdraw words. Looking at 1050 the response of the Leader of the House of the day, and the similarity of the terms of this Motion, I should just like to use some words Which, I think, were wise words used by Mr. Attlee, as he then was, on 13th April, 1949. This is what he said:The hon. Gentleman has been conducting this post mortem in the calm of this afternoon, but we have to look at what the Chair did in a very different atmosphere at the end of a hot debate, with a crowded House, and with a great deal of noise and with accusations being flung across the Floor…. The suggestion is that in every case the Chairman's duty is simple and that he has to take a certain action. However, I do not think it is always quite that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 2871.]I think that it is against the background of sensible observations such as that, made on previous occasions, that we have to consider, first, the wisdom of putting down the Motion, and secondly, the undesiraibility of carrying it. Here, I should like to make quite clear that my hon. and right hon. Friends and I think that it would be wrong that a Motion like this should be carried. After a suitable debate we trust that the Opposition, in their wisdom, will consider withdrawing it in the interests of the Chair and of the historic regard which all Members have for the Chair despite the anxiety and difficulties which they have voiced today.
I have quoted two other instances, in 1951 and 1952. My predecessor as Leader of the House in 1952, when the Chairman of Ways and Means was attacked on the question of the Closure, said thatthe Chairman of Ways and Means Is, naturally, always in a difficulty … when any question of Closure comes up.He went on to point out that the House had given discretion to the Chair, and he went on to take up the point which is in this Motion, namely, the question of majorities and minorities, and he said:Therefore, while the rights of minorities have to be safeguarded, all the rights of the majority cannot be thrown right over, nor can the rights of the House as a body be long out of the mind of the occupant of the Chair."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 8th December. 1952; Vol. 509, c. 91.]Those are the precedents for a debate like this, and it will be seen that the attempt has been made to conduct the debate in as reasonable a tone as possible and particularly with regard to the 1051 feelings of the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means on this occasion.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) pointed out the difficult character of that debate—of which I have the Official Report before me—and anybody who experienced it, like the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), will be aware that it was exceptionally noisy and rowdy. My right hon. Friend mentioned that there were 32 points of order, many of them on the question whether the Closure was put or not. Indeed, at one point the hon. Member for Gloucesitershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), whose observations I have here, said that he would not allow the Minister to deal with the points which had been raised. He preferred to be named rather than to permit my right hon. Friend to do so. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary had the greatest difficulty in saying anything at all, rising, as he did, continually to his feet.
My only point in mentioning this is not to increase bitterness, which I do most sincerely regret. I regret, as did the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), the whole episode. My point in saying this is that I am absolutely convinced that in the atmosphere of the observations made to the Chair, and the general unruliness which went on, the Chair was submitted to a great deal of strain and pressure. I do not dispute that the judgment of the Chair was caused by the disturbance which took place. I should like hon. Members, in all humanity, to consider that, before they decide to vote and, if possible, after making that protest, not to vote on this occasion.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition quoted Standing Order No. 29, which says:… unless it shall appear to the chair that such motion is an abuse of the rules of the House, or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the question, 'That the question be now put,' shall be put forthwith…." I should like to say quite definitely that the Government are no less behind the sense of Standing Order No. 29 than the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. If the debate gives me an opportunity of saying that, it will at any rate have done some good, because it is not my idea to stir up further trouble, but rather to try to get us back on the 1052 paths of democracy and working together in the House for which the hon. Member for Rotherham appealed.
§ Mr. G. Brown
Some of us have judgment to exercise here—a judgment that weighs heavily on us. So far, the right hon. Gentleman has said absolutely nothing about the real reasons for the Chair being under pressure and has offered us nothing at all in the way of guarantee about the future conduct of Government business and future regard for the right of minorities in the House. Will he discuss that in relation to the Patronage Secretary's attitude?
§ Mr. Butler
I have discussed the background and, as in my previous speech, I was proceeding with the course of my speech. But I thought that it was right to take up the request of the Leader of the Opposition and say that we stand behind the spirit of Standing Order No. 29, and certainly we expect the Chair to do so too.
Here, I come to another attempt to introduce a little more calm and sanity into the situation by reminding hon. Members, and especially those who have not been with us a very long time, that this is not all so terrible as was made out. That is to say, the Closure has been frequently moved in the House and frequently in an atmosphere of considerable upset.
I have some indications here of what happened, when hon. and right hon. Members opposite were in power between 1945 and 1951 of when the Closure was moved and the number of times that it was accepted by the Chair. In 1950–51, for example, during their last year of office, it was moved 24 times and assent was given on 22 of those 24 occasions.
§ Mr. Butler
The figures I have quoted give some indication of the fact that the Closure was frequently moved in those days and very often accepted by the Ohair. In 1945–46, there were 13 movings of the Closure and 11 were accepted by the Chair. Therefore, it has been the practice for a very considerable proportion of the Closures to be accepted by the Chair.
We really must be sensible and must not exaggerate the seriousness of the 1053 issue to which I am now coming. There has been considerable criticism of my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary. I would only like to remind hon. Members opposite that on 24th June, 1946, when their Chief Whip, whom we all used to regard as one of the most benign and splendid Members of the House. was called by hon. Members a pocket Hitler and was derided with contempt on that occasion.
The atmosphere on that occasion, which I remember well, was far more bitter than on this. I also remind the House, from a long experience, that it is often the case that a Patronage Secretary, who has to look after the interests of the House and get Government business through, is the subject of accusations. All I want to make clear in this context is that my interpretation of his language, when he said that he might look a "precious ass" and when he said that it was an awkward position to be in, is, with my close personal knowledge of my right hon. Friend—and I am deliberately calling him my right hon. Friend—that he thought that his position was awkward and he was not certain what the result of moving the Closure would be.
There was in no sense collusion or an agreement or an understanding with the Chair. I think it very important to say that, because it represents the truth, which I have made it my business to find out. While there may be great feeling on this subject, it is at least satisfactory to know that, if feelings were roused, that was because of the general handling of the situation and not because of deliberate ill-will or collusion between the Government and the Chair.
The object of the Motion is not to criticise the Government. If it were to criticise the Government, the debate would be more legitimate and a Division would be legitimate, because we are here to be shot at. I and my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary and other Ministers are here. I express my regret to the House that I did not properly judge the situation and come into the Chamber at the right time. It is true that I arrived late. I should have judged it and come in to help to deal with the situation. I regret that I did not do so. It is much better to be frank with the 1054 House and to say that that is what I feel. I misjudged the situation which, I thought, did not necessarily call for my presence.
The position, therefore, is that it is quite legitimate for the House to criticise me, the Chief Whip, and the Government. The more criticism we have, the better we shall thrive on it, but what I said earlier represents the truth. I think that the Chair was influenced by the rather serious atmosphere of threat of upset. [HON. MEMBERS: "By the Chief Whip's threat to move the Closure."] No, I do not believe that to have been the threat. [HON. MEMBERS: "You were not here."] As I have a high regard for my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means, I ask the Opposition seriously to consider, having made their protest, withdrawing the Motion.
I do not claim that anything that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposnion said was unreasonable I do claim that there was not deep feeling about the Ways and Means Resolution, although I do claim that when my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary said that there was time for the matter to be discussed throughout the stages of the Bill on the Floor of the House—and it has already agreed to take it on the Floor of the House—he was putting forward a perfectly legitimate case.
After all, we have agreed in Standing Orders to shorten the amount of time spent on Money Resolutions and, while I agree that a Ways and Means Resolution is the basis upon which we discuss the Budget, when a Ways and Means Resolution is introduced for a Bill of this nature, it does not mean that the subject is not to be discussed at length throughout the Bill's stages. It may have been an error of judgment, but it was perfectly sincere and honourable that there should be a shortening of the debate on that occasion.
§ Mr. Ross
On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had agreed to take the Committee stage of the Bill on the Floor of the House. Can you tell me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether a Bill based on a Ways and Means Resolution can be taken anywhere other than on the Floor of the House?
§ Mr. Butler
With his knowledge of Parliamentary procedure, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is correct. We would have taken the Committee stage on the Floor of the House, but I had stated at business questions time that we were to take it on the Floor of the House. Nevertheless, he is correct and, based as as the Bill is, that would have been the normal thing to do. But that does not invalidate my argument. There was an opportunity for further discussion, and we knew that when the issue was raised.
The position has been well summed up by the hon. Member for Rotherham. If this is to lead to any sort of reduction in the liberty with which we discuss our affairs in this most ancient Mother of Parliaments I shall not stand for it for a moment. Nobody in my position—and it is over five years now that I have had this onerous task, which I have enjoyed, because I love the House—would want to see these liberties eroded. I do not believe that on this occasion the right victim is the Chairman of Ways and Means. I would rather the criticism were directed to myself, as Leader of the House. If it is, I will take it.
In view of the fact that the Chairman has not held his present office for a long time, but has had long experience before, and since he is a suitable person for the task, I appeal to the House not to go to a Division now. We will take note of the objections made by the Opposition and our joint determination to protect our rights of speech, but we should not take it out of the Chairman of Ways and Means.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
One of the regrettable features of the debate is the fact that the Leader of the House is not able to speak from personal experience. One of the things the debate has done is to extract from him an expression of regret that he was not here to lead the House through the series of incidents that we have been discussing, and one of the curious and still unexplained incidents about the occurrences of last Thursday morning is that which happened when the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition moved to report Progress and ask leave to sit again, and started to make a speech. His speech occupies one-and- 1056 one-third columns in HANSARD, but apparently nobody took any action to send for the Leader of the House, or even to inform him of what was going on.
In my experience, it has always been customary that when either the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition moves to report Progress the Leader of the House is sent for and invariably replies to such a Motion. But we had the extraordinary situation of the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition moving to report Progress and at the end of the speech in HANSARD the Chairman of Ways and Means rising and saying that he refuses to accept the Motion. I dare say that one of the reasons was the absence of the Leader of the House, who is able to exercise very little judgment about the matter, because of his ignorance of what occurred, owing to his absence.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
That does not stop him from asserting that the truth is as he sees it.
§ Mr. Swingler
A great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman said is necessarily irrelevant and can, therefore, have no effect on the judgment of those who were actually present at the time.
It is a sad day when a Motion of this kind has to be moved. We do not want. Motions critical of the Chair to be continually moved. We want the Chair to be independent; we want hon. Members to have confidence in the independence of the Chair, and we want the Chair to be the guardian of order and the protector of free speech and minority rights. That is why we are moving the Motion. There is nothing personal in it. We are compelled to move the Motion on the basis of our experience last Thursday morning.
Let us consider the facts. Nobody can dispute that a very important issue was then under discussion. It was an issue of taxation. It was an increase in a poll tax to which many citizens violently object, and it is right that their objections should be registered in the House. It is also right that many hon. Members who feel strongly about it should be able to speak about it. But we had a situation where, after two and a half hours of debate on this important financial issue, the Chairman accepted the Closure. That is what we object to.
1057 It is not disputed that many Members were rising in their places when the Closure was moved by the Patronage Secretary and accepted by the Chair.
Those who have been in this House for any period of time know that debates on much less important Financial Resolutions and impositions on the citizens go on for many hours longer than the period last Wednesday night and Thursday morning before the Chair considers accepting a Closure Motion. That is the first point. It was a very important issue which ought to have been fully debated. Hon. Members were entitled to ask for it to be fully debated, they wished for that, a large number of hon. Members stood up, and not only on one side of the Committee. When the Patronage Secretary was moving the Closure, or putting up the Financial Secretary to speak, the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. R. Harris) rose because he had not been one of those who were browbeaten by the Patronage Secretary at that time.
The second thing was the curious behaviour of the Patronage Secretary himself in relation to the Chair. We all know that the job of the Patronage Secretary is to speed up Government business. Therefore, why on earth the Patronage Secretary should imagine that by rising to speak he could assuage the feelings of the Opposition; how he imagined that he was more likely to obtain order by rising and saying something, which he had had no intention of saying anyway, to satisfy the Opposition I do not know. It must have been only the absence of the Leader of the House which provoked him to do it. Everyone on this side of the House who was present at that time knows that from the beginning of the debate in the Committee the Patronage Secretary was going round browbeating Conservative Members to stop them from speaking. Many hon. Members on this side know that the Patronage Secretary actually told his hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) to sit down. They saw some hon. Members departing from the Chamber and they saw the Patronage Secretary have a conversation with the Chair. As has been said, it was from that point that the trouble arose.
1058 Of course, trouble arose because there had already been demonstrated the success of the Patronage Secretary at browbeating Government supporters to prevent them from speaking, and hon. Members were suspicious that the Parliamentary Secretary might succeed in pressuring the Chairman to accept the Closure at an earlier time. As soon as the Chairman called the Financial Secretary they naturally concluded that this was to be the result; that large numbers of hon. Members would be gagged; that there was not to be freedom of speech and that the Closure was to be accepted at an earlier time. Therefore it would be wrong for us if we did not pass a Motion to say clearly that the Closure ought not to have been accepted; freedom of speech ought not to have been denied; that it was quite wrong of the Chairman of Ways and Means first to accept the Closure Motion and then to go through whatever rigmarole it was that he went through in a situation in which widespread disorder had been provoked in the House by the activities of the Patronage Secretary and the acceptance by the Chair of the proposition he was making.
The Leader of the House talked about the number of times that Closures have been moved before, but he said nothing about after how many hours of debate the Closure was moved on other occasions, or how many hon. Members had been permitted to speak, or how many wished to speak on those occasions, or the importance of the issue or how many citizens were affected. The right hon. Gentleman said nothing about all those matters. We have to consider this matter on its merits; the number of hon. Members who wish to speak; the action of the Patronage Secretary and the fact that the Chairman entered into collusion with him to deny free speech to a large number of hon. Members. Therefore, I hope that hon. Members will very seriously weigh up their attitude on this issue in the interests of maintaining the independence of the chair and its function to protect minorities. I trust that, unless satisfactory assurances are given, we shall test the opinion of the House on the matter.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I shall not detain the House for very long, but I want to say a word or two about 1059 this most unfortunate issue. I agree that I have never seen an occasion when the Closure has been moved which has not given rise to a great deal of feeling, but I must confess that I was surprised at the intensity of feeling shown by hon. and right hon. Members opposite on the occasion to which we are referring.
I am quite happy to accept the view that they feel very sincerely about this issue and that they are entitled to make a demonstration of their feelings. Nevertheless, I think that they are being a little harsh to my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary and much less than fair to the Chairman of Ways and Means. I realise that if is quite arguable whether a debate ought to go on for two hours, four hours or six hours. There is nothing definite about the length of time which it is proper for a debate to continue, but we must have some regard to particular circumstances of this debate. I happen to feel strongly about some of the things connected with the Bill. I certainly want to speak on it on Wednesday, if I am allowed to. [Laughter.] I was referring to your jurisdiction, Mr. Speaker, rather than to any prohibition on the part of the Patronage Secretary.
I was concerned about the Bill quite as seriously as hon. Members opposite, but I feel that there will be future occasions when this matter can be discussed. The time that was allowed for discussion of the Ways and Means Resolution was not, in my judgment, unreasonable. I say in my judgment and accept that there is a different view taken by hon. Members opposite. If is the duty of the Chair to judge whether, in the light of all the circumstances, the decision to accept the Closure should be taken and I say without hesitation I do not consider that that judgment was unreasonable.
No man combines in himself—except perhaps in his own misguided judgment—all the good qualities that could be combined in him, but I ask the House to accept the view that in our present Chairman of Ways and Means we have a man of very fine quality indeed. I have been in this House under a number of Chairmen of Ways and Means. They have had varying qualities. Some of them have been, perhaps, more efficient than my right hon. Friend the present Chairman of Ways and Means. Some 1060 have been efficient, but not as kindly as they might be. Some have not been as energetic as they might have been. In my judgment, no man has tried to be fairer than the present Chairman of Ways and Means and no man, in my experience, has any greater quality of natural kindness than the present Chairman of Ways and Means.
It may well be that on an occasion of this kind, when the House was in tremendous uproar—as bad an uproar as I have seen directed against the Chair during the whole time that I have been in this House—the Chairman was perhaps overwhelmed by the circumstances. I ask the House to bear in mind that in our present Chairman we have a man whose qualities are valuable to the House. I ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite not to go into the Division Lobby to make this protest, but to content themselves with the representations that they have made—if I may say so—with restraint and in a very reasonable manner.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)
I hope that I shall follow the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) in showing restraint. I know of no hon. Member on either side of the House who is more courteous than the Chairman of Ways and Means and I know of no one who has tried in the Chair to be fairer. Having said that, I want to explain why I propose to take part in any Division which is called this evening on this issue.
I take the point made by the Leader of the House; he and I desire that the freedom of speech which the whole of Parliament represents should not be damaged in any way, and it is because, ultimately, the freedom of the House rests in its most critical times upon the judgment of the occupant of the Chair that I am bound to say what I shall say, in the interests of the whole House.
I am not lacking in humanity. The Home Secretary appealed to us on the ground of humanity. Every one of us who has to think about this, if he could consult his own humanity and convenience, would never open his mouth on such a regrettable topic as this. I do not attack either the Chief Whip for what he did on that evening, or the Home Secretary, who said that he made 1061 an error of judgment. What I say is that because we have a Chief Whip of this kind and because we have a Home Secretary who, however helpful, is capable, like the rest of humanity, of making errors of judgment, we must, in the ultimate, rely on the judgment of the Chair.
If that judgment, as I shall attempt to show, is wholly lacking when it comes to the test, then the right of any Opposition—it matters not who is the Opposition—is endangered. The right of Parliament and of the procedure which we try to demonstrate to the world is the proper procedure if democracy is to flourish depends ultimately on the judgment of whoever is the occupant of the Chair at the point of time at which the right of the minority to go on expressing its view is terminated.
I realise only too well that the lot of the Chairman is not a happy lot. If he is a Conservative Chairman and he leans, or seems to lean, too much in favour of his own party, then he is said to be partial; if he seems to lean too much the other way, then he is said to be leaning over backwards. No one ever seems to suggest that he is capable of standing straight up. I refer to any Chairman. Gilbert might well have said that, taking one consideration with another, the Chairman's lot is not a happy one.
But the Chairman's position is vitally important. Your position, Mr. Speaker, is second to none in this country in maintaining freedom of speech. You are banished from the Chair throughout our Committee proceedings. That same judgment which you happily bring to your duty must, therefore, be brought to his duty by the Chairman of Ways and Means, because he is the supreme authority on those occasions—and so many of our vitally important decisions are taken in Committee of the whole House.
I am saying that the Government have made a mistake on this occasion in appointing to this office a man whose abilities are not appropriate to the dimensions of this task. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] It is no criticism of any man to say that his abilities are not appropriate to the dimensions of the task. It is a criticism of the person who appointed him to that task. I criticise the Government for having done so, but I repeat what I have said, I hope that 1062 I say it kindly and I certainly say it because I feel it to be true.
The Government are at fault throughout in appointing to this position Members who are not necessarily up to the task. The attitude throughout the House is to regard a Member who occupies the Chair as one who need not have many qualities, but to regard a Member who sits on the Front Bench as one who must have considerable qualities indeed. Hon. Members believe that when the Government need Members to fill the Chairmen's Panel, they look round, see someone and say of him, "He is a nice enough chap, without an idea in his head. Let us put him on the Chairmen's Panel". [La ughter.] I have been on the Chairmen's Panel since 1946.
I tried to follow the proceedings on the night in question as carefully as I could. Indeed, I was present in the Chamber throughout the whole proceedings, which does not go for every hon. Member who has spoken from the benches opposite. The whole of the proceedings as affecting the Chair were characterised by muddle and inability to appreciate the temper of the Committee and the precise procedure at appropriate times. The muddle and inability to show hon. Members where they were going and what they were discussing led in measure to the growth of the very disorder which in the end overwhelmed the Chair.
The first evidence I adduce in support of that is the Motion which hon. Gentlemen opposite have just passed. By passing the Motion they said that, notwithstanding the fact that all hon. Members who have spoken from this side said that they were unable to know what was going on or to hear what was going on, the Journal of the House, in saying that the voices were correctly taken, should stand. This can only be a direct and severe crticism of the chairmanship of the time.
My second reason is what happened when my right hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition attempted to help matters by rising to speak to the Motion, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again". When my right hon. Friend raised that issue, the Chair seemed to accept it. My interpretation of the passage in HANSARD is that my right hon. Friend rose and said, "May I move this Motion?" There was a pause, seeming to indicate assent, and 1063 my right hon. Friend continued. It was only after he had been speaking for a considerable time—thinking, as I thought, and as I suggest hon. Members thought—that this was the Question before the House that the Chairman decided that it was not the Question before the House.
Not being satisfied with that, at a later stage the Patronage Secretary was permitted to make a considerable intervention on a question which was wholly irrelevant if it had to do with a Motion before the Committee. It could have been relevant only to the Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again." There was this pattern of "Yes", "No","Yes".in a short period of time.
I come now to the substance of the matter, namely, the Closure. It is still the case that collusion is not ruled out. This unfortunately stems from the question which I asked, which appears in col. 568. I invited the Chair to disclose whether the Patronage Secretary had mentioned the word "Closure". The Chair, quite properly, said, "Mind your own business". I make no objection whatsoever to that. That did not answer the question.
A considerable time afterwards my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) asked the same question, which appears in col. 587. The Chairman said:No application has been made to me for the Closure, and I have given an assurance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1961; Vol. 624, c. 587.]Would it not have eased the temper of the Committee very considerably if the assurance had been given straight away? We were first told that the Chair would not answer. Later, we were told that no assurance had been given. On top of that, we are left with the awful situation that there is every superficial appearance of collusion between the Patronage Secretary and the Chair.
The Patronage Secretary said that he would "look a precious ass" if he moved the Closure without having first made sure that it would be accepted. Let me assure the Patronage Secretary, in his absence, that nobody regards him as a precious ass. Yet he did at a most 1064 unlikely time move the Closure, and the Motion was accepted. Therefore, by his own conduct he was indicating that when he was moving that the Question be put before allowing a reply to the debate he knew it was likely to be accepted and that he was not going to be made to look a precious ass.
So we are still left, through the conduct of the Chair, and through the uncertainty of the Chair, in the position that there was a possibility of collusion between the Chair and the Patronage Secretary on this most vital issue, the rights of the minority to express itself reasonably.
I now come to the substance of this, that it was prematurely accepted. I need not seek any 'better argument than that of the Chief Whip, when he said:… in Committee, that is a procedure which is normally followed."—that is to say—My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary proposes to answer some of the points which have so far been put in this rather complicated debate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 585.]That is our point. That procedure is normally followed in Committee that these points having been made somebody on the Front Bench should rise and answer them, and the Chief Whip knew that was normal. Yet he moved the Closure and prevented that normality having effect.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)
In fairness, since the hon. Member has referred to that, between the first intervention of the Patronage Secretary and the second intervention of the Patronage Secretary I had made, as I have just looked up, five separate attempts to reply to points raised in the debate, but on all those occasions the House refused to hear me. And it should be noted that they were not points of order but, on the contrary, hon. Members opposite and two hon. Members, in particular, shouted "No" every time I rose to my feet. It is only fair to remember that that happened between the first intervention of the Patronage Secretary and the second.
§ Mr. Diamond
I accept entirely what the Financial Secretary says, but those noises of approval I hear from the hon. Gentleman opposite illustrate my fear.
1065 The Financial Secretary has said that just because he was unable to say anything. That is the reason for putting the Closure. That is the whole of our objection. The Financial Secretary says that we must make progress, and if we cannot, shut up the Opposition. That is not the function of the Chair. The Chair should decide whether anything special remains to be said or whether it has been said already. The Chair must decide whether hon. Members mean what they are saying and are saying what is in their hearts or are just trying dilatory proceedings.
The Patronage Secretary had no right, having first said that the Financial Secretary would reply, to stop him replying. It is within the memory of the House. There is not a single hon. Member on this side who thought for a moment that the Government would attempt the Closure before the Financial Secretary had replied. The whole fear was that he might do it after the Financial Secretary had replied. It cannot be submitted that when one hon. Member out of—how many was it?
§ Mr. Diamond
—Conservative supporters of the Government had spoken on this, and one more was on his feet trying to speak, it was appropriate to shut up the second hon. Member on the Government side who wanted to say something. It is inconceivable to me that any Chairman could conclude that everything worth while saying by the Government had been said when only two speeches had been made. It was our sincere desire to speak and it was not dilatory. I know that from my own feelings and the feelings of my hon. Friend, and as has been admitted by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd). Had the circumstances been different one could have come to a different conclusion.
I therefore say that all this difficulty, this lack of clarity, this grave error of judgment, at a point that affects the minority profoundly, are all attributable to the fact that the Government have made this fundamental error in appointing to this most responsible job a person whose abilities were not appropriate to it, and I think that we have to accept that unfortunate conclusion.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Major Sir Frank Markham (Buckingham)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before the right hon. Gentleman speaks, I wonder whether you could enlighten us on what would be the repercussions of this debate in certain quarters on the assumption—[H ON. MEMBERS: "Order."] This is a point of order for you, Mr. Speaker. If this Division were passed, then, obviously, the Chairman of Ways and Means would have to resign straight away—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think that it would be within the traditions of the House that it should be so—
§ Sir F. Markham
Can you advise the House as to Whether, in the case of this Motion being defeated, it would still be within Parliamentary tradition and practice that the Chairman of Ways and Means should resign?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. I hope that hon. Members on either side, or in any part of the House, will not try to raise in the guise of points of order things that are not.
§ Mr. Brown
I opened the previous debate, Mr. Speaker, and enjoyed doing so. I wind up this debate with no pleasure at all. I am as concious as, I imagine, every hon. Member in this House that in the heart of one man listening to this debate there must be great heaviness, whatever subsequently happens. One therefore gets little pleasure out of what one now feels one has to say, and one only says it because it has to be said.
I have listened to most of this debate. I listened especially carefully to the Leader of the House, and I have been a little shocked—shocked not only with the Leader of the House but with the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) and others on that side, because there still seems to be in them no real recognition of what went wrong, and of what was done wrongly. Appeals have been made to us: "Having made your protest, now let it go. Don't do more than that." There have been references to playing cricket, but no one on that side has 1067 referred to the fact that we on this side are suffering under a great sense of injustice—under a great sense of the rules having been rigged against us.
It is not a case of someone changing the batting order, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) said, or of someone changing the bowling order; to put it brutally frankly, we think that someone got at the umpire. I sat here waiting for someone to say something—indeed, in an interruption I invited the Leader of the House to say something—about that, and something about the future in relation to that. Had he done so—well, we are quite free to exercise our judgment.
No one approached that subject, and when I asked the Leader of the House about the future, with his Chief Whip here and about his approach to the minority, the approach to the right of the House and the right of Members freely to discuss right down to the end, all I got from the Leader of the House was the brush-off, and nothing further. This is a shocking thing, and I do not think that even yet hon. and right hon. Members opposite have clearly grasped the issue.
Last week marked a water-shed. Last week marked a dividing line. Perhaps we have accepted too easily in this Parliament that the majority the Government have entitles them to do all that they have been doing. It was blatant last week. The hon. Member for Cheadle said that he was surprised at the intensity of feeling on this side. What happened last week was so blatant and so open, without even trouble taken to go through the form, that we feel the time has come to put a stop to it. Even a party with a majority of 100 against it—thank God for our Parliamentary system—can, if it wishes, call a halt.
What happened last week was not merely that the Opposition was ruled out. It was not merely that somebody decided, rightly or wrongly, with good judgment or with bad, that the time had come to end the debate. We believe that the Government Front Bench got together with the occupant of the Chair for the time being and arranged that at one o'clock in the morning an end should be called to the debate.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
Is this freedom of debate? Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw what he has just said?
§ Mr. Speaker
If the right hon. Member who is addressing the House does not give way, the hon. Member must not persist—
§ Mr. Brown
What I have to say I must say because I feel that it has to be said. Whichever way the vote goes tonight, there ought to be a different attitude on the benches opposite to us and to the subject of debate in this House. Let us have the matter clear. This was not just another Bill. This was not just a filibuster on another Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is no use growling like that. This was and is part of a series of Bills and Orders affecting something which goes right to the heart of the feelings of not only a large part of this House but of a very large part of the country outside. It is something on which, if hon. and right hon. Members want to do it, we at least have the right to ask them to listen.
We had been a very short time indeed on the Ways and Means Resolution. It is perfectly true that we had interrupted the Financial Secretary's attempts to answer several times. But I had myself, in the passage I quoted earlier today, told the Patronage Secretary that we should be delighted to hear the Financial Secretary, we should be delighted to facilitate his addressing the 1069 Committee, but we wanted an assurance, after the conversations which had gone on with the Chair, that, if we did so, this would not be used by the Patronage Secretary as an excuse subsequently for the Closure. I told him that one could not get away with that kind of thing. All we required was that assurance. We should willingly hear the Financial Secretary, and then the debate could proceed.
It was the failure of the Patronage Secretary to reply to that, and his use of what we all thought was going to be his reply to it in order to move the Closure in a fit of temper, that produced the subsequent disorder to which references have been made.
It has been said that, because we have pointed out what we regard is the real culpability of the Government Chief Whip, that is a good case, to quote the words of one hon. Member, for not taking it out of the Chairman of Ways and Means. Certainly the Chief Whip should not have put him in the position he did. I am absolutely clear on that, and I said that to the Chairman of Ways and Means on the night in question. I would have been much more impressed with these appeals about cricket and the rest if a Minister had said a word of regret on behalf of the Patronage Secretary. The Leader of the House, who was not present and cannot know what happened except at second-hand, was noble enough and big enough to take upon himself a measure of responsibility which was not his. But no one spoke for the Patronage Secretary. He has sat there all day. From him there has been no word of regret or apology. He made two speeches the other night. He was not so silent then. Had he been
§ silent it may be that these troubles would not have arisen.
§ Now that we have found the Patronage Secretary guilty—and he has been notably ill-supported by the Government side of the House during the day—I come to the Chairman of Ways and Means, and what I have to say here gives me no pleasure at all. We think that not only did he show bad judgment of the kind which any of us, God help us, might at any time show. We think that he did, in fact, enter into an arrangement. We think that the Patronage Secretary did, in fact, know that when he chose to move the Closure he would get it. Furthermore, we think that subsequently, when we were trying to raise the issue from this Box, the Chairman of Ways and Means persisted for a long time in not seeing us, in not seeing the Committee, and in going on with a private talk with the Whip under the cover of which public business was purported to be done and was subsequently alleged to be done. We regard the second part of that as the greater sin of the two.
§ In all those circumstances, having listened to what everybody has had to say, and having thought about it, we believe that we ought to say with the utmost respect—perhaps kindliness is not the right word—that we think that the Chairman of Ways and Means did not measure up to his job that night. Whoever led him into the position is not the point. We must therefore mark the fact that from here on we would not have confidence in him by dividing the House.
§ Question put: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 211, Noes 302.1073
|Division No. 47.1||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Ainsley, William||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belner)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Albu, Austen||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Deer, George|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Callaghan, James||Diamond, John|
|Awbery, Stan||Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Dodds, Norman|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chetwynd, George||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Baird, John||Cliffe, Michael||Driberg, Tom|
|Beaney, Alan||Collick, Percy||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F.J.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edelman, Maurice|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Blyton, William||Cronin, John||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)|
|Boardman, H.||Crosland, Anthony||Evans, Albert|
|Bowles, Frank||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Finch, Harold|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Darling, George||Fitch, Alan|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Fletcher, Eric|
|Broughton, Dr, A. D. D.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McCann, John||Ross, William|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||MacColl, James||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mcinnes, James||Short, Edward|
|George, LadyMeganLloyd (C'rm'rth'n)||McKay, John (wallsend)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackie, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Gourlay, Harry||McLeavy, Frank||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Greenwood, Anthony||MacMlllan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Grey, Charles||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield,E.)||Small, William|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Manuel, A, C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mapp, Charles||Snow, Julian|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hannan, William||Marsh, Richard||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Roy||Steele, Thomas|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mayhew, Christopher||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Healey, Denis||Mellish, R. J.||Stones, William|
|Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Mendelson, J. J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mlllan, Bruce||Strauss, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Milne, Edward J.||Stross,Dr.Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Hilton, A. V.||Mitchison, G. R.||Swain, Thomas|
|Holman, Percy||Monslow, Walter||Swingler, Stephen|
|Houghton, Douglas||Moody, A. S.||Sylvester, George|
|Howell, Charles A.||Morris, John||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hoy, James H.||Moyle, Arthur||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W-)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oliver, G. H.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oram, A. E.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Oswald, Thomas||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Owen, Will||Timmons, John|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, Frank|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Paget, R. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Pargiter, G. A.||Warbey, William|
|Jeger, George||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Weitzman, David|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Parkin, B. T. (paddlngton, N.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Peart, Frederick||Whitlock, William|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pentland, Norman||Wilcock, Croup Capt. C. A. B.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Popplewell, Ernest||Willey, Frederick|
|Kelley, Richard||Prentice, R. E.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, LI. (Abertlliery)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Probert, Arthur||Willis, E. C. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lawson, George||Proctor, W. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Ledger, Ron||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Randall, Harry||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John||Woof, Robert|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Redhead, E. C.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Reld, William||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Reynolds, G. W.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Logan, David||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Rogers.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Cordle, John|
|Aitken, W. T.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Corfield, F. V.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Braine, Bernard||Costain, A. P.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Brewis, John||Coulson, J. M.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Craddock, Sir Beresford|
|Balniel, Lord||Brooman-white, R.||Crltchley, Julian|
|Barber, Anthony||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. 0. E.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bryan, Paul||Crowder, F. P.|
|Barter, John||Bullard, Denys||Cunningham, Knox|
|Batsford, Brian||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Curran, Charlet|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Burden, F. A.||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bell, Ronald||Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden)||Dance, James|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos & Fhm)||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Deedes, W. F.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Carr, Compton (Baron* Court)||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Bidgood, John C.||Chabnnon, H. P. G.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Chataway, Christopher||Doughty, Charles|
|Bingham, R. M.||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||du Cann, Edward|
|Bishop, F. P.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Duncan, Sir James|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Cleaver, Leonard||Duthle, Sir William|
|Bossom, Clive||Cole, Norman||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Cooper, A. E.||Elliott,R.W. (N'wc'stte-upon-Tyne,N.)|
|Box, Donald||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Emery, Peter|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kitson, Timothy||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lagden, Godfrey||Rees, Hugh|
|Farey-dones, F. W.||Lambton, Viscount||Rees-Davies, W, R.|
|Farr, John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ronton, David|
|Fell, Anthony||Langford-Holt, J.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Finlay, Graeme||Leather, E. H. c.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fisher, Nigel||Leavey, J. A.||Rlppon, Geoffrey|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Robsan Brown, Sir William|
|Forrest, George||Lilley, F. J. P.||Roots, William|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lindsay, Martin||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Freeth, Dentil||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Gammans, Lady||Litchfield, Capt. John||Russell, Ronald|
|Gardner, Edward||Longbottom, Charles||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Longden, Gilbert||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Loveys, Walter H.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Sharpies, Richard|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Shepherd, William|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||McAdden, Stephen||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn|
|Goodhart, Philip||MacArthur, Ian||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Goodhew, victor||McLaren, Martin||Smithers, Peter|
|Gower, Raymond||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N.Ayrs.)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Green, Alan||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Speir, Rupert|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||McMaster, Stanley R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Gurden, Harold||Maddan, Martin||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maginnis, John E.||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Maitland, Sir John||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Marlowe, Anthony||Tapsell, Peter|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Marshall, Douglas||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Marten, Neil||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Hay, John||Matthews, Gordon (Merlden)||Teeling, William|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mawby, Ray||Temple, John M.|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir dames||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Mills, Stratton||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Montgomery, Fergus||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hinchlngbrooke, Viscount||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Morgan, William||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hobson, John||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Nabarro, Gerald||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Holland, Philip||Neave, Airey||Turner, Colin|
|Hollingworth, John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Noble, Michael||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hopkins, Alan||Nugent, Sir Richard||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hornby, R. P.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Hornsby-Smitk, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Howard, Hon. C. R. (St. Ives)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admlral John||Page, John (Harrow, west)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Pannell, Norman (Klrkdale)||Wall, Patrick|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Partridge, E.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hutchison, Michael dark||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Peel, John||Watts, James|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian||Webster, David|
|Jackson, John||Peyton, John||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|James, David||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Whitelaw, William|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Jennings, J. C.||Pllkington, Sir Richard||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitman, I.J.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pitt, Miss Edith||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Pott, Percivall||Wise, A. R.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Price, David (Eastielgh)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior, J. M. L.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Woollam, John|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Proudfoot, Wilfred||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Quennell, Miss J, M.||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|Kimball, Marcus||Ramsden, James||Mr. Chichester-Clark.|
|Kirk, Peter||Rawlinson, Peter|