HC Deb 29 January 1962 vol 652 cc710-7
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)

I beg to move, That Sir William Anstruther-Gray be the Chairman of Ways and Means and that Sir Robert Grimston be the Deputy-Chairman.

Mr. Speaker

The Question is—

Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)

On a point of order. Would it be possible, Sir, to get the feeling of the House on whether the Motion moved by the Leader of the House should be taken in two parts?

Mr. Speaker

The position is this. I do not think that I can deal with it being taken in two parts. On the other hand, in the circumstances I will accept a manuscript Amendment, which would enable the problem to be discussed, I think.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

Arising out of that point of order, would it not be possible for the Leader of the House to take note of this request and to move two Motions instead of one?

Mr. Macleod

The Motion I have moved is in accordance with precedents going back far a century or more, but you, Mr. Speaker, have said that if the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) puts forward a manuscript Amendment you would accept it. Naturally, we should not oppose that course.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire)

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that you have not yet completed putting the Question? You were interrupted by a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

I thought that the position was that I was unduly slow in observing the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) rise to a point of order, so I deemed myself not to have started putting the Question.

Dr. King

I beg to move, as a manuscript Amendment, That the name of Sir Robert Grimston be lmitted from the Motion.

It would be impossible for hon. Members, to whom this announcement by the Leader of the House has come as a complete surprise, to put forward an alternative name at a moment's notice—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about you?"] May I say to the interrupter—

Mr. Speaker

I think that the true form of this Amendment must be that what the hon. Member suggests is that all the words from "Means" to the end of the Question be left out.

Dr. King

I beg to move, to leave out from "Means" to the end of the Question.

May I say to the hon. Member who interrupted that this is by no means a party matter. This is a House of Commons matter. I express only my own feeling, but I think that it is shared by many hon. Members. We feel that the name suggested as the new Chairman of Ways and Means will commend itself wholeheartedly to the House, but the feeling of some of us in that in the office of Chairman or Deputy-Chairman the House ought to appoint somebody who has had experience of the Chair.

On the Government side, there are a number of hon. Members who have for quite a number of years now undertaken the office of Chairman of Committee and are members of the Chairman's Panel, and we think that it would be much more appropriate if the Leader of the House and the Government were to consider this matter further and then bring to the House at a later date the name of someone from the party opposite now serving on the Chairman's Panel, which would be acceptable to the whole House.

This is by no means any reflection on the hon. Gentleman the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston), whose name (as been proposed by the Leader of the House, and for whom the whole House has an affection, but those of us who serve in the House as Temporary Chairmen feel that this is a matter quite out-with ordinary questions of party. I therefore suggest to the House that it should accept the Amendment proposed, and defer the question of the appointment of the Deputy-Chairman for further consideration.

Mr. Macleod

I wish to intervene on only two points. First, when this Motion, or a similar Motion, was discussed in 1943, Mr. Attlee, as he then was, in introducing it, said: That does not alter the fact that these are Motions without notice, and have generally been made immediately on the relinquishment of the office. In winding-up the debate, Mr. Eden, as he then was, said: There has obviously been some quite genuine misunderstanding about precedents in this matter…I have looked them up carefully, and there is absolutely no precedent for notice being given, or consultation, beforehand…On every occasion in the last century a Motion has been put down by the Government and all the precedents I can find are that on the day when the Chairman of Ways and Means resigns or retires a new Chairman and Deputy-Chairman are appointed on that day.'—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th January, 1943; Vol. 386, cc. 259 and 263.] That is on the point of notice, which, I think, may well have puzzled some hon. Members, because the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) said that it came as a surprise to him. All I can say is that these Motions are always put forward in that way.

The other point concerns the hon. Member's suggestion that the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) had not had experience in the Chair. With respect, that is not correct. The hon. Member for Westbury—Sir Robert Grimston, in the terms of the Motion now before us—has been a Member of the House since 1931. He has been a member in two different offices of Governments, and, in particular, in response to the point just made, he was a member of the Chairman's Panel from June, 1955, to July, 1959—rather more than four years.

I think that that meets the point which the hon. Member put before the House, and that this is a name that, with confidence, we can put before the House for its acceptance.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I do not doubt for a moment the competence of the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston), whom the Leader of the House and the Government have put forward for the office of Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means. Nor do I question for a moment his impartiality and objectivity if the House were to pass the Motion proposed by the Leader of the House, but some of us are not parties to the discussions that usually take place on these matters through the usual channels.

I am wondering whether the Leader of the House could give us any information at all about the rumours that have been publicly bruited about concerning some kind of negotiations or understanding, or about some kind of breakdown in negotiations, that occurred with regard to other possible nominees. I do not propose to mention any names. I dare say that the newspapers have been read by more than one hon. Member of the House, and I should have thought that it was in fulfilment of our practice when these things are being discussed elsewhere that they should be mentioned here so that we could all know what has taken place and what the position now is.

It is not unknown in our traditions for at least one of the three officers who discharge the functions of the Chair to belong to an Opposition party. This has happened frequently in the past, and it would not have been an inappropriate thing to have happened on this occasion. I should like to know whether that aspect of the matter has been considered, and, if it was considered and rejected, why it was rejected. I do not think that it is in the least a reflection on the hon. Member for Westbury to say that there are other hon. Members on both sides of the House who could also discharge these duties competently, efficiently and fairly, and that if there has been some good reason why all these nominations should be the nominations of hon. Members of one party, the House should know what it is.

Mr. Macleod

Perhaps I may say that these matters were taken into consideration. There was some correspondence, as there would be, naturally, in a case like that, but it would be wholly inappropriate to go into details.

Mr. Thorpe

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will assist the House a little further on this matter? The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) has said that this is not a party matter. The fact that no Amendment of any sort has been moved to the first part of the Motion would seem to indicate the confidence and the respect which the house has for the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) as prospective Chairman of Ways and Means. It seems that this is something that commands the support of the whole House.

The office of Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means is also an extremely important and difficult position. It is perfectly true that there are precedents for saying that no notice need be given to the House, but there is unequally long precedent for saying that, wherever possible, the Leader of the House, should meet the convenience of the House as a whole. Is there any precedent at all for the suggestion that it is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to agree to a Division in regard to the voting on these two specific issues?

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, also, why he is not prepared to have a vote taken on the first part of the Motion—the appointment of the Chairman of Ways and Means—and then, possibly after discussions have been held through the usual channels, and those channels that are not usually consulted, take a vote, perhaps today week? Could not the right hon. Gentleman try to meet the House on this matter? I am sure that those who would wish to support the manuscript Amendment are anxious to have as little controversy as possible about it, but I think that the House feels that it should have some sort of consultation.

Mr. Macleod

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, he knows, of course, that it is a matter for the Chair how the Question shall be put, and the Chair has given some indication of willingness to accept a manuscript Amendment, which is what I understand is now being debated. In the form that you, I understand, Mr. Speaker, will eventually put the Question, it is for the House, and not for the Leader of the House, to decide what action it should take.

Mr. Thorpe

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not for the right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Motion to say whether or not he is prepared to accept the manuscript Amendment?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister moved the Motion, and the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) has moved an Amendment. The House is at present discussing that Amendment.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 52.

Division No. 46.] AYES 4.2 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Gammans, Lady Oakshott, Sir Hendrie
Aitken, W. T. Gibson-Watt, David Orr-Ewing, C. Ian
Ashton, Sir Hubert Gilmour, Sir John Page, John (Harrow, West)
Balniel, Lord Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Barber, Anthony Godber, J. B. Partridge, E.
Barlow, Sir John Goodhew, Victor Pearson, Frank (Ciltheroe)
Batsford, Brian Grant, Rt. Hon. William Peel, John
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Peyton, John
Bell, Ronald Green, Alan Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hall, John (Wycombe) Pilkington, Sir Richard
Berkeley, Humphry Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Pitt, Miss Edith
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Hare, Rt. Hon. John Pott, Percivall
Bidgood, John C. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Prior, J. M. L.
Biffen, John Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
Biggs-Davison, John Hay, John Proudfoot, Wilfred
Bishop, F. P. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pym, Francis
Bossom, Clive Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Ramsden, James
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Boyle, Sir Edward Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Renton, David
Braine, Bernard Hobson, John Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Holland, Philip Ridsdale, Julian
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hollingworth, John Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld)
Brooman-White, R. Hopkins, Aran Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Bryan, Paul Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Russell, Ronald
Buck, Antony Hughes-Young, Michael Scott-Hopkins, James
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hulbert, Sir Norman Sharples, Richard
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hutchison, Michael Clark Skeet, T. H. H.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Iremonger, T. L. Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher
Cary, Sir Robert Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Channon, H. P. G. Jennings, J. C. Studholme, Sir Henry
Chataway, Christopher Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Tapsell, Peter
Chichester-Clark, R. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Kershaw, Anthony Temple, John M.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Lagden, Godfrey Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Cleaver, Leonard Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Collard, Richard Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Cooper, A. E. Lilley, F. J. P. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Cordeaux, Lt-Col. J. K. Linstead, Sir Hugh Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Cordle, John Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Corfield, F. V. Longbottom, Charles van Straubenzee, W. R-
Costain, A. P. Longden, Gilbert Vane, W. M. F.
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Craddock, Sir Beresford McLaren, Martin Vickers, Miss Joan
Critchley, Julian Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Walker, Peter
Curran, Charles Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Dance, James MacLeod, John (Rose & Cromarty) Wall, Patrick
d' Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Watkinson, Rt. Hon, Harold
Deedes, W. F. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Whitelaw, William
Doughty, Charles Marlowe, Anthony Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Drayson, G. B. Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Eden, John Marshall, Douglas Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliott, R.W.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Marten, Neil Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Wise, A. R.
Farey-Jones, F. W. Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Wolrige-Cordon, Patrick
Farr, John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Finlay, Graeme Mills, Stratton Woodhouse, CM.
Fisher, Nigel Montgomery, Fergus Woollam, John
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Morrison, John
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Nabarro, Gerald TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Mr. Edward Wakefield and
Freeth, Denzil Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.
Blackburn, F. Fletcher, Eric Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Blyton, William Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lipton, Marcus
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Greenwood, Anthony MacColl, James
Boyden, James Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McLeavy, Frank
Brockway, A. Fenner Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hannan, William Manuel, A. C.
Callaghan, James Hill, J. (Midlothian) Mapp, Charles
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Hilton, A. V. Mayhew, Christopher
Cliffe, Michael Holman, Percy Monslow, Walter
Dodos, Norman Kelley, Richard Moyle, Arthur
Donnelly, Desmond King, Dr. Horace Pargiter, G. A.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lawson, George Parker, John
Parkin, B. T. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Pavitt, Laurence Spriggs, Leslie Whitlock, William
Plummer, Sir Leslie Steele, Thomas Wilkins, W. A.
Rankin, John Swingler, Stephen Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Robertson, John (Paisley) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Thorpe and Mr. Holt.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That Sir William Anstruther-Gray be the Chairman of Ways and Means and that Sir Robert Grimston be the Deputy-Chairman.