§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I beg to move,
That the entries of Wednesday, 8th February, on the Question on the Motion in Committee of Ways and Means relating to National Health Insurance being put accordingly; that the Committee proceeded to a Division; that Mr. Paul Bryan and Mr. J. E. B. Hill were appointed Tellers for the Ayes; but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes the chairman declared that the Ayes had it; that the Resolution be reported; that the Report be received this day and that the Committee do sit again this day be expunged from the Journal of the House.
I must start a debate of this kind by saying how impressed I am both with the gravity of the proposal that we are putting forward and with a sense of, perhaps, while not exactly making history, of being involved in it. As, I imagine, other hon. Members feel, there are names which have occurred in the history of this Chamber that have always tended to impress one, and which one has always thought of as being removed, in a rather distinguished way, by a great gulf from oneself. On reading the precedents for such a Motion as this, one has a tremendous sense of coming, in a humble way, into the making and extension of history. I come to this debate, as I hope hon. Members generally do, in that very sense.
The Motion arises, Mr. Speaker, from the necessity that all Parliaments and all parties have accepted for the record of our proceedings, the Journal, to be accurate, and to be not misleading, and for the proceedings that are recorded or are purported to be recorded there to have validity and unquestionably occurred. In this case, we dispute that either condition was fulfilled. We dispute that the recorded proceedings as shown in the Journal were accurate and were not misleading, and we dispute that they validly or unquestionably occurred.
Following the debate on this Motion there is another Motion that obviously places some limits on what might be or should be said in this debate. I will do my best to observe this, but some reference to the occupant of the Chair at the time—of the behaviour of the Chair—must occasionally be made. I 939 will not, I assure you, Mr. Speaker, seek deliberately to involve the House in a discussion of the occupant of the Chair, although, at the same time, I cannot omit reference to what went on. I hope that there will be some understanding of the difficulties facing me in moving this Motion, knowing of the other Motion that is to follow—
§ Mr. Speaker
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for saying that; I was thinking about it. I suppose that our rule is that the House can only criticise the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means on the substantive Motion, so the right hon. Gentleman cannot do that on this Motion. On the other hand, the House is now to ascertain facts and, therefore, may describe, if it so desires, what the Chairman did or did not do.
§ Mr. Brown
I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly the balance that I shall try to keep.
For this Motion there are many precedents. Hon. Members who, like myself, have been tempted to consult them will have had a very fascinating weekend. None of them, in fact, exactly reproduces either the circumstances of this case or the consequences of it, but they all have extraordinary similarities. The very first seems to have been in 1621, in the Parliament of King James, when, on 18th December of that year, as it is said in the History of the English Parliament by Barnett-Smith, on page 375 of Volume I:… the Commons entered upon their journals the following famous protest, which may well be regarded as one of the landmarks in our constitutional history.After some other wording there follow the words that I want to read, which are as follows:That the liberties, franchises, privileges and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England …There are then some further words with which I do not need to bother the House, and then we read:.. and that in the handling and proceeding of those businesses "—and I ask the House, and you, Mr. Speaker, to take particular notice of what follows—… every member of the House hath, and of good right ought to have, freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same …940 It is a very relevant part of our case that the other night the Patronage Secretary exercised his authority to seek to arrange that every hon. Member of the House did not have freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason—and certainly not to bring to conclusion the same.
On page 376 of the same volume, we read that, the House of Commons having set down this famous protest—one of the landmarks of our history—in which it sought to establish this freedom, King James called a meeting of the Council. He sent for the Journal of the Lower House and, with his own hand, he erased from it the protest of the Commons. Although that may be the first occasion of an erasure of an entry in a Journal, we are not seeking to erase for that reason. Nevertheless, it seems a very useful position from which to begin this discussion—
§ Mr. Brown
Whatever happened to his son could well happen to the hon. Gentleman without any protest from me.
A number of other precedents are set out in the Sixteenth Edition of Erskine May, in chapter 13, page 268. The first was when John Wilkes succeeded in expunging the recording of his own incapacity, it was said, in 1782. The second was in 1833, when Mr. Cobbett made a rather famous attack on Sir Robert Peel, which the House subsequently expunged. In 1855, an attack on the appointment of the Recorder of Brighton was subsequently expunged from the records.
In 1891, Mr. Bradlaugh, through the then Member for Aberdeen, North, succeeded in expunging the record that had been written in in relation to his own position in 1880. The last occasion would appear to be in 1909, when Lord Winterton called Mr. Thorne a drunk, and Mr. Thorne called Lord Winterton a liar. It appears that on the next day both references were expunged.
That these various precedents do not bear complete relevance to our present circumstances, I think I can prove by reading the passage in Mr. Wilke's Motion in 1782 for expunging the earlier reference to himself. It will be very apparent, not least to hon. Members 941 opposite, how inappropriate it would be to compare those circumstances with the present. I read from column 1408, in Vol. 22 of the Parliamentary History. Mr. Wilkes said:I have now the happiness of seeing the Treasury bench filled with the friends of the constitution, the guardians and lovers of liberty, who have been unwearied and uniform in the defence of all our rights, and in particular of this invaluable franchise. I hail the present auspicious moment, and with impatience expect the completion of what I have long fervently desired for my friends and country, for the present age and a free posterity.That, obviously, does not apply either to the present Treasury Bench, or to the circumstances of today.
The Motions concerned in these precedents all resulted, sometimes after a Division, sometimes as a result of agreement, in the expunging of the records, but their motives were very different. That in 1782 was carried, as you will know, Mr. Speaker, after having been moved every year for seven years. I am prompted to pause and say to the Patronage Secretary that I hope he realises what a vista is opened for us should this Motion not be carried. Every year, for seven years, at every stage of a Bill—[Laughter.] It might be a good reason why he should have a consultation with his right hon. Friends before I come to the end of my speech. Otherwise, business may be much interfered with.
The Motion which was, in the end, carried in 1782 was carried because the subsequent House considered that what the House had previously done was wrong. It was opposed by Mr. Charles James Fox and also by the Lord Advocate. I do not see the present Lord Advocate here. The opposition of the present Lord Advocate would be a considerable encouragement to my Scottish hon. Friends to think that we are right today.
Those Motions in 1833 and 1855 appear to have been carried simply because the Members then present did not like what had been said and done. I commend the proceedings of those days. There was no question of it being wrong. Nobody had to prove that the record was wrong. Nobody had to prove that it was misleading. All that someone did was to say, "I do not like what was said", and, in consequence, it was expunged—just like that. That could be 942 a very good reason for our doing it today, though I do not rest the whole of my case on that.
The one in 1891 was carried because the House had in the meantime changed its own rules and practices and so expunged what had gone before. This 1891 decision is interesting. It was the one which put Mr. Bradlaugh's position right. It was opposed not by the Lord Advocate, but by the Solicitor-General. I can but think that if we had the Attorney-General doing today what the Solicitor-General did then, the serried ranks of Tuscany would surely vote with us and we should have our Motion. The interesting thing about it is that this, like so many others, was not opposed on a party line, was not opposed on a Treasury Bench line, was not opposed on a Whip from the Patronage Secretary. The Solicitor-General of that day spoke against it, but the First Lord of the Admiralty, in the Marquess of Salisbury's Government, then Mr. W. H. Smith, supported it. It was, in fact, carried despite the opposition of the Administration.
The last of the precedents was that in 1909, and this, in some ways, is nearest to the present case. It clearly arose out of what we like to call turbulence. The grounds on which the expunging of the reference in the Journal was carried, although Mr. Balfour made a characteristically involved speech about it, are set out in an interesting fashion by Mr. Asquith, then Prime Minister. Mr. Asquith said that this action was necessary because the record wasmisleading, though accurate".—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1909; Vol. 6, c. 2482.]It seems, therefore, on that precedent of the House, that I do not necessarily have to prove inaccuracy, but I have to prove the misleading part. I think that I shall be able to do both before the end of my speech, but I ask the House to realise that there is a very respectable precedent simply for proving that the record is misleading without necessarily having to prove that it is not accurate.
§ Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I think that the right hon. Member is in a rather difficult position. I am sure that he would not wish to accuse the Clerks at the Table of having entered something in the Journal which they did not believe to be accurate. I think that 943 it would be generous on his part if he would say that he was not questioning the integrity of the Clerks at the Table.
§ Mr. Brown
So far, I have gone no further than Mr. Asquith. If generosity is called for, why not approach the Leader of the Liberal Party or Lady Violet Bonham Carter? The hon. Member really should not ask me not to say anything ungenerous about Mr. Asquith. I shall deal with the present situation when I come nearer to it. It is of some interest, in view of what the hon. Member has said, to note that Erskine May goes on to say, at the top of page 269, that the reference was then "printed in the Journal in erased type".
I am not myself very clear what erased type is, unless it is some point like that which the hon. Member has raised.
Mr. Asquith went on to say—reported at column 2485—that what he was urging upon the House was not necessarily a logical case but, as there had been injustice, it was the proper course for the House to take. I ask the House to note that. This is one of our precedents. It is not just a matter of logicality. It depends upon the existence of injustice which the House ought not to tolerate and about which it ought to take action.
If—and it is clearly upon the record—where the Journal is accurate, but misleading, there is a case for expunging, how much more should that be the proper course for us to take where, as we claim and as I shall seek to show, the record is both inaccurate as well as misleading? The gravamen of our case today is that what the record asserts was done never was, in fact, done. Secondly, the record implies that the House knew what was happening, whereas that is clearly untrue from a reference to the record itself.
If the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) wishes to persist in his point about whether I am getting at the Clerks, the answer is that that is absolute nonsense, as I hope to show by a further reference in a moment or two.
§ Mr. Brown
I do not pick on those whom we pay to do a very difficult job in circumstances which we ourselves 944 make difficult. I understand their problems, but that does not inhibit me from saying that the result which may come out, for reasons not theirs, can be wrong and ought to be removed. That is what I say.
As a matter of fact, if one looks at the manuscript record of our proceedings which was to be found in the Library the following morning, one finds the very best indication of how unclear the whole position was. There were in that record of our proceedings so many alterations and alterations of alterations that it is quite impossible to read the original and it is impossible also to read several of the second thoughts. Plainly, one thing which was not as certain as the Journal would show is that the thing was clear at the moment when it was happening.
There was at the time a good deal of turbulence, as I believe we call it, but, in my view, not extravagantly much. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No. I have witnessed very much worse, especially at the time when the Labour Government, with a majority of six, were being harried by the "Boothby Harriers". What we had the other night would have passed for a very mild attack of turbulence in those days.
The noise that we suffered, or, at any rate, those trying to keep a record of our proceedings suffered, arose very suddenly, as reference to HANSARD will show, and very shortly before the end of the debate, completely out of the actions of the Patronage Secretary. The sequence of events went something like this. About midnight, in a debate that was proceeding fairly smoothly on its way, the Patronage Secretary, after quite openly interfering with the course of the debate—by that I mean that he put obvious pressure, which he made absolutely no effort to hide or conceal, upon Members who wished to speak—then proceeded to address the occupant of the Chair. He did that in a way and in a voice which left absolutely no doubt with those round about what he was discussing with the occupant of the Chair. At that time, very many Members were still standing, trying to be called, including hon. Members on the Government side. Not only were there Members on this side who wished to speak.
945 If one looks at the record in HANSARD—at this stage the record is very clear indeed—one will see that numbers of us tried to get reassurances from the Chair and from the Patronage Secretary about the moving of the Closure. Quite naturally and properly, the occupant of the Chair declined to answer questions about future actions. But at that stage, in the middle of all these questions, prompted, I repeat, by the action of the Patronage Secretary, which was so openly and, if I may say so, arrogantly taken, the Patronage Secretary then chose, loudly and openly, to prompt the Financial Secretary to get to his feet, an action which the Financial Secretary clearly had not in mind at that stage.
This was so obvious that I then moved to report Progress, as is shown in col. 579 of HANSARD. I will not weary the House with reading what I said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Some hon. Gentlemen do not know even now what we are discussing. It is the right of hon. Members to speak even when hon. Members opposite think that they should not. That is what it is about. Rereading the OFFICIAL REPORT now—I do not always think this about all the things that I say—I think that I tried in a reasonable way to bring the Patronage Secretary to realise what was involved. In col. 579 I pointed out to him that he had made not the slightest attempt to save the position of the Chair.
I said:He troubled not a little about the risk of bringing you into conflict with this side of the CommitteeI went on, later, to refer to the Patronage Secretary's conversation and to his intention to move the Motion, "That the Question be now put". I referred there and then to the Patronage Secretary prodding the Financial Secretary to his feet. I made it very clear that, in my view, we should have had some assurance that the debate would continue.
The then occupant of the Chair refused that Motion after I had spoken, but various points of order were raised. Throughout these points of order—I think that it is important to recognise this—the Financial Secretary continued to rise, having already been called. In fact, as will be seen from the bottom of col. 946 581 and the top of col. 582, he began his speech. It is quite true that he did not get very far, but he got sufficiently far to have occupied eight lines of HANSARD before another point of order caused him to resume his seat.
Following the subsequent points of order, the Patronage Secretary rose while the Financial Secretary still had possession of the Floor and addressed himself to the House, and only after being interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Siverman) a short time after he had begun did he remember to claim that he was following up a previous point of order. Following this speech of the Patronage Secretary, I rose to the same point of order and made an appeal to him, in the course of which I said:We shall be delighted to hear the Financial Secretary at this stage if it is more convenient to him to deal with the points which have 'been raised so far … If that is for his convenience, we are delighted to hear him and to facilitate that course. It would make it so much easier for us, as (he Patronage Secretary can clearly now see the misunderstanding which has arisen, if he will make it absolutely plain that he has not already made up his mind to close the debate afterwards.A little later I said:However, we have been here long enough to know "—I had previously referred to the fact that the Patronage Secretary and I were not old hands in the House—that on an issue of this kind, with this kind of temper and mood abroad, there has not been in our time a Government strong enough or powerful enough to over-ride it, except at tremendous additional inconvenience to themselves and everybody else.The Patronage Secretary might like to recall that at this moment.
Later, I said:I appeal to the Patronage Secretary as a House of Commons man on a House of Commons matter, on a Bill the content of which could not be more telling, more important, or to many people more moving, to rise again and go a little beyond what he said just now. I ask him to assure us that, if we hear the Financial Secretary, as we shall gladly do, he will not then seek to use that as an occasion for closing the debate and shutting out the large number of Members on both sides who still want to continue the debate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 585–6.]Rereading that, I cannot see anything aggressive, unfriendly or obstructive in it.
947 But what happened? After all that and some further points of order, and with tempers at that stage rising and the Financial Secretary getting up at every point to continue the speech which he had begun, the Patronage Secretary again rose, as is shown at the bottom of column 587. We thought that his purpose was to answer the appeal which I had made. He was listened to in silence at that stage, and he began:This is a most difficult situation, and I am sorry that we find ourselves in this difficulty.He went on to say that we would have a subsequent occasion to discuss the matter and then quite suddenly, for a reason which even at this stage is impossible for me to recall, he said: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. 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. I therefore beg to move. That the Question be now put."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February. 1961; Vol. 634, cc. 587–8.]The test in his mind was not whether people had things to say—
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I have to try to keep this debate in order. If he is proceeding to explain the precise point of time in the argument at which the ultra turbulence arose, then it is relevant, but if he is seeking to complain of the putting or granting of the Closure at that moment, then it is not relevant.
§ Mr. Brown
I seek to prove exactly what you said, Mr. Speaker, namely, the point at which it occurred and the circumstances in which it occurred, because I think that it is relevant to what happened subsequently. I will not press it any further. That is how it happened, at the point it happened, and that was the state of the House when it happened.
At that point the Chair immediately accepted the Motion moved, and equally immediately there was uproar in the House which had not existed before that point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I hope that hon. Members will speak from their own recollection. It is very clear from the record that at that point there was uproar. There was immediately afterwards considerable uproar. I will go further and say that something approach- 948 ing total chaos ensued. It is from that point that we claim that the inaccuracy in the record arises.
At that point, the Motion had been moved," That the Question be now put". The Chair had accepted it, and it was during that Division that a whole series of points of order were raised, some of them by my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas). At column 588, the Chairman is recorded as saying:The Question is, That the Question be now put."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 588.]We say—this is the first of our charges of inaccuracy—that that Question was never put, if a Question being put means it must be put audibly. That Question was never heard to be put.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that that can be right. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at his own Motion, he will see that that is not one of the entries which is desired to be expunged.
§ Mr. Brown
I said that it was never put by the Chair. I will move on, if I am transgressing, but I am dealing with these troubled waters for the first time, and, perhaps, may do better the second time, Sir.
I think that it is fair to make this point. It was only during that further point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that we learned that the Division was over and that the Motion was decided. It is interesting to note that, when that was said in answer to a point of order, there was a chorus of "When?" from hon. Members all over the House, who clearly at that stage did not even know what Motion had, in fact, been taken.
This, I am sure, you will accept as in order, Sir. We are absolutely as certain as we can be that no other Motion was ever put at all. After that point, the occupant of the Chair did not rise again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No. After that point, the occupant of the Chair never rose again, except to call, in the time-honoured way, "Order, order" for the removal of the Mace from one position to another, and himself to mount the main Chair. Of that, those of us who were present are as certain as we can be of anything.
949 Yet, Sir, the record sets out at that point the Ways and Means Resolution, records it as having been carried and also records that the Opposition put in no Tellers. Every one of us on this Front Bench, including those sitting nearest the Speaker's Chair, and who had not been as involved as some of us were with the whole argument that was going on, will assure you that to the best of our recollection no audible Resolution was put at any time to the House. It was audible to nobody, because there was, in fact, no Chairman on his feet putting a Motion.
As you will see from column 591, Sir, there was a certain amount of private discussion, to which I drew attention, between the Government Whip, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Hughes-Young), and the occupant of the Chair, who turned away from the House and was leaning forward towards the hon. Gentleman, and for some minutes something went on between them. I repeat that in column 591 I drew attention to this and protested that that could not be regarded as the business of this House properly conducted in open session of the House. Nevertheless, the Journal records the business, which could only have been business conducted between the two of them, conducted in that way, as no other business was going on in that way. It records the business as having been conducted and the Motion as having been carried.
Now I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Farnham. In our time, many of us, in one capacity or another, have been asked to write out the minutes of a meeting after an involved and violent discussion, when the outcome was very uncertain. [Interruption.] No, they probably pay somebody else to do it for them. I do not, therefore, in the least attack those who have had to do it in this case for doing it in the way they did. Of course, when one is charged with that duty, the only thing one can do is to record the business of the Executive, the business of the platform, as having been carried in such circumstances.
There is no other course open to one; there is nothing else one can do, but it is the business of hon. Members there to challenge the record if, in fact, they 950 believe it not to be so. We on this side say, and I believe that there are hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who know that I am telling the truth, that we remain convinced that those Resolutions were never validly put, and, because they were never validly put, could not have been validly carried.
Secondly, we say that in any case the record must be regarded as misleading since it purports to give a clear record of something which the House understood was being done, and which it allowed to be done, knowing that it was being done, when, in the clear recollection of everybody present, it certainly did not know what was being done. Even if it could be argued against me that it was done, even if it could be argued that I was not wide enough awake to see what was being done—[Interruption.] Let us treat this rather more seriously. This is one of the occasions of history, is it not? [Interruption.] Yes. One of the great things about the past is that Members took their position as Members of this House so much more seriously than hon. Gentlemen take it today, and it is upon that that our privileges and our greatness are founded.
Even if it could be proved against me that my recollection was wrong, or that I had not been wide enough awake to see what was going on, the very fact that so many did not know what was going on is itself evidence that the record is misleading, because the record purports to show that the House knew what was going on.
§ Mr. Brown
The best thing to do is to leave hon. Gentlemen on the record with their own statements.
I am, therefore, trying to submit and to prove two propositions. The first is that the record is inaccurate, because the Resolution which it purports to show was passed was neither put nor passed. If I succeed in that, the record certainly should be expunged. There is no question about it. This was too important a Measure—the National Health Service Contributions Ways and Means Resolution—to allow a nullity to be the basis for 951 the future of the Bill. Even if I fail in my first proposition, even if hon. Gentlemen opposite thought I should fail in that, it seems, I think, that I must succeed on the second case, and on the second I stand on the precedent established by Mr. Asquith in 1909.
Mr. Asquith's precedent was carried by the support of the Conservative Party. The precedent was that one does not have to prove that it was inaccurate if the record, although accurate, was misleading. I believe it to be inaccurate, but in any case, even if it is accurate, it is certainly misleading, because it presents a position that the House was alleged to know when, clearly, the House did not know what was going on. And so I claim that this record should be expunged, certainly on the second proposition, if not on the first.
It is no answer to say that the House should have been quiet. It is no answer to say that if the House had been quiet, it would have heard. The obvious counter to that is that if the Patronage Secretary had not behaved as he did, neither the irregularities which occurred nor the noise which they caused would have arisen. In any case, the House surely must be in a position to hear. If the House is not in a position to hear what is being done, even though it be by the wilful noise of Members, Standing Order No. 24 applies and it is at that point that the House should be adjourned under standing Order No. 24.
If it is claimed by hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), that he could not hear because we were making too much noise—that is what the hon. Member said—and if that is the view of hon. Members opposite, they must still support us, because if we could not hear we could not know what was going on. If we could not know what was going on, the record is clearly misleading and, on the 1909 precedent, should be expunged for that very reason, and the hon. Member for Battersea, South should vote with us for it.
The fact is that the Patronage Secretary behaved as he behaved. He closured his own Minister who was seeking to reply. He infringed the right of minorities, on both sides, by refusing them the 952 right to speak on a Measure of great public concern and dispute, which was laid down in the famous protest of 1621 as one of the undoubted rights and privileges of this House.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he is now out of order again. He is discussing the merits of the Closure.
§ Mr. Brown
I was encouraged, Mr. Speaker, by not having got out of order more than I have done. I am grateful to you and will try to get back within order.
The House became incensed at what it thought was its treatment at his hands, especially as, had the debate continued, no great harm could have come to the Government or to anybody else, since to end the discussion at one o'clock in the morning was not imperative. The consequence of all that was noise, uproar, turbulence and grave disorder. I still think that had someone on the Treasury Bench shown a touch or a sense for the mood of the House, we could have been back and proceeded without any trouble at all; we could have had peaceful progress and at some stage we could all have gone home. That, however, was missing that night and so the peaceful progress did not come.
Our submission is that it is surely an infringement of our rights—I mean the right of Members, and not of any one section of the House—and a grave precedent, for both Parliament itself and for our people, that the Journal should be written up and Government business should be declared as carried when so many of us believed that it was not. Unless this action is challenged—I put this with great seriousness to hon. Members opposite; I hope that they will believe me in this—and successfully challenged, we shall have given the Executive—any Executive, at any time—a new and easy way to override this House. What is worse, cynicism and frustration, those twin enemies of effective democracy, already with us, will be still further reinforced.
Whatever the inconvenience for the Government if this Motion is carried—and there will be some inconvenience—it is as nothing compared to the good that the pasage of this Motion will do for the reassertion of the rights of, and 953 the reinvigoration of, this House and Parliamentary democracy. This is a matter for all Members who care, who care about our rights as Members and who care about the duty of this House to hold the Executive in check if not in subjection. I think that anybody who was here that night knows the situation, knows that the record misleads and believes, as I do, that it is also inaccurate.
For all these reasons, I move the Motion that certain proceedings recorded in the Journal be expunged from the Journal of this House and I ask all hon. Members who care for Parliamentary democracy to support us in the Lobby.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
Can you help us, Mr. Speaker, on a legal matter and also a point of order? If a court later found that the Ways and Means Resolution was not carried in the Committee stage, would not the Act based on it be held by a court of law to be out of order?
§ Mr. Speaker
The trouble is that the court itself would, I think, be in trouble for breach of Privilege. It is a hypothetical situation.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Allan Green (Preston, South)
Nobody will deny, certainly I do not seek to deny, the right of the Opposition, or of any hon. Member on this side of the House, to move a Motion of this kind in these circumstances. We are all careful, I hope, of our rights in this House. We all wish to know what has gone on. If I may say to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), if I might have his attention—
§ Mr. Green
All the precedents that the right hon. Gentleman has quoted are irrelevant. This is a particular occasion about which he is complaining. The past precedents have very little to do with it, except his undoubted right to raise the matter if he so chooses. If that is true, as I believe it is, it is also true to say that this is no more an historic occasion than any occasion in 954 the House. Each occasion has its mark, great or small, in history. It is not, therefore, of much value to us to claim this to be a greater occasion than it is.
To pass to the next point raised by the right hon. Gentleman, he took his stand ultimately on the case that even if the record was accurate, it was misleading. May I have the right hon. Gentleman's attention? I am seeking to check the facts.
§ Mr. Brown
Will the hon. Gentleman forgive my interrupting? The hon. Gentleman has said this twice. I am listening to him all the time. There are certain other things one has to do, such as sending one's notes to those who have asked for them, as he knows. It is an abuse of the practice of the House to introduce what is intended to be a derogatory reference. The hon. Gentleman knows very well I am listening to each point he makes.
§ Mr. Green
Wait for it. If the right hon. Gentleman feels I have impugned him I most willingly withdraw. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I was seeking to satisfy myself that he took his ultimate stand in moving this Motion, as I understood him to do, on a particular statement that, even if the record was accurate, it was misleading. What he is saying—I am sure that he perceives it—is that no record, accurate or inaccurate, is, therefore, of very much value to Members if they do not choose to agree with it. [Laughter.] That is what he is saying. I do not believe that it was really the right hon. Gentleman's intention to say that—
§ Mr. Green
We will leave it to the record.
Let me give my own very humble back bench account of what I perceived myself at the time in question. First, it is not in doubt, I understand, that the Closure Motion was, within the rules of the House, properly moved. I understand that that is not in dispute. The record up to that point, as a record, is not, therefore, challenged.
955 I was myself at the Bar of the House [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I will try not to mislead hon. Members! I was myself at the Bar of the House, and, that Closure Motion being moved, I went into the Lobby in the expectation of recording my vote. Hon. Members opposite may say that I should not have done that, but the fact is that I did, and I went to do it. In the Lobby it became apparent to me that no Division on the Closure Motion was taking place, for what reason I did not know. I could not know—
§ Mr. Green
—because it is in the record and that part of the record is not challenged. The reason is in the record and that part of the record is not challenged. So I am not, I hope, in any dispute on this matter with right hon. and hon. Members opposite so far. Otherwise, they would have had a Motion down challenging that part of the record. They have not chosen to do so, so I take it that so far I am in agreement with them, and none of us up to this point is misled by the record; nor do we doubt its accuracy.
I came out of the Lobby. I came back again to the Bar of the House, and I listened to the next part of the proceedings. It was perfectly plain to me that, following the acceptance, whether willing or unwilling, of the Closure Motion, the main Question must be put, and to me, observing the scene from my place at the Bar of the House, it was so apparent that the main Question was being put that I went back into the Lobby. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This is the fact.
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose —
§ Mr. Green
I know that the hon. Member will permit me to complete my sentence.
I am not—let me make it plain—trying to argue the merits or demerits of moving one of these Motions. I am trying to make it plain—no more than this, because this is all I can speak to; I cannot 956 speak to more than this—that to me, standing at the Bar of the House, it was, in fact, apparent—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—so apparent, that I can only say—
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Does the hon. Gentleman doubt the statement of my right hon. Friend that the Chairman never rose to his feet to put the second Question?
§ Mr. Green
And that is what I observed, and I went into the Lobby to 957 record my vote. I came back again to find to my surprise that apparently Members opposite had not observed the same thing as myself. [Laughter.] All right. Hon. Members do not believe me? Will they believe me on this? I am not disputing by one hair's breadth their personal rights to state what they observed and what they believe—
§ Mr. G. Brown rose —
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, if the Member who has the Floor does not give way, he cannot intervene.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of order. The House is at present debating a Motion which depends on a question of fact. The hon. Member is making a speech in which he appears to be deliberately misleading the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—by using deliberately ambiguous words—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. Under the guise of a point of order the hon. Member is making unwarranted charges.
§ Mr. Silverman
I had not finished that point of order. I do not believe, with the greatest respect, that anything 958 I said was unwarranted. The hon. Member used the word "apparent". I say. and I am entitled to say so, that "apparent" is an ambiguous word in the context.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member is quite entitled to say things, but not on a point of order when it is not a point of order.
§ Mr. Silverman
What I am putting to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is whether, when the House is concerned with a question of fact, there is any way of calling upon an hon. Member who offers evidence on a point to deal with that and not muffle it up with ambiguous words.
§ Mr. Brown indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Brown
Before the hon. Member sits down, may I put this to him? I understood his challenge to me to be on the ground that he heard down there at the Bar—[HON. MEMBERS: "In the bar."]—and observed down there at the Bar of the House what was going on. Will the hon. Member explain in that case what he thinks the record means by saying that there was grave disorder? If he could hear it all the way out there at the Bar, what disorder was there?
§ Mr. Green
I have no intention of being drawn on to grounds other than that to which I can speak from my own experience. The right hon. Member for Belper is within the recollection of the House as saying that the ultimate ground on which he asked that the record should be expunged was that even if the record 959 was accurate it was misleading. All I wish to say is that I was not misled at the time.
§ Mr. G. Brown
The hon. Member is now himself misleading. I said two things. First, my claim was that the record was inaccurate and therefore should be expunged. I went on to say—and this is not the ultimate, this is an alternative—that if I failed to carry anybody on that, then there is another ground open, that even though they find it accurate, it is misleading. The hon. Member should try to follow this all through. In my view the ground holds on the first claim, but if it does not hold on the first claim it holds on the second. That does not mean that one is the ultimate and that all the hon. Member has to do is to answer the ultimate. He has to answer both.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green) has been addressing us both on the customs and events in the House. One of these customs provides that he should be referred to not by name, but as the hon. Member for Preston, South. In this particular instance, I can see the purpose of that rule, because if one were to refer to him by his own name it would be so appropriate as to be rude. The hon. Member intervened, first, to tell us that he did not think much of precedents and that this was not an important event in the history of the House.
§ Mr. Paget
Some events are more important than others and perhaps some people are more equal than others. We get these sorts of sophistications, but within the history of the House—and it is the history of the House that we make on these occasions—this is an event of importance. It is an event of importance because it affects what fundamentally this House is for—the rights of minorities and the rights of opposition. This House is not an instrument of government. This House is a limitation of government. That is why it is essentially a 960 democracy. And if Government business—and this is Government business—can be taken unbeknownst of the House, or at least unbeknownst of that part of the House which is the Opposition, that goes to the very liberties of the country.
This is why I believe that this is a profoundly important occasion. The precedents that have been cited are precedents which have dealt largely with the rights of individual Members. I am not saying that the rights of individual Members are not highly important. Of course they are. The reputation of my very great predecessor, Mr. Bradlaugh, the reputation of that perhaps less admirable character but, nevertheless, great fighter, Mr. Wilkes—these things are things of importance. But they are not of importance in the issue which we are raising today, because the issue we are raising today is not that of the mere individual. It is the right of the Opposition to have their voice heard and their votes taken when an issue comes before the House. When the Government require the consent of the House, that consent must be consciously given by the House.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Would the hon. and learned Member not agree, also, that it is important that the voice of Government supporters should be heard in the House and that they should not be shouted down and interrupted?
§ Mr. Paget
I entirely agree that they should not be shouted down and should not be closured by the Patronage Secretary—particularly the Minister of the Government who is seeking at the Dispatch Box to explain to the House, in answer to the Opposition, why the consent of the House should be given. When that is closured by the Patronage Secretary, I think that the point which the hon. Member has just made, that the voice of the Government, too, should be heard in these matters, is very well supported.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
On a point of order. Is the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) talking to the right Motion, because he is now talking about the Closure, which, I understand, does not arise on this Motion?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The House will have heard Mr. Speaker's Ruling and has not yet transgressed it.
§ Mr. Paget
I referred to the Closure only because of the intervention of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) and, in courtesy, I wished to concur in the point he was making, the point which we have made already—that the Patronage Secretary was very much to blame.
I now come back to the hon. Member for Preston, South. It is odd that on this subject, at the end of my right hon. Friend's moving and circumstantial account of what occurred, one witness should have risen on that side of the House. I am bound to say that I should have thought that the Government would have produced a better witness. What was his evidence as to the factual matter concerning us? He said, "I was at the Bar". He said that he had come in because he thought that there was a Division. That is no criticism. Many of us who are engaged in the chess room and elsewhere come in—
§ Mr. Green
No. To get it straight, because I am sure that the hon. and learned Member does not want to be unfair—I am sure that he does not want to be; it would not matter very much if he were—I came To the Bar of the House well before. The Chamber was crowded and I chose to stand there rather than try to find a seat on crowded benches.
§ Mr. Paget
I am delighted to give way to the hon. Member as often as he requires. The more he tells, the more interesting it becomes. He came in in plenty of time before the Division and he stood at the Bar. The Division was then taken and he went into the Division Lobby. I do not know how he knew which door it was, unless he knew what the position was and that he was sup- 962 porting the Closure. It was unnecessary for him to see the Question put, because he knew into which Lobby he was to go. No doubt he had other things to do. We have all done this and it is no criticism of him to say that he wanted a good place in the Lobby so that he could get out quickly. We have all done that.
The hon. Member then heard that there were no Tellers and that there was to be no Division. He scuttled back to see whether he could go home, or whether there was anything else on. We have all done that, too. We have been here before! He came back to the Bar and, he told us, it was apparent to him that the main Question was about to be put. He was at the Bar and hon. Members opposite have said time and again that there was chaos—
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
Was it not also apparent to the hon. and learned Gentleman's hon. Friend from' Cardiff, who appears from HANSARD to have been wearing a hat, seated?
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
Further to that point. I think that the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) is now referring to the wrong Division. Everyone was quite clear about the Closure being put, because we heard the Patronage Secretary move it. It is the events subsequent to that which are in dispute.
§ Mr. Paget
All these hon. Members opposite who are to vote on a question of fact about something which they did not see and which they did not hear are no doubt as confused as the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn). When the hon. Member for Preston, South returned, hon. Members were wearing opera hats.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) must not presume that he is the only hon. Member from Cardiff. There was another hon. Member from Cardiff wearing a hat.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Unfortunately for the hon. Member for Carlton, that was in the same Division. We both wore the same hat.
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
It is not quite accurate for the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to say that it was in the same Division. If he refers to column 589 of HANSARD for the appropriate day he will see that the Chairman declared that the Ayes had it, and then subsequently the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) put on an opera hat in order to raise a point of order during the Division.
§ Mr. G. Brown
If the hon. Member has that HANSARD with him, and refers to column 589, he will see that the second point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was about the same Division. He asked the Chairman whether he had heard the names of the Tellers being put in. Both were referring to the Division which had just been taken, the Division during which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) raised his point of order.
§ Mr. Burden
I would like a little elucidation on this point. It seems to me, from what the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) that the hon. Member and his fellow hon. Member from Cardiff were wearing the same hat at the same time.
§ Mr. Paget
I have been giving way to many interruptions, not because I believe that the debate should be reduced to a rag but because I think that it is highly important that the House should realise, from the evidence of its own spokesmen, the existing degree of confusion about what happened. It is precisely that degree of confusion which we say is the reason why on this occasion the minutes should 964 be amended and the business gone through properly.
Having made that point and thanking hon. Members opposite for having in large measure made it for me, I return to the hon. Member for Preston, South. Having found the Whips on, he returned to see whether he could go home, or whether there was to be another Division.
§ Mr. Green rose —
§ Mr. Paget
Let the hon. Member wait a little. I have given way a lot.
We have all done these things ourselves and I am not being critical about the hon. Member's actions. One is not particularly interested in the business—many of us have been in that state—and the buzz has gone round that the Patronage Secretary is to move the Adjournment at a given time. At that time, one comes along to see if he is as good as his word and one goes into the Division Lobby. Then one finds that the Tellers are not there and one goes to see whether there is to be a Division on something else, or whether one can go home. The hon. Member said that it was apparent to him that the main Question was to be put.
Nobody disputes that. Despite all the evidence that we have that silk hats or no silk hats, opera hats being worn by some and not by others, hon. Members trying to make themselves heard, turmoil and noise, the hon. Member says, "It is apparent to me that a Question was going to be put." When he is asked the direct question, "Did you see the Chairman stand up?" he dodges the answer about three times.
§ Mr. Paget
I can only say to the hon. Gentleman that I have heard a good many witnesses in court, that I have heard a great many judges and that I have judged the demeanours of witnesses, too, and that there is no court that I have ever been in which would believe him on that for a moment.
Those of my hon. Friends who were here in large numbers and many hon. Members opposite—in view of what is 965 happening I will not enlarge upon this—know very well whether the Chairman got to his feet or not at that moment. He did not. If this Question was put at all it was put inaudibly and was put sitting, and all of us know that.
Now I come to the point of hearing. Again, the question was put, "Did you hear the Question put?" and again the hon. Gentleman, to my hearing at any rate, slid off into a number of apparents.
§ Mr. Paget
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman cares to answer the question now. Did the hon. Gentleman hear the Question put or did he not? Would he care to answer now? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] As far as I am concerned, I think I have done with the hon. Member.
In conclusion, I will deal with what seems to me a profoundly important point and one which I am going to put to hon. Members opposite, hon. Members who, I believe, care for this institution, care for the rights of opposition and care, at least, that within this House justice shall appear to be done. On this side of the House it is claimed that my right hon. and hon. Friends feel very sincerely indeed that a mistake has happened, that a Question on which I do not think that any hon. Member would for one moment doubt that he would have wished to vote, was put without their hearing it, at any rate, and that they were denied that opportunity to vote, that by what happened the Journal records something which we do not believe happened and which we believe is misleading, that a very important Motion was passed without a vote because the Opposition, by reason of these events—and I am not laying the blame on one side or the other at the moment—simply did not have the opportunity, in decency and in fairness, to vote on it. Ought not that Question to be put again? That is all that this Motion says.
Before that Question can be put again the record has to be cleared. That is the formality with which we have to deal. We have to clean the sheet before the record can be put right. Is it not an abuse of the power of hon. Members opposite as a majority to deny to the Opposition the opportunity to record 966 their votes on a Question which they never heard and on which they would wish to hear their dissent expressed? I put this matter to the House, and, in fairness, I ask hon. Members opposite to exercise their independence as Members of Parliament and to support this Motion.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
A Motion has been tabled on the Order Paper in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and others to expunge from the records of the House the minutes taken at the Table by the Clerks of certain proceedings, and I think that we have nothing to complain of in the spirit in which or the historical perspective with which the: right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) examined the past.
I, too. have looked at the many cases in the past, and if one examines them with care one comes to the conclusion that, starting with the seventeenth century case and going on to the cases on page 268 of Erskine May, most of which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, I think that I could make the generalisation that, looking back over the centuries, there appears to be no case when the House of Commons has questioned the accuracy of entries in its Journals unless it has deliberately changes its mind. That applies to every single one of the cases to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
We are, therefore, debating today something which is new in our procedure, namely, the questions by the Opposition of the day of the accuracy of the Journals and of the Votes and Proceedings of the House. That is the main point on which the right hon. Gentleman in all sincerity wished to be judged, and that is the main point to which I shall address myself: were these proceedings accurately recorded? I hope to show in a not too elaborate way that they were, in fact, accurately recorded. I will then come to the right hon. Gentleman's second point, that if they were accurately recorded he wishes to stand on the case that they were misleading.
Let us look for a moment at the historic cases which have gone before.
§ Mr. A. V. Hilton (Norfolk, South-West)
On a point of order. Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to point out to the House how these proceedings could have been in order in view of the fact that he was not present at the time that they took place?
§ Mr. Butler
It so happens that the method which I propose to adopt to prove this is not relevant to the question of whether I was present or not, and I hope to show by the method that I am intending to use that the records were accurately kept.
If we look at the Resolution of 1782 relating to the case of Wilkes, if we look at the Motion impugning the conduct of Sir Robert Peel in 1883 when Lord Althorp moved a Motion that the matter be not entered in the Minutes, and if we look at the case of the Recorder of Brighton in 1855 or at the case of Brad-law in 1891, we find in every case that the House of Commons was deliberately taking a step, chiefly in a personal case, to change a record the accuracy of which was not denied.
If we come to the case in 1909 quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, the case of the scuffle between Lord Winterton and the hon. Member for South West Ham, we find the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Asquith, as Leader of the House moving what he called a Motion of an unusual character put forward in very exceptional circumstances and with the general concurrence of the House as an act of justice to one of its own Members. That it was moved by the Leader of the House of the day and later supported, in what I agree with the right hon. Member for Belper was a very turgid speech by Mr. A. J. Balfour. Mr. T. P. O'Connor also spoke at the end maintaining, with the general concurrence of the House, that an injustice had bene done to the Member for South West Ham, and that therefore the matter must not remain on the Journal of the House.
The right hon. Member for Belper made some play with a phrase used by Mr. Asquith, namely:I have thought it right to adopt this very unusual procedure, and to ask the House to 968 expunge this misleading, though accurate, entry from its Journal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 16th July, 1909; Vol. 7, c. 2482.]The fact that the Leader of the House of the day found that entry to be accurate very much increases the strength of my case in dealing with the first proposition to which the right hon. Gentleman wished us to address ourselves today, namely, that throughout all these cases set out on page 268 of the Sixteenth Edition of Erskine May—the case in the seventeenth century, referred to by the right hon. Gentleman and the recent case of 1909—there is no analogy at all between the action taken by the Opposition today and all the previous cases of dealing with this matter in the House. Therefore, I think that the House ought to approach with some caution and solemnity the proposal made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
As I hope to show in dealing with the second leg of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, it is not so much the Executive which is running away with things here, but it should be the wish of all Members of this House to preserve our own method of doing things in the House of Commons and not to question our records when, in my view, despite the difficulties of that particular evening, they were in fact correct. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I shall attempt to show as patiently as I can why I think they were correct, and then we will leave the matter to the decision of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "We were there."] We gave the right hon. Gentleman a fair hearing, and I am obliged to the House for listening to the manner in which I am putting this question.
I am glad to see the Leader of the Opposition in his place, because when dealing with this Motion the only slip that I recognised in the interesting speech of the right hon. Member for Belper was his reference at the bottom of column 588 to the question of the Question being now put in relation to the Closure. I think he will agree with me that his right hon. Friend said:We heard him put it and he took the voices of the Committee. However, I do question the record from there onwards."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1961; Vol. 634, c. 642.]We are there quite clear that it is the record after the Division on the Closure, and not before, that we are questioning in this Motion. I say that only because the 969 right hon. Gentleman was not quite clear upon it, and I wanted no confusion in dealing with the Motion.
If I am to make my case in reply to the very strongly felt arguments on the other side of the House, it is necessary for me to establish that the records are correct, and that the machinery upon which we depend for making these records was functioning without reproach on that night, and I now propose to try to do that.
First, I want to refer to the human machinery. This is the concern of the Whips on both sides and the Clerks at the Table. I can pledge myself to say that the Government Whips are satisfied that the records are accurate. [Laughter.] I expected laughter, but we have had our own examination of this matter with as much sincerity as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have cross-questioned the Whips and we are satisfied that they are correct.
The next point to which I come relates to the Clerks at the Table. They were referred to in suitable language by the right hon. Member for Belper, and I am sure that it is not in the mind of either side of the House to criticise the Clerks. They are the servants of the House. They perform their duties impartially and to the satisfaction of the House. They record our proceedings at the Table in close proximity to the Chairman. They are in an advantageous position, when the Chamber is noisy, to know what occurs. Why, I ask the House, should they wish to invent the proceedings of the House? No one, I am sure, would suggest this for a moment, but it is as well for me to make this point and to say that we have the utmost confidence in the Clerks in the performance of their duties at the Table.
Now I will discuss in some detail—and this may at any rate interest new hon. Members; it certainly interested me after a long period of service in this House to study it so closely—the physical machinery which has to be operated by the various officers of the House before the Minute is entered in the Clerks' books. I think that it would be valuable for all hon. Members to listen to this, because our constitution itself in law is a matter of checks and balances, and if one can find any machinery which is more full of checks and balances than 970 that which I am now going to describe to reach accuracy in making the records I shall be very surprised. The purpose of the machinery is to prevent errors of the kind implied in the present Motion, and to see, in the words of the right hon. Member for Belper, that the Motion is validly put and validly carried.
First, when the Chairman rises to put any Question to the Committee, the Clerks at the Table and the Sergeant at Arms' Doorkeepers at the various doors and entrances, and the Serjeant at Arms himself in the Chair, all remain on the alert but take no action until the Chairman has collected the voices, and—in the event of voices opposing the Question—has declared "Clear the Lobby". The purpose of collecting the voices is to ascertain whether the House desires to divide or to assent to a Question without a Division.
On the words "Clear the Lobby", and on those words only, the Clerk at the Table presses a lever to set the automatic time-clock running. This time-clock is in a wooden frame, which I have inspected, build into the Table and is regularly tested by Messrs. Dents, the clockmakers of Big Ben. I have ascertained, too, that it was last tested for accuracy by Messrs. Dents on 1st February, 1961, that is, a few days ago. At the same time the Serjeant at Arms in his Chair at the other end of the Chamber directs the Division bells to be rung in all parts of the House and his Doorkeepers to lock the Tellers' doors in the Lobbies. What is, I think, a vital check and balance is that there is no communication of any kind between the Clerks at the Table and the Serjeant at Arms or his Doorkeepers during this procedure.
Nobody questions that the bells did work. It was quite clear, therefore, that the Serjeant at Arms acted as he is expected to do, and there is no doubt the machinery was operated and the machinery was operating for both Divisions after contact by eye only between the Serjeant at Arms at that end of the Chamber and the Chairman seeing and doing his duty at this end. These two parts of the Chamber act completely independently in carrying out their duties. At the end of two minutes the clock of the Clerk at the Table stops and a red light comes on, which is clearly visible 971 to all at or behind the Table, including the Chairman. The Senior Clerk at the Table thereupon prompts the Chairman with the single word "Tellers", and not until the Chairman has acted upon this prompting is the next stage entered upon.
§ Mr. Callaghan
This point is vital. Will the Home Secretary go into a little more detail as to what the Chairman does when the Clerk says to him the single word "Tellers"? Will he tell us whether this was carried out?
§ Mr. Butler
I am coming to that. The Chairman must then stand and put the Question a second time. If the Tellers from one side have not been previously nominated the Division cannot proceed. The Chairman, without collecting the voices, forthwith announces the decision of the Committee in favour of the party which put in Tellers' names.
§ Mr. Butler
I maintain that this was done. If there is a doubt about that, we must take another look at Erskine May, on page 429, in order to see that there is no confusion on this point and that the decision was given in favour of the party who put in Tellers' names.
It is at this stage—in regard to which I have been cross-examining all the parties in question—that the Clerks at the Table are for the first time in possession of information which enables them then to record the decision of the House, for it is not until the Chairman has announced the names of the Tellers that the Clerks are in a position to record their names. Equally, the Chairman must stand at this point, as a signal to the doorkeepers to proceed with their duties. If, therefore, it is claimed that the Minutes are incorrect it will be necessary to show and prove a number of things. The first is that the Division bells throughout the building were rung by accident. Let it be repeated that these bells are not controlled from the Table. That is impossible to prove, so our case is one point up. The second is that the doorkeepers proceeded to the Tellers' doors in error; the third is that the two Clerks at the Table wrongly depressed the special control lever of the electric clock; the fourth is that the red light flashed without purpose after two minutes, and the final one is that the Serjeant at Arms' 972 men, on the second occasion, erroneously thought they saw the Chairman rising and giving the normal signal for them to proceed with their duties, without which signal they could not have done so.
Only after all these events have taken place could the Clerks proceed to enter in their Minutes the names of the Government's Tellers, whose identities, if we believe the record to be wrong, must have been invented. It is submitted that this circumstantial evidence confirms the personal assurance given not only by the Chairman and his Assistants at the Table but by these two hon. Members that their names were announced to the House in due form by the Chairman standing up in his place, and that he then declared, in the absence of any Tellers put forward from the Opposition side of the House, that the Ways and Means Resolution had been carried.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I should have thought there would be a simple way of proving all this, quite apart from the things which the right hon. Gentleman has referred to—many of which may well be in dispute. There is one physical thing which happens throughout the House when a Division is called. The annunciators throughout the Palace record the time and the fact that a Division has been called. Has the right hon. Gentleman obtained any annunciator tapes which show that?
§ Mr. Butler
I have not got any with me, but I have all the other instances of proof that the normal procedure was carried through.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into the question of the annunciators? Has he made no investigation to see what they recorded as being done at the time?
§ Mr. Butler
I have not, but I can ascertain the fact, although I think it will be found that the ordinary procedure was followed through, and that all the instances of proof that I have given were carried out.
Once the Resolution has been carried it remains for the Chairman to put the formal Question, "That I do report the Resolution to the House." That that was done there is again independent evidence, quite apart from the Clerks' 973 evidence. It so happened that on that night the Chairman was acting as Deputy Speaker. Usually it falls to him to report the Resolution, but in this case the Deputy Chief Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Hughes Young), had the duty of reporting what had happened in Committee in the time-honoured form, which is, "I beg to report the Committee have agreed to the Resolution which they have directed me to report to the House." It is inconceivable, in the event of any failure of the Chairman to put the final Question, that the Deputy Chief Whip would have proceeded with his duty—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—since it is the function of the Whips to see that Government business is correctly done. If there is a scintilla of doubt they invariably check the procedure with the Table.
When we are considering the merits or demerits of the matter we should consider the high standard expected of the Deputy Chief Whip, just as we should consider the high standard expected of any other person. When the Deputy Speaker said: "Report to be received, what day?" and "Committee, what day?", the Deputy Chief Whip twice answered loudly, "This day". That has been checked with those concerned and, taken together with the record of both the Clerks, in the manner I have shown, indicates that the records were faithfully and accurately kept.
That is the first part of the case in relation to the Motion. I am satisfied that a mistake in this elaborate machinery is impossible, partly owing to the human element and partly owing to the mechanical and physical elements. I therefore claim that it would be quite wrong to depart from the long history of the House in its antecedents of this matter and to question the efficiency of our records and their accuracy.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Can the right hon. Gentleman claim that, to his own knowledge, any back bench Member of his own side of the House claims to have heard any of the things which he has described happen?
§ Mr. Farey-Jones (Watford)
In view of the intervention of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), may I say that I did?
§ Mr. Butler
I am grateful for that unsolicited help from my hon. Friend.
Before I conclude I want the House to consider most carefully whether it would not be doing great violence to our traditions and institutions if we criticised a fairly recorded conclusion, as arrived at by the machinery of the House, and thereby criticised the Chairman, Clerks, the Serjeant at Arms, and all those who assist them. That would be doing considerable violence to our tradition.
On the second leg of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, to which he attached less importance, namely, that the record is misleading, I would say-that it would not be reasonable to start taking such an action about conclusions reached in the House, merely because they were arrived at in an atmosphere of commotion, and that we would be challenging the basis upon which our liberties rest if we did so. Some countries depend on force and power. Our country depends on checks and balances, and it would be extremely wrong if, on an occasion like this, the House were to decide to question a decision honestly recorded in the manner in which I have described.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
In my opinion, our country and our democracy depends not on the type of checks and balances to which the right hon. Gentleman has been referring us, but on the real right of those in this House to know what is going on and to take their appropriate part in it. In this case it is not two arguments that my right hon. Friend put forward, it is one argument; and the substance of it is that, whatever formulae were adopted by the three gentlemen who were round the Chair, the vast majority of the House, including myself, had no idea what they were saying. We had no opportunity at any time to have an effective vote, or even to know that we could have had an effective vote, on the Ways and Means Resolution, even though we knew that that Resolution was bound to be put at some time after the Closure.
975 We have listened to a great deal of very interesting matter about the mechanical checks in the House. We have been told how the "grandmother" clock works in some detail. But this was not a "grandmother" clock question, and all that was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House—with the greatest respect to him—was nothing more than an attempt to distract us from the real point. The real point here is this. Did we have—in the opinion of the ordinary man, if hon. Members like, and not so much in the opinion of those who go in for the niceties of procedure and the like—a fair decision of the Committee on this particular question, the Ways and Means Resolution that was put? I have little doubt that all the appropriate words were said. I should have expected them to have been said. I should have expected, in just the same way, reports to be made by the Government Whips—for whom, again, I have every personal respect—that the whole thing had been carried through according to the appropriate formula. But the substance of the matter is that people in the Committee just did not know what was going on.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way, because I think that this is a most important point. I do not think that any of us who value the life of the House of Commons takes pleasure in this debate one way or the other. But what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying is that if anybody in the House does not want the business to be got, all they have to do is to make so much noise that it cannot be heard.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Let me just point out to him, and to the House, what it is that we are going to vote about, if we are driven to divide on this matter.
We say that, in substance, on the real point of the matter, this record is inaccurate. I do not mind whether we call it "inaccurate" or "misleading". The point is exactly the same. It is that there was no real and effective decision, and that no hon. Member—one hon. Gentleman said he heard and another hon. Gentleman says he "perceived" in some mysterious way—but the vast majority 976 of us did not know what was going on and had no opportunity to find out. I say this to the hon. Gentleman. That is not a question of who caused any turbulence or who was more responsible for this or for that—it is a pure question of fact. If the Government are going to vote this Motion down in the Lobbies, what they are voting for is, in my submission, a real inaccuracy in the record—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes, I repeat, a real inaccuracy in the record. The "hoops" may have been gone through; the substance, in thought and decision, was not there.
After all, if we are talking about democracy, there are many dictators who have put things through with the right procedure but have denied the substance. Beneath a great deal of irrelevant argument today—a great deal of detail which, with the greatest personal respect to the Leader of the House, I still say was irrelevant to the main point—we are being invited to stand by a record which cannot stand on the real point. That and that only is what we are being asked to vote about.
We are told that nobody likes the debate—the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) just said so. I say this. I should dislike far more a continued appearance on the record of what is there now because in truth and in substance, on the real point, that record is a lie—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—all right, we can call a record a lie. What we mean is that it does not tell one the true substance of the matter, and that is the case here.
I must give the House—and I do—my own personal knowledge of what happened. I am quite clear. It is a limited knowledge. I came in at the point when the Patronage Secretary was moving the Closure when there were the one or two sentences which have already been quoted. The reason I came in was that I saw his name on the annunciator outside and I wondered what this portended. I sat at the end of the Opposition Front Bench, which is a place where one can hear very well what is passing between the occupants of those three chairs. It is not possible to hear everything that passes elsewhere and of course there was a great deal of turbulence—there is not the least doubt about it. One of my hon. Friends was expressing his views in 977 a very loud voice immediately above my head. None the less, I could, and did. see and hear some things.
I did not see the Chairman of Ways and Means rise at any point. That is really a vital matter, because that, in the circumstances, is a sign of a Division which most of us within the House would recognise. I did see what I can only describe as a "huddle" going on between the Chairman of Ways and Means and two of the Government Whips. I did not know what they were doing. I assumed that the Closure was being put because, after all, we had been told that it was going to be put. Beyond that I really had no idea, until towards the end when the record says that the Chairman of Ways and Means said that the matter had been decided. I then concluded that there had been this surreptitious Division.
I am not the "big ticker" round the corner, or the thing that does this or that. But surely the essential point about a Division of this kind must be that every hon. Member in the House should know that it is being called; that he should have the opportunity—if Tellers are not to be appointed by the Government or by the Opposition—to put up himself and one of his friends as Tellers, or anything of that sort; or at least to vote if he so chooses. That was the opportunity which was denied.
I say this with great respect to the Leader of the House. I, too, have looked through the precedents. I think there is a bit more to be said about them than the right hon. Gentleman said, but that is not the real point. As was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), the humblest parish council has the right to correct errors in the record of its proceedings, and it is wrong to say that we are the only body which on no account must correct our errors but must stand by them because they happen to suit one political party or the other, or one collection of hon. Members or another. That cannot be right. Surely it is our inherent right and our duty, as the Parliament of this country, and as one of the main outposts and bastions of democracy in the world, not to stand by any error even if it is our own error, and to see that truth appears in what we do and what we say.
978 I say to hon. and right hon. Members opposite, "You have a very heavy responsibility upon you today if, for purely technical reasons in the minutiae of procedure or for party convenience, you choose to stand by error and reject what you perfectly well know is the truth, that this Division in substance was no Division".
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is quite obvious that the right hon. Gentleman was speaking as Leader of the House, but I am not sure whether he was speaking as Home Secretary and as a Government Minister proposing to use the Whip. If he is proposing to use the Whip, can I have it from you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether or not it is in order for any hon. Member who did not himself see or hear these proceedings to vote in any Division on this Motion?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Surely, the hon. Member knows that hon. Members duly elected to this House have every right to vote in a Division if they so desire.
§ Sir D. Glover
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It would be a very strange system in this House if every person who went into a Division Lobby had to hear every single word said before the Division took place.
When the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) was speaking, I said that very few hon. Members would take much pleasure in this incident. When these events took place no one in the House could have felt that his pride in membership of the House was increased. I do not think hon. Members on either side come out of it very well. What is the nub of the Opposition's case? Whether it was too early or too late is a matter for argument. That is not the point of the Motion, but it is admitted that the Question to be put was properly put from the Chair. It is not argued that a Division was called on that. It is not argued that Tellers were not put in from this side of the House. I cannot help 979 feeling that, as much conversation was taking place that night and as a great number of right hon. Members of the Opposition spent much time around the Table afterwards trying to find out what had happened, it seems they forgot to put in Tellers. [Interruption.] Oh, yes, two minutes went by and they did not realise that they had forgotten to put in Tellers.
The point is that the Motion does not say that there is anything wrong in the record before the Closure was completed. It complains only of what happened after the Closure. If that is so and the House was in turmoil, what the Opposition seem to be saying—and I think they are breaking down the great tradition of the House—is that unless all hon. Members in the House at the time can hear the further Question put from the Chair, the business of the House is not to proceed nor to be obtained. Hon. Members opposite should be very careful because, in the working of democracy, on some occasion they will want the business of the day. They are saying that if mob rule should take over in the House of Commons and a row be such that the Question cannot be audible it is no longer relevant to say that all machinery of the House says that this took place.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
If that in fact happened and there was such uproar, is it not the duty of the Chair to operate Standing Order No. 24, which is specially designed and might well have operated on that occasion?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I do not think that on this Motion we should pursue that question further. I think that we must stick to the question of fact.
§ Sir D. Glover
Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I think that perhaps it is wise to stick to the question of fact, although I should be quite willing to go on with that point.
What we are saying is that the business was in fact put but many of us did not hear it, or, in the confusion, did not even see the Chairman rise in his place. What we are also saying is that the esteemed Clerks at the Table, who are 980 the souls of honour and have never had their actions questioned in this House—we are all human—would not put down what they did not see or what did not in fact happen. Perhaps discussions might take place on how we might improve the procedure, but I plead with the Leader of the Opposition not to divide the House on what the public will look upon as a reflection on the Clerks at the Table. If we improve procedure or increase amplification arrangements, these things might not happen in future.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Will the hon. Member give way, since he mentioned me by name? Would he not agree that the simplest way out of the dilemma is for the Government supporters to accept our Motion so that the Minutes can be changed and the whole procedure started again? Then we can get it all clear.
§ Sir D. Glover
With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that is exactly what I do not think we should do, because then we should be accepting the Motion as in fact a reflection on the accuracy of the Clerks at the Table. On that narrow issue I shall have no difficulty whatever in opposing the Motion.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I imagine that quite a number of hon. Members listening to this debate today were not here when this occurrence took place. I was not present myself. Therefore, all I and other hon. Members in my position can do is to listen to the evidence given by hon. Members who were here and to the Leader of the House and come to a conclusion. So far, the evidence from the Government benches has been indeterminate. No hon. Member has said that he can recall and endorse everything that the Leader of the House has said happened in trying to show that the machinery of the House is perfect and that the Journal must inevitably be accurate.
The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) was the only hon. Member opposite who said that he heard something said on that occasion, and that was because he was at the end of the Chamber. I certainly pay attention to what he said, but, after listening to the other evidence, including that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper 981 (Mr. G. Brown), there remains in my mind a doubt which is of great importance. The Leader of the House, in giving the list of checks and balances which he mentioned as absolutely vital said that the Chairman must stand when putting the Question to the House. My right hon. Friend said emphatically that he did not see the Chairman rise. The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) quite clearly indicated that there is some doubt in his mind about whether the Chairman rose to put the Question.
All we have had from the Leader of the House is his version of the investigations he made among the Officers of the House and the Whips. Although I do not attempt to challenge that, there seems to be a weak point in his case, because, when he was challenged by one of my hon. Friends about whether the Annunciator gave certain information to those not in the Chamber, he said that he had not checked that.
If we are to act as members of a jury, those of us who were not here at the time must hear all the evidence. Of course, we are not able to hear the officers of the House state exactly what happened. All we know is what is said by hon. Members opposite. We all admit that in debates hon. Members' memories are perhaps coloured a little sometimes by what they want to think.
I am not attempting to dispute what has been said by any hon. Member who has spoken, and, as I was not here, I do not want to take long in giving my impression to the House, but it has not been established in my mind, and, I hope, in the minds of other hon. Members who have been listening, that one of the checks and balances was operated. It has not been established clearly in my mind that the Chairman rose at the Table and put the Question. We have been told by the Leader of the House that if that action does not take place, then one of the checks and balances fails to operate, and I gather that the whole procedure is nullified at that point.
If any other hon. Member has any doubt in his mind as to whether all these checks and balances operated properly, surely he ought not to leave this as the record of our proceedings. I will not say a word about the Clerk at the Table, but I am impressed by what was said 982 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper, who thought, from examining the manuscript record from which the official record is made, that there was evidently great confusion in the mind of the Clerk at that time, because there are many crossings out before the final conclusion is reached.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Is not the point that there is no aspersion on the Clerks, but that there was such an infernal din going on that they did not know what was happening?
§ Mr. Bellenger
Nevertheless, the Clerk has recorded something definite, and it is partly because of that definite record that this Motion is being moved.
The hon. Member for Ormskirk need not give the Opposition a lecture about turbulence. He should know from the history of his own party that at times there has been considerable uproar and worse than that; at times there has been disorder in the House.
§ Sir D. Glover
I did not say that. I warned hon. Members opposite that the Opposition might one day be the Government and that this applies both ways.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Forewarned is forearmed. I can only hope that when we are on the Government side of the House we shall take appropriate steps to limit the opportunities of hon. Members opposite.
One impression left in my mind, from all the evidence and lack of evidence, is that there was an attempt by the Government to get their way by fair means or foul. If that is the impression left on the minds of the Opposition, then there will be considerably more turbulence than happened the other night. Every hon. Member knows that Government business must be got through. The Government must govern. But they must do it in a way which convinces the Opposition that we have had every opportunity of putting our case. On this occasion our case arose out of great bitterness and great emotion as to what the Government were trying to do. That is understandable. It has happened on previous occasions, including occasions when the Conservative Party were in opposition, and I suppose that it will happen again.
983 If in those circumstances, the Government wish to get their business through the House, they must make sure that they are giving justice to the Opposition, who have every right to put their case, and to put it all night if they want to do so. I can remember an occasion, before the war, during an unemployment debate—some of my hon. Friends may recollect it—when the House sat for three days and nights discussing the question and the Government dare not and did not attempt to stop us from putting our point of view.
The Conservatives have their majority. We know that. But it may not always be so, and if they want fair dealings from us when we are on that side of the House they must give fair dealings to us now. Not having been here the other night, but having listened to the evidence, I, for one, am of the opinion that we have been treated unfairly and that justice has not been seen to be done. For Chat reason, if the Motion is put to a Division, I shall go into the Lobby in support of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Pilkington (Poole)
The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) made a moderate speech, at any rate in the first part, but when he said that the Government were determined to get their own way by fair means or foul he was casting an aspersion Which he should not have cast.
The right hon. Gentleman suffered under the disadvantage of not having been here on the night in question. I was here throughout. I think that I saw all that happened, and I heard all that I could hear through the noise which was being made. The position is that rather more than half of those present think that in HANSARD there is a correct record of what happened, and slightly less than half think that the record is inaccurate. Also on the Government side there is the fact that the authorities of the House, including the Clerks at the Table, think that the record is correct. That in itself goes a long way to showing that the record is correct.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
How can the hon. Member square that statement with the fact that as I left the House half-a-dozen Members from his side of the House 984 clustered around me and asked what had happened and whether there was to be a Division? This was sorted out afterwards.
§ Sir R. Pilkington
The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw has said that he was not here at all, yet he thought that he was qualified to make a statement. I know that not every hon. Member was in the Chamber at the time. Some were in the Lobby hoping to vote. But from what has been said it is obvious that the majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House have a very clear impression of what they think happened.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The hon. Member said that, in addition to the other evidence, we have the evidence of the Clerks at the Table. I submit to him with respect that we have no such evidence and that it would be wrong to drag them into the proceedings. All we have is an inference which the Leader of the House drew from certain machinery, and we can all judge the validity or invalidity of that inference. It would be quite wrong to drag the Clerks at the Table into the factual dispute.
§ Sir R. Pilkington
I have no wish to drag the Clerks at the Table into the debate unduly, but surely the hon. Member is doing less than justice to them if he assumes for one moment that if they were of a different opinion from that offered by my right hon. Friend, they would not hesitate to say so to him.
§ Mr. Silverman rose —
§ Sir R. Pilkington
The hon. Member is very fond of interrupting. I have given way to him once. Perhaps he will content himself with that.
Listening to the speeches by hon. Members opposite, anybody not knowing even roughly what happened on the night in question would think that hon. Members opposite were completely innocent about it. In fact, all the accusations which they have made would not have arisen had they behaved themselves properly, as I put it in an interjection a day or two ago, and had they not made such an appalling noise. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw said that there has been noise from time to time from this side of the House, and that is no doubt true. But I do not believe that any hon. Member who has been in the 985 House for any length of time has ever seen anything compared to the disgraceful behaviour which occurred on that night
I have looked through the HANSARD record of what happened. I have counted up thirty-one points of order. Not one of them was a proper point of order. They were all turned down by the Chair. If any hon. Member doubts that, let him read the record. It was not only that hon. Gentlemen rose to their feet and moved those points of order; at least a dozen hon. Gentlemen were at one time or another standing on their feet trying to interrupt the Minister, who was trying to speak. There was a complete onslaught on the Minister to try to stop him making his speech.
§ Mr. Diamond
I was the first to rise to what I thought were very fundamental points of order, which were repeated by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench and on the back benches. What right has the hon. Member to suggest that we were not concerned to know the Order of the Day? The Chairman never said that the point was out of order. He ruled on it.
§ Sir R. Pilkington
If the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) will look through HANSARD, he will see that point after point was ruled not to be a point of order. If he will look at column 535, to take only one column, he will see that six bogus points or order were raised in such a short time. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said in his introductory remarks that there had been no turbulence and no turmoil until about midnight. HANSARD shows that the noise began at about 10.30 p.m. and went on for the better part of three hours, all the noise coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Member for Poole (Sir Richard Pilkington) referred to half a dozen points of order in column 535. The proceedings recorded in that column must have taken place at about 10.30 p.m., because Column 533 is timed as commencing at 10.25 p.m. The trouble which the House is now discussing all arose at about one o'clock the next morning. What the hon. Member is talking about in column 535 happened 2½ hours earlier and has nothing to do with it.
§ Sir R. Pilkington
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) is quite wrong. It was three hours of turbulence of varying degrees, and it all came to a head in the last hour. Anyone who reads HANSARD can see that my statement that it started much earlier than that is correct.
§ Sir R. Pilkington
No. I shall not give way again. I have said that the behaviour was disgraceful. It was not only the noise which was being made. When the House finally adjourned right hon. and hon. Members clustered round the Table and came up to the Government Front Bench and shook their fists in the faces of hon. Members who were sitting there. I think that the Opposition behaved in a very irresponsible way, and the responsibility lies squarely with hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The hon. Member for Poole (Sir Richard Pilkington) does not seem to realise that he has made a much more savage and severe attack on the Chairman who was in charge of the proceedings throughout the night in question than anything which has been suggested from this side or anything which would be relevant on the Motion which we shall discuss later. If the hon. Member's claim is that there were three hours of turbulence and that after those three hours of turbulence it was still thought proper that the business of the House of Commons should be pushed through, he is making a reflection on the Chair which, I hope, he will hasten to apologise for and withdraw.
Other hon. Members opposite strayed into a part of that argument. They suggested that there was turbulence for a period and that, despite that, the Chairman went ahead with the business of the House of Commons. That statement, even though they say it in more moderate terms, is a reflection on the Chairman and hon. Gentlemen should not say it, particularly in this debate. It may be relevant on the Motion we shall discuss later, but it certainly is not relevant in this debate.
The hon. Member for Poole certainly should not claim that the proceedings 987 were conducted in a disgraceful and turbulent manner for some hours. If that is so, the business should have been brought to an end much earlier. The Chairman should have taken action to ensure that the business of the House could be properly heard by all the Members of the House.
§ Sir Richard Pilkington
The hon. Member is making a debating point, but it is not a good one. The Chairman showed tremendous patience with hon. Gentlemen opposite and did what he could to try to restore order.
§ Mr. Foot
The business of the Chairman is to ensure that the business of the House shall be heard and shall go forward in a proper manner. If there is turbulence, it is the business of the Chairman to bring the proceedings to a halt so that the turbulence can be halted. There is no way of getting round this proposition. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that, despite turbulence and the fact that some hon. Members cannot hear what is happening, the business of the House should go forward.
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) says, "Hear, hear", but that is contrary to the rules of proceeding of the House of Commons. The rules of the House say that the business shall be conducted in an orderly manner It is the business of the Chairman to ensure that the House shall be orderly so that the business can be done and heard. If the proceedings are disorderly, the business cannot be done properly. That is what we are saying happened. Because of the disorder, whatever was the cause of it, the business could not be done and heard properly
§ Mr. Wilson
Must there not be some balance, otherwise it is an invitation for any hon. Member to bring the proceedings of the House to a close merely by being turbulent?
§ Mr. Foot
There are methods of dealing with that. Of course there must not be a balance between turbulence and non-turbulence. There cannot be a system under which the House is allowed to conduct its affairs in a moderate degree of disorder. The House is either orderly or disorderly. There cannot be a half-way arrangement when people 988 half-hear what is happening. There are many procedures under the rules of the House by which if there is disorder the Chairman can—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The House and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) should bear in mind that what we are discussing is a Motion to expunge certain entries from the Journal.
§ Mr. Foot
I fully understand that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, although I do not think that the hon. Member for Poole fully understood it. The hon. Member based the whole of his case on the ground that there were three hours of turbulence. Four hon. Members opposite have spoken and given their testimony about what happened on that evening. So far as I can see, only one of them has waited to hear the subsequent debate. The hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green) has left the Chamber. I do not suppose that he will return after what happened to him when questions were addressed to him by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). The hon. Member refused to answer the question whether he himself had heard the Chairman put the Question from the Chair. When the hon. Gentleman refused to answer, we all knew that he had not heard.
The hon. Member for Poole was the first hon. Gentleman opposite who said positively that he heard the Chairman put the Question and saw him do so. The hon. Member claims that the Chairman put the Question.
§ Sir Richard Pilkington
To get the record straight, I did not make that claim. I said that I thought that all I saw was in order.
§ Sir Richard Pilkington
The hon. Member must not twist statements like that. I obviously meant everything which the Government and the Chair were doing.
§ Mr. Foot
We first heard the hon. Member for Preston, South, who was not prepared to say openly in the House that 989 he had heard and seen the Chairman put the Question. Now the hon. Member for Poole, when challenged, says that he is not prepared to say that he heard the Chairman put the Question or saw him do so. We have heard from the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover). He has now left the Chamber. We cannot ask him whether he heard and saw what happened. We had the opinion of the Leader of the House. Nobody will ask him whether he heard and saw it, because we all know that he did not.
§ Mr. Grant-Ferris (Nantwich)
I was here most of the time and I certainly heard and saw the right hon. Gentleman put the Question. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House on the question of turbulence. There are degrees of turbulence and some turbulence is turbulent to a degree. When it gets to the point as it was at about five minutes past one on that occasion, that is a degree of turbulence which the House should not have to endure. Before that it was not as bad as all that.
§ Mr. Diamond
My hon. Friend misheard what was said by the hon. Gentleman. He said, "I heard the right hon. Gentleman put the Question."
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Member for Nantwich (Mr. Grant-Ferris) is the first hon. Member on the other side to claim to have heard the Chairman. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We have had only four speakers. It is a very peculiar situation when the two hon. Gentlemen who have just spoken profoundly disagree on the question whether there was turbulence in the House or not, but they are both prepared to agree that they heard the Chairman accurately. It is a very peculiar state of affairs. Indeed, the House is in a very curious situation.
The Leader of the House said that he would prove by scientific methods something which most of us on this side believe to be untrue. He would "blind us with science". We should not underrate the capacities of the Leader of the House. We remember, in the years 990 before the war, that he managed to prove to everyone's satisfaction, or, at any rate, to his own, that there were no Italian troops in Spain, when there were. I thought that he intended to use the same device today.
I must say that the Leader of the House has a powerful case. He produced all the scientific evidence to prove it, at any rate to his own satisfaction, and possibly to the satisfaction of some hon. Members on the other side of the House. If that is true, and his claim is correct, it is an astonishing state of affairs, because here we have the scientific proof, so-called by the Leader of the House, that the procedure went through accurately and properly. That is quite contrary to what most hon. Gentleman on this side thought at the time. There may be some others on that side of the House, although they have not been prepared to say so. My own recollection after leaving the House, after waiting two hours to get into the debate, was that many hon. Members on that side came up to me and said that the whole procedure had been wrong. The question is whether many of them have sufficient sense of honour to say so in public.
It is an astonishing state of affairs if the scientific testimony of the Leader of the House conflicts with the testimony of most hon. Gentlemen on this side. How could it occur that the scientific procedure gives one lot of evidence when most of us on this side of the House saw and heard something quite different happen?
The only explanation of this state of affairs is that the procedure in the Chair was gabbled through in such a way that it made the scientific machinery operate, but it did not operate properly inside the House. We could, of course, have the procedure of the House gabbled through in such a way by Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman, that nobody could hear, although the form would have been gone through. But who would say, if the procedure is gabbled through in that fashion, that the business of the House has been properly carried out? I do not think that there is any hon. Member who would claim that.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Nottingham, West)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that if, when the occupant of the Chair tries to carry out the normal procedure in the 991 normal way, the Opposition shout him down it puts the occupier of the Chair out of order?
§ Mr. Foot
I would not be prepared to deal with that, because that is the Motion we are coming to later. Some hon. Members have already referred to it. If the situation is such that there is so much noise or turbulence in the House that the business cannot go through, and the Chairman cannot be heard, the duty of the Chairman is to bring the House to order before he proceeds with the business. One cannot conduct the business of the House on any other principle than that.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying. In some circumstances it might be convincing, but does he say that in relation to a Question which is governed by a Resolution of the House, "That the Question be now put," the operative word being "now"? It has been held by many Speakers that they have no discretion whatsoever, but must, instantly put the Question, notwithstanding noise or turbulence.
§ Mr. Foot
I do not think that I would be entitled to answer that, because it arises on the next Motion that we shall discuss. The point of the question is the conduct of the Chair and that will be discussed on our second Motion. Many hon. Members on this side claim, although I would not be in order to argue it now, that not only were the proceedings inaccurately and misleadingly recorded, but, also, and adding to the difficulties, the conduct of the Chair was improper.
I am sorry that the Leader of the House is not here, although he said that this was such a solemn occasion when he started speaking. After all, he has responsibilities to the whole House. We know people have important business but the Leader of the House knew that business was to be rearranged so that he could be present on this occasion and I think that he should be here. The Patronage Secretary should also be here.
I want to put the question raised by my hon. Friend. What is the procedure on the Government side about this? Are they proposing to put the Whips on for 992 this debate? Are they really claiming, if there is anybody on the Front Bench able to speak for them, that this is a proper question 'to be subject to the operation of the Whip? I have been known to urge things on my own Front Bench as well and I am sure the Leader of the Opposition would be very glad to say that there should be a free vote on this subject. I would urge him very strongly to say it. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite think that it is a laughing matter that they should have a free vote. I am a back bench Member, but I should have thought that a matter of this nature, whether the Minutes are properly recorded, one affecting the procedure of the House—and, as the Leader of the House has said, it is a question almost without precedent in these exact terms—was pre-eminently a matter to be left to a free vote of the whole House, particularly as the issue partly turns on the question of what hon. Members actually saw themselves. So, what several hon. Gentlemen will do on that side of the House, if they come and try to vote down this Motion—although they were not present at the time—
§ Sir Henry Studholme (Tavistock)
If the hon. Member is so certain that there should be a free vote why, as I understand it, is there a three-line Whip on the other side?
§ Mr. Hugh Delargy (Thurrock)
May I let Government supporters into a secret? I am quoting from a confidential document. The three-line Whip issued to Labour Party Members was for them to be present in the House at 3.30. The question of a Division was not even mentioned.
§ Mr. Foot
I do not know whether or not anyone intends to speak from that side; whether or not the Financial Secretary has had orders from the Patronage Secretary on this, or whether he may seize the opportunity to have a free speech, if not a free vote, to put his 993 point of view. Presumably, someone will answer from that side, and I would seriously ask that the representative of the Government should tell us whether the Government themselves think that this is a proper question to be decided with the Whips on.
If that is to be the case, it will really be saying, first, that a matter of purely House of Commons procedure should be settled with the Whips on. Secondly, it will mean that many hon. Members who themselves have testified in this debate that they did not see or hear what the Government claim happened, are yet prepared to vote for the Government because they are told to do so. If the Government do insist that this vote shall be taken with the Whips on it will not give any indication of the merits of the issue.
Further, in my view, if a matter that is so much concerned with House of Commons procedure, and the way in which the House of Commons should be conducted, is to be decided purely in the interests of the party opposite and, in particular, to protect the reputation of the Patronage Secretary, it will be a disgrace, and the Government will very likely be forcing many more occasions of this nature, which will do great injury to the House of Commons.
I therefore ask hon. Members opposite to think again about it. Would it really be so difficult for them to accept the Motion? Would it really put Ministers in a difficulty? The Leader of the House has had more time to think it over than had the Patronage Secretary the other night—and could have considered the matter more fully, having looked up his scientific evidence. He could have said at the beginning of this debate, "I do not think that it is necessary for this debate to proceed very long, because the Government do not want a situation in which what is recorded in the Minutes is disputed by such a large section of the House."
The Government could have said—and would have gained in magnanimity had they done so—" We do not want to use our majority, with the Whips on, to enforce on the whole House something that is so unpalatable to one part of it. We will, therefore, accept the Motion to expunge these records from the Minutes. We do not admit that that 994 means any reflection on the Clerks, or anything of that sort, but we will accept the Motion to expunge, and the House can go through the procedure again."
Had the Government said that, this debate would have been over three hours ago. They could have had their business through much more quickly, and would also have taken the rare occasion to show grace and wisdom at the same time. Instead of that, what they have had is an assembly of hon. Members opposite, like a lot of "stooges", to get up and deny what many hon. Members know happened in the House at that time.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I feel very deeply about this debate. This year I shall have been twenty-five years in the House of Commons, and I cannot think of any occasion on which I have felt quite so deeply as I do today. I do not regret so much the controversy, because I quite realise that there is a controversy, but I regret that it has developed into a political controversy. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I always like enthusiasts, and I quite understand the enthusiasm of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) for the cause which he advocates. At the same time, we are taking a decision on a matter for Parliament. I do not think we should be taking a political decision, and that is the point I wish to argue.
On the occasion in question, I came into the Chamber, I entered by that door and stood close to the Chair—the side chair—and I heard the Division called. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] The one that is referred to here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I am discussing the Motion on the Order Paper that we are now debating. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which Division?"] Perhaps I might just be allowed to develop my argument. I never mind being heckled in this House—in fact, I rather enjoy it—but I think that on this occasion I might be allowed to give my version. Then, if hon. Members like to question me, I will do my best to answer them—
§ Mr. Bellenger
I am much impressed by the hon. Lady's first-hand evidence. I am sure that she heard what the Chairman said in relation to the Ways and Means Resolution, and no doubt she 995 saw him rise, but would she say what the Chairman said, and confirm that she did see him rise?
§ Dame Irene Ward
I think that it would be wiser for hon. Members opposite to listen to what I have to say. I am not likely to refuse my fences, and I do not think that it helps this unfortunate situation to try to put words into my mouth. After all, I did not interrupt the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot). I heard him taunting my side, as I might be taunting his side—but I shall not taunt any side. To me, it is important to try to get at the facts.
Before I turn to the Motion on the Order Paper, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, there is one other thing that I must say about the House of Commons. Perhaps my hon. Friends will not like it any more than, perhaps, will the party opposite. In what I have done in the House of Commons, I have always tried to concern myself with the character of the people who are taking part in its work. I do not mind whether they belong to the Opposition or to my own party. Character counts, and it distresses me very much indeed not to find in the speeches that I have heard—and I have not been able to be present all the afternoon—anyone seeming to think that the people in this House who are elected to high office are people of character and honour. I am quite certain that no one would want to give any testimony on such an occasion as this unless it was testimony that they themselves thought was right and honourable.
I now come to the Motion, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I came into the Chamber and heard the Division called—the Division that is mentioned in this Motion. I heard the Division called in the normal terms by the Chairman
§ Dame Irene Ward
I must tell hon. Gentlemen that it does not help their own case just to keep on muttering and interrupting.
§ Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)
Perhaps it would assist the hon. Lady if someone made her aware of the fact—as she is giving testimony as to what occurred on another occasion—that 996 Mr. Deputy-Speaker left the Chair about a quarter of an hour ago and that you, Mr. Speaker, now occupy it.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for that assistance. I am always delighted to have assistance from the other side of the House. Perhaps I may now be allowed to go on with what I have to say.
I came into the Chamber and I heard called the Division which is referred to in the Motion. I did not, of course, hear the names of the Tellers put in by the Government side. I do not know whether anyone ever does hear the names of the Tellers. Certainly, I did not hear them. I did hear the Division called. There was tremendous uproar at the time, and I think both sides were engaged in the uproar. I then walked behind the Chair to go to record my vote and, as I did so, I turned to one of my colleagues and said, "I do not believe the Opposition are going to put in Tellers". In the event, that proved to be the case.
Before I develop what I wish to say, I have this comment to make about the Motion. It reads—
§ Mr. Ross
In this case, from the point when the Patronage Secretary moves the Motion to the point of the disputed Division, the Chairman must rise three times: first, to accept the Closure and put the Question; then to put the Division and announce Tellers—in this case there were none—and then to proceed to the Ways and Means Resolution. After that, he must sit down and let a time elapse before he rises again to announce that there are no Tellers. If the hon. Lady walked away after the Division was called, as she said, she has missed the whole point that the proceedings did not go according to the normal practice because the Chairman of Ways and Means did not rise to complete the process.
§ Dame Irene Ward
It is extraordinarily interesting that everyone should wish to make my speech for me. I have no intention of trying to raise the temper of the House—which is quite unusual for me—by asking every hon. Member who interrupts me whether he was present on that occasion or not. If I may say so, that is the point. Many hon. Members have been interrupting 997 and, quite rightly, asking questions and trying to probe my straightforwardness and integrity. I do not take any exception to that, but I should rather like to ask every one of them in turn whether he was here. I am saying what I saw and what I heard. Perhaps hon. and right hon. Members opposite will allow me to pursue my normal course. I wish to say what I heard. I do not want the debate to go on interminably on my account, and I am not likely to sit down until I have said what I want to say. Perhaps I might be allowed to proceed.
The Motion refers tothe entries of Wednesday, 8th February on the Question on the Motion in Committee of Ways and Means relating to National Health Insurance being put accordingly; that the Committee proceeded to a Division; that Mr. Paul Bryan and Mr. J. E. B. Hill were appointed Tellers for the Ayes; but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes the Chairman declared that the Ayes had it".That I heard.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I both heard it and saw it. That which is set out in that part of the Motion is entirely and absolutely right and correct.
At that stage, when the Division was off, I was quite fascinated by what was going on. I saw the right hon. Member for Belper standing at the Dispatch Box and just letting forth without a moment's pause, with interruptions from everyone else on his side of the Committee and a good many interruptions on my side of the Committee while he was trying to make himself heard. My eyes were fixed on the right hon. Gentleman. I am being perfectly straightforward. What is set out in that part of the Motion I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears, but after that point I had my eyes fixed on the right hon. Member for Belper. The thought passed through my mind at the time, "How wonderful it is just to go on like that". I thought he had to work very hard to try to make his voice heard over the tumult on his own side. I turned to look at the Chairman in the Chair, and I thought to myself that he was sitting there listening—[An HON. MEMBER: "Sitting."] Yes, he was sitting at that moment. I am not burking the issue. If someone is in the Chair, he stands and then sits down.
§ Dame Irene Ward
No. I am quite certain that the Division was called in the proper way. That I saw and that I heard. In my opinion, that part of the record is absolutely correct. Nobody will be able to drive me off that.
When I saw the enthusiasm—I do not use a stronger word, Mr. Speaker, as hon. and right hon. Members opposite will appreciate—of the right hon. Member for Belper, I thought that, at any rate for once, the Labour Party was getting its own way. I think that, occasionally, it is a good thing for hon. Members to shout themselves hoarse. Anyhow, I had my eye on the right hon. Member for Belper. Then I turned and saw the Chairman sitting listening. The point has been made, I think, by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—and by other hon. Members—that it was, perhaps, procedurally right for the Chairman to terminate the proceedings. I have observed over many years, sometimes in my own case, that when the Chair is dealing with a turbulent Member, it is the courteous practice of the occupant of the Chair to listen and wait for the turbulent Member to reach the end of his sentence before trying to interrupt him. That has long been the custom in the House, and, as a turbulent Member myself, I have sometime appreciated it very much indeed. I sometimes say to myself, "Thank goodness. At any rate that has got on the record, even though I have been ruled out of order".
I noticed that the Chairman was listening to the very extravagant language of the right hon. Member for Belper.
§ Dame Irene Ward
No, I have not disappeared. I am very much here.
At the end of that time, at the very first possible opportunity, the Chairman brought the proceedings to an end. I cannot see how anyone who has observed the procedure of the House for very many years can disagree with that method. Indeed, I should have been very fortunate if I had had anyone as courteous as the Deputy-Speaker dealing with me when I interrupted.
999 We elect people in this House to high positions, whether it is as Deputy-Speaker or as Clerks of the House. We have outstanding people of character and integrity. I think that the point of view which is being put forward by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, that if we want to get out way in the House and to hold up proceedings and Government action we have only to shout, is deplorable. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That has been said by many right hon. and hon. Members. They have indicated that if we cannot get our way in the Chamber the only thing to do is to prevent the procedure going through. I do not think that anyone in the country feels that that is a proper and appropriate way for the House of Commons to proceed.
It has been said on many occasions that we are making history today. Our span of life is not very long and we shall not be here long. In my humble opinion, it would be a great pity if we proceeded to a Division on a Motion which criticises the Journal, which I think is correct in its essential details, because I think that it would harm our great Parliamentary tradition in years to come. I do not think that any right hon. or hon. Member would like that to happen. Even in the heat of debate we must be careful not to create a precedent which the enemies of democracy may use in years to come. I can give testimony that the Journal is correct, and I therefore hope that we shall not proceed to a Division on the Motion.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) has genuinely tried to help the House by what she has been saying for the last few minutes, but I wish that she had been here throughout the whole of the debate. She said quite candidly that she has not been here for the whole of it: she just wandered in, just as she wandered in quite casually the other night, to hear the Chairman putting some Motion from the Chair.
I am sure that the hon. Lady gave her testimony honestly and honourably and with the desire to be helpful, but I am equally sure in my own mind that she is a little confused about what she saw and heard the other night. I feel sure that 1000 what she heard—I say this in view of the fact that she was unwilling or unable to repeat the actual words used by the Chairman—was the Chairman putting the Closure Motion, which it is not contested was put from the Chair in the ordinary, correct way.
The contrast between the speeches from this side of the House and those from the opposite side of the House is extraordinarily significant. On this side, we have had eye-witness testimony from a number of right hon. and hon. Members who were sitting within a few feet of the Table and of the Chairman througout the debate. As I say, I am convinced that the hon. Lady is honestly mistaken in her testimony; but, until she spoke, of the other five hon. Members opposite who got up to make speeches in the debate, only one claimed to have any eye-witness knowledge of what happened the other night. During the early stages of this debate, there was an astonishing and perhaps cerditable reluctance on the part of hon. Members opposite to speak in it. I say "perhaps creditable" because it seems to me that a number of hon. Members opposite who knew that we were right did not want to bear false witness to the House.
The first hon. Member who spoke, the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green), was not sitting anywhere near what went on, as he candidly said. He was standing at the Bar of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) remarked—in a point of order which you, Mr. Speaker, or Mr. Deputy-Speaker, ruled was not a point of order—that the hon. Member was using ambiguous words. I want to return to that point, because, when he was challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) to say what he meant by the word "apparent", and to say plainly "I saw" and "I heard", it was extraordinarily difficult to get those clear statements out of him.
Now, the word "apparent" is ambiguous. The hon. Member was perhaps foolish to speak in this debate at all, since it was evident that he had from his own observation only a partial knowledge of what had happened. But, as he did decide to make a speech, it was very honest of him to try to use ambiguous words and not to say "I saw" and 1001 "I heard ": he was at least doing his best for his side, so to speak, without committing actual perjury.
I say that the word "apparent" is ambiguous, because, if, for instance, one says that something is "apparently" happening, one can mean either that it is evidently and obviously happening, or that it seems to be happening. When the hon. Member said that it was "apparent" to him that a Division was being called, I think that what he really meant was that he assumed, or that it seemed likely, or that it seemed inevitable to him that a Division was about to be called. Therefore, as he told us very frankly and properly, he made his way to the Division Lobby.
I am glad that the Leader of the House has at last returned to the Chamber. I wish that we could have seen more of him during the debate, because it is essentially a House of Commons debate about a House of Commons matter, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) said, the Leader of the House is charged with responsibility to all Members of the House and not only to supporters of the Government. He is responsible to minorities and to every back bench Member as well as to the Government.
I listened with great care to the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. I must remind hon. Members that he was the second speaker on the Government side. We have had a number of speakers on this side who had seen and heard what happened, and said so. The first speaker on the Government side was the hon. Member for Preston, South, who said that it was "apparent" to him what had happened. The second speaker was the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House: he did not pretend to have any first-hand knowledge of what had happened, but told us that he would prove it scientifically by a number of pieces of circumstantial evidence.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale recalled the circumstantial evidence that the right hon. Gentleman used to produce at that Box during the Spanish War in order to prove that there was no Italian or German intervention in Spain—nothing like that going on there at all. But what his speech reminded me of even more vividly was the series of inconceivable coincidences by which it was conclusively 1002 proved that British justice could never err in a capital case and that Evans was not wrongly hanged. It is very extraordinary that, in that series of technical or mechanical checks and balances which he outlined, he had not bothered to verify the one of which physical evidence might remain—the one of which my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) so shrewdly reminded us. I do not know whether, in fact, a duplicate is kept of the tape that goes through the annunciator, but if it is, and if it could be looked up, it would have been a piece of additional evidence. It seems remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman should not even have bothered to think of that.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I have made inquiries. The tapes are destroyed by routine, and these tapes have been destroyed.
§ Mr. Driberg
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is at least grateful to my hon. Friend and to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for having reminded him of this point, which did not occur to him in his otherwise elaborate scrutiny of the checks and balances.
Moreover, I cannot quite follow the right hon. Gentleman in his assertion that this Motion would be unacceptable because all the historical precedents that were quoted in support of it refer to occasions on which the House, when expunging something from the record, was also, as he put it, "changing its mind"; for, obviously, there would be no question here of the House changing its mind on the substantive Motion. My right hon. and hon. Friends do not suppose for a moment that the Government could not carry the Ways and Means Resolution if it was put to the House again, as we suggest it should be, for the dignity of Parliament. Of course, they would carry it again, and, therefore, no question of the House changing its mind arises. I cannot see that that is really an argument against the acceptance of this Motion.
We do not make any allegations at all against the Clerks or any other officials of the House. Of course, they behaved with complete integrity and correctness, as they always do. The same probably applies—indeed, certainly applies—to the Deputy Chief Whip, to 1003 whom the right hon. Gentleman referred; but there was something a little revealing in a phrase which the right hon. Gentleman used when he said that the Deputy Chief Whip, reporting to the Chair—that is, to Mr. Deputy-Speaker in the Upper Chair—used "the time-honoured formula." Of course he did, and all these formulas are time-honoured. In other words, they are a kind of sacred rigmarole which we hold in honour in this House because we know what they mean, but which are often recited very much by rote—rattled off, so to speak, without much thought about their content.
I think that it may well be true, as has been suggested in several quarters—I do not want to get on to the subject of the Chairman of Ways and Means, because we are only on the point of accuracy—that the Question may have been put by the Chairman, seated and gabbling, and the Clerk, hearing the words and perhaps not looking round, pressed the lever or button which sets the whole mechanical routine in motion; but that cannot seriously be regarded in any sense as properly putting the Question to the House, so that Members could vote intelligently and know that they were voting.
Incidentally, one point that puzzles me, and I am genuinely puzzled by it—I do not know which side it tells for in this argument—is why there was a Division at all, because, since we on this side of the House genuinely did not know that the Question was being put, if it was, we did not shout, "No". Therefore, I do not quite understand why this mechanical routine should have been set in motion. We were shouting, "Send for Mr. Speaker!" and other elevating observations, but, so far as I know and so far as I can remember, none of us shouted "No", because we did not know that the Question was being put. This is a mysterious aspect of the affair.
I have dealt already with the speech of the hon. Member for Preston, South. This is not only an argument on semantics, although the hon. Member's speech led me into those paths. I would end simply by asking: who are the better witnesses? Who are the more credible witnesses in this discussion—hon. Members and right hon. Members sitting near 1004 the Table, within a few feet of whatever was going on and obviously watching closely what was going on, watching the Chairman and the Patronage Secretary, and so on? Are they not more credible witnesses than the right hon. Gentleman, who was not here at all, but who has since gone through a quasi-scientific rigmarole to try to prove that the Question was put; or the hon. Member who spoke first, who was standing at the Bar and wandering to and from the Division Lobby, as he himself told us; or the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth, who wandered in half-way through, whom we all like very much, but who, I suggest, is just a bit muddled about the whole thing? Nobody else who has spoken from that side of the House dared to say that he had seen and heard the Question being put, and I submit that the record should be expunged.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I think it was slightly disagreeable in the speech of the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) to impute in advance dishonesty and chicanery to anybody who differs from him. I venture to intervene for only a few minutes—
§ Mr. Driberg
May I interrupt, since the hon. Gentleman has made a rather sharp attack on me? Will he tell us at which point in my speech I imputed dishonesty and chicanery to anybody?
§ Mr. Kershaw
I think that it will be in the clear recollecion of hon. Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] He started off by saying that my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green) showed a certain honesty in using words of little meaning in order not to perjure himself. At all events, it is within the recollection of the House.
I venture to intervene because I was present during the whole proceedings and was observing them as well as I could, not from very close but, perhaps for that reason, because I was far away, if I heard and saw anything, others could have done so as well. I was sitting in the cross-benches just behind where the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Bast (Mr. Willis) was standing a second ago, and I was entirely surrounded by hon. Members from opposite, as is usual on those benches. They were not shouting, but were observing silence and 1005 watching with interest the proceedings taking place in this part of the House. In so far as we could hear what was happening, I was not interrupted by any shouting in my ears, which was the case with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting down by the Table, who had other people behind thorn shouting very loudly.
I join issue with the hon. Member for Barking, because the word "No" was very freely employed, and certainly one hon. Gentleman, who I am sure would not deny it, was standing in the back bench shouting "No, no" in regular order in that way, though whether that could be taken by the Chairman as part of the proceedings I do not know. The word "No" was present in my ears. From that place, I heard the proceedings without any particular difficulty.
§ Mr. Diamond
Is the hon. Member, whom I know well and respect, seriously suggesting that that was the Chair collecting the voices on the Motion?
§ Mr. Kershaw
No; I said that. I said that it was a separate procedure. Whether it accounted for the action of the Chairman, I do not know.
§ Mr. Kershaw
From my position over there, I heard fairly clearly, without any particular difficulty, like other hon. Members, the Closure being put. After it was put, I heard only in part what was said. At intervals, I heard what was said. Otherwise, I saw the Chairman standing up. I am amazed that there should be such a difference of testimony about this. I am bound to confess that the Chairman was standing up behind the seats where the learned Clerk now is, and he was leaning over, with the object, I suppose, of hearing my hon. Friend the Government Whip, who—[HON. MEMBERS: "Whispering to him."]—no, not whispering, because I could hear at intervals what they were saying.
I had no difficulty whatever in following the procedure. As the hon. Member for Barking said, these are time-honoured formulae and one knows exactly, or almost exactly, what words will be put. One knows in which order they will appear, and I had no difficulty. I truly 1006 think that anybody sitting on the Opposition Front Bench would not have had difficulty in following what state the procedure had reached. It was in the usual form and words.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I cannot be sure about that, but it is not extraordinary that I cannot testify to it at a time like that. That was what I saw. I was quite satisfied that the usual form and words were being gone through, and I could tell what point the proceedings had reached.
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) put his point by saying that even if that was said, it was not enough, because there was not a proper opportunity for hon. Members opposite to express their views. There, of course, is a clear division of opinion. I would only say that if it is possible to resist the Closure indefinitely by making a noise about it, that entirely defeats the purpose for which the Closure is brought in.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I did not only say that. I said that there was no opportunity of knowing what was going on. I was quite near the Chair. I did not know what was going on.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I have made that point. It is a question of fact. I quite understand that with hon. and right hon. Members shouting in his ear the hon. and learned Member might not have been able to follow clearly. Granting that, if the purposes of the Closure can be defeated, we might as well erase the Closure from our procedure. One should bear in mind that the Government have a right to have their business—[HON. MEMBERS: "Properly".]—properly, of course—but it would certainly be improper if by making so much noise that the procedure could not be heard, it could be maintained that the Government had not got their business.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
At the beginning of his speech the Leader of the House complained that the Opposition was doing something most unusual in putting down this Motion. That is true. But the circumstances which gave rise to the Motion were 1007 themselves exceedingly unusual. I am not referring to the turbulence. From some of the speeches that one has heard in this debate from the other side of the House, one would suppose that hon. Members were totally ignorant of the way that the Conservative Party behaved in opposition in the post-war years.
I assure hon. Members who were not present that there were occasions when the then Government Whip moved the Closure and the reaction on the Opposition side was exceedingly noisy. I also recall an occasion when my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) was not allowed to utter a single word for practically the whole of a half-hour winding-up speech. So let us not have too many mealy-mouthed expressions of concern about turbulence.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
The Opposition of those days never questioned the entries in the Journal
§ Mr. Gaitskell
No, because there was no occasion to do so.
I was disappointed in the speech of the Leader of the House. As Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman does not speak solely for the Government. He should concern himself with the position in the House of Commons as a whole. He will, I am sure, agree that what has emerged in the course of this debate is certainly a matter about which all of us as Parliamentarians must be deeply concerned. It raises problems which we should face, not as Members of the Government or of the Opposition, or of one party or the other, but as Members of the House of Commons.
I had hoped that in that spirit the right hon. Gentleman would have made a much less uncompromising speech than he did, that he would have tried to understand the point of view of hon. Members on this side, and that he would have tried to appreciate that if one looked as objectively as possible at the testimony given in the course of this debate, it must have been clear that something was fairly seriously wrong in the early hours of last Thursday morning.
I regret that, since, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman intends that we should proceed to a Division in this matter. I could wish that the Government would have accepted our Motion. It would not 1008 have required them to agree with everything that we say in it. When, however, the Opposition feels itself obliged, as we did, to challenge the record in the Votes and Proceedings, it is something which should not be merely dismissed by the power of the numbers on this bench or that. Even now, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter. Could he not, for instance, consider another alternative? Could he not consider the appointment of a Select Committee to examine the whole situation? If the right hon. Gentleman accepts our Motion and does that, it would be a perfectly reasonable way of proceeding.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman will say that he cannot do that because he must get the Government business through. It is not so desperately important, however, whether the Government get the Committee Stage of the Ways and Means Resolution through today. It would not make an awful lot of difference whether they get the Second Reading of the National Health Service Contributions Bill this week. It is far more important that the procedure of the House should be managed in a way that is acceptable to all the Members of it.
Again, if the Leader of the House were prepared at this stage to take the Whips off, as has been suggested from this side, I can say for our side that we will do the same. This is an official Motion, but we are prepared to leave it to the unfettered judgment of hon. Members. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider these things and give me his reply at the end of my speech.
Although it may be—and, indeed, is—unusual for the Opposition to put down a Motion of this kind, I cannot honestly see what else we could have done. The Leader of the House was not here on the evening in question, and I have already expressed my regret for his absence. I do not believe that these events would have taken place had he been here. He was not here, so he does not know. But I must ask him, does he realise exactly what we on this side felt at that time?
As I have said before, as my right hon. Friend said, we do not challenge that after the Closure was moved and accepted the Closure Motion was put. That was obviously being done, although 1009 I must say that I did not actually hear it; but it was actually being done. We could see that. The Chairman at that point was certainly standing up.
I must say that we then decided rather quickly that we would not go into the Division Lobby—not, let me say, because we did not resent bitterly the Closure Motion, but because, frankly, we were so fearfully indignant about it that we thought we would show our indignation by not moving. [Laughter.] That is the truth, but in the conversation I had with my hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip we also said, "But, of course, we must challenge the main Question." That was our intention.
We were absolutely astounded when it became apparent from what was happening, the moving of the Mace from below on to the Table, the movement of the Chairman himself into your Chair, Mr. Speaker, that apparently—apparently—it was supposed that the Motions had actually all gone through. What I am saying, I am sure, will be agreed by all my hon. and right hon. Friends sitting here. We were not very far away from the Chairman's Chair. We were not as far away as the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw). It really was very surprising to all of us on this side. With all the noise, nevertheless, that was going on, none of us believed that a Division was being called. This is the fact, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House—
§ Mr. Diamond
My right hon. Friend has been good enough to tell the House what went on between him and the Opposition Chief Whip. It is most material as a matter of record whether or not the Opposition Chief Whip or any of the Opposition Whips challenged a Division, because that challenge would have led to a Division.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I was just coming to that point, but first of all I want to say something about the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be satisfying himself that because one might call the ordinary mechanical devices available were used in this case, therefore everything must have been in order. First, I should like to make the point that I do not believe that the mere fact that somebody pulled the lever so the red light 1010 went on at a certain point, or that a clock proceeded to tick away for two minutes, proves anything whatever. The right hon. Gentleman referred, for instance, to the Serjeant at Arms, and not once but two or three times emphasised that there was no arrangement, no collusion, as it were, between the Chairman on one side and the Serjeant at Arms on the other.
I would ask him, is he saying to us that the Serjeant at Arms saw and heard the Chairman putting the Question? I should be very surprised if he proved anything of the kind. What surely happened—one is not surprised at it—was that the Serjeant at Arms, in his normal procedure, quite probably assumed that was happening and proceeded accordingly to play his own part in this.
The fact is that, with the possible exception of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—I am not quite clear on this from what she said—we have not heard a single Member who says that he actually saw the Chairman standing up putting the Question on the second Motion. I think I am right in saying that nobody has claimed to have seen that. On the contrary, on this side we all of us are convinced that he was not standing up for that second Motion.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I most certainly saw the Chairman going through the actions and the forms, from which I assumed—subsequently, it appeared I was right—he was dealing with the matter.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
It would be necessary in order to be sure of this not merely to have seen at a distance at some point during the proceedings the Chairman on his feet, but to have heard him speaking while he was on his feet. Otherwise, one may very well have seen him—I do not deny that at one moment he was standing up—putting the original Closure Motion. Later he did collect the voices on that Motion.
We are not concerned with that. We are concerned with the second Motion, and it is our belief that he did not in fact stand up at all throughout that part of the proceedings.
The right hon. Gentleman again said that a mistake was impossible. Really, that is an absurd thing for the Leader of the House to say. Of course he must admit that at least there is the gravest doubt whether the Chairman in 1011 fact did stand up or not, and if he did not stand up, then a mistake was made. Surely he has to admit that.
The implication of what the right hon. Gentleman is saying is this, that it does not really matter whether the Chairman collects the voices or not. But unless he can hear the answer to bis Question, how can he proceed? And it is again a fact that not a single Member who has spoken in this debate has claimed to have heard anybody say "Aye" or anybody say "No" throughout the whole of these proceedings.
The implication of what the right hon. Gentleman is saying is this, that the voices can be collected without the Chairman hearing anything on either side as to whether they are against or in favour of the Motion, whether they say "Aye" or "No". He can collect the voices if he speaks—even if we leave the point about his standing up—in a whisper. Is he really asking us to interrupt the rules of this House in that way? I must say this is the first time I have heard it suggested this was all our procedure intended.
One hon. Member said we were arguing—I think it was the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover)—that everybody should hear. We have not said that. Of course, obviously, very frequently it happens that Members are not listening; they are in different parts of the House and do not hear; but we believe that at least some should hear, and in the situation in the early hours of Thursday morning I can only say the truth is that very, very many did not hear, not only on this side of the House but on that side as well. Only three or at most four Members have actually claimed to have heard the Question put in the course of those proceedings, and I frankly say, putting it at its mildest, that there is a great deal more doubt on that side of the House than there is on this: we are quite certain the Question was not put. Those people not quite simply obedient to the party Whip would agree at least that they are not quite sure whether it was put.
I come finally to one final point. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) asked a very pertinent question. He asked the right hon. Gentleman, and I pursue the matter with him, 1012 whether he had inquired whether the second Division was recorded on the annunciator. The right hon. Gentleman said to us a moment or two ago that he had ascertained that the tape material which would have given a complete answer to this had been destroyed. Yes, we also had discovered that.
But my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) discovered something else. He inquired of the gentleman who operates the annunciator whether the Division—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, shocking."]—whether in his recollection the second Division was or was not recorded, and the answer is that the gentleman who operates the annunciator told my right hon. Friend that he was quite satisfied that it was not recorded.
When we take all this evidence together, the impression certainly honestly held on this side that the Division was not properly called by the Chairman, the impression that in some parts of that side of the House that at least there is very grave doubt whether it was, when we have the evidence Obtained by my right hon. Friend to which I have just alluded, the least surely that can be done is to suspend judgment on this, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman once again Whether in these circumstances—it will not prevent the Government eventually from getting their Ways and Means Resolution—he does not think it would be very much better to allow this Motion to go through, without prejudice to what ultimately may come out and to have an inquiry into the whole matter. If he does that, I am sure that his decision will be widely welcomed in all parts of the House.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
We have had from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition a sincere account of the difficulty in which the Opposition were placed on the occasion which we are discussing. I think that when he said that right hon. and hon. Members opposite were flabbergasted by the situation and did not think of putting in Tellers for the Closure it explains the difficulty in which they found themselves. They eventually had a consultation and in a state of being flabbergasted, or in indignation, as the right hon. Gentleman acknowledges, they decided not to put in 1013 Tellers. From that springs the difficulty in which the Opposition got themselves, because there is absolutely no doubt that by not putting in Tellers on the occasion of the Closure Motion, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were not then attending to the future business which was being transacted by the Chair.
The right hon. Gentleman, in the later discussions that we had, showed some confusion of thought about what happens when Tellers are not put in, and I should like to draw his attention to page 429 of Erskine May, which says:If two tellers cannot be found for one of the parties, the division cannot take place; and the Speaker forthwith announces the decision of the House.That is exactly what happened on this occasion, The Chairman did not have the Tellers put in from the Opposition and he announced the decision of the Committee and that is recorded faithfully on the Minutes and in the records of proceedings. The fact that the Opposition did no:: put in Tellers for the Closure or for the later stages—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—is a loss on their part for which I am sincerely sorry, but that was what caused the Chairman to put the Question as he did.
§ Mr. G. Brown rose —
§ Mr. Speaker
Unless the Leader of the House gives way, the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) must not persist.
§ Mr. Brown
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House started all right, or, at any rate, he got himself right halfway through. He first said that we were too flabbergasted to do it and then he corrected himself and said that we decided after consultation not to put in Tellers on the first Question. But then the right hon. Gentleman went on to slide that into the other and said that because we did that the rest flowed. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if the Closure is not opposed the rest follows, but does it?
§ Mr. Butler rose —
§ Mr. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman and I are in complete agreement. Nothing flowed from the decision on the Closure except that the Opposition, according to the Leader of the Opposition, were in such a state of indignation that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were not able to attend to their business on the Closure and then did not put in Tellers in the next stage when the Question was put.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The right hon. Gentleman really must not misrepresent what I said. I will repeat it. I said that we decided not to put Tellers in on the Closure Motion. That was a decision which we made because of our indignation with the decision to move and accept the Closure, and our reaction that we would resist that best by sitting where we were. It was not a question of being bulldozed into something, but a decision because we were extremely indignant about the way in which the Government were behaving.
§ Mr. Butler
In that case, the Opposition must have known that the next thing on the Order Paper to be put by the Chair was the substantive Motion to which the Opposition attached so much importance. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite should have watched the procedure. They should have put in Tellers for the substantive Motion.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not know whether the Leader of the House has seen the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), but if the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House does not give way the hon. Member must not proceed.
§ Mr. Blackburn
If the Leader of the House thinks that this decision was taken, surely this record is wrong, because if the Chairman put the Question, and "Aye" was said on the opposite side and nothing was said on this side, he would declare the Question carried and there would be no situation where Tellers would have to be put in. Therefore, in any case this record is wrong.
§ Mr. Butler
I will acknowledge that this may have been a grave source of embarrassment to the Opposition. I perfectly well acknowledge that, but this was the logical sequence of the procedure of the House proceeding on its way. If we are to challenge the normal procedure of the House I think that we are challenging something—[Interruption.'] It is no good the right hon. Member for Belper uttering threats. We are perfectly capable of standing here. I am just as sincere—
§ Mr. Brown
I am not uttering any threats, but the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn) was that if, as the right hon. Gentleman is developing the case, we did not do anything, which is what he has said, because we were so indignant, the point of putting Tellers in would not have arisen. The fact that the Table says that we were asked to put Tellers in, and did not, must mean that a Division had been called. This is what we say never happened, and nobody on that side of the House has said it did happen.
If the right hon. Gentleman takes the line that he is now taking, that the Opposition "have to show" by every
§ means and by every stage or be overridden by him, I assure him, with his 100 majority, that we will show him at every stage. Then let him see where he gets.
§ Mr. Butler
I should like to put forward my interpretation of the situation and not use the fiery words of the right hon. Member. The position is this. I am not defending the Executive in this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am defending, as Leader of the House, our normal procedure. It is my sincere conviction, in which I believe I am supported by all thinking people, that if we go back on procedure—which, like the right hon. Member, I spent the whole of the weekend considering—that has been sanctified by time, in criticising the accuracy of our records, we shall be doing great violence to one of our major positions. I, as Leader of the House, very much regret this episode.
§ Mr. Butler
I have given the matter mature consideration. If is not the Executive that I am defending. It is the records and the accuracy of the Clerks and the machinery of the House of Commons thai I am defending. It is in that spirit that I ask right hon. and hon. Gentleman to make their decision.
§ Question put; —
§ The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 301.1019
|Division No. 45.]||AYES||[7.30 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||George, LadyMeganLloyd (C'rm'rth'n)|
|Alnsley, William||Cronin, John||Ginsburg, David|
|Albu, Austen||Crosland, Anthony||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Cullen, Mrs. Aline||Gourlay, Harry|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Darling, George||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Awbery, Stan||Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement (Montgomery)||Grey, Charles|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Beaney, Alan||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Grimond, J.|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Deer, George||Gunter, Ray|
|Blackburn, F.||de Freltas, Geoffrey||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Blyton, William||Delargy, Hugh||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Boardman, H.||Diamond, John||Hannan, William|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Dodds, Norman||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Bowles, Frank||Donnelly, Desmond||Hayman, F. H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Driberg, Tom||Healey, Denis|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Edelman, Maurice||Henderson, Rt.Hn.Arthur (Rwly Regis)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Evans, Albert||Hilton, A. V.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Finch, Harold||Holman, Percy|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Fitch, Alan||Holt, Arthur|
|Callaghan, James||Fletcher, Eric||Houghton, Douglas|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Howell, Charles A.|
|Chetwynd, George||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Hoy, James H.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Collick, Percy||Galtskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Galpern, Sir Myer||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Monslow, Walter||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moody, A. S.||Steele, Thomas|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Morris, John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Moyle, Arthur||Stones, William|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Jeger, George||Oram, A. E.||Stross,Dr.Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Oswald, Thomas||Swain, Thomas|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Owen, Will||Swingler, Stephen|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creeeh (Wakefield)||Padley, W. E.||Sylvester, George|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Paget, R. T.||Symonds, J. B.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Pargiter, G. A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Kelley, Richard||parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Pavltt, Laurence||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|King, Dr. Horace||Peart, Frederick||Thornton, Ernest|
|Lawson, George||Pentland, Norman||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Ledger, Ron||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Timmons, John|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||popplewell, Ernest||Tomney, Frank|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Prentice, R, E.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Probert, Arthur||Warbey, William|
|Lipton, Marcus||Proctor, W T.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Logan, David||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Randall, Harry||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Rankin, John||Whitlock, William|
|McCann, John||Redhead, E. C.||Wigg, George|
|MacColl, James||Reld, William||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Mcinnes, James||Reynolds, G. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Willey, Frederick|
|Mackie, John||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Williams, Li. (Abertillery)|
|MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Ross, William||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield,E.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Short, Edward||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Mapp, Charles||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Woof, Robert|
|Marsh, Richard||Skeffington, Arthur||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mason, Roy||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Small, William|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Millan, Bruce||Snow, Julian||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Rogers.|
|Mitchlson, G. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bullard, Denys||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian (Preston, N.)||Burden, F. A.||Donaldson, Cmdr C. E. M.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Drayson, G. B.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden)||du Cann, Edward|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Duncan, Sir James|
|Balniel, Lord||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Duthie, Sir William|
|Barber, Anthony||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Elliott, R. W. (Newcastle-on-Tyne,N.)|
|Barter, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Emery, Peter|
|Batsford, Brian||Channon, H. P. G.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Bell, Ronald||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Farr, John|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fell, Anthony|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Cleaver, Leonard||Flnlay, Graeme|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Cole, Norman||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Cooper, A. E.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Bidgood, John C.||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Forrest, George|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cordle, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Corfield, F. V,||Freeth, Denzil|
|Bishop, F. P.||Costain, A. P.||Gammans, Lady|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Coulson, J. M.||Gardner, Edward|
|Bossom, Clive||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Bourne-Arton, A,||Craddock, Sir Beresford||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Box, Donald||Critchley, Julian||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Crowder, F. P.||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)|
|Braine, Bernard||Cunningham, Knox||Goodhart, Philip|
|Brewis, John||Curran, Charles||Gower, Raymond|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Currle, G. B. H.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dalkeith, Earl of||Green, Alan|
|Brooman-White, R.||Dance, James||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grimston, Sir Robert|
|Bryan, Paul||Deedes, W. F.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Gurden, Harold||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||McAdden, Stephen||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||MacArthur, Ian||Roots, William|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||McLaren, Martin||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maclean,Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N.Ayrs.)||Russell, Ronald|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||McMaster, Stanley R.||Sharples, Richard|
|Hastings, Stephen||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Shepherd, William|
|Hay, John||Maddan, Martin||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maginnis, John E.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Maitland, Sir John||Smithers, Peter|
|Hicks Beach, MaJ. W.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Marlowe, Anthony||Speir, Rupert|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Marshall, Douglas||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Marten, Neil||Stodart, J. A.|
|Hobson, John||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Holland, Philip||Mawby, Ray||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hollingworth, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Maydon, Lt-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Hopkins, Alan||Mills, Stratton||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hornby, R. P.||Montgomery, Fergus||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Morgan, William||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Teeling, William|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Nabarro, Gerald||Temple, John M.|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Neave, Airey||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Noble, Michael||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nugent, Sir Richard||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Jackson, John||Ormsby Gore, Rt. Hon. D.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|James, David||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Jennings, J. C.||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Turner, Colin|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Partridge, E.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Peel, John||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Percival, Ian||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Peyton, John||Wall, Patrick|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kimball, Marcus||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Kirk, Peter||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Watts, James|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pitman, I.J.||Webster, David|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Pitt, Miss Edith||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pott, Percivall||Whitelaw, William|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Prior, J. M. L.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Wise, A. R.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Ramsden, James||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rawlinson, Peter||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Longbottom, Charles||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Woollam, John|
|Longden, Gilbert||Rees, Hugh||Worsley, Marcus|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Renton, David|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Ridsdale, Julian||Mr. Edward Wakefield and|
|Colonel J. H. Harrison.|