§ 7. No Motion shall be made to postpone any Clause, Schedule, new Clause or new Schedule; but the recommendations of the Business Committee may include alterations in the order in which Clauses, new Clauses, Schedules and new Schedules are to be taken in Committee.
§ 8. On an allotted day Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) and Standing Order No. 1A (Exemption from Standing Order No. 1) shall have effect with the substitution of references to half-past Ten o'clock for references to Ten o'clock; and Proceedings which under this Order or any Resolution of the Business Committee are to be brought to a conclusion on any such day shall not be interrupted under the provisions of the said Standing Order No. 1.
§ 9. If, on any allotted day, a Motion is made under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), paragraph 8 of this Order shall not apply but—
- (a) any Proceedings on the Bill exempted under paragraph (2) of that Standing Order shall be so exempted for the period mentioned in that paragraph and a further half hour; and
- (b) the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or any Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day at any time after Seven o'clock shall be deferred for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on the said Motion under Standing Order No. 9.
§ 10. If, at Seven o'clock on any allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the adjournment of the House under the said Standing Order No. 9 which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.
§ 11.—(1) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on any allotted day shall, instead o! being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day, and shall be exempted by this paragraph from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) for a period of three hours, or, if the Proceedings on the Bill are concluded before half-past Ten o'clock, for a period (from Ten o'clock) equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Proceedings.
§ (2) Paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking private business) and paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance) shall not apply to any private business exempted by this paragraph.
§ 12. Standing Order No. 12 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business) shall not apply to any allotted day.
§ 13. On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill shall 415 be made except by a member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ 14. When the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on the Bill, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any question, notwithstanding that notice of an Instruction has been given.
§ 15. On the conclusion of Proceedings in any Committee on the Bill, including a Committee to which the Bill has been re-committed (whether as a whole or otherwise), the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.
§ 16. For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which under this Order or under any Resolution of the Business Committee are to be brought to a conclusion at a particular time and have not previously been concluded, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at that time, put forthwith the Question on any amendment or Motion already proposed by the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a second time, also the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill, and subject thereto shall proceed to put forthwith the Question on any amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a member of the Government of which notice has been given (but no other amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules) and any Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded, and, in the case of any amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules moved by a member of the Government, he shall put only the Question that the amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
§ 17.—(1) The Proceedings on any Motion moved by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of any Resolution of the Business Committee shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion two hours after they have been commenced, and paragraph 16 of this Order shall, so far as applicable, apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill:
§ Provided that if the Proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), the time at which they are to be brought to a conclusion shall be deferred for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on the Motion for the adjournment.
§ (2) If any Motion moved by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order or of any Resolution of the Business Committee is under consideration at Seven o'clock on a day on which any private business has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, the private business shall stand over and be considered when the Proceedings on the Motion have been concluded, and shall be exempted from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) for a period equal to the time for which it so stands over.416
§ 18. Nothing in this Order or in any Resolution of the Business Committee shall—
- (a) prevent any Proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution; or
- (b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such Proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.
§ 19. In this Order "allotted day" means, in relation to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill or the Army Reserve Bill, any day (other than the day on which this Order is made or a Friday) on which that Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day; "the Bill" means the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill or the Army Reserve Bill; "Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House; and references to Proceedings on Consideration or Proceedings on Third Reading include references to Proceedings, at those stages respectively, for on or in consequence of re-committal.
Although the legislative programmes of modern Governments are inevitably a great deal more complicated than those of the past, I do not intend to spend any time at all today in what might be called a general justification of the use of the Guillotine. After all, it is more than fifty years now since Mr. Asquith said that he had
slowly and reluctantly come to the conclusion that you cannot carry on legislation here on large and complicated subjects without treating a time-table as part of our established procedure.
Then he added:
This does not apply to one party more than another."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911; Vol. XXX, c. 120.]
§ My task today, therefore, is not to justify the general use of the Guillotine, but to justify it in the case of the two Bills which we are considering in one Motion.
There is, of course, ample precedent for such a double Motion, as there is for almost everything else in this procedure. This is the third double Motion since the war, and there were a number in earlier years. These Motions are always most jealously and critically examined by the House of Commons, because they are—these are the words of Erskine May—
the extreme limit to which procedure goes in affirming the rights of the majority at the expense of the minorities of the House, and it cannot be denied that they are capable of being used in such a way as to upset the
balance, generally so carefully preserved, between the claims of business and the rights of debate.
§ We would all accept that, and it follows clearly from that quotation that the onus of proof in asking the House for these powers is, and must always be, on the Government.
§ I do not want to follow familiar practice in this debate and quote at length from speeches made from either side of the House in previous debates. But I think that the clearest and most robust declaration of what we are all aware to be one of the facts of Parliamentary life was made by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) during the last debate on an allocation of time Motion.
This is what the right hon. Gentleman said:
So long as I sit in this House, and when my party is in power, I shall support the efforts of the Government to get their business. But if the party opposite is in power, I shall oppose the Government getting their business, and I hope that no one will have any illusions on that score."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 6th March, 1961; Vol. 636, c. 86.]
§ I am bound to say that I have no such illusions, and that if I ever had they have long since been removed. That is a splendid, almost a classical exposition of the situation, and that, after all, is what this debate is about.
§ I should like to turn for a few minutes, before I come to the heart of the discussion, to the mechanics of the allocation of time Motion on the Order Paper and then to take up the detailed case for each Bill. It will be seen that this Motion follows established precedent and makes use of the Business Committee set up under Standing Order No. 41. The Business Committee comprises the Chairman's Panel of 20 members—12 from this side of the House and eight from the Opposition—plus up to five additional members—three from the Government and two from the Opposition appointed for the purposes of each Bill. The Business Committee is asked to report its findings to the House by Monday, 29th January.
The House will see that three days are put down for further consideration in Committee on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and two further days for the proceedings on Consideration and on Third Reading. It will be for the Business Committee to recommend 418 to the House how the time should be divided between Report and Third Reading.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Assuming that the Government Motion is carried, it will become the adopted will of the House only late tonight. The Business Committee which is to be set up cannot meet earlier than tomorrow. Is not the right hon. Gentleman making it extremely difficult for the Business Committee to look at the matter objectively and present a clear report on the allocation of time if he requires it, in those circumstances, to report on Monday next?
I do not think so. if the hon. Gentleman studies the precedents, he will find that the time suggested in this allocation of time Motion for that part is quite normal. Naturally, preliminary consideration has been given—
No—by those who may become added members—of the sort of view they can put forward. The Minister in charge of the Bill is one who has been considering this point.
The Army Reserve Bill would have two further days in Committee and one for Consideration and Third Reading. In each case, by paragraph 8 of the Order, an addition of half-an-hour is allotted so that there may be some compensation for statements on other matters between the end of Questions and the beginning of the Orders of the Day. This is slightly different in form from previous precedents, because of the new Standing Orders adopted on 25th October, 1960.
Paragraphs 9 and 10 are the only other matters to which I wish to refer on the mechanics of the Bill, and to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. They relate to Motions for the Adjournment on questions of urgent public importance. The effect of those paragraphs, particularly paragraph 9, is that any such Motion, if allowed on any allotted day, would come on at seven o'clock in the evening and could run until ten o'clock. Proceedings on the Bill would then be pushed back by the time taken by the Motion.
419 I wish to turn to the examination of the need for this procedure on these two Bills in the light of the progress that we have made so far. We have spent five days in Committee of the whole House on these Bills. We shall argue throughout today as to whose responsibility it is that we have spent so long without reaching the end of Clause 1 on either Bill. But we might perhaps have in our minds, whatever conclusions we may draw, the bare record from HANSARD of those five days.
There have been three days on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and in those three days there have been five debates. In each case the Closure had to be moved, and there are still about 160 Amendments, including new Clauses, on the Order Paper. In the two days devoted to the Army Reserve Bill there were also five debates, two were very short indeed. There was only one Closure and there are about 55 Amendments on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that half of one of those days was taken up by the Government sabotaging their own Bill by moving a Motion to report Progress.
Naturally, I do not accept that but I was proposing to consider that point when I discussed the Army Reserve Bill.
We have, of course, taken a great deal of time, again whose ever fault it may be. I calculate that about 170 points of order and questions to the Chair were put in those five days. Whatever we may say to each other today for the record, whatever we say for consumption by the public outside this Chamber, no Parliamentarian who looks at the record which I have just recited to the House can fail to recognise that such a situation is bound to result either in the Government withdrawing their Bills or asking for an allocation of time Motion.
I take, first, the Army Reserve Bill. This is a Bill which I think nobody expected would end in an allocation of time Motion, and I certainly did not. Indeed, the proof of this can be found in the various weekly anouncements on Thursdays on business, which I made to the House before Christmas. First, 420 the Committee stage—the whole Committee stage—was announced for one day, and we hoped with the aid of a very long sitting to obtain it. Later, I announced an additional half-day until seven o'clock, and then, at the request of the Opposition, because both sides wanted particularly to get the Bill that was down for second Order on that day, I withdrew the suggestion of half a day and allotted another full day to it. A Bill that was originally planned to take first one, then one and a half and then two days in Committee will now be allotted four days, and I am convinced that fully adequate discussion can be obtained in that time.
Let me say a word about the urgency of the Bill, because there is a double urgency. The Opposition, of course, oppose the Bill. They think that it is a Bill that should not have been introduced and should not be passed, but, given that the Bill is highly contentious, if it is to become law, everybody in the House will at least agree that every young man who is affected by it should be given as much notice as possible. Although we are making arrangements to give men who may be affected provisional warning, the delay in passing the Bill is preventing us from making definite arrangements.
That is the main reason, perhaps I can say, why we are asking the House to take the further stages of the Bill next week, even in front of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, which I regard as of great importance, for reasons which I will develop in a moment. There is a second reason. We want to make an early start in opening the new Territorial Army Emergency Reserve, because the more volunteers that we can get for this Reserve the less likely it is that we would have to invoke the powers in Clause 2, but, of course, we cannot call for volunteers until the Bill is passed.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—he himself took no part in the debate on the Bill, as far as I can recall—that the strongest criticism against the Bill came from the Government side of the House? In fact, quite a number of hon. Members opposite took part in the debates and made it quite clear that they disagreed with the provisions of the Bill.
I do not dispute what the right hon. Gentleman says. Naturally, there has been criticism from the Government benches on both Bills—not just the Army Reserve Bill—embodied in the allocation of time motion which I have put before the House today, but that does not alter the situation that the Government attach great importance to the Bill, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, who cares so much about this matter, would controvert the fact that it is desirable that as much notice as possible should be given to these people.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
Since the Minister has chosen to make a point about the desirability of giving early notice to the men affected, will he say how that ties up with the repeated assurances by the Secretary of State for War, who says he is not yet sure whether he wants to use it or not?
That was not what my right hon. Friend said on 27th November. He was particularly referring to the period after April, and the reference which I have just made is to the question of the Clause 2 power, which if we can get sufficient men coming forward into the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve, it may not be necessary to use.
The House will remember—and we have had some reference already to this from the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis)—that there was considerable argument whether the Money Resolution was or was not too restrictive. I think the position is now established. It is not seriously controverted that it is not necessary to have a Money Resolution for Clauses 1 to 3 of the Bill, and that the Money Resolution was required only for purposes of civil reinstatement under Clause 5.
A Money Resolution is often drawn more widely than is strictly required, and this gives latitude for Amendments by the reference tosums payable out of moneys so provided under any other Act.It is clear that in so far as there are other Acts under which expenditure, which will be proposed, is authorised, there is scope for putting down Amendments over a wider field than that covered by Clause 5.
422 My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War moved to report Progress at the beginning of the second day in Committee as an act of courtesy to the Committee, which was acknowledged, to initiate an explanatory discussion on this point. He gave an undertaking that the Government would take steps to ensure that there was a Report stage. That is, perhaps, of less urgency now, because Clause 1 is still open and Amendments can be put down, but, nevertheless, there is, in order to fulfil this undertaking, a Government Amendment on the Notice Paper which we hope, apart from any others, the House will accept so that my right hon. Friend's undertaking will be fulfilled. It is important to remember the other half of the undertaking, which I repeat, and it is that if there is any question of the Bill having to be recommitted, while that is a matter for the Chair, the Government would not oppose the Motion.
I turn now to say a word about the Motion to report Progress at the end of the second day, which, in fact, led to an announcement of the intention of the Government to ask the House for the powers for which I am asking it today. This is what happened, or at least my version of what happened. [Laughter.] Well, it might be controverted. Immediately after ten o'clock, when the suspension Motion had been carried, the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who, I understand was in general charge of the Opposition's attack on this Bill, asked what were the Government's intentions in relation to the length of the sitting. It was a perfectly normal request put forward in the normal way, in a reasonably lighthearted fashion. Indeed, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it was put forward in the spirit of Christmas.
This is what my right hon. Friend said:To ask that we should break off on the Bill just after the House has voted on the suspension is asking too much, even in the spirit of Christmas. Therefore, I suggest that we should make a considerable amount of progress.…I rather hope that we can proceed with as much alacrity as possible and a little later we can consider what progress we have made."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961, Vol. 651, c. 1284.]That was a reasonable reply of the sort which the House has heard many times, 423 but I am sorry to say, it did not satisfy the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who rebuked my right hon. Friend for speaking and, for good measure, rebuked me for not speaking.
What the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy Leader of the Opposition offered was one more group of Amendments, and so that there should be no doubt in the minds of myself, my right hon. Friend or the House, he added these somewhat sinister words:If the Secretary of State in asking us to continue the debate is intending to go beyond that tonight"—that is, beyond the same group of Amendments—I must tell him and the Leader of the House what they already know—that there are ways and means by which the House of Commons can protect itself against this abuse of the Government's majority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1290.]With all respect, and to put it very mildly, it seems to me an absurd suggestion, when the House knew that a late sitting was probable, and the suspension Motion had just been carried, that it would be an abuse of the Government's majority to seek to secure more than one debate after ten o'clock, but we did, as we had to, take very careful note of the right hon. Gentleman's words. He and his right hon. and hon. Friends, on Second Reading and in the earlier stages of the Committee in this discussion of the Motion to report Progress, made it quite clear—and I make no complaint about it, because it is the right and function of an Opposition in relation to a Bill which they detest—that they intended to oppose it word by word, and line by line, as one hon. Member said—a perfectly proper observation.
What we had to consider then was whether we should invite the House to try to struggle on through a late sitting, perhaps with dilatory Motions moved from time to time, or whether it had become clear, in the light of that exchange, that the Bill could not be obtained on the Floor of the House at its then or at its proposed rate of progress without an allocation of time Motion. As has been said, I left the Chamber at this point to discuss the matter. As soon as I reached a decision I returned and announced it to the House.
424 Far from this being discourteous to the House, as was alleged, I think that it was right to tell the House of this intention at the earliest possible moment rather than—this was the alternative—invite the whole House—this includes all those who serve the House in any capacity—to go through a late, perhaps an all-night, sitting to obtain perhaps two groups of Amendments when a decision had been taken on an allocation of time Motion.
These Motions are always—rightly so—bitterly resented by the Opposition. What I said was at once challenged from the Opposition Front Bench and by other hon. Gentlemen. I replied only on two points. First, to the Leader of the Opposition, who asked me why I had dragged the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill into my announcement, I replied, in effect, that to have said nothing about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and then, twelve hours later, to have brought it into a double timetable Motion, would have been too clever by half.
The other point I made was in response to a point with which I have and had then great sympathy. It was made by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who, I am very sorry to say, is not with us. I am sure that if he were not ill, he would be taking part in this debate. I hope that he will soon return to us. They said that it was wrong, quite apart from any other consideration, to discuss matters affecting the Army under such a Motion, even though there are several precedents for this.
The House must make up its mind where the blame for this Motion rests, but I am certain from my experience of other allocation of time Motions—I am sure that this will be a common experience with hon. Members—that it does not follow that these matters cannot be discussed efficiently and speedily under an allocation of time Motion when there is no incentive, and far less opportunity, to delay the business that is passing through the House.
I turn to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. As soon as its Second Reading was over and the Amendments began to cascade on to the Notice Paper, I believe that we all knew that if the Bill was to go through at all it would go through 425 only an a timetable Motion. The fact that every debate has ended in a Closure and that there have been only five such debates in three days is proof of that. Indeed, on the precedent of the Iron and Steel Bill, 1949, and the words used then by Lord Morrison of Lambeth, we would have been amply justified in putting forward a guillotine Motion even before the Bill came to the Committee stage.
It is out of order to discuss the Bill itself on a Motion of this sort. Indeed, Sir, I discovered that for myself on the only other occasion when I have taken part in such a debate, which was in 1952, when one of your predecessors ruled virtually the whole of my speech out of order. However, I think that I can say that the Bill is one to which the Government attach great importance. It has been attacked by the Leader of the Opposition, by the Leader of the Liberal Party, and by their right hon. and hon. Friends with a sincerity and conviction that I acknowledge, but which they go out of their way to deny to those of us who have come, with bitter reluctance, to propose this Measure. We believe that it is our duty to bring this Bill forward and to ensure, if the House will support us, that it passes into law. It is impossible to study the progress of the Bill and come to any conclusion other than that the Motion I am proposing is justified.
There is virtually only one new point argued, and I will now deal with it. It is argued that this procedure will not be understood in the Commonwealth countries affected. I do not believe that this is so. What is called the Westminster model is not just a model in stone of this building. It is a model of our procedures. The procedures from this Chamber have gone out into five Continents. They understand far better than those who put forward that argument what happens in an assembly of this sort. Even the ceremonial copy of Erskine May with which we present them when they start as an independent Legislature contains as least as many hints for a poacher as it does for a gamekeeper. Therefore, I am certain that this argument, which we have heard before and which I dare say we shall hear again, is not a valid argument.
Let me say—I say it only in passing—that it is no part of my case today 426 that the recent outbreak of smallpox in this country is part of the justification for this Motion. After all, we tabled the Motion before there was an outbreak, or rather before it was diagnosed as smallpox. We must at that time have been satisfied with the strength of our case. I think that I am right in saying—perhaps one of the right hon. Gentlemen who are to speak from the Opposition Front Bench will deal with this point—that the feeling of the Opposition in relation to health precautions, and perhaps to Part II of the Bill, is less fierce than their opposition to Part I. Although there is understandingly great concern in the country about the outbreak, I want to make it clear that it is no part of the case that I am asking the House to accept today.
If the House accepts the allocation of time proposed for the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, it will have taken nine days on the Floor of the House, leaving aside today's debate. The Army Reserve Bill will have taken six days. It was argued against the last double Guillotine put forward by my predecessor in March, 1961, that the Bills concerned were small and unimportant. No such argument can be sustained in relation to these two Bills. It was argued then that neither of the Bills appeared in the Gracious Speech. Both of these Bills do. Although I do not think that we should be deflected by what one might call Gallup poll opinion from either putting forward or opposing Bills, I do not think that it can be argued against the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill that it is an unpopular Measure in the country. There are different considerations in respect of the Army Reserve Bill, although I have been very surprised by how few letters I have received on this subject; but that may not be everybody's experience.
I come to the heart of the case which I present for the Motion. The situation which has arisen is by no means unfamiliar to the House of Commons. These are two major Bills, perhaps the two most important Bills of this Session, and in neither of them, after five sittings, have we got Clause 1, nor even the debate, if there is to be one, on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill". There is an urgency about both Bills, so that in the one case thousands of young men, and in the other 427 case millions of people from the Commonwealth, can know exactly where they stand and what is proposed. It is abundantly clear from the record and the progress of these Bills that they cannot hope to become law within a reasonable period of time.
The choice before the Government is, in my view, absolutely clear and inescapable. Either we drop the Bills or we ask Parliament for the powers for which I ask today. The Motion we have tabled is our answer to that, and we ask the House to support us in it.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I ask the House to reject the argument that has just been presented to us by the Leader of the House—as I thought, not particularly strongly. There seemed to be two arguments in favour of the Government's Motion. One was that on both of these Bills, after three days spent on the one and two on the other, we had not yet disposed of Clause 1 of either, but, of course, Clause 1 of each is the very large part of the Bill.
Clause 1 of the Army Reserve Bill is the only really contentious part, and the Minister's argument on all that was, I thought, rather sophisticated and left out the real essentials of the two Bills, and the issues, not only between the two sides of the House but, in the case of the Army Reserve Bill, between the Government and their supporters on Clause 1. It was inevitable that in each case the House would take more time on Clause 1, but the Minister seemed unaware of that or, much more likely, chose to toss it aside as inconvenient to his argument.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman's second paint to be that both Bills are Bills which the official Opposition, the Liberal Opposition and—as he might have added, but did not—a large part of his own side in regard to the Army Reserve Bill, oppose, and oppose, he said, with sincerity and conviction. I got the impression that he thought that to have a large part of the House of Commons opposing with sincerity and conviction a Government Measure is a case for curtailing Parliamentary democracy.
If that argument were to be carried to a logical conclusion not much would be 428 left of Parliamentary democracy at the end of the day, and although it seemed to fill in part of his speech I do not believe that the Minister will feel very proud of that argument. As to the speech which, he said, was ruled out of order in 1952, I am not sure whether he actually delivered it, but I am sure that he was not putting forward that argument then, but has only thought it up since.
It is, of course, easy to say, as the Minister said, and as, no doubt, others will say, that this is a "usual form" debate; that Governments are for allocation of time Motions and that Oppositions oppose them; that we have done it when we were the Government and have opposed it when in opposition. It is no doubt hoped by the Government of the day that saying that will lower the temperature and derogate the occasion and that we shall pay rather less attention to it.
In these days, when the Government do it very much more frequently than was done in previous days, no doubt this "usual form" argument takes on rather more meaning, but does it dispose of the case? I should like, first, just to get clear the degree of habit there is about this. It may be that all Governments have taken this action, but it is certainly not true that all Governments have taken it as habitually as this Government are taking it.
There were some Guillotines in the years 1945–51, but I am not at all clear that hon Members opposite realise how few there were, despite the nature of the Measures we were then proposing, and despite the viciousness of the opposition to our programme in those days. Hon. Members who were not in the House in those days need be under no illusion that the viciousness of the then Opposition bore any comparison with what we are trying to do today—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes. Some of the speeches by the present Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, by the Minister for Science, now in another place, and even, if not quite so sparklingly, by the Attorney-General, bear reading now against anything that we do on this side. Despite all that, there were only three Measures for which allocation of time Motions were proposed. They were the Transport 429 Bill, the Town and Country Planning Bill and the Iron and Steel Bill. Not even for the Gas Bill, where we once sat for 50 hours non-stop in Committee, facing continual opposition and obstruction from the other side, did we have an allocation of time Order. We sat it out, we argued it out and, in the end, we got our Bill. In all that Parliament there were only three allocation of time Orders; not as many as is sometimes thought.
On the other hand, since 1952 nine Measures have been guillotined by the Government. It is now becoming an absolutely regular matter of habit with them. Every time they discover that they have a Measure which the official Opposition, the Liberal Opposition and some of their own back benchers do not like they immediately produce an allocation of time Motion. There is, therefore, an enormous difference in degree about this, and that has to be taken into account.
The merits of each case enter into the matter. The right hon. Gentleman tried to deal with this, but I do not think that he did so very successfully. There are two elements of merit here. One element is whether an allocation of time Order is necessary to get the Government business through, on which the Leader of the House spoke, and the second element, to which he only just paid a genuflection, is whether the merits of the Bills themselves will permit an allocation of time Order. I should like, very briefly, to examine both.
Is an allocation of time Order necessary for the Government to get their business? It is no part of my case at all that the Government should not, in the end, have their way. I believe it to be the essence of British democracy and of our parliamentary procedure that, in the end, the Government have to govern, and that means that, in the end, the Government must have their way. But there are qualifications. That belief is subject to the Government listening to what the House of Commons has to say. It is subject to the Government being open to reason. It is subject to the Government not behaving in an arrogant way. I submit with great respect that to none of those three qualifications do the Government stand up. They have not been willing to listen, they have not 430 been open to reason, even on minor points; indeed, during the last twelve months Ministers have been behaving with a quite remarkable degree of arrogance.
I accept wholly that, in the end, the Government must have their way, but I ask the House and Ministers—and those hon. Members opposite who have stayed for this debate—what evidence there is that we must have an allocation of time Order on either Bill? The Minister produced some statistical evidence—not a lot, but he thought it rather important—about the number of points of order which have been raised with the Chair. He also had a little preoccupation with myself. I have been called sinister before now by the extreme Left, but I think that this is the first time that I have had the same distinction from the extreme Right. I rather welcome this evidence of disposition of favours from both sides. I must confess, however, that any examination I may have made of my own qualities has not revealed to me that they included being sinister.
I have had a letter, characteristically courteous, if rather heavy, from the Attorney-General to tell me that he proposes to devote some time tonight to an examination of my conduct in these matters, which, I must say, will go half the way to clearing up a question that has always been before me ever since I came to this House—whether it would be more dangerous to be prosecuted by the Attorney-General than to be defended by him.
If I may say so, all this is a rather jejeune approach to the question. The question is not how many points of order there were, but how we got into them; how they arose. As other hon. Member no doubt have, I have examined the debates rather closely. I have made two long and detailed examinations—as I see the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) also has—of what went on. The Minister dodged this, but let us be clear about it. If we take the merest statistical approach, we find that on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill we had a total of 14½ hours' discussion. The OFFICIAL REPORT contains 152 columns spoken by the Opposition and 122 columns spoken by the Government and 431 their supporters—not all their supporters speaking in favour of the Bill, of course, but 122 columns spoken by the Government's supporters.
That is not a disproportionate division of the time. That does not suggest that the Opposition were hogging the time and obstructing. It suggests that there was much feeling on both sides of the House about the Bill, so much so that the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters spoke one for one nearly with us, and minute for minute nearly with us, about the Bill. In what sense is that a case for curtailing this discussion by imposing an allocation of time motion?
On the Army Reserve Bill, the straight statistical record does not come out quite the same, but it is also interesting. We had 174 Opposition columns of debate on that and 501 Government columns, roughly two to one as against almost parity on the other Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Three to one."] Three to one.
§ Mr. Brown
Three and a half. It never seemed to me that large issues should turn on small fractions.
The point I make, which I think more important, is that if we remember what happened on the last day, of which the Minister gave what he described as a highly partisan account, and, therefore, remember that for a whole half of that day inevitably the Opposition were concerned because of the muddle which Ministers had got the House into, and deduct that from the time taken on the Army Reserve Bill, we then find that the answer on the period of time spent actually on the Bill itself comes to very nearly the same as on the other Bill.
In fact, we have not had on either of these Bills a disproportionate amount of speaking from this side of the House or from hon. Members opposite. Nor is there statistically any evidence of effective obstruction. Nor until today—and I am not clear whether the Minister was saying it today—did the Minister make any complaint of it. On the contrary, certainly on the Army Reserve Bill, with which I had more to do, we were repeatedly congratulated by the Minister on the way in which we were doing the 432 job and the attention which we were giving to it. At one stage when we wanted to stop the debate he actually said that he wanted to hear more from us.
Since the Minister spent a large part of his time proving the case by reference to the amount of time spent on each Bill, let us look at the Army Reserve Bill, on which I spent rather more time than on the other. My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) will deal more with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. Let the House remember that it was on the Army Reserve Bill that this Motion was brought in.
The Commonwealth Immigrants Bill had never been in dispute. The Minister had not had conflict with the House over that Bill. Whatever the reason for his marching out of the House, the point was that it was over the debate on the Army Reserve Bill, and he threw in the other Bill only for good measure on that occasion. His conflict with the House and his conflict with me was over the Army Reserve Bill and that led him to this decision.
I hope that the Attorney-General will look at this matter closely before he replies tonight, if he wishes to controvert that. On the first day in Committee we sat until 10.30. Already, there were Government spokesmen, the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) notably among them, attacking the Bill with great vehemence. At 10.30, in accordance with normal practice, I moved to report Progress to ask the Government their intentions. I said:I move this Motion in order that we might ascertain the Government's intentions.At a later stage, the Minister said:In the interests of making progress, might I suggest that we try two more stages? Suppose we try to take the next two groups of Amendments?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1687–8.]We then agreed immediately and there was no further discussion. I got up and said that if that was what he wanted to do we would co-operate and I asked leave to withdraw the Motion. The Minister got his next two groups of Amendments, which was all he had asked for. We then rose on his Motion 433 and there was no complaint. It is very seldom that an Opposition who dislike the Government and detest their Bill actually agree to give the Government what they ask for, but that is what they asked for, and it is all in HANSARD for 7th December. If the Minister would like to check it, he can do so between now and tonight.
We next met on that Bill on 19th December. We were ready to start where the Minister had broken off, but what was the first thing that happened? The Minister tossed this aside. This was something of which I had had no notice and no knowledge that it would happen. I came into the House to discuss the Bill starting where he had broken off. Before I could find my place in the Notice Paper the Minister was on his feet to move to report Progress. He did not do it to please me, but said that he did it to please my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg).
§ Mr. Brown
He failed in that. The point was that subsequently to the first day there had been some discussion in which the Minister had been persuaded that something he had said or done had seemed to misrepresent the opportunities the House had and, therefore, he thought he ought to move to report Progress to clear that up. Anyone who looks at HANSARD for that day will see that it took a very long time for him to clear it up. At one stage the Leader of the Liberal Party, after the discussion had been going on for an hour and a half, asked the Minister what the whole business was about. He had not a clue as to what the purpose was.
The Minister tried to explain this, as reported in column 1204, in which he said:The reason I went through this rather strange procedure was purely because I was aware, not that I had said anything wrong on the Money Resolution but that, what I had said had been inconclusive. I had not said enough."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1204.]So that he could say more he moved to report Progress and held up the Bill. I am bound to ask if it is not a rather big charge against us that because the Minister could not say enough without 434 moving to report Progress on his own Bill we should be gagged with a guillotine Motion.
I am bound to say to the Leader of the House that it is not fair to have that in mind. For all practical purposes, from 4.30 p.m. on that day until nearly 7 p.m. the time had not existed for the purpose of a Bill, but for the Secretary of State to try to make himself clear and not, as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) pointed out, with particularly notable consequences. Having explained why he had gone through this strange procedure, a short while later the Secretary of State refused to have it stopped.
On that occasion several of my hon. Friends had been speaking and had been saying, in effect, that the Secretary of State was going to ridiculous levels. Then the Secretary of State got up and said:May I answer the hon. Gentleman"—He was then proposing to answer my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) and he continued:…because I think that we are in danger of getting confused"—That was an understatement on the part of the Secretary of State—and I want to hear more hon. Members on this point."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1183.]Not unnaturally, being an unusually co-operative Opposition, he heard more from us. Why that can be argued as a powerful case for guillotining us I fail to understand and I ask the Attorney-General to give a little thought to this subject. After all, what are my hon. Friends to do when a Minister insists that a Bill should not proceed and that he wants to hear more from us? What would the Attorney-General think of an Opposition which did not co-operate in the face of such a request?
If any time was wasted on that Bill, it was at the choice of the Secretary of State, for let us examine the record. I am doing so because the Leader of the House conducted his argument not on the usual form, but on the basis of the record. We got on to the Bill at 7 p.m. and that was really the beginning of the second day. We continued until 10.15 p.m.; three hours—according to 435 HANSARD. My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick then movedin the spirit of Christmas…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1282.]as my right hon. Friend put it, to report Progress to find out what the Government wished to do. The Leader of the House said a moment ago that I got up and offered what he regarded as a rather derisory offer—the next group of Amendments. I urge hon. Members to recall that we were, at that time, taking large numbers of Amendments together.
The Leader of the House said today that that was derisory. The point is that on that night the Leader of the House said nothing. He just sat there and said nothing. It would have been in keeping with tradition if he had said that it was derisory. He could have said, "We must have more than that", or "I would like to talk about it"—but he just said nothing. He just sat there and ignored everything.
It is also true—since we are telling the whole history of this matter—that what I offered publicly was less than had been offered privately. That is, perhaps, what one expects in negotiations. One does not go into negotiations in public and say the same sort of things that one would say in private unless one knows where one stands. The more I hear the Government spokesmen the more I realise that that is the case.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who was in general charge of the Bill for the Opposition, had been discussing with the Government what was regarded as reasonable progress. In fact, my hon. and learned Friend had offered four groups of Amendments privately. That had not been responded to by the Minister. I tried to open it up in public by making an offer and I got precisely the same answer as did my hon. and learned Friend—absolute ignoral. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] I am relieved to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick inform me that it is a good word. In any case, if it was not a good word everyone would have understood what I meant by it.
As I say, we were completely ignored and that was how we got into this jam. 436 I repeat, on the first day we accepted what was asked for by the Government and we agreed and co-operated to achieve their aims for that day. On the second day we ourselves made offers, but were rebuffed and ignored and we got into this jam because the Government would not say which point in the Bill they wished to reach on the second day.
In fact, in the time it took while we waited for the Minister to recover from his attack of "black thunder" and return to the House we could have agreed to the Amendments which we had offered. Thus the wastage of time on that occasion is the responsibility of the Leader of the House. It was his own. I suggest that there is no case that can be levelled against the Opposition on this Bill. There had been one day in which the Government got all they asked for. There was another half-day in which we were willing to come to an arrangement about when to finish and at what point to do so. The fact that we did not in that second half-day make the progress we made on the first day caused the Leader of the House to lose his temper; he walked out and tried to show us how tough he could be.
It is not for me to say too much about people losing their tempers. The point is that having lost one's temper one must find it again and bring it back soon afterwards. The tragedy in the case of the Leader of the House is that he lost it and could not find it—and that is why we have this guillotine Motion today. I repeat, the only obstruction to the Bill came from the Minister himself, who obstructed it most successfully for three hours. There is no case against my hon. Friends and I—or anyone else—on either of those days and it is quite impossible to get away with the argument that a timetable is necessary to get this piece of Government business through. It is quite unnecessary and its necessity cannot be proven. All the evidence on the record shows that.
Two factors enter into this—and I regret that the Government Chief Whip is not in his place at the moment. The first is the newness of the Leader of the House to his job. That was a factor in all of this. He has a great record for being able to "dish it out" from time to time. On the night in question, however, he showed a reluctance to "take it".
437 The second factor is that the Government Chief Whip constantly behaves as if Closures must be moved in a way almost deliberately calculated to provoke and irritate. We cannot ignore the part that that played in the difficulties in which we find ourselves on this Bill, and will continue to find ourselves on future Bills. The constant rising of the right hon. Gentleman from his corner seat, overtly and demonstratively walking round, involving the Chair in argument by openly discussing and consulting and his equally demonstrative return to his seat and immediately rising to move a Motion, is bound to be an irritating factor, especially late at night.
This happens time and again. It produces points of order, friction with the Chair and circumstances which one would hope, on every personal ground, would not arise. This should be made clear if the Government want to get their business through with the use of unjustified allocation of time Orders. This sort of thing merely wastes time, just as time is being lost today.
The answer for the Government is for them to look at the way they handle their own business. When I think about the actions of the Government Chief Whip I think of the recent case when he matched his clumsy behaviour in the House with advice to the Prime Minister about the filling of the post of Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means and how it has led the Prime Minister into rebuff and further difficulty. There is a lot of room for discussion on this point as to how the job is best done. The question is: do we require Government business carried through? On this occasion we do not. If the Government were even marginally competent in the House there would be no problem about this question.
I turn now to the second leg of the argument, the merits of the Bills themselves. These are surely outstanding examples of Measures which should not be driven through under an allocation of time Order unless it can be shown that to do so is absolutely imperative. I have already demonstrated, I think, that that cannot be so. The Government must have recognised, when they began these two Bills, that they were of such a kind, having such an impact and such far-reaching effects, that the House would 438 be bound to take time over them and that, therefore, the Government should have arranged their legislative programme to take care of that and allow ample time.
Let us consider what the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill does, quite apart from the merits, quite apart from whether hon. Members opposite think our view is right or wrong, and quite apart from what the Gallup poll suggests about whether our view is right or wrong. Incidentally, since the Leader of the House did invoke the Gallup poll, he may have noticed that there was a very substantial difference in the result after we had been discussing the Bill in the House for two days compared with what it was before we started discussing it. There was a very substantial slide in the number of people recorded as being in favour of the Bill after the Opposition had been able to discuss it compared with the number recorded as being in favour of it before that time, which is, of course, what one would expect if Parliament is allowed to work. Perhaps that is what the Leader of the House is afraid of. Another two days and the whole of his support would disappear.
Apart from the merits of the Bill, let us consider what it does to age-old cherished traditions of this country which will be irrevocably and for ever broken. The effect will be final. Right or wrong, it is an enormous change. The Bill will make an enormous difference to the relationship of Britain to the new world. That relationship can never be the same again after the Bill goes through. A Government proposing to do that must understand that the business will take some time to go through a free House of Commons. They ought to be prepared to allow time for it.
Secondly, let us remember what the Bill does to deeply loyal Commonwealth friends of ours. I am thinking at the moment of Sir Grantley Adams and Mr. Manley, but there are others, people with enormous political and economic problems of their own. Let us think what the passage of the Bill will do for them and for their problems. They have been deeply loyal friends of ours. If that kind of change is desired, it is imperative to provide ample time for its discussion.
439 Thirdly, let us think what it does—I accept that fore most hon. Members, but not for all, this is not the intention—in the way of encouraging racialist and Fascist sentiments in this country and in misleading decent people. There is all the nonsense about health. I was very glad to hear what the Leader of the House said about that today, but others on his benches have been rather less notably forthcoming on the subject recently, and some have not hesitated to imply that in some way this is connected with the smallpox outbreak. We know that it is a nonsense in regard to health. We know that the regulations are there. There is no need to go into it all now, and perhaps we should not, but we know that there has been a break-down in the ordinary procedures in regard to smallpox which this Bill will do nothing about.
It is a nonsense also about housing. We know that the Bill will make hardly a noticeable or marginal difference of any sort to the lack of houses in this country while the Government's financial and housing policies continue as they are.
The Government may think that our views on these topics are all wrong. They are entitled to think that; they are entitled to develop an argument to show why they think it. But they are not entitled, in my submission, because we hold those views and explain them in accordance with our procedures and traditions, to take away from us the right to do so.
We need not take a long time on the merits of the Army Reserve Bill. The position is obvious to everyone. It has been proclaimed by everybody. It is a Bill of outstanding unfairness and injustice. It may be the Government's case that they have to introduce it, but they cannot dispute that about 20,000 young men and their families will be subjected to the most enormous unfairness and injustice compared with their fellows.
It is not only I who say that. The Bill has been condemned all round. I will quote to the House the words of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire. Speaking about the Minister's attempt to sabotage his own Bill, after asking him to stop what he was doing 440 and bring the sabotage to an end, the hon. Gentleman concluded by saying:Nobody likes this Bill. Those who are in favour of National Service, as I am, do not like it because we consider it to be halfhearted and lopsided. Those who are against it—and I think this includes the majority of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee judging by their utterances in the past—do not like it because it contains a measure of selected service, and a very unfair one at that"—adding the final comment—and I do not imagine that the Government will like it very much after these proceedings."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December. 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1186.]That was a very fair summing-up. Everybody dislikes the Bill. Those who want National Service dislike it and those who do not want National Service dislike it. The one point of agreement between us all was that it was utterly unfair to 20,000 young men and their families who cannot speak for themselves.
Further, the Bill is totally inadequate—this, again, was said on all sides—to the problem which has to be met, the problem of providing for our commitments in Europe and elsewhere. Whatever else one can say of the Bill, it is totally inadequate in any long-term sense for that purpose.
Obviously, a Bill regarded in that way by everyone merits, and must be expected to receive, a great deal of discussion, a lot more discussion than would normally be applied. It is not a party Bill. It is not a Bill with the Government on one side and the Opposition on the other. It is a Bill which the Government have chosen to produce but a Bill which has found very few friends anywhere among those who care about the problem and have examined it. When a Government wish to introduce such a Bill, they must expect to provide the time.
In my submission, on the merits of the Bills chosen, an allocation of time Order is essentially inappropriate in view of the nature of what they are designed to do. I claim, therefore, on all those grounds that this Motion today cannot be dismissed as the sort of Motion that Governments sometimes believe in and Oppositions do not. It just cannot stand up. Moreover, it ignores some important issues. It ignores the Government's 441 own incompetence in handling their own business which is patently obvious from the written record. It ignores old and well tried House of Commons forms of procedure. It simply denounces opposition to a Government Measure regardless of how bad the Measure is thought to be and regardless of how incompetent the Government's performance is.
Ministers have a majority on which they may rely here, but, in the end, we are all answerable to public opinion for our views, right or wrong, and for the performance of our duties, good or bad. Ministers who practise this kind of thing delude themselves if they think that they add to their stature or their public support thereby. Hon. Members who support them in doing so will, in my submission, connive at their own destruction. [Laughter.] Of course, on this as on everything else I have had to say, some hon. Members will disagree with me, but I ask them to hear me out and then consider who is right. I believe that the country is aware—the Press has made this very plain and some recent responses have, I think, made it plain—that the Government are on the slide. The country is aware of the Government's incompetence, and believes that all the muddles we have witnessed arise from their being on the slide.
§ Mr. Brown
Perhaps. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to take whatever comfort he can from believing it. However, whether the public understands the niceties of Parliamentary procedure or not, the imposition of this kind of Measure on Bills of this sort in circumstances such as I have outlined will serve only to add to the impression I have described.
I believe that the public know that great and vital issues are on the way and will soon have to be settled. I believe that they take the view that the Government have really put the wrong Motion on the Order Paper. The public will take the view—I believe that it takes it now—that a Government who regularly put wrong Motions on the Order Paper are incompetent. This happened only yesterday. Only yesterday they 442 sought to "approve" when they might have said "takes note of". I suppose that there were three choices that they could have taken. They probably had three slips of paper on the Cabinet table, one set "approves", one set "takes note of" and one set "rejects"; and by very bad luck they picked up the "approves" one. Think how bad it might have been if they had picked up the "rejects" one.
I believe that the public feels that any Government who regularly get the wrong Motion on the Order Paper are on the slide and know that a Government which often delay their own Bills are on the slide; that a Government who drop half their Measures after beginning them, as this Government so regularly have, are on the slide; that a Government who appoint supermen to run our great business affairs and then treat them as office boys when decisions have to be made, are on the slide. The public believes—whatever hon. Members opposite may affect to believe—that a guillotine Order is not the answer to all this and has no confidence in an ineffective and incompetent Government who are trying to get out of this in a very poor and miserable way indeed.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
This is the first occasion on which I have spoken in a Guillotine debate, and I shall not detain the House for long. I have heard several such debates. I have heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and Lord Attlee on those occasions, and usually we have heard something fairly strong on the subject of constitutional outrages and things of that kind. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), in opposing this Motion, might almost have been thinking up some humorous speech, and I think that we must all have been struck by the fact that he never got up steam, if I may use that word without any intentional impertinence, until he dealt with the Bills themselves.
I feel that this is a serious matter. I should like to suggest that the House should deal with it a little more seriously than the right hon. Gentleman did. I do not believe that one should acquiesce in a Motion of this kind without considering what gave rise to it. I have tried my best to do that. I was present during all the discussions, and I 443 have also had the exhilarating experience of reading the HANSARD report on both those days' debates. Having done so, I found myself in very close agreement with an article which appeared in one of the national newspapers on the 17th of this month. The initials and surname of the writer of it were ones that we knew already, but as it appeared in the correspondence columns, rather than in the body of the paper, one might have assumed that it had been written by another individual with the same name. In any event, I certainly cannot be accused of being prejudiced in his favour in quoting him, as I intend to do, because so far as I know, he has only mentioned me twice in my experience here and on both those occasions in was in a not very flattering manner.
He described the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill proceedings as something between an elaborate charade and the nursery game of snakes and ladders. Possibly he might have had in mind which of these expressions was applicable to the right hon. Gentleman—I think the charade rather than the snakes and ladders. That sounded more like the ingenious and more orderly interventions of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). But it is a fact that that article was representing the point of view of a very large number of people in the country, and we have to consider in this House where we stand.
I have looked at HANSARD carefully and I find—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I am being unnecessarily personally offensive to him—that he really is the cause of a great deal of the trouble, because he has been responsible for inventing or, at any rate, provoking and encouraging the method of introducing so-called points of order and thereby producing an irregular discussion. I think that it is just necessary to make that statement good. In the OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1961, there is an intervention by the right hon. Gentleman into someone else's speech. He said:May I raise a point of order, Sir Gordon? I distinctly heard you say to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), who was asking leave to raise a point of order, 'There is no point of order'. 444 At that stage you had not heard my hon. Friend.He went on to say:…but I submit that it is the inalienable right of any hon. Member if he feels that he has point of order, to put it to you before you tell him that he has not got a point of order.That was done by the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: What is wrong with that?"] Later, the right hon. Gentleman—this was just before the suspension and is what gave rise to the suspension—got up again on a point of order. He spoke to 37 lines of HANSARD and the Chairman then said:The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to be raising a point of order".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1471 and 1476.]So there we are again. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman affects to regard this as a humorous matter, but there is a very large number of people in the country—and he himself has said that public opinion and the Press are relevant in this matter—who are beginning to be very unhappy about the behaviour of the Opposition when the acting Leader of the Opposition behaves in this way.
I have given only two instances, but there are two more to come. There is every reason why there should be public anxiety on these matters. Immediately after the suspension there arose the celebrated episode of the Mace, which, I think, must have been in the mind of the writer of the article of which I spoke when he wrote about "an elaborate charade". There was nothing in it from beginning to end, but it occupied twenty-two columns of HANSARD. The Speaker was asked to rule upon it. Mr. Speaker ruled upon it; he gave that Ruling the next day. He gave a very clear and decisive Ruling. Immediately he finished, up got again the right hon. Gentleman from somewhere in Derbyshire, as I will refer to him following his reference to me—
§ Sir L. Heald
I quite agree; it was very silly. The right hon. Gentleman then got up and proceeded to "argue the toss" for two columns. He was quite clearly disputing the Ruling. I intervened in the middle of his speech, and Mr. Speaker said that he could not 445 decide whether it was a point of order until he had heard it. At the end of that Mr. Speaker said:I would like to say that I made a statement because I understood that it was the common wish of the House that I should do so, but I do not think that that extended my invitation to allowing irregular discussion of the matter now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1547.]I should have thought that that was a fairly justifiable rebuke in not very strong terms.
In column 1550 of HANSARD of 7th December, 1961, we have another half column of the right hon. Member for Belper, which is followed by this from Mr. Speaker:Order. I am sorry, but I have no authority to allow the right hon. Gentleman to argue about it now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1550.]Again, the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman was irregular, something which encourages those behind him to do the same. I think that that is one of the reasons why we got into the situation that we did. It was inevitable.
§ Sir L. Heald
The right hon. Gentleman is perhaps misleading the Opposition.
It may be—it is not in order to discuss this matter today—that proposals will be brought forward for controlling these bogus points of order. They are not easy to deal with, because Mr. Speaker, the Chairman and the Deputy and Temporary Chairmen regard themselves as servants of the House and they are most anxious not to do anything which appears to curtail debate. How ever, advantage is taken of that and we must stop it if the, reputation of the House in the country is to be preserved.
At the moment, as has been said, the only instrument for dealing with irregularity in debate which goes to the extent of leading to disorder is, although perhaps the metaphor is slightly mixed, the blunt instrument of the Guillotine. That is what we have to use. Until we have something better, we must rely upon it.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I want to be sure that I understand what the right hon. and learned Member is saying. If he is saying what 446 I think he is saying, it seems a most strange doctrine. Is he saying that because an hon. Member raises points of order—I am not saying whether they are proper or improper, but assume that they are improper—during the proceedings on one Bill the remedy is to guillotine another Bill?
§ Sir L. Heald
No. The right hon. Gentleman has not appreciated the point. If a right hon. Member who is leading the Opposition behaves in a way which causes them to waste time and be disorderly and thereby produces a state of affairs in which the Government cannot get on with their business, the Government are not only entitled but are bound to introduce the Guillotine.
§ Sir L. Heald
We can only talk about one Bill at once. We were told by the right hon. Member for Belper that his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who was to intervene, would deal with the other Bill. If he waits a few moments, he will he able to deal with it.
It is a striking fact that on a subject of this kind an atmosphere of—I do not think I can call it humour—levity on the part of the right hon. Member for Belper is apparently thought to be a proper attitude to adopt. I do not think that that will be accepted generally in the country. The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to Caesar. Unto Caesar shall he go. He has emphasised very strongly that in a sense this House and Parliamentary procedure are on trial. I agree that that is so. Let the right hon. Gentleman ensure that his own conduct, when he acts as Leader of the Opposition, is such that it produces the right impression.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I always gathered from such lessons in divinity that I had that it was an act of supreme injustice in the mind of the judge that decided that when the Apostle appealed to Caesar he should be sent there. I am bound to say that I do not think that the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), whom I greatly respect when he is less pontifical, has helped us very much this afternoon in dealing with this matter. Neither do 447 I think that the threat that he held out, particularly the way in which he advanced it, as if in some way he was speaking for Mr. Speaker, is likely to help us in this difficult debate.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster did me the honour of quoting a statement which I made and by which I stand. I have never minced matters on this issue. The Government are entitled to get their business, but they have a responsibility to the House to ensure that adequate discussion of it takes place. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman started very well on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. He may remember a conversation of three or four sentences that we had one day after it had first been mentioned here. I suggested to him that the proper precedent to follow was that of the British Nationality Bill and that we should take the Bill on the Floor of the House. He conceded that, and I thought that that was a very good start to what would be a very difficult Measure.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I both support the brotherhood of man. He went to a peculiar place to propound it, the Tory Party conference. Luther nailed his protestations to the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, but the right hon. Gentleman seems to have nailed his to the front door of the Tory Party itself—I imagine something like the front door of the Vatican. [Interruption.] We have just had a long disquisition from a former Minister on the iniquity of raising false points of order. I endeavour to keep within the rules of order, but we are all liable to slip.
§ Mr. Ede
I do not know anyone who slips more than the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). I thought that the decision of the right hon. Gentleman was of very great advantage to the House and to the spirit in which what was bound to be a highly controversial series of debates would be conducted. I do not think that the conduct of the Government on these two Bills in their dealings with the House has lived up to that excellent start.
448 This Guillotine Motion has been introduced because the Government have too many critics on their own side. There have been five debates on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I think that it was said that all of them were closured, but on one occasion eleven hon. Members opposite voted against their own Government's effort to get the Closure.
§ Mr. Ede
I am told that there was a demonstration in the Chamber. I was in the Lobby waiting to record my vote against the Closure which I knew had been moved.
This is a quite unprecedented case. If we take the Guillotines which were moved when my right hon. Friends were sitting on the Government Front Bench, we then always had the support of every member of our own party. But, after all, we are not quite so tame as hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Ede
Discipline is no bad thing. I have no objection to discipline, but the best discipline of all is self-discipline, which is not a characteristic of the hon. Member for Louth. This is really the difficulty into which the Government have got.
On the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, eleven hon. Members opposite, including one noble Lord, voted against the Government when they wanted a Closure. On the other Bill, they start with the devastating prospect that they are going to be bitterly opposed, when he is well enough to attend, by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). In addition to that, there is a number of hon. Members and hon. and gallant Members opposite who are determined, as far as they can be, that this Bill shall not go through in anything like its present form.
I will not repeat the quotations which my right hon. Friend made from the speech of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) when the matter was under discussion, but it is notorious that on both these Bills the Government cannot rely on the loyal 449 support of every hon. Member who was returned at the General Election to support them and on a considerable number of distinguished right hon. Gentlemen who have conferred a greater distinction upon themselves by retiring from the Government and writing the usual letter to the Prime Minister to explain that it really pains them very much to go but that in order to facilitate rearrangement in the Government they are quite willing to place their resignation in his hands.
On some occasions on the Army Reserve Bill we saw three, four or five ex-Ministers sitting on the benches opposite obviously supporting those of their hon. and gallant colleagues who are opposing this Bill.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
The record will show that of seven speeches made from the benches opposite during the debate on the Army Reserve Bill on one batch of Amendments only one speech was made in favour and that the other six speehes were made against the Government.
§ Mr. Ede
I have no doubt that there is considerable discontent, and rightly so, about that Bill among that group of hon. Members. This is the real cause of this Guillotine—so that that proportion of speeches shall not be repeated on too many occasions.
I agree that the Government are entitled to get their business. As far as I know, apart from the disclosures which we had in a speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), there had been no overtures with a view to arranging a private timetable, which in my experience can be most effective in dealing with Measures of this kind. I am told that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) once offered to let the Government get four groups of Amendments at a certain sitting and that that offer was rejected. In the end, the Government got less. That is the way in which feeling in the House gets exacerbated to the point where the present real breakdown of arrangements between the two sides has taken place.
As fas as I am concerned, the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill comes more nearly in the province of religion than of politics, and I think that, at this time of day, to attempt to draw these fine 450 distinctions between the various subjects of the Crown and members of the Commonwealth is a disaster. John Wesley said that the world was his parish. The hon. Member for Louth wants to divide that parish up into wards with the inhabitants of those wards having separate rights within the parish.
I suggest that the unification that existed among the subjects of the Crown and the members of the Commonwealth was one of the great unifying factors in the world, and to break it up in the way that has been done in this Bill is, to my mind, a crime against humanity which makes it very difficult for me to speak on this subject without displaying a heat which I know ought not to be introduced into the debate.
§ Mr. Ede
I think that, in an effort to spread light, discussion without heat is generally preferable to the kind of scene that attracts great attention in the headlines but does not really seriously affect the relationships between hon. Members on either side of the House. I have always endeavoured never to do anything that arouses heat when attempting to shed some feeble light on an issue before the House. Therefore, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who, as I said, started off his leadership in what I thought a very splendid manner—I know the feeling on the benches behind him—to see if he cannot get back to the spirit which enabled him to do that. He is now, and for some time ahead will he, the guardian of the historic spirit of the House.
I was once upbraided by hon. Friends of mine some two or three weeks after Mr. Attlee appointed me Leader of the House on the ground that something I did was not on the lines of strict party policy. I said, "I am not the Leader of the party; I am the Leader of the House." A Leader of the House who merely tries to get privilege, undeserved, for his own side of the House is never going to be a very successful Leader of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman has got what I never had—a majority of 100 behind him. I had a majority of six, and I only had to upset four people and, short as my time was, it would 451 have been even shorter. He also has to bear in mind that, in addition to getting the Government's business, he has to get it in that spirit of discussion which is the safeguard of democracy in these days.
I regret some of the incidents that occurred. It is a pity when a Minister has to deal with points of procedure. Points of procedure with regard to the progress of a Bill should be within the competence of the Leader of the House and of no one else, because Ministers should not get mixed up in the kind of quarrel that arises over the question of how much business is to be done during the night.
There was one occasion in particular when I saw the Leader of the House brushed aside by a Minister of some experience. [Interruption.] It was the Home Secretary. It was commented on at the time by hon. Members on both sides. It is always difficult when one sees another man doing the job one used to do not to hint to him sometimes that if one still did it one would be doing it better. I do not make these remarks in that spirit personally.
For the next few months, the Leader of the House can rest assured that times here will be difficult and that, so far as concerns proceedings in the House and the application of the Closure, it would be far better if it were apparent that he was in control rather than the Minister, no matter who he might be, who is in charge of the Bill. The Minister's job is to get his Bill. The job of the Leader of the House is to see that, while the Minister gets his Bill, he gets it with a sufficient display of good will towards hon. Members on the other side of the House.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The Leader of the House and the whole House will have listened carefully to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I believe that everybody who was a Member of the House at the time would agree with the proposition that one of the finest Leaders of the House that there has ever been was my right hon. Friend. Everyone who watched him operating in circumstances which were probably more difficult for a Leader of the House than 452 at almost any other time this century would agree that his advice should be carefully followed.
What I would like to do would be also to give a little advice to the Leader of the House, but not from the eminent position of my right hon. Friend. I want to assist the Leader of the House as much as everyone else who has participated in this debate. I do not want to do the right hon. Gentleman any injury. I have a considerable liking for him. I like his bold, questing, liberal spirit. I like the way that he refuses to compromise about his principles until the very last moment of extremity when the thumbscrews are on.
I like the way in which the Leader of the House stands up to the people behind him. I like the aspect of scorn that comes on his face when some of his hon. Friends on the third or fourth bench back get up to put questions. Hon. Members opposite cannot see it, but we on this side can. All these are qualities greatly to the credit of the Leader of the House. I refuse to believe that the Leader of the House is in any way enthusiastic about today's Motion. Indeed, he said that he is bitterly reluctant to do this, bitterly reluctant to bring in the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, and, no doubt, reluctant to have to push it through by these means.
Therefore, I do not believe that the Leader of the House made the full defence of himself that he might have done. I believe that in one sense the Leader of the House has seen in his translation to this position an improvment in the intensity of fights which he has had to conduct. We heard the other day that a fight is supposed to be going on in the Cabinet about Northern Rhodesia. Everybody has heard about it. The noble Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) has told us all about it. Everybody knows about it except the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs. I am sure that the Leader of the House has been battling away in the Cabinet on that issue. Indeed, if he had had his way the whole question of Northern Rhodesia might have been settled in a satisfactory manner months ago.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
Order. I do not think that this comes within the terms of the Motion concerning the timetable.
§ Mr. Foot
I was only trying to illustrate, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the undoubted liberal record which the Leader of the House brings to bear on all these matters.
If I was speaking in any sense irrelevantly on Northern Rhodesia, that does not apply to the record of the Leader of the House on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, because I am convinced that all through last summer he was fighting against the introduction of such a Bill into the House of Commons. He was stopped only when the guillotine came down on him in the Cabinet. I am sure that he was doing his best. We know that there was only one reason in the end why the Leader of the House could have been persuaded to introduce a Measure to which he is so bitterly opposed, and that is because he put the interests of his party's unity above everything else. Who am I to protest about that? I might be thought to be prejudiced if I suggested that to be an improper course for someone to take.
The Leader of the House, however, suffers from other misfortunes as well. They have been hinted at by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields. It is a great misfortune for the Leader of the House that the Bill on which he got into his first major controversy as Leader of the House was a Bill which was being introduced by the previous Leader of the House.
Those are not the only relationships that there have been between the two Leaders of the House. We also know the nursery in which the present Leader of the House was bred. We know where he had his political upbringing. We know to whom he owes his political advancement. It would be difficult for the Leader of the House, as one of his first acts when he became Leader of the House dealing with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, to bite the hand that fed him. So I am sure that that embarrassed him as well. It is high time that the Leader of the House—I say this in the same spirit of good will in which I started—should disentangle himself from the apron strings of the Home Secretary. He does not want to remain a backroom boy all his life, does he? He should step forward. He must not be so overawed by the Home Secretary.
454 I know that another disadvantage as Leader of the House is that when he got his appointment, he was not quite out of the top drawer. He did not go to Eton. I am not sure where he did go. I think he went to some glorified poshed-up secondary school in Scotland, and it no doubt made him feel a little embarrassed when he got into this high company. He must not, however, be so overawed by the Home Secretary as that. The Home Secretary is not really so blue-blooded. He is not a Salisbury, after all. Therefore, as soon as the Leader of the House resolves to stand up to the Home Secretary and show that he is master, the better for all concerned.
Comparing the performance of the Leader of the House with his previous performances as Colonial Secretary, none of us can have failed to mark the difference. I do not think that the job suits the Leader of the House. I was reading the other day the biography of Neville Chamberlain, written by the Leader of the House. In the course of that biography, he makes an interesting general reflection about the time at which Ministers should resign. It is not a reflection made by Neville Chamberlain, but one contributed to the book by the Leader of the House, one of his rare original contributions to the book itself.
What the Leader of the House said was that if a Minister was going to resign he must do it very early on in his period of occupying office. Those are not his exact words, but that is the sense of them. If a Minister stays on for a long time, nobody cares whether he stays or goes, and so the threat of his resignation loses its barb. I hope that the Leader of the House takes this into account. If he is going to resign with any honour, he should do it quickly, on his own prescription, and he has every reason to do it.
The right hon. Gentleman should go to the Prime Minister and say, "I should like to have an honest job again." This business of being Leader of the House does not suit him at all. This Jekyll and Hyde affair of being Leader of the House and Chairman of the Tory Party does not suit his guileless nature. If he loses the job he can always go back to the Sunday Times—there is no class distinction there. Perhaps an arrangement 455 has already been made by the Prime Minister that the Leader of the House should contribute articles to the Sunday Times and still draw his salary here as well, since one of the Ministerial principles if not monarchical principles, of this Government is at all costs to maintain the circulation of the Sunday Times. Perhaps the Prime Minister would give him another job, but if he does lose his job it would suit the right hon. Gentleman to go back to the Sunday Times. It is a good proletarian paper. It used to be said that Reynolds News was "the paper without a peer", but the Sunday Times is now the paper without a peer. Mr. Roy Thompson has refused all entreaties, all persuasions and offers to take a peerage.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I am afraid that the hon. Member is going far from the allocation of time Motion.
§ Mr. Foot
I am sorry if I have strayed further than I should have done, but I was tempted to do so in my desire to look after the interests of the Leader of the House in all particulars. I did not want to see him totally unemployed.
I suggest to the Leader of the House that this office does not suit him at all and that the best he can do is to go along and chuck it and say to the Prime Minister, "Give me a decent job or let me go altogether, because this will never work". We can all see that it would be the best course for the right hon. Gentleman.
Today the right hon. Gentleman did his best to recover his reputation. He obviously has been taking lessons. He has been told that he must be very gracious, that he must smile every few minutes and show no signs of bellicosity. This would be the way to smooth down everybody, but the right hon. Gentleman is not that kind of man. It does not suit him. With the notable exception of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, that is not the kind of person needed as Leader of the House. What we need for a Leader of the House is not an oak but a willow, and nobody would call the right hon. Gentleman a willow. There is a whole forest of willows along the Government Front Bench opposite. It is overgrown with them. Why not pick one of them? We 456 are not very well off for good Colonial Secretaries. I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman at the end of the debate to respond now to what I have suggested, but I hope that he will think about it carefully and will recognise that what I have said is in his own interest as well as in the interest of the whole House.
On the main issue which the right hon. Gentleman presented, I think he was completely destroyed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), because introducing the Guillotine is a serious matter. Although hon. Members opposite do not seem to think that it is a matter of great importance, I think it is. It is of great importance, first, because everybody knows that the introduction of a Guillotine destroys a debate. We have no sanction over a Minister. Ministers can give any answer they wish. They often do so now, anyhow, but at least when there is no fixed timetable there is a possibility of imposing some kind of sanction on a Minister who is evasive or tends to be arrogant or does not give the answers which he may have available. But once we have a timetable all the interplay of free debate is gone. Every hon. Members knows this, I do not say that our debates are models of dynamic intercourse, anyhow, but the introduction of a Guillotine makes them all the worse.
The introduction of a Guillotine, therefore, ought to be done only in the most extreme circumstances. I agree with those who say that eventually the Government must obtain their business, but the Guillotine should be introduced not only with the utmost reluctance but only when a Government have overwhelmingly proved their case. Nobody who listened to the two speeches made at the opening of the debate, discussing the detailed timetables, would agree that a case has been made out overwhelmingly for introducing the Guillotine.
Most hon. Members, of course, and a large proportion of hon. Members opposite, have not listened to the debate at all. They are not interested in it. They are prepared to come along at 10 o'clock and vote for whatever the Government say, and I agree that that applies to some extent to this side of the House as well. I have protested against it constantly. But my hon. 457 Friends cannot be blamed for being absent from this debate, because we believe that issues represented in these Bills should be debated and decided on the Floor of the House. This is the citadel of Parliamentary principle, and if we abandon that all else goes.
I know that newspapers say beforehand, "We do not care for Parliamentary procedure. It is a lot of time wasting." The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) did not stay for the debate. He upbraided us and said that the country was horrified at the way we were conducting our debates and that this was an appalling state of affairs. Nobody can deny that sometimes time is wasted, but it is all part of the process of examining legislation, and for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give us in ten minutes a denunciation of the House of Commons for wasting time and then not even stay to listen to the debate was a gross discourtesy to the House.
It is also grossly wrong that matters of Parliamentary procedure should be dismissed as they have been in recent days. I have been reading some of the correspondence in the Daily Telegraph. I am not blaming the people who wrote these letters, but this correspondence shows a complete ignorance of the manner in which the affairs of the House of Commons are conducted, with the suggestion that all debate in the House is a waste of time, or very nearly a waste of time. If we accept that principle, we have some form of Fascist Government. The alternative to deciding things on the Floor of the House by open debate is some form of Fascist dictatorial government.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
Surely the hon. Member would go this far and say that it is time that we had a close look at some of our procedures. Is he not aware of the obvious frustration of many of the younger Members at the difficulty of catching Mr. Speaker's eye? Would he not consider that short speeches rather than long debating speeches for half an hour would be a good innovation to introduce?
§ Mr. Foot
I would be the last to say that we can never change the procedure of the House. It is perfectly proper for the House to look at its procedure and decide what it should do about it. All I gay is that before we decide what 458 improvements we should make in procedure all hon. Members should recognise the fundamental principle that we must decide what is going to happen by open debate on the Floor of the House. The Guillotine injures that because it interferes with free debate. Nobody can deny that. Anybody who has participated in debates under Guillotine procedure knows that they become far less vital. But, of course, everybody also knows that there are many other interferences with proper debate in the House.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper opposed this Motion passionately and skilfully, but he himself must recognise that he is partly responsible for introducing into the House procedures which also interfere with settling decisions on the Floor of the House. I am sorry that he is not present. He does not believe in settling the major issues by open debate but by private debate upstairs. If anybody refuses to abide by the decisions taken upstairs, my right hon. Friend and his colleagues say, "Very well. You will be expelled from the party, or you will have the Whip withdrawn, because the real decisions as to how you are to vote are not decided here on the Floor of the House but upstairs."
Some of us object to that. We say that we were sent here to be accountable to the public, and that one cannot be accountable to the public if the real decisions are made in private. Nor can one be accountable to the public unless one is prepared to say, "I am entitled to speak as I wish on the Floor of the House and to vote as I wish, and to be answerable to the public for my public actions."
§ Mr. Diamond
Does not my hon. Friend therefore feel that, as we all share his views that we are accountable to the public, it is fair and honest to the public, in putting oneself forward as a candidate, to say, "I propose to say what I believe and I am therefore standing as an independent candidate," or, alternatively, I propose to support the Labour Party's programme and am therefore standing as a Labour candidate"?
§ Mr. Foot
I thought that we were getting a bit far from it, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I would not like my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond), or you, Sir, to go away with any misapprehensions. I said quite clearly to the people who elected me what I was going to do when I got here. I said that I would support what was at that time official Labour Party policy, but when I got here I was thrown out for doing so. How can anybody properly throw me out for doing that?
§ Sir C. Osborne
Is it not remarkable that, while the hon. Member is announcing that all these decisions should be made by open, free debate on the Floor of the House, not one member of the Front Bench of his party is here to listen or is taking the slightest interest?
§ Mr. Foot
I am glad that the Whips are here, anyhow. Hon. Members may think that these issues about which I am talking are quite separate from the one involved in the Motion. I hope you do not think so, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. They are, in fact, intimately connected.
I am a strong supporter of the British Parliament. I think that it is the best form of Government one can have. It is government by discussion, which is better than government by edict. But if one is to protect government by discussion, one must take every precaution to ensure that the discussion that takes place in this House is real and not fake.
It is because I believe that both the Guillotine and the authority of private Labour Party meetings upstairs or of 1922 Committees make discussion a fake, and that all these institutions are derogatory of the authority of the House of Commons itself, that I am opposed to this state of affairs. It is not a popular view. Apparently, most hon. Members prefer to be herded. It seems a strange desire, but apparently it is their wish, for whatever reason.
460 Hon. Members may think that these are not great issues, but I do not believe that the stature of the House of Commons has increased in the country in the past few years. If anything, I believe that it has diminished. The greatest Parliamentarians that this House has known in recent times have been the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill)—undoubtedly the greatest on the Conservative side—and Aneurin Bevan—the greatest on the Labour side. It was no accident that both these men, who had a great respect for Parliament, found themselves in perpetual quarrels with their party machines. Indeed, they made their reputations because they fought against those machines. They built their reputations in this House by defying doctrines now accepted on both sides of the House. They stood for the proper function of Parliament.
It is right that we should discuss fully the way in which we are to debate. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper in the sense that it is particularly reprehensible that a guillotine Motion should be introduced on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. It is a Bill which has wide significance for the future of the Commonwealth. It alters our relations with many states in what we consider to be a shameful manner. I believe that the Leader of the House, who has been reciting Robert Burns so eloquently recently, should have employed all his power to avoid curtailing debate on the Floor of the House.
I remember that his original idea was that the Bill should be taken in Committee upstairs. I asked then whether he would agree that it should be taken on the Floor, and I am grateful that he agreed. But it is not sense for him to agree to that and then say that he will force it through by the Guillotine. Whatever he may say about precedents, I do not believe that, as an honest man, he can say that he has found it absolutely unavoidable that the Bill should go through under the Guillotine. If he cannot honestly say that, then he has not got a case.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale 461 (Mr. M. Foot) has rather misled the House as to the issues before it. He was so anxious to introduce his self-imposed martyrdom into the debate that he has confused the House about what is happening. He seems to labour under a complete misunderstanding about what happens in politics and Parliament, even though he has been in the House for many years. Every hon. Member is free to speak his mind, and there is no imposition on him by any party, as has been evidenced on both sides in regard to the matters now under discussion.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I cannot see what the Standing Orders of the Labour Party have to do with the Motion.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Member is about ten minutes too late with that point. I am not talking about the Standing Orders of the Labour Party but about the procedure of the House of Commons, which is that every hon. Member is entitled to put his views before the House. If he convinces the House as a whole, or a majority, there is no question of a vote at all.
Any hon. Member is entitled to press his view on the House in any matter whatsoever. The real argument against the introduction of a Guillotine today is that it offends against the conduct of democracy in the House which permits minorities to influence the legislation and decisions of the House.
The influence of minorities is not by vote, because a minority can never win a vote. The only way in which monorities can make themselves felt is in free discussion of the kind in which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, has been indulging today. Nobody has ever placed any prohibition on him—I do not think that anybody could—from stating his point of view. His is a self-imposed martyrdom calling for self-pity, which is quite ridiculous in the middle of this debate.
The real charge against the Government is that by preventing private Members from making their contributions to influencing the Government, they are offending against the rule of the House that minorities have a right to influence legislation.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Am I to assume from that that 462 the right hon. Gentleman voted against all the timetable Motions put forward by his own party when it was in office?
§ Mr. Woodburn
Certainly not. It is very sensible to have timetables. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I think that the best example of a timetable ever seen in the House was that agreed between my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) and the then Minister of Transport when the Government repealed the transport nationalisation Measure. That was an agreed timetable which allowed for flexible discussion and for every kind of argument to be made within a reasonable time.
One of the disadvantages of our method of discussion without a timetable is that Members are very enthusiastic at the beginning of the Committee stage of a Bill and spend so long on the first Clauses that they do not discuss the later Clauses at all. A skilful Government, when framing a Bill, puts all the important bits at the end, so that by the time hon. Members reach them, they are so exhausted that they do not examine and criticise those provisions.
From the point of view of the conduct of democracy, it is important that debate should be better regularised than this haphazard method in which everybody talks for hours at the beginning of the Committee stage of a Bill, with nothing at the end. I am not opposed to timetables if they are agreed and arranged sensibly and with good will.
But when they are imposed, then important items in a Bill do not get discussed. The reason for this timetable is not to suppress the Labour Party but to keep hon. Members opposite quiet and to prevent their speeches from being reported. It is not so much we who should be protesting against the imposition of this Guillotine as hon. Members opposite who are not being allowed to express their views and influence the legislation which their own Government are bringing forward. Everyone knows that, including hon. Members opposite. The Government are preventing the speeches of their own Members who are anxious to speak and who oppose certain parts of the Bill. In this way, the 463 Amendments which hon. Members opposite would have put forward will be thwarted by the Guillotine.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale will understand when I say that a vote is simply a protest that the Opposition have not succeeded in winning an argument. When the Government accept that the Opposition have made a case, they do not take it to a vote, because they would be defeated. A vote is only a protest to bring to the notice of the public the fact that the Government have been unreasonable and have not accepted the wisdom of the Opposition. When they do accept the Opposition's wisdom, as they occasionally do, a Bill is much improved by the working of the best democratic machine in the world in which the majority carries the legislation through with the co-operation and guidance and wisdom of the minority added to their own.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
One of the most interesting and attractive things about this debate so far is that it is the first debate on a guillotine Motion which I have had the pleasure of hearing and which I have found very interesting. Not only have I found it interesting, but I have thought that some of the things said have been useful and constructive. The process began, as one might expect, with a back bench speech by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), who went to the heart of the matter when he pointed out that if there were a long period of disorder, which continued because hon. Members raised false points of order, knowing them to be false—we are all aware of this and nearly all those hon. Members are here now and understand Erskine May on these matters. and are experts in them; they are mostly to be found on the Front Bench below the Gangway opposite—the debate became bogged down and along came the blunt instrument of the Guillotine.
After that speech we were entertained by what I thought a good and interesting speech by the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot). With his knowledge of the Press, he pointed out why it was that the House was beginning to lose some of its prestige over matters like the 464 Guillotine, which are extremely bad, as they are contrary to the normal use of our democratic instruments.
He was attacked, I thought quite wrongly, by the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). I do not think that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was seeking self-pity. I thought that he was saying something which was self-evident and which ought to be said—that far too much takes place upstairs and nothing like enough in the House, so that the country is not sufficiently aware of what Parliament is doing. The public is being shut out from what might be called the confidential discussions. While Governments must engage in confidential discussions, the country is beginning to become rather more independent and less interested in party politics and would like to play some part in these discussions.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) speaks of the country understanding what is happening and linked that with a charge against the Press. In fairness, as we are all Parliamentarians, should he not say something about the completely inadequate coverage in the Press and the excellent speeches which are made here and which never receive a line unless they come within the realm of sensation? Is it not the Press itself which is really in the dock?
§ Mr. Pannell
On a point of order. This debate, under your Chairmanship, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, has gone a long way. When we attempt to rebut things which are said, ought we not in simple justice to be allowed to rebut them?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) thinks that the debate has gone too wide I hope that he will help me to try to keep it narrower and not extend it.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
At any rate, I will give you that asistance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, by saying that the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) bowled a fast one on a good length; it bowled me out, and I propose to leave it at that, 465 at least for now. There is certainly substance in the tenor of what he was saying, but we should look at the motes in our own eyes. There are many good speeches in the House, but it is the task of those who deal with the Press to consider what they feel to be the best news. Some speakers readily get into the news when they raise good ideas, even if they are not sensational.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I wanted to be permitted to reply before returning to the subject of the Guillotine.
At present and under the existing Parliamentary procedure, the Guillotine must be used and must be used on this occasion. I start by saying that a timetable ought normally to be introduced on all long Bills after Second Reading, after discussion with the Opposition of the day. Those of us who have had to engage on major social legislation over the last few years on the whole would have found it to our benefit—Bills such as the Licensing Bill, the Betting and Gaming Bill and some of the Housing Bills, particularly when they are not particularly party-controversial—to have had a substantial timetable. I appreciate that this one has certain exceptions to the general rule.
§ Mr. Mellish
Is that fair? I had the privilege of serving with the hon. Gentleman on the Committee which considered the Licensing Bill. The hon. Gentleman played a leading part in our discussions. Does he believe that the Bill suffered because the Government did not have a Guillotine to get it through? After fifteen years in the House I believe that that was one of the best Committees that I have ever attended.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
Evidently I did not get my point over clearly to the hon. Gentleman. I did not suggest that it should have had a Guillotine. I did not suggest that it should be something which is enforced. I said that I thought the procedure of the House would better serve everyone's purpose if a timetable were drawn up before starting on these long Bills. That is different from the imposition of a Guillotine.
§ Mr. Mellish
Surely the Committee to which I have just referred was a perfect illustration of what can be done if there is not a timetable of any kind. During our discussions in Committee certain non-party issues came to light. They were discussed for two or three sittings. One could not have visualised these points arising and evoking the interest that they did, but in the end they helped to improve the Committee.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
If I went too wide I would be out of order. I think that the Welsh part of that Bill occupied far too great a part of the Committee proceedings. It would have been better if there had been a timetable.
My point, and the point I want to make as the theme of this part of my observations, is that it is essential to look at the procedure. Let us consider the Guillotine. There are normally far too many long speeches in the House. I should like to see a break between 6.30 and 8 o'clock in all major debates to enable Members to make short interventions of five to six minutes, and no more. I believe that the time which would be saved by this would lead to more cogent debates and might fill the Chamber. Members would have to be in the Chamber to listen to the main speeches, and would, I hope, have the courtesy to remain afterwards.
If that sort of atmosphere were once more created in the House, then things like the Guillotine simply would not arise. The whole question of the use of the Guillotine on this occasion, and on all occasions, arises because the Government are seeking to use a blunt instrument in circumstances such as this because a feeling has arisen in the House that things are not running well. The Government are getting behind in their programme and they have to start using an instrument of this nature.
It is for us to take a careful look at these procedures. If hon. Members on both sides do that it may do a lot not only to restore some prestige in the House but to remove some of the obvious frustrations which we know exist among new Members who are not able to get the Floor as they deserve to.
The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) a short time ago made a profoundly true observation. He said 467 that on this side of the House recently on this Bill—he might have said it on many others—of the seven speeches delivered only one was markedly in favour of the Government. He found from that that, generally speaking, hon. Members on this side of the House are not in favour of the Government on this Bill, and because that happened they may not be in favour of the Government on other Bills. Let the hon. Gentleman have no such idea.
I have been very concerned recently—and that is why I am speaking now—about the fact that because the Government have obtained a Second Reading those who support them say that they do not need to support the Government's viewpoint. If an hon. Member intends to make a rebel speech he can more easily catch the eye of the Chair, because he informs the Chair that he is going to make a speech which is contrary to the view held by his party and receives sympathetic consideration from Mr. Speaker, or whoever occupies the Chair. If, however, he intends to make an ordinary speech he receives no particular consideration.
I believe that this Bill is not only right but is a Measure of great urgency. The Government are right in bringing in the Guillotine. The House ought not to have arrived at this situation, and the Government have no alternative. As I think the House knows, I started life in the House as a Suez rebel. It cannot be said that I do not have a tremendous belief in the Commonwealth and the traditions and rights of entry into this country. Of course I have. Indeed I found it hard to stomach some of the speeches of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) who was throwing forward these ideas with that freedom of expression that we know so well about the traditional background of the Empire and all the rest of it.
Those who believe in it know that in the future a country with a population of 50 million, a country whose population has increased in the past decade by well over 2 million, whose housing conditions are becoming difficult, which has full employment, which needs predominantly skilled rather than unskilled workers and which wishes to permit the entry of students, student nurses, and so 468 on, cannot within the next year permit an increase—
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I am afraid, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you are not understanding my viewpoint. I am not going into the merits of the Bill; I am going into the fact that a Guillotine is necessary because of the vital urgency of securing this Measure within the next month. That is the essence of my argument. In 1959, 21,000 emigrés came in. In 1961 over 130,000 came in—seven times as many. The difficulty is that the House does not realise that India and Pakistan are about to close their frontiers and that the flood of emigrés about to leave India and Pakistan is very great indeed.
§ Mr. Diamond
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Will it be in order for us to reply in detail to these figures and to the likelihood of Pakistani and Indian immigration to this country?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot in general discuss the merits of the Bill. I understand that the hon. Member is trying to put forward the argument that immigrants are coming here in such vast numbers and at such a speed that the Bill must be passed quickly.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I will not give any wild figures. I gave those figures merely to illustrate that the Government are not pressing on with this Bill under the Guillotine with the idea of being beastly to poor back benchers. It is not being done for that reason. It is being done because this is a vitally urgent problem. The ordinary man in Clapham and other places can see this flood of emigrés arriving day by day. Those who use Victoria Station every day see them arriving in numbers which are ten times as great as they were ten years ago.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
That is another matter, and I would be out of order in dealing with it now. I am arguing, and pressing the fact—and let anyone deny it—that Pandit Nehru will close the gates of India because of the difficulty of exchange control. At this moment hundreds of people are coming here for 469 advice about whether they can become residents of this country so as to escape the controls which Pandit Nehru is going to put on in India. That is also the situation in Pakistan—never mind the question of health. Many of these people coming from Pakistan and India will be unlawful emigrés from their own countries. What shall we do then? Will they be given refuge? Perhaps they will. I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite will argue that they should, but I shall argue to the contrary. However, that matter is for another day.
My point cannot be gainsaid. This is a vitally urgent problem. We must consider the problem in the light of the present situation. We shall get a flood of people from India and Pakistan, plus increasing numbers from the West Indies, and in those circumstances it is idle to say that we should take the Bill slowly for the next five or six months. It is predominantly an emergency Measure. I am fortified in that argument by the fact that the Government put it forward as a temporary Measure. In five years' time it may be possible to reconsider the matter. I have grave doubts whether we shall then arrive at another decision, but that, again, is for the future.
I beg the House not to say that in this case the Government are trying to do something impracticable and unreasonable. Practically all my constituents will support the view that we are wasting time making false points of order and engaging in many Parliamentary devices which they do not like, and which were referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey. That view was reinforced by the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. Although he attacked the whole essence of the Guillotine, I am sure he will not deny that if my premise is right and this is a question of emergency for the nation, in such a situation of exceptional importance the timetable Motion can certainly be used.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about his premise being correct but he has not advanced a single piece of factual information about his premise. He should do so, and tell us what pronouncements have been made by responsible Ministers in India or Pakistan 470 which indicate that their gates will soon be closed, thus making the Bill urgent.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I shall do so briefly. I should be out of order if I went into any detail. First, there are the very strict exchange control provisions, plus the arrival in this country of many people of all kinds seeking advice as to whether they will be able to find refuge here. They are acting in this way because of the widespread rumour that Pandit Nehru is about to introduce such a control. Then there is the absence of any denial of such a move. The Government of India would never admit that it was about to take such action—because that would merely increase the flow—any more than Sir Stafford Cripps was prepared to tell the House that he was going to devalue the £ in 1949. I shall come back to the House in June, and hon. Members can have a real go at me if the Indian Government have not taken the action I suggest.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
If the Government regard this as so urgent a matter, why have they put down the Army Reserve Bill for two days next week instead of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill? Surely they should have put the Bills the other way round.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
I do not propose to go into arguments about the Army Reserve Bill. I leave that to the Government. I am not an expert in the matter.
At any rate, I hope that I have made it clear that although hon. Members who sit on these benches may sometimes be absent from the House when major matters of this kind are being discussed, it would be singularly unwise to assume that the majority of the back benchers of this party are not solidly behind the Government on this Bill. If we have been too indolent and quiet hitherto, that is our own fault. Our apparent unconcern arises from the fact that we feel that the Whips do not require us to attend.
I hope that in some small measure I have been able to help to explain the feeling that I know exists in some parts of the country, a feeling that must exist in areas where our people are living cheek by jowl with large incursions of immigrants. It does not matter whether the immigrants come from the 471 West Indies, India or Pakistan. At the moment they are coming from India and Pakistan, but tomorrow we might have immigrants from Hong Kong or any other part of the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "Australia."] Yes. Australia. Wherever they come from we must be concerned if there is a vast incursion of people.
There is a further aspect of the problem concerning what I call the way of life. This is not really a matter of colour; it is a question of the way of life. If a person lives one kind of life and has neighbours living an entirely different way of life he is apt to feel a violent objection to them. That is what is at the heart of the difficulties experienced by those representing working-class constituencies such as Bermondsey and Clapham, who face this problem day in and day out.
It is foolish to say that this is not an urgent problem and for the House to debate all night the question whether or not we should discuss the Bill under the terms of the timetable Motion. It would be a good thing if the Motion could be agreed forthwith by the Whips. I am sure that I am speaking not only for myself but for the majority of my party and for practically all the constituents in the Isle of Thanet when I say that we want short, sharp speeches from now on, with the Bill being passed as quickly as possible.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I congratulate the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) on his speech, not for what it contained but because he made it at all. In doing so he is in marked contrast to his hon. Friends. Listening to him, I wondered whether he realised what a contradiction there was in what he was saying about procedure. He said that proceedings in this House needed to be reformed in order to allow for a large number of short, sharp speeches, so as to give newcomers their chance. Where are they? I do not see hon. Members crowding the benches opposite in order to get into the debate. I do not see them queueing up to get in their five-minutes' worth of blows in the defence of the Government's interference with the normal procedure of Parliamentary democracy.
472 In fact, the behaviour of hon. Members opposite this afternoon is completely in keeping with the Government's approach to Parliament in the case of this Motion and the Bills which we have been discussing. As a result of this debate—most of which I have sat through—this point has become quite clear. On two occasions, Mr. Speaker, you have had to call hon. Members from this side of the House in succession, because no hon. Member opposite rose. It is obvious that it is not only the Bills which have been guillotined by the Government but also this debate. This illustrates the contempt with which the Government are treating the whole practice of discussion and debate in the House.
Hon. Members opposite do not want either to deliver or to listen to arguments. They sit there, and all they say at the end—as Stalin said to the Pope, concerning the number of his divisions—is, "How many votes have they got?" That is all that they are concerned about. At the end of the day they want to steamroller the verdict through without the matter having been adequately ventilated on the Floor of the House. It ill became the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) to deliver a lecture to my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) about his levity, and to say that we ought to be discussing the imposition of this Motion with great seriousness, because it is a serious matter. Where are the hon. Members opposite to discuss this serious matter?
If we want to study in levity we cannot do better than take the speech of the Leader of the House in defending the timetable Motion. He tried to justify urgency. He did not justify it on the lines put forward by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet. If there were such a powerful argument in the Government's armoury as that which the hon. Member has just been describing—namely. the fact that India and Pakistan are about to close their doors, and that we are about to be inundated at the last minute with a desperate flood of immigrants from those countries—would not the Leader of the House have heard about it?
Have Ministers on the Government Front Bench heard about this? Surely they have their ears close to the ground 473 and, through diplomatic channels and by other means, would have detected that they have this most wonderful of all arguments available to them. No. The only picture given to us by the Leader of the House was that the country and the Commonwealth were impatient to see these Measures put through Parliament. I can just imagine all those National Service men, who cannot wait to be kept in the Army for another six months, clamouring for this Army Reserve Bill to be passed. And all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers ringing up the Prime Minister of this country and saying, "When are you going to impose controls upon the immigrants from our country?" Of course it was a completely nonsensical argument.
I should have been more impressed by the urgency claim advanced by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet had he given us any kind of reliable evidence whatsoever to support it. I am sick and tired of debates on the Commonwealth Immigration Bill—and I can assure the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey that it has not been a charade to me or to my hon. Friends. It has been something passionately felt and argued over, and we have still not argued it enough, as I shall show in a moment. But I am sick and tired of hearing speakers, during the Second Reading debate and during the Committee stage discussions on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, speaking from the benches opposite to justify the Measure, and each one producing a different set of figures from a different source.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet rattled off some figures about the flood of immigrants from overseas and he referred to there being ten times as many as before, and all the rest of it. But he did not give us the source from which he obtained his figures, and I know why. Had he done so, it would only have added to the embarrassment of the Government.
We are told that hon. Members on this side of the House have been wasting time; that we spent two days discussing the first Clause of the Bill. Let me say that at the end of those two days devoted to the first and the most important Clause of the Bill—which involves the breach of a tradition constituting the very foundation of our Commonwealth 474 —no one had got a clear idea of the figures on which the argument for controlling immigration is based. In fact, every time we had a new speaker in the debate we heard a different set of figures. We had two days, and, heaven knows, we spent most of them saying to the Government, "What is the evidence and where are the figures?"
We had that staggering scene during Second Reading debate when the Home Secretary told us that he could not give any figures about the net emigration and immigration. Then my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) rushed across the Chamber and gave some figures to the right hon. Gentleman, and challenged him to read them out. Obviously there was a sort of high-level consultation behind the Speaker's Chair, and, in the winding-up speech, along came the Minister of Labour who said that he had some figures which proved the Government's case. They were figures from the Annual Report of the Overseas Migration Board, and they might have sounded pretty plausible but, unfortunately, before we got to the Committee stage discussions, the Board of Trade Annual Abstract of Statistics was found to include another set of figures which did not tally at all, and nobody has yet told us the reason for the discrepancy.
One thing has held us up during the Committee stage discussions. On 6th December, in one of those long-drawn-out aguments, which had to be closured because we were still clamouring for the answer we had not been given, my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) tackled the Government about the discrepancy in the figures. He asked, "How is it that the Annual Abstract of Statistics shows one thing and the Minister of Labour's figures from the Overseas Migration Board show another?" Surely it was the job of the Opposition to ask such questions where the Government were introducing a Bill which cut away the very foundations of the Commonwealth? He said, "Have not we the right to ask what is the explanation of the discrepancy between the two sets of figures?" That was the question asked by my right hon. Friend, and it is reported in HANSARD at column 1434 on 6th December last.
475 As there was no reply from the Government, my right hon. Friend suggested an explanation. He said that the Minister of Labour's figures from the Overseas Migration Board's Report were different, because, as the Report itself pointed out, they covered the reentry of former emigrants and overseas visitors. In other words, the figures given to us by the Minister of Labour included all visitors from abroad, including Americans. The figures went much wider than the number of immigrants. We all shouted "Answer," and we were still shouting "Answer," when, half an hour later, the debate was closured. And we have not yet had an answer. I should be more impressed by the argument about urgency advanced by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet were he to produce some authoritative figures reconciling the discrepancy between the various official figures.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
Would the hon. Lady care, jointly with me, to ask the Government to be good enough to produce figures showing the increase in the number of citizens coming from Pakistan and India for, say, the months from last September to the present time? If she will do that, she will find that the inflow from those two countries alone—I make no reference to the other countries—is at least double what it was before, and that in turn that increase has been established accurately to be about six-and-a-half times what it was two years previously.
§ Mrs. Castle
My answer to the hon. Gentleman is that I will not accept any figure which the Government subjectively submit to us. I want figures from an independent source. The answer is that we have not got those figures that would give us the net immigration balance and enable us to answer the simple question: is our economy being strained to breaking point by the influx of immigrants? The nearest and most reliable estimate, which I can find is in the Economist Intelligence Unit's digest, which gives a very different figure and impression from that conveyed by the hon. Gentleman.
The same miasma of muddle and myth hangs over the rest of the Clauses 476 which we have still to debate. We have not yet finished with Clause 1. Some of us wish to return to the attack on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", until we get the figures. Clause 2, a vitally important Clause which we have yet to discuss, deals with the very important aspects of health control, crime control and security. To say that we can deal with all this in three days is to say that the Government do not want us to probe the facts.
The only argument to justify this guillotine Motion was the implication from the Leader of the House that hon. Members on this side of the House had been filibustering. Let the right hon. Gentleman look at the Amendments on the Notice Paper to subsequent Clauses of the Bill. Every one is designed to probe a vital point. No less than twenty-eight of them have the names of hon. Members opposite attached to them, including eight to be moved by the Home Secretary himself. That means that there are twenty-eight Amendments from hon. Members opposite, before we start. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet says that hon. Members opposite are happy about the Bill. But we are not happy.
How can we possibly have an adequate discussion on all this in three days? Of course, it cannot be done. Yet surely the recent scare about the smallpox outbreak shows how important it is for us to examine this Measure thoroughly.
The Leader of the House said so very graciously that this smallpox outbreak was no part of the Government's case for this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was not giving us anything when he said that. The right hon. Gentleman does not toss over the Dispatch Box gifts to the Opposition. I would say of him, as Henry Fairlie once said of the Prime Minister, that he is not the sort of person to give even a matinee performance for charity. That certainly applies to the Leader of the House. No, of course, he tossed that one over to put us off the scent, because this smallpox outbreak provides our whole case against the Bill and against this guillotine Motion. This is typical of the panic prejudice which has been whipped up in order to rush this Measure through which, if we were given a chance to probe, we could prove 477 to have no substance and not to be underwritten by the facts.
I suggest that it is no accident that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is not in his seat at the moment.
§ Mrs. Castle
I do not retract. The hon. Gentleman is not in his seat; he is in another seat. I have been waiting all afternoon for the hon. Member for Louth to take part in the debate.
§ Mrs. Castle
I fully recognise that the hon. Gentleman was in the House, but I want to know when he is going to be in the debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It is highly desirable that hon. Members should address their observations to the Chair.
§ Mrs. Castle
I was trying to address the hon. Member for Louth through you, Sir, and I will continue to do so. The important thing is not for the hon. Member for Louth and myself to have a debate at the Leicester University Union. He is the one who, if there is a case on grounds of urgency for this guillotine Motion, ought to be arguing it today, because he is the one who said how right is the Bill and who has gone up and down the country actually saying that it is the probing activities of hon. Members on this side which have delayed this Measure and have caused these smallpox deaths.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman has only to read his own letter to The Times, which I took care to read before coming to this debate.
§ Sir C. Osborne
On a point of order. Since that is such a palpable untruth, Mr. Speaker, may I ask you to ask the hon. Lady to withdraw or at least provide the evidence on which she bases what she says?
§ Mrs. Castle
I will certainly be glad to refer the hon. Gentleman to his letter to The Times of 19th January, in which he said, talking of the smallpox outbreak, that events had amply justified his warning, and blaming us on this side of the House for causing the unnecessary deaths of our fellow citizens. Unnecessary deaths? If the hon. Gentleman is right, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health must have been wrong when he told us on Tuesday, when we reassembled, that even if the full rigour of the World Health Organisation's regulations, the international sanitary regulations, had been applied in December, when the first carrier came into this country, the carriers would still have got through. This is vital to the whole of our case against the guillotine, and I suggest that prejudice and panic and evil colour prejudice, have been created in this country which the facts do not substantiate.
The Minister of Health himself told us that when the first people came here with smallpox in December, four of them, all adults, had valid re-vaccination certificates, which is what Article 85 of the international sanitary regulations provides for, and the fifth carrier, a child who probably caused more secondary cases than any of them, was not diagnosed as a smallpox case at all. She was diagnosed in hospital as a malaria case, and the Minister told us that even when she died there was no clinical evidence that she was suffering from smallpox at all. It was only deduced from the fact that cases then arose in the hospital as the result of contact with her. How dare hon. Gentlemen justify the guillotine on Clause 2 of this Bill when the health controls which Clause 2 visualises are even slacker than those which were operating when the smallpox cases came here?
What Clause 2 asks us to do is to give power to an immigration officer—not even necessarily a medical officer—to say that, in his opinion, it would be inadvisable, from the point of view of the health of the country, that immigrants should come in. An immigration officer without medical training will be allowed to say that, and yet the child who caused the most smallpox cases was not even 479 diagnosed in hospital as having smallpox. I believe in proper health controls to safeguard the health of the people of this country, and I believe that Clause 2 is so bad that one could drive a coach and horses through its protection. It is quite inadequate, and I want us to have the power to argue that until we get satisfactory answers from the Government, to keep them up all night, if necessary, in the interests of the people's health, instead of allowing them to get off with vague and sloppy phrases and statistics which they know can be got through by whipping up prejudice and ignorance.
If we are to stop another outbreak of smallpox in this country, this Bill as it stands could actually be a danger to us because of the number of people who now say "Smallpox? Pakistan. All right, keep out the immigrants." That is what the hon. Member for Louth says, but even this Bill does not propose to keep out all immigrants. If they have got a labour voucher, they will get in. If they have a labour voucher and a vaccination certificate they will get in, but a person with both a labour permit and a vaccination certificate could still be a person with smallpox. I say advisedly that if we had had the Clause 2 debate before this guillotine Motion had come in, and if we had had that debate before the outbreak of smallpox, we might, as a result of the time which we could have spent probing this matter, have exposed the weak links in the chain of our international health controls, Somebody on the Floor of the House, at 4 o'clock in the morning, might have said: "Do you realise that there is a smallpox epidemic in Karachi? How would an immigration officer deal with that?" We might have had that simply because we had time to expand and to make nuisances of ourselves, doing the job which the Opposition ought to do, and refusing to be put off by vapid phrases from the Front Bench opposite.
Let me take another example from The Times the other day. It referred to an outbreak of smallpox in West Germany. Where did it come from? The Times of 5th January reported an outbreak of smallpox at Dusseldorf, where three cases concerned a Dusseldorf engineer, who had recently returned 480 from visiting Liberia, his wife and son. German doctors have described the cases as very infectious and the situation in Dusseldorf as critical. Is Liberia part of the German Commonwealth or of our Commonwealth? If we fool the people of this country—and dangerously fool them—by taking these panic measures of the Commonwealth Immigration Bill, what safeguard have we against people coming from West Germany who have been in contact with those who went to Liberia and caught smallpox there? That is why I say that we must have the time to get at the facts.
We therefore oppose this guillotine Motion, not because we want to filibuster but because we say that both these Measures introduce vital new principles that fundamentally affect the civil rights and liberties both of the people of this country and of Commonwealth citizens.
There is a new principle in the Army Reserve Bill that we have never had before. It is the principle of arbitrary extension of conscription for a few—selective service. And the Government want to rush that through in a two-day debate. In the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill there is a vital new principle that some of us believe will, coupled with other actions of the Government, finally destroy the Commonwealth itself. We are not prepared to have that happen without fighting every inch of the way we are allowed to fight.
We believe that the Government are so imbued with colour prejudice that they cannot even recognise it in themselves, and that, instead of giving a lead at this crucial turning-point in the world's history—if necessary, a lead against the tide of popular prejudice, in order to make people think—they are making people feel emotionally and in a reactionary way about this matter. The Government should give that lead instead of, by every means in their power, clamping down on the discussion that would enable the light to be thrown into people's minds by exposing the facts.
I want to remind hon. Gentlemen opposite of what was said in his constituency only the other day by the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), when he 481 made a severe indictment of the Government—and, heaven knows, that was not unjustified. Having said that this Government had pandered to every kind of short-sighted popular feeling, he gave this warning:Can the method of rule by following every popular tide be one which can secure for this country any worth-while place in the counsels of the world?I say that it cannot.
I do not care whether or not fighting this Commonwealth Immigrants Bill will lose me my seat, for I am sure that the Bill will lose this country the Commonwealth. It is the duty of hon. Members to set their sights a little higher than the mere squalid scramble for survival that has darkened the life of this Government ever since 1951.
We have had to endure the profound nausea of hearing the Leader of the House quoting Robbie Burns aboutShall brothers be for a' that.and that at a time when he could not even get a Northern Rhodesia Constitution through the Cabinet. Today is Robbie Burns' birthday, and in connection with this Bill it is appropriate to remember his words:None ever feared that the truth should be heardBut he whom the truth would indict.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I want to turn, first, to one or two things that were said earlier in this debate. I can well understand that there may be occasions upon which any Government may have to introduce a timetable. I can also well appreciate that in this House there is a great need for some change in our procedure. I can even understand the argument that it might be an advantage, at the beginning of any Bill, to get agreement on some sort of timetable—I might return to that at the end of my remarks.
On the other hand, I can also appreciate those who, like the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), protest against bogus points of order—if they are bogus. That being said, I think that what this House cannot accept is that we should have a timetable imposed upon a Bill because of points of order raised, properly or improperly, in the House at all, and 482 most especially if those points of order were actually raised during the discussion of quite another Bill.
Whatever changes may be needed in our procedure, the present custom is that the Guillotine is not imposed without good reason. None of the reasons advanced by the Government has been good, but quite the worst reason has been that primarily relied on by the Leader of the House when he said that it was due to innumerable points of order being raised on the Army Reserve Bill that he virtually came to the conclusion that there must be a Guillotine even on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. The strongest protest should be made against that view.
As I say, any Government which proposes a Guillotine must make out a case for it, and this House can seldom have had a weaker case ever attempted than that attempted by the Government today. The usual reason given is that there has been delay—filibustering—by the Opposition. That was never alleged during the course of the Committee debates. Indeed, the contrary was said. Ministers went out of their way to say how useful many of the debates had been and how much they valued many of the speeches. The figures, merely on a time basis, clearly show that in the case of one Bill, almost as much time was spent by Government speakers as by Opposition speakers.
If the Government have been seriously short of time, whose fault is it? Whose fault is it that the business of the House has been in a permanent muddle ever since we came back? Whose fault is it that we are to be forced next Tuesday to start again on the B.B.C. Charter and Licence? Whose fault is it that on one of the most vital effects of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—whether or not it would apply to Ireland—the Government changed their mind twice—
§ Mr. Grimond
—and for a long time were unable to inform the House whether the Irish were in or out? If they wish to save time the remedy is in their own hands, and that remedy is to improve their own competence and procedure.
483 Why did the Government introduce this Guillotine? As I say, the immediate cause, as explained by the Leader of the House this afternoon, was, apparently, that he came to the conclusion, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that he was unable to accept that the Committee should go further than one batch of Amendments during the discussion of the Army Reserve Bill, that he must Guillotine both Bills. I can hardly believe that such an extraordinary reason for a Guillotine has ever been put forward.
It is true that people do not agree very easily on these things, but on the previous evening things had gone fairly well and there had been no trouble at all—and, apparently, that was the immediate cause. We are, however, also told that there are background reasons. One of them is urgency. Today we have had put by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) an entirely new emphasis on urgency. As has been pointed out by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who has just addressed the House with such force and eloquence, if there is such tremendous urgency about keeping out the Pakistanis and Indians it is very odd that the Government have not mentioned it.
If, indeed, there were such urgency, the Government had various other remedies at hand. There is the remedy of taking the Committee stage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill instead of the Committee stage of the Army Reserve Bill next week. There was even a conceivable case for our coming back from the Christmas Recess a few days earlier if there were such desperate urgency. I must say in defence of the Government that they have never advanced that reason; it has just cropped up in the Isle of Thanet.
The Government have said from time to time that this Bill would make little difference, that it might never be needed, but they have changed from one thing to another. At times they have said, "It will create no trouble in the Commonwealth. The Irish will not mind, because we shall let in those who have jobs or work vouchers." At other times they have told us that this is a matter 484 of desperate urgency. We have never really found out the Government's view, but I do not think that the urgency plea will justify the guillotine Motion.
Suppose that the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet were right and that there were an influx from India and Pakistan, if the immigrants had labour vouchers they would still get into the country after this Bill had been passed. There is no reason to suppose that the housing situation or the health situation will be in any way necessarily improved by the Bill, but, if that were the case, is not this just the sort of matter which the House should consider in Committee? Amendments were put down to discuss whether the Bill need apply to all the different parts of the Commonwealth or perhaps only in certain parts. I do not hold the view, apparently held by the hon. Member, that the Bill is necessary in the case of immigrants from India and Pakistan but not necessary in the case of Australia and New Zealand. This is the kind of point one could discuss in Committee. There are also subsequent Clauses dealing with the work, health and crime aspects of this problem, but all these are now to fall under the Guillotine.
Then there is the question of the urgency of the Army Reserve Bill. There was a time when the Government seemed to be linking that with the crisis in Berlin. I pointed out that if that were the solution to the crisis in Berlin the crisis would have to go on for a long time. It seemed rather pessimistic to believe that that crisis would not be solved one way or another until the Government made up their mind what they were going to do about getting manpower for the Army.
§ Mr. Grimond
Or about Berlin. That has gone by the board. The urgency about this Bill is uncertain and we are also told that the Bill's provisions may not be necessary. How is anyone to be more certain after the passing of the Bill? Many people will be more uncertain after the passing of both these Bills. At present some immigrants know where they stand and some conscripts know where they stand, but after the passing of these Bills they will be more and more uncertain and less and less certain. I say that the arguments for any form 485 of Guillotine on these two Bills have not been made out.
Whether the whole procedure of the House of Commons should be reformed is a different question and one with which I have a great deal of sympathy. It was considered by a Committee not long ago. There was no noticeable enthusiasm among hon. Members opposite for drastic reforms, but on the particular form of the Motion and on the next events to take place I say this. I appreciate that there is a great deal to be said for altering our procedure and even for having some broad agreement about a timetable. The difficulty about a timetable as it now operates is that in the consideration of the timetable back benchers have far too little say. It is assumed that this is something which can be agreed rather behind the scenes between the official parts of the House.
I fully sympathise with what has been said by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) about the importance of open debate, I have no doubt that the most interesting and contentious debates go on inside the Communist Party in Russia, but the whole point of democracy is that there should be open debate. I wholly sympathise with him, but I add that open debate should not be too cut and dried in advance. In addition to the feeling that all-important decisions are taken in Committee Rooms in this Palace, there is also in this Chamber the feeling that debates are arranged in advance to some extent and that the pattern of debates is fixed before they take place. That does not always happen and it is not happening this evening, but there is a great danger of that happening increasingly through the method of drawing up timetables.
I should like to see further opportunity given to back benchers to make their views known about timetable Motions and the process for drawing up timetable Motions more openly conducted. I should also like some guarantee that not only official Amendments and Amendments which the Committee thinks should be debated will be taken. There should be some latitude so that if the debate in Committee or on Report takes a particular turn we may be able to pursue it and 486 get the full value. I would not put too much stress on the type of thing which the hon. Lady suggested might happen at four o'clock in the morning. She said that some hon. Member might have suggested at four o'clock in the morning that there was a smallpox epidemic in Pakistan. Again and again it has happened that debates which some people thought would be of little importance have turned out to be very valuable and might well have been extended. On the other hand, often when in the Press we have read that there is to be a great set debate on which the eyes of the whole nation are fixed, the event has proved a complete flop.
I think it right that that should happen sometimes, but to the extent that the timetable Motion might curtail such a debate I should regret it. I hope that we shall have further consideration of the procedures of the House. That should be done with two objects. One is that of bringing more issues on to the Floor of the House and making it possible for more people to vote according to what they think. I do not think it would damage the prestige of the Government if occasionally they were defeated. On the other hand, I hope that we shall loosen our procedure on debate so far as we can. If that could be guaranteed I would agree that there is something to be said for a more orderly method of deciding which Amendments to discuss at length, but I do not think that has been satisfactorily agreed so far nor that the proposals for curtailing our present procedure on these Bills have been made out.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who made such a splendid speech, I am puzzled at the coyness of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). He has been sitting in a corner of the Chamber and made no attempt whatever to take part in the debate and to justify what must have been some of the most serious charges made by any hon. Member against an Opposition in this House.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I think I would be out of order if I tried to debate the merits of the Bill. I shall do that fully when the proper time comes.
§ Mr. Thomson
The evidence of this debate so far has been that the hon. Member for Louth, exercising his ordinary ingenuity, could well have sought to justify the kind of smears he made during the Recess and still have remained within the rules of order. I am very glad to give way to him again.
§ Sir C. Osborne
When I tried to put my case to the House on Second Reading, hon. Members opposite howled me down for half an hour. They would not listen to the plain facts. I appealed to the Leader of the Opposition to ask his followers to give me a fair hearing, but I was denied that hearing for half an hour.
§ Mr. Thomson
I only hope that the hon. Member will feel encouraged in the quieter atmosphere of this debate on the Guillotine to tell us what his case is. Earlier this evening, in an intervention, he informed us that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn were to debate this matter in Leicester tomorrow night. Hon. Members will not have the privilege of hearing what he says in Leicester. The least he could have done in courtesy to the House was to use this opportunity to try to substantiate some of the things he said about the responsibility of the Opposition for deaths caused by the outbreak of smallpox in this country.
§ Sir D. Glover
I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) will send a complimentary ticket to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) if he is so desirous of hearing my hon. Friend's views on the subject.
§ Mr. Thomson
This is a serious matter. The hon. Member for Louth made public statements about the Opposition's obstruction of this Bill and the reason for the Guillotine being introduced being the cause of the deaths in the unfortunate smallpox epidemic. I cannot think of anything that could more easily excite colour prejudice in Britain, whatever the motives of the hon. Member for Louth in bringing up the matter. Certainly this kind of charge concerning the performance and duties of the Opposition must be one of the gravest laid against my hon. Friends and, in return. 488 I challenge the hon. Gentleman to take this opportunity to debate his case here and now and allow it to be properly answered.
§ Sir D. Glover
I do not share the view held by my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), but one must accept that there is a great deal of feeling in the country over this. I read this evening that 70 dockers in the East India Dock today refused to go on a ship until they had been vaccinated because the ship came from Karachi.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are wandering into the realms of the merits of the Bill and are not discussing the Guillotine.
§ Sir C. Osborne
The position is that if I were to try to reply to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and deal with the merits of the Bill I would be out of order. Is that not the case?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not know. It would depend on what the hon. Gentleman had to say as to whether or not he would be out of order.
§ Mr. Thomson
I do not wish to pursue this matter much further, only to say, with respect to you, Mr. Speaker, that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn made a speech which certainly commanded the attention of the House and which was within the rules of order. I was seeking to ask the hon. Member for Louth to make a similar speech—to have the courage to stand up and make his case in the House instead of making an attack on the Opposition during a Parliamentary Recess.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
While I agree with what my hon. Friend has been saying about the hon. Member for Louth, at least the hon. Gentleman is present in the Chamber today, which is in marked contrast to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden), who has been saying the same things in Birmingham. He has been talking about delay on this Bill by the Labour Party and associating it with the smallpox epidemic, but he has not had the courtesy to take part in our deliberations.
§ Mr. Thomson
The attitude of some hon. Gentlemen opposite—a minority of 489 them—in seeking to justify this Guillotine issued by exploiting the smallpox outbreak is, to say the least, nauseating. It seems equally disgraceful that there has been no real attempt by the Government to disown these activities on the part of their hon. Friends.
I now come to the case the Government have been seeking to make for the Motion and for applying the Guillotine to these two Bills. I do not deny the right of a Government—and there are other processes of Parliamentary democracy—to try to get their business through the House. As the Leader of the House said, there are many precedents for guillotine Motions being introduced by Governments of previous political complexion. I would have thought—without having done much research on the subject—that there could be very few precedents for a new Leader of the House within a few weeks of his taking up that position introducing a Guillotine on two major Measures within such a short time of the opening of a new Session.
It is particularly astonishing, and has its own irony, that it should be the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the House who should introduce the Guillotine, for he is both a former Minister of Labour and a former Colonial Secretary. He, at least, will know the kind of deep feelings there are in the country about any measure that extends conscription, particularly in a way that seems unfair as between one family and another. He will be equally aware of the deep feelings throughout the Commonwealth about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.
I had the privilege of hearing the right hon. Gentleman's first public speech after being appointed Leader of the House. It was made while we were in Recess and at the Tory Party conference. I thought, at the time, that it was one of the finest speeches I had heard him make. He was attempting to put the case against those of his own back benchers who wished to slow up the pace of political advance in the Commonwealth. He was attempting to put the case for turning the Commonwealth into a real partnership of different peoples. It is astonishing that a Minister of the Government who can make that sort of speech—and I think he made it sincerely 490 and from the bottom of his heart—can then, as Leader of the House—because of mistakes he made as a new Leader of the House—come before the House and seek to apply a Guillotine to a Commonwealth Measure of this kind.
I was in West Africa at the time the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was first introduced in this House. I can report personally about the kind of feelings of bitterness and confusion that there were among politicians in West Africa at the news of the Measure being introduced without any effective consultation with the West African countries. What is their reaction, and that of other Commonwealth countries affected by the Bill, going to be when they discover that the lack of consultation on the part of the British Government before the Bill was introduced is now to be followed by a gag by that Government on there being a full debate on the issues raised?
As I say, I do not deny the general precedent for a Government having, at times, to introduce a timetable Motion to get their business through, but it must always be done only as a last resort. In the case of these two Bills a special case can he made for saying that the Government should only have considered a timetable as an extreme last resort. Certainly that stage has not nearly been reached in the consideration of these two Bills.
The Army Reserve Bill raises the issue of conscription. There is a long tradition in this House that questions of military conscription are those which engage the individual consciencies of hon. Members, and I do not know of any precedent for attempting to put a timetable on a debate concerning the extension of military service. In this case, the extension is one that arouses feelings of repugnance in the hearts of many hon. Members and people generally, because many people regard it as a blatantly unjust way of sharing out the burden of military service.
In addition, I should have thought that the Government might have had special reasons of their own for refusing to impose a timetable Motion on this Bill, that is because, as I understand it, the Government's own honour is involved in the judgment made about introducing the Bill. I understand that the Bill arises because the calculations 491 concerning recruitment to the forces have proved to be falsified and there have been strong arguments—some of them extremely authoritative from former Defence Ministers—to suggest that the original figures produced for the Government were not acceptable to the political needs of the Government at the time and that a new set of figures were produced.
I understand that those new figures forced the Government into this Measure. I should have thought that as the Government's own reputation is at stake—as it is by this Bill—they would not have introduced a guillotine Motion. I am certain that on any Commonwealth Measure such as that now proposed it is unprecedented for a Government to bring in a guillotine Motion. Not only is it unjustified on the basis of attempting to gag discussion on an issue which is at the heart of our relationship with other Commonwealth countries, but, especially in terms of the debate on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, a strong case does not exist for the Government to attempt to introduce a timetable.
The Government are suggesting that we have not made quick enough progress and that time has been lost and wasted. Anyone wishing to take that point must answer why time was spent and why time was wasted, if it was.
One of the answers was given by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, who pointed out that this major Measure affecting a fundamental Commonwealth principle was introduced into the House by the Government without their providing the House with the elementary basic statistics on which to form a judgment. My hon. Friend referred to the many conflicting statistics about Commonwealth immigration that one finds when one starts to do some research. She complained about the annual report of the Overseas Migration Board. I happen to be a member of the Overseas Migration Board. I believe that it is the common feeling among members of the Board—members from both sides of the House and members without political affiliations—that the present basis for collecting statistics of immigration into and emigration from this country are utterly inadequate.
492 The Leader of the House will know from his experience at the Colonial Office that statistics are collected only if a person happens to travel in or out of the country by sea. There is no statutory provision for collecting statistics of people travelling by air. The Statutes were prepared and passed before the aeroplane had been invented. We have not been able to bring them up to date. When we sought to bring them up to date in order that the information could be obtained because the Overseas Migration Board felt that it was reasonable to have proper information about what was happening in regard to emigration and immigration, the House in its wisdom threw the proposal out and said that it was just more unnecessary form filling.
One of the reasons why time was taken on the Bill before Christmas is that we have utterly inadequate statistical information to form our judgments about the Bill. Before the Government impose a timetable Motion on a Commonwealth Measure of this sort, it is their duty to provide for the House much more adequate information.
Further, as hon. Members have pointed out, one of the reasons why a good deal of time was taken at one stage of the Committee proceedings on the Bill before Christmas was that a very large number of hon. Members opposite felt extremely doubtful about some of the provisions of the Bill and took their full share in debate. I trust that, when the hon. Member for Louth makes his further charges about the Labour Party's responsibility in this matter, he will remember that some of his hon. Friends, quite properly, took their full share in the debates before Christmas, and some of them, indeed, were so opposed to what the Government were doing and were so opposed to the kind of timetable that the Leader of the House was trying to impose at that stage by means of Closures that we found a number of them in the Lobby voting with us. The opposition to the timetable was not an opposition confined to this side of the House.
One of the principal reasons why time was taken on the Bill before Christmas was the quite unbelievable muddle into which the Government put themselves, particularly in regard to whether Ireland was to be in or out of the Bill. I can 493 only assume that the reason for this muddle in the handling of the Bill is that neither the heart of the Leader of the House nor the heart of the Home Secretary is really in the Bill at all. Both right hon. Gentlemen know perfectly well that the Bill is a wrong Bill and is not a worthy Bill for a Government of this country to introduce. They know that they have given way to demagogic pressure from some of the worst groups supporting them on the benches behind them.
§ Mr. Philip N. Hocking (Coventry, South)
Has the hon. Gentleman any problem in his constituency? Many of us on this side of the House who have not spoken at all in the debates on this issue so far have very intense problems. Almost every time we hold one of our "surgery" meetings we see scores of people who are living in dreadful and sordid conditions. Has the hon. Gentleman that sort of problem in Dundee? It is not a matter of the pressure of colour prejudice.
§ Mr. Thomson
I am not denying the reality of the problem, particularly in the overcrowding of houses, though there may be two views about how far the Government have a responsibility for adding to that problem, nor am I denying the political difficulties for many hon. Members who have this problem to an acute degree, though there may be two views about the degree of political courage which is shown by hon. Members on both sides of the House in facing the real issues which are presented here.
Speaking of my own constituency, I should not claim to have the problem to the intensity that many hon. Members on both sides have it, but, on the other hand, my constituency has a very long connection with India and Pakistan. India provides the life-blood of our employment and, as a result, we have our own Pakistani and Indian minority. I can only say that in Dundee there has been none of the feelings of racial prejudice which have arisen in other places. However, I do not claim that overcrowding in Dundee is anything like it is in some constituencies, nor do I deny the reality of the problem.
The problem is right at the heart of our Commonwealth relationship. Unless we attempt to live as a multiracial community within our own borders here, 494 then all the fine speeches we make about a multiracial Commonwealth are so much hypocrisy. We must face the fact that, in the years ahead, we shall have in this country a minority of a colour different from ourselves. We must face it in a constructive way by measures of integration. This requires political courage. It is not an easy thing to do, and I do not suggest that it is; but I am sure that it is the right thing to do, and, more than that, I believe that the Leader of the House and the Home Secretary know that it is the right thing to do. I believe that in their hearts they are bitterly ashamed of the Bill. That is why they made such a mess and muddle of it before Christmas. That is why they wasted so much time. That is why they are now trying to get out of their difficulties by the disgraceful method of putting the Guillotine on a Commonwealth Measure.
I turn now to the detailed provisions of the Bill to which the Government propose to apply the gag. We have not even completed Clause 1. The next Amendments on the Notice Paper are Amendments which once again raise the crucial question of the position of Ireland under the Bill. Does anyone believe that there will be adequate discussion of that important subject now? I take next the issue of health control. I do not wish to traverse the ground which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn has already traversed. I point only to the paradox that, although as an Opposition we are deeply opposed to the general principle of the Bill and we are not in the least ashamed of leading opposition to the general purpose of the Bill, there has never been any opposition from this side of the House to the general idea of health controls on immigration, nor has there been any opposition from Commonwealth leaders who have concerned themselves with the matter. I have talked to Sir Grantley Adams, the Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation, about this issue. It is not a problem. Therefore, one would expect that, if there had been no timetable Motion and if some hon. Members opposite had not been making the kind of disgraceful and indefensible suggestions that they have made about the Labour Party's responsibility in this matter, the provisions in this part of the Bill would go through fairly quickly.
495 Now, of course, since these charges have been made, we are bound, when that part of the Bill comes up, to expose to the public how indefensible and nauseating have been the attacks made by hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Louth. Who suggests now that we shall have adequate time to deal with this matter? Attacks of that kind inflame racial prejudice in this country. The duty of the House, when the matter does come up under the timetable, will be to try to get across to public opinion in this country that there is no substance in the charges and that racial feeling should not be inflamed. But it will be extremely difficult then to do so.
Again, will it be possible for the House to do justice to the immensely difficult problems raised by the provisions of the Bill in regard to employment conditions? Here, too, is something on which we are asked to take an important decision without adequate information from the Government. I think it is generally agreed, even by those who are most prejudiced opposite, that in many of our hospitals and public services some of the immigrants particularly affected by the Bill play a vital rôle in our economy. We need many more facts than we have, and this is a subject on which we ought to spend a great more time than the Government now propose to give us.
I put this to the Leader of the House. Why should he force the Guillotine through to try to hurry the Bill to a conclusion at this stage? As the right hon. Member the Leader of the Liberal Party said, the Government have not so far used as one of their arguments the desperate urgency of getting the Bill through. In a short time, there will be another Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. If ever there were an issue which ought to have been put before the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers it is this issue of Commonwealth immigration. It is a scandal that the Government should have brought this Bill before the House without having put it properly before that kind of conference and having had thorough discussion of it.
The Government would have had the opportunity to put that right if they had avoided bringing in this timetable Motion. It would have been a very good 496 thing indeed for our reputation in the Commonwealth and might have helped to undo a little of the tremendous damage which has been done by this Bill if the Government had decided, in the light of the obvious anxiety expressed on both sides of the House, that the Bill could be quietly put into cold storage, at least until after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference and until there had been a chance of the kind of consultation they should have undertaken in the first place.
For these reasons, I deeply deplore that the Government should be applying a timetable Motion to this kind of fundamental Commonwealth Measure.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
I want to detain the House far only a very few minutes to give my reasons for not supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight. I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—certainly not as it stands. But the Measure that I really cannot and will not help on its way through the House is the Army Reserve Bill. I have given my reasons for not liking that Bill at length, some may think ad nauseam. I do not propose to go into that in detail today, even if it were in order for me to do so.
We shall no doubt be told that this is a matter of urgency and that that is one of the reasons why it is included in the present Motion. We shall be told that it is urgent because the Army has not or, very shortly, will not have enough men. That comes strangely from a Government who have been telling us for the past five years that everything to do with the Army and with recruiting has been going splendidly and that the targets that the Government had set themselves, and which were the right targets, would be reached. No doubt we shall be told more in due course about the crisis which is supposed to have occasioned this Bill.
The immediate crisis, of course, is over. The real crisis has never stopped and has been going on all the time. No doubt it is true—I am quite certain that it is true—that we have not enough men in the Army at the present time. Some of us have been saying that for the past five years. The Government should have 497 thought of that sooner. They should have thought of it five years ago instead of trying to rush through this miserable, ill-thought-out, ill-prepared Measure and then make a muddle of it and so waste the time of the House unnecessarily.
No one is more convinced than I am of the need for an Army of a proper size and of the need for taking proper measures to bring it about. No one is more convinced than I am of the urgency of this matter. I have said so again and again over five years. Equally, nobody is more convinced than I am that the Army Reserve Bill is not the way to do it. All that it will do is to stop the gap for a year or two. All that it will do is to mask the patient's symptoms until it is too late. That is why I will do nothing whatever to facilitate its passage.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
This is the first time that I have had the occasion either to listen to or to participate in a debate of this kind. Listening to the debate this afternoon, I have wondered why the guillotine Motion was tabled. In my view, a guillotine Motion can only be justified if the facts are quite clearly established by the Government that there is a real urgency for the passage of the Measure concerned.
The Leader of the House has not attempted to establish that there is in fact any great urgency for either the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill or the Army Reserve Bill. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) did, on the other hand, argue that there was an urgency. I think that it is essential that we should look at these two Measures, which are of importance both to the people of this country and to the people of the Commonwealth. These Measures are so important that we have taken their Committee stages on the Floor of the House of Commons. We have spent three or four days discussing in Committee these two Measures. A great deal of the time that we have lost has not been the result of spurious points of order or fillibustering on the part of hon. Members on this side of the House.
On the Army Reserve Bill I remember the Secretary of State for War coming to the Committee and, acting 498 somewhat in concert with my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), wasting the whole of an afternoon because he himself had failed to give to the Committee accurate and adequate information. Because of that failure on the part of the Secretary of State for War, my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley was inhibited in some way from putting down Amendments. He then discovered that what the Minister had said was wrong and that he was entitled to table the Amendments. In consequence, we spent the whole of one day discussing the failure of the Minister.
On the question of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, we had the utmost difficulty time and again to get from the Government the information that was necessary for us to give adequate consideration to the statements that they themselves were making in support of Clause 1. The passing of this guillotine Motion will bear most heavily on the Opposition. I can see circumstances in which there could be grounds, providing that there was an opportunity for full and adequate discussion, for the introduction, by agreement, of some form of timetable. I do not think it necessary that we should go on and on talking about a Measure. On the other hand, I do not think that the Government have the right to deny hon. Members the opportunity of full and adequate discussion of a Measure.
It is the minority which will suffer as the result of the Government's introduction of this Motion. Yet the responsibility for the Guillotine rests not on the Opposition, or the minority, but clearly on the failure of the Government to give such information to the Committee as will enable it to utilise to the maximum degree the time for discussion of this Measure. If the Government fail to give the Committee that information and if, consequently, there is constant argument on the inaccurate information which is submitted, or if there is inconsistency between one Minister and another in giving information, the responsibility for the resulting loss of time is on the Government.
It has been said by one of my hon. Friends that there ought to be additional time for us to discuss Measures involving matters of conscience, like the Army Reserve Bill. I think that the tradition 499 of this country and of the House of Commons demands that we have the fullest possible discussion of that Measure before it reaches the Statute Book. I know that I am not allowed to discuss now the merits of that Bill, and it is difficult for me to skate round the procedure of Parliament and the rules of order, which hon. Members with more experience than I can do, but, if it is a question of conscripting my constituents or adding a period of conscription to their service, then there ought to be a great deal more discussion of the Measure which proposes it than of almost any Measure.
So important are these two Bills that we have considered them on the Floor of the House. We have had a few days' discussion in Committee. A great deal of that time was wasted through the incompetence of the Government Front Bench. Yet we can have sitting after sitting upstairs in Standing Committee on minor Measures without there being any suggestion that the Guillotine ought to be imposed.
I do not believe for one moment that there is any urgency for the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I do not accept the argument of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet that we shall have a flood of immigrants from India and Pakistan and that, therefore, it is essential that we should get this Measure on the Statute Book almost overnight. If there had been any real urgency for the application of these Measures we should have had a case to that effect presented by the Government Front Bench. The Leader of the House said that it was his responsibility to prove the need for the Guillotine. If the Government Front Bench does not attempt to advance a case for the urgency of these Measures, why the introduction of the Guillotine? If there is no urgency for the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill then there is no point in the guillotine Motion.
The same consideration applies to the Army Reserve Bill. All sorts of reasons have been given why we should accept it. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) suggested that the purpose of the Army Reserve Bill was to deal with the Berlin crisis. The Berlin crisis has been going on for 500 a long time and I do not think that the Army Reserve Bill will make any real or serious contribution to its solution. There is, therefore, no urgency for the Bill.
I can assure the Leader of the House that my constituents who are likely to be affected by the Army Reserve Bill do not think that there is any urgency for it. They are not, as one of my hon. Friends suggested, rushing to ask me to ensure that it is passed quickly so that they can spend another six months in the Forces. When I have picked them up in my motor car and given them a lift they have been able to tell me almost to the hour when their period of conscription ends. I do not say that they have said, "I have three months, four days and five hours to go", but they have always been able to tell me to the day when they are likely to be released.
§ Sir D. Glover
If only about one person in four will be affected by the Bill, I should have thought that the other three would like to know that they were coming out in one more month and eleven more days' time.
§ Mr. Loughlin
There might be validity in that argument if they knew who were the three and who was the one.
§ Mr. Loughlin
I am not sure that they do want to know that. What they want to know is how quickly they can get out of the Forces.
§ Mr. Loughlin
That establishes my point, that my constituents who are likely to be affected by the Bill see no urgency for it. They do not want to know whether they will be affected by it. They say that they do not want the Bill lest they are affected by it. The Minister for War does not have that clearly in mind yet.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Profumo)
Perhaps I can give the hon. Member some later news than he has got from the gentlemen he picks up in his motor car. I returned today from a tour of the Forces in the Middle East. Every National Service man whom I 501 saw said, "Will you tell us as soon as you possibly can where we stand? Will we be kept or not?" That is why we want to get the Bill through as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Of course there is concern in the minds of all National Service men about whether they will be caught in the net. They do not want the Bill. They do not want to be caught in the net.
§ Mr. Loughlin
That is what they are bothered about. Perhaps the Minister for War does not yet have it in mind. It may be true that as a secondary consideration they say, "We ought to know as soon as we can whether we shall be caught in the net".
There is no urgency about the Bill. That being so, we ought not to be bothered with the guillotine Motion today. I have wondered whether, had these Measures been dealt with in Committee upstairs, the Government would have been prepared to come to the House with a guillotine Motion after so short a time of discussion. I have served on Standing Committees upstairs considering Bills which have gone a far greater number of hours and there has been no suggestion of introducing a timetable, but they have not been Bills of the serious nature of either of these two. We can spend considerable time upstairs in Standing Committee discussing Bills of a relatively minor character. We can, by virtue of their importance, bring two major Bills on to the Floor of the House and within a short time, after the Government have messed them around in the way that the Minister for War did, when he not only landed himself in the loss of a full day by virtue of not giving information to the Committee but found himself tied up with points of order because he failed to move his Motion and wanted my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley to do so—
§ Mr. Loughlin
The Minister disagrees. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley is sitting beside me. If ever there has been waste of time it has been from the Government Front Bench. It was the 502 night that one of the Minister's hon. Friends from the back benches said that he could not run a fish and chip shop.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
My hon. Friend has twice referred to me. Is he aware that on the afternoon that the House rose for the Christmas Recess there was a Report from a Committee of Estimates, comprising in the main hon. Members opposite, complaining in the bitterest terms that the Government had failed to include in the Bill the vital figure of 15,000, which would have revealed the full purpose of their Measure?
§ Mr. Loughlin
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, which only bears out how incompetent the Government are.
Two major Bills can be brought on to the Floor of the House because they are so serious to the people of Britain and of the Commonwealth. When we have had only a relatively short time discussing them—and we have not yet got away from Clause 1 of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—the Government come along with a Motion of this kind with a view to curtailing discussion.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The Minister's intervention on the Army Reserve Bill deserves close scrutiny. What everybody interested in that Bill, and all the Forces whom the Minister met overseas, want to know is the answer to the question postulated by the Minister: "Does it affect me?" We in this House want to know it, but it is precisely the information which, so far, the Minister has refused to give. He has refused to give detailed information about who will be in or out. Even if we hurry consideration of the Army Reserve Bill, are we likely to get that information in the two days which are being allotted for debate next week?
§ Mr. Loughlin
I do not suppose that my hon. Friend will be very pleased with the answer, even if whoever replies for the Government takes note of his question, because it is doubtful whether they themselves will know in the next three months. They hardly know what they are doing. We are to spend more time next Tuesday trying to recover the dignity of the Postmaster-General. Only a short time ago he came to the Front 503 Bench and thought that he would get something through "on the nod" but discovered that he was let down by his hon. Friends because adequate information was not available for the Committee to discuss it that night.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
Because there had been a go-slow among Ministers of the Post Office long before the postmen started.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. I hope that the House will bear in mind that we are discussing a timetable Motion. It has nothing whatever to do with the Post Office.
§ Mr. Loughlin
My point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is that the Government have made so many mistakes and lost so much time by their own incompetence that it now becomes necessary for them to introduce timetables for Bills of this nature, which is unfair because these are major Bills.
§ Mr. Loughlin
The fact that members of the Government Front Bench have failed to get their Measures through, as the Postmaster-General failed to get his Measure through because of the incompetence of the Government in not supplying hon. Members with adequate papers for discussion, is relevant because had there been a competent Government Front Bench on that occasion, it would have been possible to utilise the time that we shall now spend to recover the position in discussing the two Measures which are the subject of today's Motion.
This guillotine Motion is to some extent directly attributable to the incompetence of Her Majesty's Ministers. It is also indicative of a growing desire on the part of the Executive to impose its will on the House. We have repeatedly had debates in the House and in Committee in the last twelve months on whether Regulations and Orders should be the method of legislation instead of affirmative Resolutions. The Government have a contempt for democracy. They do not even believe in using their own huge majority. They are getting to the point where they think that to 504 have democracy is a secondary consideration. I hope that they will change a little and that they will recognise that these are major Measures of vital importance and that full and adequate discussion should be given to both of them. I hope also that some hon. Members opposite will not support the Government on this Motion.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I had no intention of taking part in the debate, but I have been challenged by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) to do so. The House will appreciate that I have not come here prepared as I like to be before rising to speak.
§ Sir C. Osborne
The hon. Member was allowed to make a speech and I hope that the House will listen to me.
I support the guillotine Motion because I hope that it will get the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill on to the Statute Book quickly. I have been urging something like this for the last ten years and events have proved my urgings and warnings up to the hilt. [HON. MEMERS: "Which events?"] I want to meet the points put against me. Other hon. Members were listened to quietly and I hope that hon. Members will listen to me. The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn said that the Bill would destroy the Commonwealth. That is irresponsible and untrue. It will not affect Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Australia has one person per square kilometre, Canada has six and New Zealand about a dozen. We have over 300. If, therefore, free Commonwealth immigration ought to be adopted anywhere it should be adopted not in this country but in those three Dominions.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
On a point of order. Your predecessor, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, has ruled that the contents of these Bills are not subjects which can be brought within the scope of the debate and I understand that the hon. 505 Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is now arguing the merits of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I accept what the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) has said. I had assumed that it was only in passing that these details were being mentioned.
§ Sir C. Osborne
This is typical of the Opposition. First I am challenged that I am not in my place, when in fact I am. Then I am challenged to reply, but when I get up to reply hon. Members opposite have not the courtesy to listen to me. This is the sort of freedom for which they stand. This is the reason why, when after Suez they had the whole electorate on their plate, they were rejected absolutely two years later, and this is why they will be rejected the next time they appeal to the public.
I support the guillotine Motion for five reasons, and in fairness to the hon. Members who posed the problems to me I want to try to answer them. I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn will agree that I am trying to answer them off the cuff. When the hon. Lady said in a highly emotional speech that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill would destroy the Commonwealth, I say that she was talking nonsense and I challenge her to look at the position of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They have far more stringent rules controlling immigration than are envisaged in this Bill. Furthermore, one of the Prime Ministers of the coloured Commonwealth was asked when he came to London whether he would object. He said that of course he could not object, because he had even more stringent rules against immigration into his own country. Nearly every part of the Commonwealth has more rules controlling immigration than this Bill proposes. How, therefore, can these countries of the Commonwealth object to our proceeding with this Bill?
§ Mr. Wigg
On a point of order. With respect, I submit that there is one set of rules of order for both sides of the House. It was my intention to speak in this debate until I looked at the rules of order and realised that anything but a passing reference to the Army Reserve Bill would be out of order. Now, by a unique and quite unscrupulous tech 506 nique, the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is getting behind your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Does the Ruling stand for all hon. Members or only for him, and if it is for him would you please see that it is applied?
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Further to that point of order. In fairness to the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), I should like to submit that in speeches which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and I made we argued that the hon. Member's case for this guillotine Motion was that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill should get on the Statute Book in the shortest possible time, because the delays up to date had been the cause of smallpox deaths and therefore the Labour Party had on its conscience the deaths caused by that outbreak. We argued that this was an indefensible argument from the hon. Member and that it was utterly untrue and therefore was not an argument in favour of a time-table Motion. We challenged him, having made this attack on the Opposition from outside the House, to make his case for the guillotine Motion inside the House, and for my part I respectfully submit that, the challenge having been made, the hon. Member should have an opportunity of making his reply.
§ Mrs. Castle
Further to that point of order. The only point on which I challenged the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne)—and he is going wide of it in discussing the general merits or demerits of the Bill—was to tell the House how if the Bill had been law last month it would have prevented an outbreak of smallpox.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If a speech is made from one side of the House it invites a reply from the other side of the House, but I am sure that there is no doubt that what should properly be the subject of the debate is the timetable Motion. I hope that hon. Members will keep to that as closely as may be.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am much obliged. I merely put down five points which were raised by the two hon. Members opposite who challenged me and taunted me that I was not here in my place to reply. Then we have the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who has just walked in and has not heard the debate at all, 507 trying in his usual manner to put everybody to rights.
§ Mr. Wigg
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I do not appeal for your protection from the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne)—that is quite unnecessary. What I am concerned about is orderly debate. I do not care tuppence whether he is in his place or whether he drops in the Thames. That is irrelevant. What matters is whether he can discuss the merits of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. If he can do so, then I want to discuss the merits of the Army Reserve Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is quite clear that one thing can lead to another, and that the House should observe the rules strictly and exclude detailed discussion of the merits of the Bills and confine the debate to the desirability or otherwise of the timetable Motion.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Accepting, of course, the Ruling that we are not concerned, at any rate in detail, with the merits of either Bill except in so far as those merits have a bearing on whether we should do it quickly or slowly, nevertheless my hon. Friends challenged the hon. Member for Louth about a most offensive publication to which he committed himself, which made a general charge against the Labour Party of being responsible for the smallpox deaths by reason of its opposition or delaying tactics in this matter. I submit to you that it would be most unfair to the hon. Member to deprive him of the opportunity of either justifying his charge or withdrawing it merely because he is not entitled to discuss the merits in general.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The give and take of debate is quite well known, but I think that the House would be wrong to go too far outside the rules of order, which are that on this Motion we are not entitled to debate in detail the contents of the Bills.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I have now been interrupted, I think, six times. I want to make this protest: I have never been given a fair hearing by hon. Members opposite on this issue. As I have told the House, I did not come prepared to 508 make a speech today and I have not brought my notes with me, but I say on the question of health—
§ Sir C. Osborne
On the question of health, the Medical Officer of Health for Birmingham, which is most affected by this problem of disease brought into the country by immigrants, made a statement only a fortnight ago that immigrants into this country had seriously affected the health of the City of Birmingham.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I have not brought my notes with me but, as far as I can recollect his exact words, as I understood them that was what he said. Furthermore he said that in his opinion there should be some control of immigration from the health point of view. That was what the Medical Officer of Health for Birmingham said a fortnight ago. I challenge any hon. Member opposite to go and see the medical officer of health in any district where immigrants have gone to live and ask about various diseases that, unhappily, they have brought into the country with them. The figures are startling.
§ Mr. Diamond
I reject utterly what the hon. Gentleman is saying. I suggest that he is misleading the House. It is not a question of bringing in disease but the fact of poor people coming to live here in disgusting conditions, in which they incur certain diseases from which they are not naturally defended. It is our fault that this is so. The hon. Member is utterly wrong.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in accordance with the practice of the House for an hon. Member to suggest that a local government officer, who cannot defend himself, has made certain remarks which are of a very controversial nature? It seems to me that it is not in accordance with the customs of the House for an hon. Member so to attack a local government officer who cannot defend himself.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There is nothing out of order in that. Hon. Members are responsible for what they say. I hope 509 that the hon. Member for Louth will make it quite clear, as he goes on, that his remarks are directed to arguing in favour or against the timetable Motion.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I would not have tried to justify my support for the Motion, but I was challenged so to do. But in view of the fact that hon. Members opposite are not prepared to listen to me, I do not propose to go on.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)
The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has just resumed his seat rather than answer the questions put to him. Why did he say that the Labour Party was responsible for the deaths of certain individuals in this country by opposing the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill? There is no evidence for it, and we do not believe it to be true. I say to the Leader of the House that, notwithstanding the welcome given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Browne) to his remarks about the smallpox outbreak, I could have wished those remarks to have been a lot clearer. Great evil is being done by this Motion and by the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.
One of the evils stemming from them is encouragement of colour hatred. That hatred will increase and we shall have race riots and troubles galore unless the Leader of the House, with his authority, makes it clear that it is utter and vicious nonsense to suggest that the Bill and this Motion have the slightest connection with the smallpox outbreak. He or one of his right hon. Friends should make it clear that the smallpox could have arisen from a visitor as well as an immigrant. There is nothing to prevent a visitor coming here and this sort of thing happening. The regulations are designed to avoid it, and perhaps the situation reveals a flaw in them for which the Government may or may not have responsibility. But that has nothing to do with the Bill or the views which the hon. Member for Louth is propagating—shame to him.
§ Mrs. Castle
Will my hon. Friend also point out to the hon. Member for Louth 510 (Sir C. Osborne), who has totally failed to answer the challenge, that of the five contacts who came in, four had valid vaccination certificates and would have been allowed in under the Bill, while the fifth was a child in whom the disease was not certified until after death because there had been no clinical evidence that she had it? What has that to do with the Bill?
§ Mr. Diamond
I am glad my hon. Friend has made that point. The hon. Member for Louth said an evil thing. He had the opportunity to answer and, indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) went out of his way to ask him whether it was a proper thing to say. It was a challenge heard by the Chair and I anticipated that you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would think it fair that an opportunity should be given to the hon. Member to reply to it.
§ Mr. Diamond
But the hon. Member dodged it. I want to be quite clear about this—he dodged it and sat down. We shall remember that in addition to all the other things. He is responsible for this and should feel very pleased today. I hope that he is in very good health and will live a long time. I hope that he will live long enough to regret this Bill, as regret it he will.
One thing this country needs is not fewer but more immigrants, to build more houses, to have more nurses, to have better health. People like him, with xenophobia, should remember that other human beings, irrespective of colour, share noble aspirations. The more we see them and understand them the better it will be for him.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
The hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) is in a way implying that the Government are in some way associated with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). I thought that the Leader of the House made it crystal clear that the Government disclaim any connection between the smallpox outbreak and the Government's case for the Motion.
§ Mr. Diamond
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher). 511 We all know his views on this topic and we know that more than the Gangway separates the hon. Member from the hon. Member for Louth.
I repeat that I do not think that the remarks of the Leader of the House on this topic were as clear as they needed to have been, having regard to the statements of an hon. Member of this own party who will go into the Lobby in support of his Motion this evening. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Surbiton and I hope that he will take an opportunity of endeavouring to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to enlarge on what he has just said, because it was a most valid point which ought to be stated more fully.
Two nights ago I debated this matter on television with the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). Television can hardly be said to have been off the record. Both then and today I made it absolutely clear that I justified neither the Bill nor the allocation of time Motion by the recent outbreak of smallpox.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order. In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, repeating and emphasising what he said at the beginning of the debate and what he said on television two nights ago, as he has just reminded us, ought not the hon. Member—the honourable Member—for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) who made the charge now withdraw it?
§ Sir C. Osborne
Further to that point of order. As I said, to begin with I had no intention of taking part; I do not have my notes and I cannot say exactly what words I used.
§ Sir D. Glover
On a point of order. Could we not restrict the debate to the timetable Motion? I have been trying to make a speech for the last five hours on the timetable Motion.
§ Mr. Diamond
I repeat my apology. I had thought the matter of such importance as to attach some heat to it. However, the intervention of the hon. Member for Louth has not been without use. He has made his position absolutely clear, both by his getting up and by his sitting down. I am grateful to the Leader of the House for having responded so readily to my request and I am most grateful to him for having said something which I thought ought to have been said and which I thought it was vitally necessary for him to say. I suspect that many hon. Members have had the kind of letter which I have had, a vicious sort of letter saying, "Now they have brought the smallpox in, get them all out", the phrase used in one letter.
So we come a little more calmly to discuss the timetable Motion, which I bitterly regret on the grounds of democracy. I want to deal with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, not with the other Bill, because I did not at length attend the discussions on that, whereas, so far as I was able, I attended every minute on the Immigrants Bill and can therefore speak with first-hand knowledge. That Bill is doing great harm to Commonwealth opinion. It must be appreciated that we are the Mother Country and we create a certain attitude of mind by keeping the door open. No matter what arrangements are made about economic conditions and so on, if the father and mother of a family close the door to the children it cannot be suggested that that is something which the children do not notice or do not feel, or are not sensitive enough to appreciate.
Of course we are doing enormous damage by that Bill and by the Motion, because the Motion makes it clear that we are curtailing the right of free speech. That is what the Motion is about. The right hon. Gentleman is introducing it not because he thinks that the time allotted will be as much as it would have been if there had been free discussion but because he thinks that the time allotted will be less, so that the Motion will expedite his programme. He is deliberately inviting the House to curtail the freedom of discussion.
This is a principle which we understand and which is justified in appropriate cases, but it has to be fully 513 justified. That is especially so in a Bill affecting the Commonwealth The House is the Mother of Parliaments—not the country, as is often alleged to be the quotation. As the Mother of Parliaments, it is setting the standards everywhere. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Commonwealth understood these things, but I suggest that it does not understand the subtleties half as well. What members of the Commonwealth understand is the simple fact that the House is being asked to support the Government in denying the opposition to the Bill—whether it comes from this or that side of the House—the right of free speech, and that over a matter which affects the Commonwealth itself. This is an extremely serious matter and one which has to be absolutely justified to the hilt before the Government can ask for support for it, and it has not been justified. The Government's case has been thin in the extreme.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we had spent a long time discussing Clause 1. I have a certain experience of participating in debates and listening to debates on first Clauses. It will be found that when a Bill is discussed in Standing Committee, if Clause 1 has taken an hour to discuss and there are twenty Clauses it does not mean that discussion of all the twenty Clauses will take twenty hours. Everyone in the House knows that a more likely division is that about half of the time or even more is spent on Clause 1. Unless it is an enormous Bill, its essence is in Clause 1 and every Bill is drafted with its guts in Clause 1. Hon. Members who sit on the Chairmen's Panel, from both sides of the House, will accept that when a Committee has dealt with Clause 1 perhaps half of the time or even more—it may be only a third—has gone.
For the right hon. Gentleman to say that Clause 1 has taken a long time and that we have not even got to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill"—even if that Question is put, and none of us knows whether it will be—and to say that that is an argument for the introduction of the Guillotine is not sufficient, unless he can demonstrate, which he has not attempted to do, that the rest of the Bill will take an unconscionably long time.
What was the point of discussing the Bill on the Floor of the House if it was 514 not an admission that it was of such general and constitutional importance as to merit the closest and most careful consideration? This is a matter on which we all feel very strongly. I have wanted to speak several times but, with one exception, I have found on every one of the Amendments, as have many of my hon. Friends, that the Closure has prevented me from speaking. I mention that to show that there are many points of view—sincerely held, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted—which could have been put but which were not put because the time allowed under our existing procedure was too short. Why is it necessary to shorten it still more?
The Bill has come to the Floor of the House, which is an admission that it is an important Bill. Had it gone upstairs to Standing Committee there would have been no suggestion that it was taking too long if this amount of time had been used to cover Clause 1. In those circumstances there would have been no suggestion at this stage that the Opposition were trying to delay the Bill.
There has been no suggestion that the Opposition have been trying to delay the Bill. Speaking absolutely frankly, I do not know of an hon. Member who has made a single speech which he did not feel he had to make because it was inside him and had to come out. I do not know of an hon. Member on either side of the House who has made a dilatory speech as opposed to a speech which his conscience compelled him to make. On the other hand, I know of several speeches which hon. Members wanted to make but which they were not able to make because of the Closure.
§ Mr. Mellish
During the discussions on the Army Reserve Bill there were excellent speeches from both sides of the House, and not one lasted more than ten minutes.
§ Mr. Diamond
I find it difficult to know a little about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, and I therefore leave it to my hon. Friend who is an expert in these matters to deal with the Army Reserve Bill. Had it been necessary to delay this Bill, I have no doubt that there would have been a call to those who were around and about to come in and give a hand. I am being perfectly frank about this. There was no such 515 call. Nobody was asked to help. Only a small number of Members took part in the debate on the Army Reserve Bill. It was not a case of a large number being collected to oppose its passage. The small number of Members who took part debated the Bill thoroughly, consistently and conscientiously.
The Government have failed to justify this timetable Motion on the basis that we have been taking too long, or on the basis that this is the kind of Bill which is not of such importance as to merit the fullest possible discussion. I underline a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot). It cannot be sufficiently underlined. Introducing a timetable Motion is denying an Opposition its almost sole remaining right. Knowing that the argument in the end is counted by numbers in the Division Lobby and not by weight, all that an Opposition can do is to press its argument on the majority. That is what democracy is about. An Opposition has only one method of making a majority listen to its argument, and that is to use its power to delay, and to go on using it.
What will be the result of this timetable Motion? The Minister will be able to sit down and relax, knowing that he has only to look at the clock and that by the time it has ticked a certain number of minutes he will get the Clause he wants. He may or may not want to answer the arguments put forward. If there is not a timetable Motion, he will exert himelf to answer the arguments. We are here to present different views so that the truth will emerge. Sometimes it happens that we are right. Sometimes the Government are right. But this can happen only when the Minister concerned conscientiously desires to put forward his case. It will do great damage to Parliamentary debates and to the elucidation of the truth if the Minister is put in the position of being able to relax and not answer the debate. I put it no higher than that. He can relax and not put the case, knowing that he has but to wait until 10 o'clock, when, after going into the Division Lobby, he can put on his hat and go home. This is a vital matter to us, and it is practically the only valid method left to an Opposition to exert an influ 516 ence which is out of proportion to its numbers.
I turn now to another remark which the right hon. Gentleman made, and which struck me as a little odd. He spoke about "Amendments cascading on to the Order Paper". I do not know the number of Amendments to which he is referring, and I do not want to embarrass anybody by referring to matters which came to my notice as Chairman, but my recollection is that when the Gas Bill was before the House there were 4,000 pages of Amendments. Had those who wished to continue the matter and make it up to 5,000 pages done so, there would have been nothing in the rules of order to prevent them. I am not saying whether that was too many, or too few. It would be improper for me to think of a conclusion on those lines.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
Perhaps my hon. Friend remembers that one Amendment dealt with whether "realisation" should be spelt with a "z" or an "s".
§ Mr. Diamond
My hon. Friend, who is a Member of the Chairmen's Panel, will bear me out when I say that the Chairman looks at this matter purely to see whether it comes within the rules of Order. He does not make judgments on it.
I was dealing with the quantitative remarks of the right hon. Gentleman about Amendments cascading on to the Order Paper. All I can say is that we measure our cascades differently. What I would call a trickle, he would call a cascade. I do not have to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the date when the Gas Bill was before the House, and which party sat where at that time. There is no justification for saying that the purpose of the Opposition is to delay the Bill by putting forward Amendments rather than to give the Bill the fullest consideration which it deserves.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) pointed out that the opposition to this Bill came largely from hon. Members opposite. There was the famous occasion of one Closure being moved when six or seven hon. Gentlemen on the fourth bench above 517 the Gangway rose in fury because they all wanted to put forward their points and were denied the opportunity of doing so, just as we were. The Government know that in denying free speech to Members they are denying free speech just as much to their supporters as to us.
The Government cannot run away from that. They are attempting to deny to their supporters the right to express their points of view. This matter affects the whole House, and this was the argument used by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet when he was suggesting that those who were for a Measure kept quiet—which we understand—and those who were against it were more vociferous. That, too, we understand. The fact is that on that occasion seven were gagged. They objected violently to the Bill, but did not have the opportunity of making their speeches, and will no doubt want to make them when the Question is put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill".
§ Mr. Philip N. Hocking (Coventry, South)
I was one of the seven hon. Members who voted against the Government on that occasion, but I did so not because I was denied the opportunity of making a speech. I voted against the Government because I was not satisfied with the reply that had been given, and I believe that some of my hon. Friends felt likewise.
§ Mr. Diamond
The hon. Gentleman has said that, and we accept it. We are grateful to him for his intervention, but I know at first-hand that some of the other hon. Gentlemen voted against the Government because they objected to the Chief Whip gagging them and thus avoiding the necessity for their Minister to answer the debate. This is what we have come to on this timetable Motion. It is a method by which the Government avoid answering the debate. They do not have to answer it with a Motion like this, whether the questions are asked from this side of the House or from that.
The Commonwealth Immigrants Bill is an evil Measure. Once a Minister is prepared to descend to supporting something as evil as this he is prepared to descend to evil methods for getting the Bill through. If this were not so the right hon. Gentleman, who in his heart 518 of hearts cares as much for this place as anybody else, would not think of doing this. We regard the Bill as so evil as to demand the closest possible scrutiny. I hope that the Motion will be rejected.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I am glad that I have caught your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if only to have the opportunity of saying what a surprise this debate has been to me. I remember the fierce anger expressed by the party opposite just before the Christmas Recess and the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition that this meant war and that they would fight it to the death. I have been out of the Chamber for only a quarter of an hour since 2.30 p.m., and during the whole debate I have kept a close check on the number of Members opposite. Their highest total has been 27. I thought that this would be a great Parliamentary occasion, and I came here thinking that the benches opposite would be packed with Members full of opposition and anger.
Even at the beginning of the debate there was no anger. It was a happy debate. The only person who spoke with any fire was the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)?"] He was much more courteous and said many things with which I agree. He talked about the Leader of the House and paid a compliment to his right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). But I could not help feeling that the speech made by the right hon. Member for South Shields really expressed the view, as an ex-Leader of the House, that he was quite certain that it was correct to move a timetable Motion when he was Leader of the House but that it was quite wrong for his successor to do so. There may be something in what the right hon. Gentleman said, because he is a very wise Member.
The Labour Government had three timetable Motions during their term of office of five and a half years, and in the ten years during which the Conservative Party has been in power there have been nine, including the two that we are debating today. Therefore, the number that each Government has brought in each year have been very small. The 519 hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) said that this was the first time that he had come across a timetable Motion during his time in the House—which means for two and a half years. It is clear that the Government are not riding roughshod over the back benchers.
I was one of those who was still trying to speak when the Closure was moved on one of the Bills, but every hon. Member who has been in the House for any length of time knows that when the Committee stage of a Bill is taken on the Floor of the House the time that can be allotted to the debate in Committee must be limited. The right hon. Member for South Shields knows how difficult the problem is for the Leader of the House to fit in all the programme. There are 26 Supply Days, and the whole of the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill. Therefore, the number of days available to discuss legislation on the Floor of the House, either as a House or in Committee, amounts literally to only a handful at the beginning of the Session. Once we ask for a Bill to be debated on the Floor of the House instead of in Committee upstairs we are acknowledging the fact that unless it goes through with great facility it is almost axiomatic that the Government will have to move a timetable Motion, simply because of the small amount of time available for discussion.
I was very interested to hear the speech of the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). I go a long way with him in his approach to the problem. I am not at all certain that the Floor of the House is a suitable place to discuss the Committee stage of any Bill, however important. The idea is that on the Floor of the House the debate will receive more publicity, and there will be an opportunity for more people to speak. In fact, a Bill whose Committee stage is taken on the Floor of the House is never considered in nearly as much detail as it would be if it were taken in Committee upstairs. The atmosphere in the Chamber is not as suitable for a line by line discussion of a Bill as is a Committee Room upstairs.
There is one suggestion that I should like to make, which is in line with what was said by the right hon. Member for 520 East Stirlingshire. At present our discussion of a Bill, either upstairs or on the Floor of the House, is carried out in a very unco-ordinated way. We devote far too much time to the early part of the Bill and skimp the remainder. Perhaps the right hon. Member for South Shields, who has been a senior Minister, was talking from personal experience when he said that Ministers put the awkaward Clauses at the end of the Bill, hoping that they will go through on the nod. If, after having had a Second Reading and passed the Money Resolution, a timetable Motion was moved to discuss the amount of time to be allotted to the remaining stages of the Bill in the programming of the Parliamentary procedure in the House or in the Committee Rooms upstairs, much of the artificial fire and thunder which is supposed to be evident today would be removed.
Then the Committee which was discussing the Bill would be able to work it out, allotting the amount of time it thought desirable in respect of each Clause or Schedule. If we had a timetable Motion of that sort after the Second Reading we should often find that, in practice, discussion in Committee was very much more sensible and thorough than is the case at present.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The trouble with a compulsory timetable Motion is that it is too rigid. With a voluntary one, such as that which we had on the Transport Bill, there is some flexibility, and one discussion can be expanded at the expense of another.
§ Sir D. Glover
I agree. I would not wish the timetable Motion to be too rigid. But in the manner I have suggested we could improve our procedure which, after 700 years of precedent, now seems to work in a very ham-handed way in some cases.
I will be honest with my right hon. Friend: I do not approach this Motion with any enthusiasm. I do not think that any back bencher could approach any timetable Motion with enthusiasm. It means that I shall probably lose an opportunity of making my points during the remainder of the Committee stage. However, both Bills are urgent ones. Therefore, although I do not like timetable Motions, as a back bencher, and was caught out when the Closure was moved just before Christmas, I have no 521 doubt that I shall be right in supporting the Government in the Lobby, if such is necessary tonight, in trying to get these Bills on the Statute Book at the earliest moment.
The reason why I say that is, first, that I do not see how men at present in the Army who will be affected by the provisions of the Army Reserve Bill can plan their future until they know what their future is to be. It is no use the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West implying that this Bill will not become law. That was explained by the right hon. Member for South Shields, who said that it was the job of the Government to secure its business in the House. Therefore, if the Bill is to become law and these people know that, the sooner they know their fate the better it will be for them.
§ Mr. Loughlin
It has been stated from the Government Front Bench that the Government are not sure whether they will need the provisions contained in the Bill, and it was on the basis of what had been said that I based my remarks.
§ Sir D. Glover
That was in respect of Clause 2 of the Bill. My right hon. Friend contradicted the hon. Member. He said that he had just come from the Middle East where the sole topic of conversation in Army circles was, "Am I going to be affected?" These people want to know as soon as possible.
Regarding the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, I am certain that any Bill imposing a limitation is bound to cause an increased inflow of immigrants as long as the matter is under discussion. Again, this Measure is to become law, and so the quicker it is on the Statute Book the better for the feelings of everyone in the Commonwealth. I have no difficulty, therefore, in supporting the guillotine Motion.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
I think that the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) has missed the whole point of what hon. Members on this side of the House are trying to do about the principle of the guillotine Motion. I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot). If our democracy is worth anything it is because this is regarded as the greatest assembly of its 522 kind. This Parliament is supposed to be a model for everything that operates as a Parliament. We all concede that it is not perfect. Many mistakes are made by Governments. There is always a certain amount of time which is wasted but, at the end of the day—this is the whole essence of the argument—the Government win in any case. Therefore, throughout the discussions the Opposition must retain all rights and opportunities to fight in every possible way and to argue as lucidly as possible.
If it were a question of filibustering on the part of the Opposition, there would be a case for dealing with that by means of a guillotine Motion. But I have goine over the OFFICIAL REPORT of the discussions on both the Bills and I say to the Leader of the House that not one of the speeches was made by an hon. Member who was filibustering. I remind the House that on the Army Reserve Bill as many speeches were made by hon. Members opposite as were made by hon. Members on this side of the House. In fact, they were very good debates. There are hon. Members opposite who passionately believe that conscription should be retained. I am prepared to say—it is not a popular thing to say by someone representing the borough which I represent—that I believe that conscription should be retained if there is an emergency and it can be shown that the emergency exists.
I do not wish to discuss the merits of the Army Reserve Bill now, but what does it say? It says that "X" number of men will be retained in the Services for a further six months. The hon. Member for Ormskirk argued that these men are entitled to have this legislation on the Statute Book as quickly as possible so that they may be told what is their position, but, with respect, may I tell the hon. Gentleman that that is not a good argument? There is nothing to stop the War Office—I admit there is not much ability in the War Office at the moment—from sending a provisional notice to those Service men who may be involved, advising them of that fact. I do not know whether there is such information at the War Office but I should hope that they know what sort of men it is desired to retain. I should like to think that some idea exists. It has been 523 mentioned that men from certain arms of the Services will be required—from the Royal Corps of Signals, the Royal Engineers and so on. So there must be some indication of the type of units which it is desired to retain.
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Ormskirk heard all the debates on the Army Reserve Bill, but the Secretary of State for War specifically told me, and other hon. Members, that there were grave doubts about whether the powers contained in the Bill would ever be used. How can we talk about an emergency and say that we must have a Bill of this kind when the Secretary of State says that it may not be necessary to use the powers contained in the Bill? I must get this on the record although we have argued it before. How can the number of men involved in the proposals contained in the Army Reserve Bill solve the problems which face Her Majesty's Army today? If it were the case that the provisions in the Bill were designed to get the Army out of trouble, I should say that was fair enough. But this has nothing to do with such things as the Berlin crisis, for example. How can 20,000 men—cooks, signallers and other such people—save us in respect of any trouble in Berlin? It is stuff and nonsense to talk to hon. Members of this House in such a way, and the general public would not accept it either.
Most of the Amendments which we discussed in groups were put down by hon. Members opposite, but now we are told that we are to have a guillotine Motion and a special timetable. I wish to place on record the fact that there has been no attempt on my part, or on the part of any of my hon. Friends, to filibuster or extend the time of the discussions on the Army Reserve Bill.
What really annoyed hon. Members on this side of the House was the behaviour of the Leader of the House. I do not know whether the behaviour of the right hon. Gentleman will improve during 1962, but his performance in 1961 was shocking. I have never seen anyone who was so out of touch with the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman moved the Closure Motion always, as it seemed, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. He did it in a brutal sort of way and treated the 524 House with great discourtesy. I believe that, no matter what was said or done, we were going to get a guillotine Motion on both these Bills anyway. I think that was already decreed when the Government introduced the Bills.
My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said quite rightly that any Government are right to get their business through, and, of course, we did when we were in power, but there is a definition of what we mean by the business of the Government. If it is a matter of the denationalisation of transport, that is Government policy which was declared to the electors and voted upon. It was argued and the argument was won by the Government of the day. Let us be fair. They got a majority of the electors telling them to denationalise transport, and in a Bill of that kind they are entitled, when they see the Opposition doing all they can to stop it, to bring in a guillotine Motion to get it through.
I fully recognise that, but were these two Bills mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in his election address? Of course, they were not. They are Bills which have come up at this moment of time, and the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—though I am not an expert on it—has nothing to do with the health position. In fact, in this Bill, the health safeguards are less than they are at the moment. Therefore, if anybody wants to believe that this is a Bill which must go through in an emergency in order to relieve us of the dangers of smallpox, let me assure them that that is absolute stuff and nonsense. Legislation is already in existence which is powerful enough to stop any dangers to health.
I should also like to put this on the record in regard to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, for the benefit of constituents of mine some of whom think like the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). If they think that one coloured person will leave this country after the Bill becomes law, they make a great mistake. If they think that the housing problem will be relieved when the Bill becomes law, they make a mistake. If they think that the Bill will stop coloured people coming here, they 525 also will make a mistake. The Government talk about the Bill as if it was a matter of life and death and as if the whole nation was dependent on it, when we know that that is absolute nonsense.
The Leader of the House must anticipate a considerable amount of time being spent in debating Bills such as these on the Floor of the House. I understand that the reason Bills of this kind are taken on the Floor of the House is that they are important constitutionally, and are therefore not taken upstairs.
I believe that in the eyes of the people this Parliament is now at the lowest ebb which it has been for many years. I think that is a perfectly fair comment to make, and I speak as one who has been here for fifteen years. Part of the reason is the way in which this Government handle affairs. They want everything quiet, and do not want any trouble. They have not got any legislation of real importance. We read in the Press tonight of the chaos just round the corner when millions of Londoners find themselves having to walk to work. There is no legislation to deal with this problem, contentious or otherwise, and we are lucky if we get a debate on it. We are here spending our time on two Bills neither of which is urgent, as the Secretary of State for War knows only too well. I am sure that, at the end of the day, if it becomes law, this legislation will not be used. If that is so, I hope I may still have the opportunity of saying to the right hon. Gentleman that he is quite incompetent as a Secretary of State and that he does not know what he wants, or how to get it.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip N. Hocking (Coventry, South)
I had no intention earlier today of speaking in this debate, but the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) has said that hon. Members have spoken from the point of view of conscience and that everyone felt that they ought to speak in support of or against this Motion on those grounds. I feel that I must speak in support of the Motion also from the point of view of conscience.
The Commonwealth Immigrants Bill deals with a very important problem in my constituency. I have heard hon. Members opposite say on innumerable occasions that they have had a large number of letters in regard to one 526 Measure or another and have used that as an argument in favour of their own point of view. During the last few weeks, I have received 563 letters about this Measure. Only five spoke against it—and I want to make it perfectly clear to hon. Members opposite that the letters have come from perfectly reasonable people; from people who are not trying to promote race hatred, or anything of that sort.
My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) mentioned the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Birmingham. During the Summer Recess I decided to investigate the position within the City of Coventry, and I called a meeting with our medical officer of health and a number of other welfare workers. The medical officer of health told me quite clearly that there had been and were positive health dangers as a result of the number of people coming into the city. In certain parts of the city dysentery is rife at present. Last summer there were two cases of typhoid, brought in by immigrants to the city. Nobody said anything about it—it was kept very quiet at the time—but I am sure that had it been mentioned there would have been a panic similar to the panic with regard to smallpox—
§ Mr. Hocking
I want to see this Bill passed, and so do my constituents, and that is why I am supporting this Motion.
There is already very strong feeling about the number of immigrants we are getting. I do not want in any way to link up smallpox with the question of whether or not the Bill should be guillotined, but last week in Coventry our bus drivers were actually passing queues with coloured people in them because they did not want to pick up those people.
Hon. Members opposite have suggested that there is no need at all for this Bill. They have said, probably very conscientiously, that they believe that a large number of these people could be integrated into our society quite easily, but I believe that the point has been reached at which there should be some pause in the numbers coming here. I subscribe to the view that they can be and should be integrated, but I 527 believe that there should be some restraint at the present time—and some restraint imposed quickly—because an explosive position is likely to occur unless this Bill becomes law very soon.
Hon. Members opposite have spoken tonight about the methods by which the Opposition can prevent this Bill from becoming law. Before I came to this House I was a Member of the Coventry City Council. I was in opposition, and on those occasions when one was fortunate enough to get a chance to speak one was permitted to speak for only five minutes. I submit that one of the reasons that have made it necessary to bring in this Motion is probably that hon. Members very often speak for far too long. A point can often be made very forcibly in a much shorter speech than we frequently hear. I hope that this Motion will be passed tonight, because I know that from a constituency point of view this Measure is required. It is needed and wanted in the country. It is needed and wanted quickly. Unless it is passed into law and some restraint put on the numbers coming into this country, we shall have a very dangerous situation indeed—an explosive situation and one which I believe every hon. Member would feel very sorry to see.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
The hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking) has put a case for short speeches, but what is the point of making short speeches if an hon. Member says nothing at all? Even the little he did say was based upon a complete lack of knowledge of the facts.
What has been exploded in this debate is that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill would have stopped any smallpox cases in this country, yet by innuendo the hon. Member restated that. He mentioned 563 letters he had received. I have seen those kind of letters. He referred to bus drivers who passed Pakistanis and would not pick them up. Apparently he quoted with approval that in ignorance they should pass those people by and fail to appreciate that they also were public servants.
§ Mr. Hocking
I am sorry if I gave that impression. I did not intend to do so by any means. If the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) looks back 528 on the Press reports in the City of Coventry he will find that I supported a move for coloured people to be allowed to work on the buses. That was opposed by members of his party in power on the city council. I have never subscribed to that view and I did not want to give that impression.
§ Mr. Pannell
I do not know why the hon. Member mentioned it with apparent approval. He could at least have condemned it and it could have gone out to the Birmingham newspapers that he was against it. He could have killed some of the canards about this question. If he sat so long in this House waiting to make a speech of that sort, I wonder that he made a speech at all.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) is now in his place. He attempted to make a case for reform of our procedures in this House. Another hon. Member who chaired the last Conservative Party Conference did the same.
§ Mr. Pannell
He is not here, but I will not comment on that part of his speech on the question of procedure. I sat for well over twelve months on the Select Committee on Procedure and hon. Members know my interest in the subject. The Leader of the House should look at the Report of that Committee. What notice did the Government take of it? The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) makes remarks about "damned silly proposals", but he did not allude to them except in a few Silvermanian points of order. That is all we got from him on those proposals. He interrupted me in my speech while I was on my feet—
§ Mr. Pannell
Yes, the hon. Member did. He does this grumbling and muttering and, with phoney points of order, he has done more to bring a point of order 529 into contempt in this House than any other hon. Member. He knows that full well.
I am dealing with the question of procedure. The Government took no notice of anything that came out of the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure. A body of hon. Members sat for a long time on that Committee and took a great deal of evidence. They even analysed the idea suggested tonight by the hon Member for Coventry, South of hon. Members speaking for only five minutes at a time. They threw that out of the window unanimously. I do not think the House would have stood for that proposal for a whole variety of reasons. We have to look at these things as they are.
Speaking at the end of the debate and rather quickly, I must say that nothing has been said in this debate which has justified this Motion, particularly in regard to the Army Reserve Bill. Hon. Members have not devoted their attention to this today.
A case has not been made for the Motion. The Government have not had a mandate for these Bills. We have had a considerable amount of ineptitude on the part of the Government. I wish I had more time in which to develop this point—
§ Mr. Pannell
Does my right hon. Friend think that I can last another five minutes? The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne thinks that I have only to abuse someone to keep going. I do not think that I bore the House as often and for as long as he does. I never abuse anyone. I speak with characteristic calm in all my utterances. I suggest that the Government's case has not been made out, that this is not, generally speaking, a matter on which they have had a mandate and that the Motion is better not proceeded with.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
One rather remarkable speech today was that made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald). It was remarkable because of its contents, and what is also remark. able is that we have seen nothing of the right hon. and learned Gentleman except 530 for thirty seconds after he sat down. The right hon. and learned Gentleman gave a rather maiden-aunt lecture to my hon. Friends about how to behave in the House, and so on, and a description of bad manners in the House. It is one of our traditional courtesies that after making a speech one at least sits through the remainder of the next speech, especially when one has made a personal attack, as he did, and, if possible, through some of the rest of the debate. If an older hon. Member like the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to lecture everyone on the subject of good behaviour, he should set a good example himself. I wish the right hon. and learned Gentleman were here so that I could chide him in an equally maiden-auntish way for the example of bad behaviour which he give this afternoon.
I now wish to take up some of the points made by a number of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), about the speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), and I should say that I informed that hon. Gentleman that I would comment on his speech during my remarks. I will say this for the hon. Member for Louth, that it seems that his argument about smallpox increasing—because he alleged that the Bill had been delayed—is at least relevant to what we are discussing and it could be an argument in favour of the Guillotine and of speeding up the passage of the Bill.
However, the hon. Member for Louth dodged the issue this afternoon. Clearly he was not ready to stand up and defend what he had said—and I will come to that in a moment. We appreciate what the Leader of the House said, in effect, about the charge that the Labour Party had caused smallpox deaths by its opposition to the Bill. We appreciate what he said this afternoon and also the remarks he made in the television debate I had with the right hon. Gentleman, when I thought he argued extremely fairly on this point and on other matters.
Nevertheless, the smear has gone out. It has been deliberately spread by the hon. Member for Louth and others. The Times described it asan unsavoury political accompaniment of the smallpox outbreak.531 And in case there is any doubt that the cap fitted the hon. Member for Louth, there appeared in The Times the next morning a long letter from that hon. Gentleman trying to defend himself. I also recall what the hon. Gentleman said, as reported in the Daily Express on 16th January. The report reads:Sir Cyril Osborne said: 'This weekend's smallpox deaths should lie heavily upon the Labour Party's conscience. But for their bitter, fanatical opposition my proposal that all immigrants must have a clean bill of health would have been law and these poor folk need not have died'.This seems to me to be one of the lowest, meanest and most unscrupulous appeals to hatred that I have ever heard, wholly unworthy of any hon. Member of the House. It is based on a tissue of falsification. Not only has the right hon. Gentleman disposed of the argument that it has anything to do with the Bill and the Motion before us, but, of course, it is wholly false. The smallpox outbreak has nothing to do with Commonwealth immigrants as such. It concerns all immigrants. It would not be enough to deal with Commonwealth immigrants. One has to check all immigrants. It is a fact that, without the Bill, there is now the strictest control of people coming from Pakistan. It is palpably not true that we must have the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill rapidly put on the Statute Book in order to check the danger of people bringing in smallpox.
We on this side of the House have made clear that we are in favour of health checks on Commonwealth immigrants. The lie that the hon. Member for Louth spreads is really a horrible thing which he must know to be untrue.
Moreover, the opposition to the Bill has not come only from this side of the House. A great deal of time has been taken by hon. Members opposite. It was largely due to pressure by hon. Members opposite that we had the Committee stage of the Bill on the Floor of the House. What the hon. Member for Louth is saying is that the smallpox deaths must lie heavily also on the conscience of many of his own colleagues. I hope that he will be thoroughly and totally repudiated by them all.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said in open 532 ing the debate, we are not, of course, against the Guillotine as such. It is, as the Leader of the House said, an established part of our Parliamentary democratic system, and the Government of the day must be able to get their legislation through. Nevertheless, it is bad to get into the habit of introducing guillotine Motions. This Government have departed from the great example of restraint shown by the Labour Government in 1945–51. They have greatly increased the rate, particularly after these two, of using the guillotine Motion. Although it can be properly used, the Guillotine may be abused. It has been abused on this occasion.
The Leader of the House has shown misjudgment, misjudgment which has arisen partly because he has been very ill served by the Patronage Secretary. I hope he will forgive me for saying that we on this side are growing a little tired of the series of things he does with the utmost reluctance. We look forward to the day when he does something in the House with robust and jolly gusto.
The right hon. Gentleman gave us today some detailed arguments in favour of the guillotine Motion, although, of course, he did not do so when he originally announced that he intended to introduce it. He gave his account of what happened before Christmas. I think that the account I am about to give is perfectly true and cannot be rebutted. The matter arose on 19th December when we were discussing the Army Reserve Bill. In the middle of our proceedings, the right hon. Gentleman stalked out, in dudgeon, as it appeared to us, and he stalked back again some time later, looking rather grim, to tell us suddenly that he would next day announce the intention to introduce the Guillotine on the Army Reserve Bill, and at the same time he told us that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was to be guillotined too.
He has explained to us today that he made that announcement because it would have been unfair to keep it until he made his statement 24 hours later, but he has made no attempt tonight or at any other time to explain why he came to the decision at all. I can understand his explanation of why he made the announcement, but he has not explained why on that occasion, suddenly, when he was angry about the Army Reserve Bill 533 and, presumably, was not thinking very much about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, he suddenly decided to throw it in. It was, of course, done in a fit of pique. He wanted to make the Opposition pay and, once having decided to use one Guillotine, he thought he would lose no time in putting two Bills into it. He obviously had no reason at that time, when he got angry with us over the Army Reserve Bill—I think unjustly angry at that time—nor gave any hint of any reason why the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill should be subjected to this timetable Motion.
There is a piece of interesting evidence that the right hon. Gentleman was not in full and normal control of himself that night, because he gave one reason only when he announced to us his decision to Guillotine the two Bills. That one reason is to be found in the OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961. He said:I have studied the progress of the Bill. When we have available HANSARD for this debate, hon. Members will be able to study some speeches, and I particularly recommend to them the speech of the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish)."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1310.]This is the only reason he gave of all the possible reasons that he could have given. I happened to be out of the Chamber when my hon. Friend spoke, so I turned up his speech with extreme excitement, wondering how he had managed to provoke all this and bring it upon us. I found that it was a very short and moderate speech, during which, I understand, the right hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber. That is what I am told by my hon. Friends.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish). I do not know whether he was in his place, but I wrote to him about this incident. The speech to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring, during which, I agree, I was not present, was before 10 o'clock. The one to which he referred when I was here and which the hon. Member for Bermondsey addressed to me was the one in which he said that it was proper to fight the Bill line by line, word by word, and that was later.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I did realise that my hon. Friend also made a second 534 speech. It was an extremely short one, lasting only a minute or two. It struck me that there was one sentence that might have offended the right hon. Gentleman and made him so angry. My hon. friend said:I am glad to see the Leader of the House here. He has had a tough time lately. Some of us are sorry for him. He keeps getting himself superseded by the Home Secretary, but the Home Secretary knows how to handle us. It is about the only thing that he knows."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1285.]I can, of course, see that this would have made the right hon. Gentleman very angry, because he is extremely sensitive on this point. As he picked out of all the things that he might have said this one reason that my hon. Friend had made a speech, we have to find in that speech the explanation of his pique, his anger, because he gave us no other reason. I have read the speeches through with great care. I think the only explanation is that the right hon. Gentleman was not in full control of himself on that occasion, or he would not have given that as a reason.
It seems to me that it is wrong for the Government to have introduced this proposal about the Guillotine, not because we object to the Guillotine as such for a number of reasons, but primarily because both these Bills are, in different ways, very special Bills. The right hon. Gentleman said that in any case there was a heavy onus on the Government in introducing a guillotine Motion to prove the need for it but where there are two Bills of a very special kind, as I shall argue later, the onus is extremely heavy indeed.
We have a long tradition in this House of keeping Bills such as the Army Reserve Bill out of party politics. It was in that spirit that we were debating it. This Motion brings it plumb back into party politics. It is also a Bill of a curious kind. As the right hon. Gentleman said, we were dealing with the personal rights of people, a relatively small minority which cannot defend itself and which has been very harshly treated and it is extremely important that points of fairness should be made. This can be done only by hon. Members arguing in considerable detail, because here we are dealing with the personal liberties of people who, in our view, are being unjustly treated.
535 The Bill was proceeding along those lines. Now that sort of debate will be curtailed. The Commonwealth Immigrants Bill is a major constitutional Measure. That is why it was considered on the Floor of the House. It is one which makes a very great change—I think a retrograde change but I do not wish to argue the merits of that—in our long-established constitutional procedures. It introduces, rightly or wrongly, a colour bar into our legislation for the first time. Rightly or wrongly, it is an anti-Commonwealth Bill because it abandons the constitutional principle, on which we have so long acted, that we ought to give priority to the people of Commonwealth countries and, in particular, a privilege of entry to this country over aliens. This principle has been not only abandoned but reversed. It is an enormous constitutional change.
Irish people, who are not members of the Commonwealth, will have priority of entrance over Commonwealth citizens of all kinds. If we join the Common Market, Germans, Italians, and so on, will have priority of entry over Canadians, West Indians, Australians, Indians, Pakistanis and New Zealanders. This is an enormous change in our traditional ideas of practice. So grave a constitutional change as this makes the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill one of major constitutional importance. There should be very great argument and debate on so great a change as this.
One of the guarantees in our system of Parliamentary democracy is that, whenever a Government make a major constitutional change, they must pay a certain price in time. This is one of the ways in which we safeguard our Constitution. We do not have it written down; we do not have appeals to courts. If they suddenly introduce a guillotine Motion they are getting out of paying that price in time. Whereas the Guillotine is proper in certain cases and on certain types of Bill, to introduce it on a Bill which proposes to make a major constitutional change needs much greater proof of the need for it than the Government have yet produced.
I think that the Leader of the House is wrong when he says that this guillotine Motion will not be misunderstood in the Commonwealth. It will be misunder 536 stood in the Commonwealth. Indeed, will be understood in the Commonwealth. It will be seen to be a method of stifling discussion on a matter which almost every part of the Commonwealth regards as of major importance.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Government have introduced this Motion, first, because public opinion is shifting against them on this matter. They thought that they were on a good thing. They find that public opinion is shifting largely because there were debates in this Chamber in which the argument could for the first time be put fairly and frankly on both sides so that the public could learn of them.
Secondly, as my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said, the Government do not like all the critics on their own side who are doing them harm and are having an effect on public opinion. They want to stifle them. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said, they are hoping that, as a result of this Motion, Amendments tabled by many Conservative back bench Members of major importance will fall by the wayside. Had we not had this guillotine Motion they would have been fully discussed and aired and partly supported, partly attacked from this side of the House according to their nature. This is something that the Government did not like. It is something that the Government will try to avoid by this guillotine Measure.
When there are special Bills of this kind dealing with either great personal rights, like the Army Reserve Bill, or with great constitutional Measures, to justify the proposal of a Guillotine the Government must prove obstruction. They have to prove it properly and not merely allege it. The Leader of the House spoke about the amount of time that had been spent on the two Bills. He did not trouble to distinguish between the amount of time that we had spent and the amount of time that Ministers and their supporters had spent. If we look at it from that point of view, it works out fairly evenly. Indeed, on the third Amendment on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, the Opposition's speeches occupy 49 columns of 537 HANSARD, and the speeches of Government supporters 53 columns. There has been even discussion. Therefore, it cannot just be said that the Opposition have taken all the time, the fourteen hours or whatever it is. The time has been properly divided between both sides.
On the Army Reserve Bill, the Leader of the House used the extraordinary argument that it was planned to take one and a half days. He did not say who had planned it; I suppose it was he himself. It is an extraordinary doctrine that if a Government like to think up any length of time out of thin air and it is exceeded, that is itself a justification for the Guillotine. When the right hon. Gentleman was planning that one and a half days, I wonder whether he realised that the Secretary of State for War would trip over his own feet and waste half a day of the time he had planned that we should spend on the Bill. No charge of obstruction has ever been made in regard to the debates on the Army Reserve Bill. No charge of obstruction could possibly be sustained.
There is another factor. The Secretary of State promised us that there would be a Report stage. Retrospectively, that promise has been largely invalidated by this Measure, because when it was made nobody had thought of a Guillotine. We thought that there would be an ordinary Report stage. Now, under a timetable, it may largely disappear and the promise given in open Committee by the Secretary of State has been largely invalidated by the Leader of the House.
The Government must also show that there is real need for urgency. This cannot be shown in regard to either of the Bills. On the Army Reserve Bill, we are now being told that it is urgent. Directly the Government discovered it was a little unpopular, however, the Secretary of State rushed into the country and said that he probably would not need to use the Bill at all.
§ Mr. Profumo
I never said that. I said that it might be possible that we would not have to use the powers under Clause 2, but I made it plain to the 538 House that unless conditions in Europe changed by 1st April, everybody who then was in B.A.O.R. would have to consider himself held. [HON. MEMBERS: "Trick."] There was no trick at all. I made it perfectly plain.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
We heard the Secretary of State talking about 1st April and all the rest. If that were true, the Bill would have to get through much faster. A way ought to have been found by Royal Prerogative if it was as urgent as all that. We have missed that bus, so that argument cannot be used.
On the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, we cannot judge the urgency unless the Government answer one question. I shall not ask the Attorney-General a lot of questions, but I shall ask him this one and I hope he will answer, because it is essential to the judgment of whether there is urgency on the Bill. We do not yet know the Government's intentions when they get the Bill on the Statute Book. Will they cut immigration drastically, or will they let it go along more or less as it is?
So far, we have been told two stories. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us both of them in one of his speeches. One is that there is a vast increase in immigration, that there is a terrible danger and that barriers must rapidly be set up to save the country from disaster. The other story is that these powers are needed simply to be held in reserve. The Home Secretary used both these arguments, too. He said that one never knew, but it was much better to be armed ahead of time.
Those are two quite incompatible arguments. I can understand that the Government are a little frightened to answer the question. On the one hand, they have raised expectations that something drastic will be done that will make a great difference to immigration and to cities where a large number of immigrants live.
On the other hand, the Government are frightened that if they shut down immigration in this way it will also slow up the economy, because the vast mass of these immigrants are doing valuable and indispensable and important work for the economy. The Government must have made up their mind now how they are to apply the Bill, but unless we 539 know whether they are going to apply it drastically—and I do not want the exact figures—to try to shut down a great deal of immigration, or whether they are going to hold it in reserve, we cannot judge whether even in their own view there is urgent need for the Bill. If it is to be held in reserve, as the Home Secretary has said, it is clearly not urgent. It does not matter whether or not it takes a few weeks, but if it is to be applied drastically we ought to know.
The really urgent problem, the overcrowding in certain cities where there are immigrants, will not be touched by the Bill, so there is no urgency from the point of view of the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking) who said that there was a tremendous problem of overcrowding. The Bill will not deal with that in the slightest degree or make any contribution to its solution.
Even if we grant everything that the Government say, as we do not, and if there is a Guillotine, it does not allow proper time for debate. It is outrageous that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill should have only three days left for the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House talked about Amendments cascading upon us. Perhaps he did not notice that many of these Amendments were chosen by the Chair. The Chair thought that they should be discussed. This showed that the Opposition were not cascading these Amendments to obstruct but were putting down overwhelmingly constructive Amendments. Some of these Amendments—I think eight—which are cascading upon us are important Government Amendments. Fifteen are Tory back bench Amendments, many of great importance, which really ought to be discussed. The result is that very important Amendments from both sides of the House will not be discussed at all.
We bitterly resent this step which has been taken by the Government. We think that it is trampling not only on the rights of the Opposition but on the rights of many back benchers opposite. This sort of thing is never wise. In this House it is common for tempers to flare up and calm down. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said, when we have lost our tempers we 540 usually contrive to find them again quickly. If the Government abuse their authority to trample upon what the Opposition regard as their reasonable and proper rights, this leads to long-lasting and deep resentment. Under our system of Parliamentary democracy the Opposition have a number of built-in rights and when these rights in general are disregarded we have not only the right but the duty to use the rights that are built into Parliamentary democracy as part of the armoury of an Opposition.
The Government have brought about as a result of this Motion the end of the normal considerations and courtesies between the two sides of the House. We feel so bitter about this that we, for our part, will not take part in the Business Committee which is to be set up under the Motion. We will not obstruct, of course, but we will use the full rights of the Opposition from now on. We will scrutinise and debate every Measure at proper length and with appropriate care, downstairs and upstairs. We are not only fighting this Motion and the two Bills to which it refers, but we feel that we are fighting for our own rights which have been ignored. We think that we have been doing our duty on both these Bills, discharging the proper duties of an Opposition. We think that we have been punished in anger for discharging those duties. We remember that occasion when the Leader of the House came back, angry, and announced this decision. What we are doing now came from that moment. We believe that we have been unfairly treated and we think that the Government will rue the day when they brought in this Motion.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) says that this debate and the character of the Motion will lead to long-lasting and deep resentment. I beg leave to doubt whether that really will be so. I am not saying that it is not for the Opposition to decide, but I take leave to doubt whether it will be so. I do not want anything I say to be thought to be in any way implying that the Opposition are not entitled or, indeed, should not, scrutinise—and here I use the right hon. Gentleman's own words—every Measure at proper length.
541 In the last debate on a guillotine Motion, a little less than twelve months ago, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, when he replied, was able to say that the outstanding characteristic of that debate was that it had throughout been remarkable for its good humour. I am glad tonight to be able to say precisely the same thing. Despite what the right hon. Gentleman said in the last few words of his speech, it is, I think, true to say that good humour has been the outstanding characteristic of this debate. It has also shown one other thing—that it is perfectly possible to have a hard-hitting debate which is at the same time good humoured.
From this debate what one might call the inevitable regular feature of guillotine Motion debates has been absent. That feature has, in the past, been that the arguments advanced from this side of the House are apt to be very similar, whichever party is in power, while the same is true in the past of the arguments put by the Opposition. Today we have had a debate rather different from the usual debates on guillotine Motions. It has been wide-ranging and interesting to listen to. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have addressed their minds to possible improvements of procedure.
I think that there is a feeling among some hon. Members on both sides that our procedure may be capable of improvement. In past debates speakers on both sides have been apt to taunt speakers on the opposite side with what they have said previously when discussing a similar subject. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not tonight."] No, but in the past. I am in the fortunate position that this is the first time I have spoken on a guillotine Motion. No one can taunt me with anything I have said in a previous debate, and I am not going to taunt Members opposite with what they have said previously.
§ The Attorney-General
I can certainly offer many taunts to the referee about being off-side.
Nor do I propose to take any time on the question of the constitutional principle which has been canvassed time and again on guillotine Motions. I think 542 it is generally recognised that I need takes up no time in arguing that a guillotine Motion is a proper and reasonable method for a Government who need to get their business through the House. That certainly was the view of the Opposition when they were in power.
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) reminded us that when in power the Labour Party used the Guillotine on three occasions in six years, and he suggested that the Government were making a regular practice of it. That is not the case. It is worth remembering that the record of the party opposite and the record of the Conservative Party on this matter cannot compare with the record of the Liberal Party, who devised this instrument. It is all a matter of history that the Liberal Party used it no fewer than 32 times in its last Government.
§ Mr. Grimond
Has the Attorney-General ever read the history about why the Liberal Party used it, or considered the conduct of the Conservative Opposition during that time, which far exceeded the bad behaviour of any possible Opposition ever since?
§ Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
Will my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that the Liberal Party will never use it again?
§ The Attorney-General
There is no need for me to ask the Leader of the Liberal Party for that assurance.
The only question about these Motions is their necessity. It is true to say that whatever party is in opposition, it is always the conduct of the Opposition, as the right hon. Member for Smethwick has just indicated, which leads to the Guillotine and timetable. Indeed, the more skilful the Opposition, the more they will press their opposition up to the point when the Government feel inclined to put on a timetable, without forcing them to do it. That was the explanation why the Socialist Party used it only three times when it was in power.
There have been occasions in the past when, in the view of some, this drastic weapon has been too readily resorted to. I know that hon. Members opposite will disagree, but, personally, I thought that it was resorted to too readily with the Town and Country Planning Bill in 1947 after we had had four sittings in Standing 543 Committee and had reached Clause 4, and so not made bad progress, and too readily in relation to the Iron and Steel Bill in 1948, before the Committee stage had even started. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had had a little trouble with the Gas Bill in the Session before, but the Labour Party's only ground for the Guillotine on the Iron and Steel Bill was that we had declared our opposition to it and our determination to fight it.
The necessity for this Motion is not just what the leaders of the party opposite have said, but the conduct of the party opposite during the Committee stages on both Bills, and I would like to remind the House of the position now reached. The Commonwealth Immigrants Bill has 26 Clauses and three Schedules. We have had three days in Committee and only five debates, and we have not even reached the end of Clause 1. The Army Reserve Bill has six Clauses. After two full days in Committee on the Floor of the House there have been five debates and the Committee has not reached the end of Clause 1. There are still 23 Amendments to that Clause on the Order Paper, 17 of them proposing new subsections.
The House is aware, and my right hon. Friend made it clear, that both Bills are regarded by the Government as part of their essential business of the Session, and we do not propose to drop them. If the Army Reserve Bill is delayed, those who are affected by Clause 2 will be the sufferers. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has said, further delay means prolonged uncertainty for them. We seek to avoid that by this Motion. The right hon. Member for Belper, who made a skilful speech, worked very hard to try to put the blame on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War for what has happened with the Army Reserve Bill. I do not think that he succeeded in convincing anyone who had knowledge of the facts.
My right hon. Friend moved to report Progress to clear up a point, and did so out of courtesy to the Opposition. It was known that it was going to happen. The only thanks that he got was that the Opposition seized upon the opportunity to delay proceedings on 544 the Bill, and, indeed, to seek to blame my right hon. Friend for the delay.
The right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to accuse the Government of arrogance, but that is his response to courtesy, like his response today to the letter I sent him giving notice that I was proposing to comment upon his conduct in accordance with the usual courtesy. I will not remind the House of his observations in relation to it, except to say that when he requires counsel I am sure that he will require to have the best one to get him out of his difficulties.
I should like to put this question to the right hon. Gentleman. Courtesy was extended to him by me and by my right hon. Friend. Before he made his attack on the Chief Whip, did he give him notice that he was going to do so?
§ The Attorney-General
I thought it courteous to give notice to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, even though he is meant to be here, too.
Since the Committee has not even completed its deliberations on the first Clause of either Bill it is really impossible to estimate the time it would take to get both Bills through if we did not have a timetable. Without one, it would be optimistic to hope that the Army Reserve Bill would be enacted before the end of March. Without it, it would indeed be optimistic to prophesy when would be the end of the Committee stage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, and nor is there really any reason to suppose that there would be any quicker progress on either Bill when Clause I was dealt with.
The Opposition have made their attitude clear. There is no secrecy about it. They are determined to fight both Bills all the way. I make no complaint about that. They are entitled to do that, but they are not entitled to complain when we show that we mean business and mean to get these Bills. If there was any shred of doubt in anyone's mind as to the Opposition's intentions, their conduct on these days in Committee should have removed it.
545 When I first became an hon. Member the debates in Committee were crisp and direct. The principle of the Bill having been accepted, the debate in Committee usually focussed on narrow points. Speeches were usually short, and if the point was not agreed there was a Division. Nowadays speeches in Committee tend to resemble speeches on Second Reading. Sometimes, un-happily, they last even longer.
I will give one clear example. On the Second Reading of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, the right hon. Member for Smethwick spoke for exactly thirty minutes in moving the rejection of the Bill, and the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition spoke for thirty-two minutes in winding up. On the first day in Committee the rôles of the two right hon. Gentlemen were reversed. The Leader of the Opposition moved the first Amendment and his right hon. Friend wound up. It took the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition thirty-five minutes to move his Amendment, longer than it took him to argue the rejection of the whole Bill. It took his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick forty minutes to support him, ten minutes longer than it took him to move the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman made any deduction for the large number of interruptions in my speech, when I was sitting down and not speaking?
§ The Attorney-General
The right hon. Gentleman has already spoken; it is now his turn to listen. I shall have a great deal to say about him tonight, and if he cannot take it he had better raise a point of order.
§ The Attorney-General
I could give other instances of long speeches in Committee. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) spoke for no less than 41 minutes. Of course one is entitled to 546 make long speeches if one wants to, and keeps in order, but 1 agree with something that has been said by hon. Members on both sides, namely, that the effect of long speeches in Committee is to deprive our debates of the crispness and incisiveness which they used to have, and to make them rather dull and dreary.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) drew attention to what he called the loss of prestige of this House. If that prestige has been lost, I think it is due partly to the changed character of our debates in Committee. Indeed, from the lengthy and wide-ranging nature of many speeches one begins to suspect that their object is just to hold up the Bills and not try to get them altered.
Our attitude throughout has been that we are willing to consider any constructive suggestions put forward. The right hon. Member for Belper has no justification for saying that we are not willing to listen. Indeed, the impression that their intention is just to hold up the Bills is fortified by another modern tendency, to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) referred—that of raising innumerable points of order. That used not to happen. I doubt whether it adds to the prestige or—to use a current word—the image of this House in the world outside.
The procedure on the second day of the Committee stage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill lasted five minutes short of six hours, and of those six hours no fewer than three were spent on points of order. From just before 7 p.m. until nearly 8 p.m. when the House was suspended due to grave disorder, apart from seven lines in HANSARD, uttered by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, not a word was spoken by hon. Members on this side. Time was taken up not by long speeches or by any debate on the Bill; not in attempts to destroy the case for the Bill, but in contention with the Chair. As I have said, apart from the one intervention by my right hon. Friend not a word was uttered from this side. The debate was not with us, and it was not on the Bill. It was because the debate was not with us and was not on the Bill that we were silent. I hope that the right hon. Member for Belper was not under the impression that we sat 547 silent in admiration of his Parliamentary skill. It was the silence of contempt.
Then, after the suspension, we had a long discussion about the position of the Mace, and in all this the right hon. Member for Belper played a considerable part. Indeed, his contributions to the Committee Stage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill have so far been confined to speaking on what were represented to be points of order. This new development in the tactics of the Opposition succeeded in delaying the debate on the Bill, but such discussions with the Chair are really no substitute for debate. Doing that is not fighting the Government on a Bill, line by line; it is just holding up the business of the House and is hardly consonant with its dignity.
I do not usually find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), but I entirely agree with what he said just after 9 p.m. on that night, namely:I think it would best suit the convenience and dignity of the Committee if we were now, in some sort of way, able to resume discussion of a serious kind on matters on which deep feelings are held on both sides of the Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 1489.]The right hon. Gentleman's contributions to the debates in Committee on the Army Reserve Bill were equally germane to the contents of the Measure for, although he moved the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading his speeches in Committee appear to have been confined to supporting the Motion to report Progress, moved by his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick.
The right hon. Gentleman did, however, contribute one illuminating, and indeed entertaining, remark to these proceedings. I should not have been surprised to have found it quoted in the Sunday newspapers as one of the sayings of the week. At the very end of the day he said,We have co-operated tonight. We offered co-operation beyond what was due ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 1312.]Those words were spoken at a quarter-to-twelve, two hours after anything had been said on any Amendment to the Bill. What the right hon. Gentleman called co-operation might more realistically be called something far different.
§ The Attorney-General
The right hon. Gentleman has done quite enough talking today. It is about time he sat quiet and let someone else make a speech.
§ The Attorney-General
I am trying to induce the right hon. Gentleman to have the good manners to stay quiet and allow someone else to make a speech. But appealing to the right hon. Gentleman to be courteous is, perhaps, a waste of time.
The right hon. Gentleman argued that because Government supporters had spoken during the Committee stage of the Bill, there was no case for the guillotine Motion. That argument really is that we can have a case for a timetable only if hon. Members on these benches say nothing at all during the Committee stage discussions, and make no reply to observations made by hon. Members opposite. That would be the negation of debate. It would not matter whether or not hon. Members supported the Bill. A debate means an interchange of views. But that was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) advanced an argument in an entirely different category. He argued that the only reason the Government were introducing this Motion was to guillotine our own supporters. Both those arguments are not well founded. There is no substance in them.
As I have mentioned the right hon. Member for South Shields, to whose speech I listened with considerable interest, may I also say this to him. He made some observations about the part played in one of these debates by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He sought to suggest that the Home Secretary had in some way usurped the functions of the Leader of the House. I do not agree. I think that there is no substance at all in that statement and I would point out to the 549 right hon. Gentleman that we on the Government Front Bench work as a team—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".]—I appreciate that that is the envy of hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench. But I say to the right hon. Member for South Shields that I would never subscribe to the theory which he advanced, that a Minister in charge of a Bill is not entitled to make an observation about the progress of the Bill while the Leader of the House is sitting on the Government Front Bench. I think that a false doctrine so far as the House of Commons is concerned.
I know that the right hon. Member, for South Shields, for a period of some three months, or it may have been longer, was Leader of the House. If he will think back, he will find that there were probably quite a number of occasions when he was present in the Chamber and when, by agreement with him, as was the case on the occasion to which reference has been made, the Minister in charge of a Bill made some observations on the Bill.
§ Mr. Ede
I made it plain to my colleagues on the Front Bench at the time when I was Leader of the House that it would be ill-advised of them to become involved in petty disputes about the rate of progress and procedure; and I never had any complaint from them for taking part as Leader of the House when that issue arose.
§ The Attorney-General
I should like to pursue this for a moment with the right hon. Gentleman. Motions to report Progress—as it was on this occasion—are addressed to the Minister in charge of the Bill, and when Motions to report Progress are made in Committee, normally the Minister in charge of the Bill replies. I hope that what the right hon. Gentleman said will not be accepted as doctrine, because, surely, as he will recognise, it is usually a matter of arrangement and agreement between the Ministers on this Bench.
I should like to say, in conclusion, that we base our case for this Motion on the fact that, despite these long days in Committee on both Bills, we have made such little progress in getting through the Committee stages. On both Bills, the 550 tactics of the Opposition have been the same—not to engage, to use the words of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne—indiscussion of a serious kind on matters on which deep feelings are held on both sides of the Committee "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1961; Vol. 650; c. 1489.]—and I well recognise that these feelings exist—but to do all in their power to delay and postpone debate. It has been said more than once in this debate that it is always a matter of regret to introduce a timetable of this kind, and I agree entirely that it should never be lightly introduced. It certainly is not being lightly introduced today.
§ The Attorney-General
Here, by their conduct, and particularly the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman with his points of order and bogus points of order on both these Bills—
§ The Attorney-General
—the Opposition have demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt the need, and the urgent need, for a timetable. They complain now—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick made the complaint, and he was the only person to do so—that the time allotted was too short. If that really was so, I am astonished that the right hon. Gentleman has not put an Amendment on the Order Paper to extend the period, but he has not done that. The party opposite have not done that, and it does not lie in their mouths, at the very end of the debate on a guillotine Motion of this kind, for the first time to suggest that more time should be allowed. It does not come well from them.
I hope and trust that we shall be able to give both these Bills, as, indeed, I believe we can, adequate discussion under the allotted timetable. The case for the Motion has been conclusively 551 made out by the conduct of the Opposition—
§ The Attorney-General
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman acknowledges his responsibility for these points of
§ order, and I ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to support this Motion in the Lobby.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 315, Noes 228.555
|Division No. 45.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Aitken, W. T.||Doughty, Charles||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Drayson, G. B.||Irvine, Bryan Godman (Rye)|
|Allason, James||du Cann, Edward||Jackson, John|
|Amery, Bt. Hon. Julian||Duncan, sir James||James, David|
|Arbuthnot, John||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Jennings, J. C.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Eden, John||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Balniel, Lord||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Barber, Anthony||Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Barlow, Sir John||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Batsford, Brian||Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Baxter, sir Beverley (Southgate)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.|
|Beamish Col. Sir Tufton||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Bell, Ronald||Farr, John||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Fell, Anthony||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Finlay, Graeme||Kirk, Peter|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Fisher, Nigel||Kitson, Timothy|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Bidgood, John C.||Foster, John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Biffen, John||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Leavey, J. A.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Freeth, Denzil||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gammans, Lady||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Gardner, Edward||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Bossom, Clive||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Gibson-Wart, David||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Box, Donald||Gilmour, Sir John||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Glover, Sir Douglas||Longbottom, Charles|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Braine, Bernard||Godber, J. B.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Brawls, John||Goodhart, Phillip||Lucas Sir Jocelyn|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.- Col. Sir Walter||Goodhew, Victor||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gower, Raymond||Mac Arthur, Ian|
|Brooman-White, R.||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||McLaren, Martin|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Green, Alan||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Bryan, Paul||Gresham Cooke, R.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Buck, Antony||Grimston, Sir Robert||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bullard, Denys||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Gurden, Harold||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Butcher, sir Herbert||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Butter, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Warden)||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Maddan, Martin|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maitland, Sir John|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mathew. Robert (Honiton)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hastings, Stephen||Mawby, Ray|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hay, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Cole, Norman||Hendry, Forbes||Mills, Stratton|
|Collard, Richard||Hiley, Joseph||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Cooke, Robert||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Morgan, William|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Morrison, John|
|Cordle, John||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Costain, A. P.||Hocking, Philip N.||Neave, Airey|
|Coulson, Michael||Holland, Philip||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Hollingworth, John||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Critchley, Julian||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hopkins, Alan||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hornby, R. P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Curran, Charles||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Dance, James||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hughes-Young, Michael||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Panned, Norman (Kirkdale)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Partridge, E.||Scott-Hopkins, James||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Seymour, Leslie||Turner, Colin|
|Peel, John||Sharpies, Richard||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Percival, Ian||Shaw, M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Peyton, John||Shepherd, William||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Skeet, T. H. H.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Pilkington, Sir Richard||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Pitman, Sir James||Smithers, Peter||Walder, David|
|Pitt, Miss Edith||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Walker, Peter|
|Pott, Percivall||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wall, Patrick|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Speir, Rupert||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Stanley, Hon. Richard||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Stevens, Geoffrey||Webster, David|
|Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Stodart, J. A.||Whitelaw, William|
|Pym, Francis||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Storey, Sir Samuel||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Ramsden, James||Studholme, Sir Henry||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Rawlinson, Peter||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Talbot, John E.||Wise, A. R.|
|Rees, Hugh||Tapsell, Peter||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Renton, David||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Woollam, John|
|Rippon, Geoffrey||Temple, John M.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Roots, William||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Mr. E. Wakefield and|
|Russell, Ronald||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter||Mr. Chichester-Clark.|
|St. Clair, M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Abse, Leo||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Jeger, George|
|Ainsley, William||Evans, Albert||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Albu, Austen||Fernyhough, E.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Finch, Harold||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Fitch, Alan||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Baird, John||Fletcher, Eric||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Beaney, Alan||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bence, Cyril||Forman, J. C.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Kelley, Richard|
|Benson, Sir George||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Blackburn, F.||Galpern, Sir Myer||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Blyton, William||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)||King, Dr. Horace|
|Boardman, H.||Ginsburg, David||Lawson, George|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Gooch, E. G.||Ledger, Ron|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Bowles, Frank||Gounlay, Harry||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Boyden, James||Greenwood, Anthony||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Grey, Charles||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Griffiths, David (Bother Valley)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths. Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gunter, Ray||McCann, John|
|Callaghan, James||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||MacColl, James|
|Cattle, Mrs. Barbara||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McInnes, James|
|Cliffe, Michael||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)|
|Collick, Percy||Hannan, William||McLeavy, Frank|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hart, Mrs. Judith||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hayman, F. H.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Cronin, John||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Darling, George||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mapp, Charles|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hilton, A. V.||Marsh, Richard|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Holman, Percy||Mason, Roy|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Deer, George||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Dempsey, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Millan, Bruce|
|Diamond, John||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Milne, Edward|
|Dodds, Norman||Hunter, A. E.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Monslow, Walter|
|Driberg, Tom||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Moody, A. S.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Morris, John|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Mort, D. L.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Moyle, Arthur|
|Mulley, Frederick||Roberts, Goronwy (Caenarvon)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Neal, Harold||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Oliver, G. H.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Timmons, John|
|Oram, A. E.||Ross, William||Tomney, Frank|
|Oswald, Thomas||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Owen. Will||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wade, Donald|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Paget, R. T.||Skeffington, Arthur||Warbey, William|
|Pannell, Charles (Leech, W.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Weitzman, David|
|Parker, John||Small, William||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Paton, John||Snow, Julian||Whitlock, William|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Sorensen, R. W.||Wigg, George|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Peart, Frederick||Spriggs, Leslie||Willey, Frederick|
|Pentland, Norman||Steele, Thomas||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Prentice, R. E.||Storehouse, John||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Stones, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Probert, Arthur||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Winter-bottom, R. E.|
|Randall, Harry||Swain, Thomas||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, Stephen||Woof, Robert|
|Redhead, E. C.||Symonds, J. B.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Reid, William||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Rhodes, H.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Mr. Short.|