§ 7.—(1) At a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any Proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee 421 under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the Proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.
§ (2) No dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill or the adjournment of the Standing Committee shall be made in the Standing Committee except by a Member of the Government, and the question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ (3) No Motion shall be made in the Standing Committee relating to the sittings of the Committee except by a member of the Government and the Chairman shall permit a brief explanatory statement of the reasons for the Motion from the Member who moves, and from a Member who opposes the Motion, and shall then put the Question thereon.
§ (4) On the conclusion of the Proceedings in the Standing Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any question.
§ 8. No Motion shall be made to postpone any Clause, Schedule, new Clause or new Schedule, but the recommendations of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are to be taken in the Standing Committee.
§ 9. On an allotted day, other than the second of the days on which the Housing (Scotland) Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day, Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) and Standing Order No. 1A (Exemptions 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.
§ 10. If, on any allotted day, other than the second of the days on which the Housing (Scotland) Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day, a Motion is made under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on definite matter of urgent public importance), paragraph 9 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.
§ 11. If, at Seven o'clock on any allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or 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 422 that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.
§ 12.—(1) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on any allotted day, other than the second of the days on which the Housing (Scotland) Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day, shall, instead of 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.
§ 13. 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.
§ 14. On an allotted day no dilatory Motion with respect to Proceedings on the Bill shall be made except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without any debate.
§ 15. For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which, under any Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or of the Business Committee, or under this Order, 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 from 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.
§ 16.—(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 Sub-Committee or of the Business Committee shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion two hours after they have been commenced and paragraph 15 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 423 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 Sub-Committee or 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.
§ 17. Nothing in this Order or in any Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee or 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.
§ 18.—(1) References in this Order 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.
§ (2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to re-commit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment selected under Standing Order No. 31 (Selection of Amendments).
§ (3) On the conclusion of any Proceedings in Committee of the whole House on re-committal of the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.
§ 19. In this Order "allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the day; "the Bill" means the Transport Bill or the Housing (Scotland) Bill; "Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee; and "Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.
§ There are two sorts of debate that one can have on Allocation of Time Motions. The first consists of a battle of quotations—parading what the other side of the House has said in the past; and the second is based on the assumption that the use of the Guillotine in our procedure is in some cases not only justified, but 424 necessary; and one merely has to consider whether the Motion before the House is such a case. I propose to follow the second course, and come straight to the Transport Bill.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
On a point of order. Before we proceed any further with this matter, may we have some guidance from you, Mr. Speaker? This is a most unusual occasion, because, in practice, although the Motion is drafted in conventional terms it refers to two separate Bills which are before the House—the Transport Bill and the Housing (Scotland) Bill.
Many of my hon. Friends, like myself, would like to know how we can assure that we have a tidy and orderly debate, when such diverse Bills are placed, as it were, on the same charge sheet, and hon. Members are asked to answer criticisms from the Government benches. It will be impossible to maintain an orderly debate unless there is some division of time, so that there need be no jumping about from one Bill to the other as the debate proceeds.
We shall be grateful if we can have some guidance from you, Mr. Speaker, if you have any powers in the matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that I have. From my point of view it is one Question, and has to remain one Question. The House must discuss the matter as best it can.
The House will remember that the Transport Bill of 1947, to which I shall make some reference later, was joined with the Town and Country Planning Bill—and they were far bigger Bills than these two—and that this has been common practice for a long time.
It might be convenient if I say that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland hopes to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, about half way through the debate, at about seven o'clock, and that at the end of the debate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport hopes to speak.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
Do we understand that the Minister is telling us that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is a member of the Cabinet, has to depend on catching Mr. Speaker's eye in this debate, 425 part of which applies to an important Scottish Measure?
Naturally, I shall deal with both, but in meeting the request for an orderly debate I thought it best to take them one at a time. I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that that is the best course.
§ Mr. Archie C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
It seems to me that the debate will be quite unreal from the point of view of Scottish Members. The Secretary of State for Scotland—a fully-fledged member of the Cabinet—will be brought in approximately half-way through the debate. We do not know how many Scottish Members—if any—will have been called upon by that time. Why should not the Secretary of State wind up the debate, thus having an opportunity to answer questions put by Scottish Members?
Because, in that case, we should no doubt have equal objections from those Members whose main interest is in the Transport Bill. I shall devote half the time for which I wish to address the House to the Housing (Scotland) Bill.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
On a point of order. I notice that the Minister of Transport and the Parliamentary Secretary are present. I know that both are on the Transport Bill. But the Secretary of State for Scotland has not attended any sittings of the Housing (Scotland) Bill. He knows nothing about our proceedings in Committee. Why, therefore, should we be burdened with him?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member rose to a point of order. Will he be good enough to indicate what point of order he is raising?
§ Mr. Lawson
Are we to be burdened with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who had nothing to do with the Scottish Bill in Committee?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. I wish that hon. Members would not rise to points of order which are not points of order.
In the case of the Transport Bill it is important that the new structure should be introduced as soon as possible, not least to remove uncertainty among the staff concerned. During the Second Reading debate the Financial Secretary to the Secretary stated that the vesting day might be 1st January next, and even with this Allocation of Time Motion—if the House approves it—taking into account the time that will have to be spent in another place, there will be only a comparatively short time left after the Royal Assent for very complicated appointments and preparations that will be necessary.
It is important, secondly—perhaps about this there will be less discord between the two sides of the House—that the reconstruction of the finances of the Commission, and particularly the operation to relieve the railways of their present burden of capital debt, should be completed. It is important, thirdly, that they should, as soon as possible, have the freedom which is contemplated in the operation of their commercial affairs. The question is, then: what is a reasonable time for these discussions? In this connection, we must look at both present progress and at precedent.
The first meeting of Standing Committee E on this Bill was held on 5th December, 1961. The Committee, so far, has held 23 meetings. Owing to the slowness of the progress, the original programme of two meetings a week was changed to three. The Bill has been discussed for 60 hours so far, out of which Ministers and Government supporters together have spoken for 18. There were about 250 Amendments on the Notice Paper—not surprisingly in respect of a Bill which is very much disliked by the Opposition—but as these Amendments do not—as the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) will agree—cover the whole of the later stages of the Bill, it is probably fair to assume that this is only a fraction of the number which might be put down.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport said at the nineteenth sitting that at the present rate of progress the 427 Bill could not be obtained before 1964. That was, of course, before the remarkable burst that the Committee made yesterday after the announcement of the time-table Motion, when no less than 12 Clauses were discussed. As to what conclusion one should draw from that, again opinions might differ on both sides of the House. Perhaps I may mention here—I mention it only to pass from it—that on both Bills an offer of a voluntary allocation of time was made, and in both cases—rightly, from the point of view of hon. Members opposite—the Opposition chose to reject it.
Let us now look at the question of precedent. Last week, on business, the right hon. Member for Vauxhall asked me whether I wasaware that the Transport Bill contains a great deal of contentious and complicated matters, which will have great consequences for the nation and all those who work in the transport industry, and that discussion of these matters therefore should not be curtailed or prevented?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 1544–5.]I replied that the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman put forward must have been equally valid in relation to the Transport Bill introduced in 1947 which had the melancholy distinction of being the first Bill to have the Guillotine applied to it in a Standing Committee. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will address himself to this point when he speaks.
Perhaps I may illustrate it a little further. This is a Bill of 91 Clauses. The 1947 Act had 127 Clauses and so it was roughly as big as the two Bills which we are discussing today put together. In 1947, the Government gave notice of a timetable Motion after 11 sittings. We have waited until after the twentieth sitting. Yet, in 1947, progress was a good deal swifter. The Standing Committee had reached Clause 6 after eleven sittings when the Government moved a Motion for guillotine powers, whereas in the present case the Committee had by then only finished Clause 3. In all—this is very important from the question of the amount of time—in 1947 there were 31 sittings in Committee, some with and some without the Guillotine.
If one makes the reasonable assumption that the Business Sub-Committee— 428 about which I will say a word in a moment—in relation to this Bill might recommend three sittings a week, as the Committee is sitting at present, there would be 36 sittings for this Bill; in other words, five more than for a Bill which was 36 Clauses larger. In short, this is both a smaller and obviously a much less fundamental Bill than the 1947 Act. Clearly, the allocation of time in 1962 is more generous and yet progress has been slower. On the basis of those figures, I hope that the House will feel that the case for an allocation of time Motion for this Bill has been made out.
§ Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)
May I say, Mr. Speaker, that I accept absolutely the need for a timetable Motion in Committee. But will my right hon. Friend apply himself to the second paragraph of the Motion, at the head of page 2421 of the Order Paper, that Report or Recommittal and Third Reading of the Bill should be completed in two allotted days? This is a very grave disability to be thrust on hon. Members, such as myself, who sat right through the Second Reading debate but could not catch your eye, Mr. Speaker—because there were so many others with more important claims than my own in this context—and then were not appointed members of the Standing Committee. Therefore, in respect of really massive matters in the Bill, decided in Committee, we do not have adequate time to refer to them when the Bill is recommitted—that is, hon. Members who were not members of Standing Committee E.
I understand that point very well. But this includes Recommittal, if there is one, and, as is normal, Report and Third Reading. The allocation of time is a matter for the Business Committee. That was the amount of time given for example to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill which was a Measure of enormous importance and, as I have just been saying, this is a Bill which is considerably smaller in size and scope than the previous major Transport Bill. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport wishes to touch on this point, so I will not go further on the matter in response to my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
In his intervention my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said, in a slightly aggrieved tone of voice, that he had not been appointed to Standing Committee E. From the returns of Standing Committees for the last two years I observe that my hon. Friend has not served on any Standing Committee for the last two years, whereas many other hon. Members have carried the heat and burden of the day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and, therefore, take his intervention in very bad part.
§ Mr. Nabarro
If my right hon. Friend will permit me—and my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) as well—may I say that my hon. Friend's researches are evidently incomplete. Had my hon. Friend studied the returns of the Standing Committees for 1950 to 1959, he would have found me almost continuously a member of a Standing Committee.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is there any way in which hon. Members on this side of the House may be protected from this internecine squabbling among the Government supporters?
§ Mr. Speaker
I was about to observe that interventions upon interventions are inevitably tedious. Mr. Macleod.
Perhaps I may be allowed to intervene in my own speech for a moment.
On the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which is much smaller in size but of great importance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Certainly, and very much disliked on the other side of the House—progress, as we all know, has been much slower even than on the Transport Bill. It is often said, and often there is a good deal of truth in it, that the early Clauses of a Bill—sometimes, in particular, Clause 1—are discussed at great length because in them is the heart of the whole Bill. But although Clause 1 is, no doubt, important, and I think that six sittings of the Committee were devoted to it, I should not consider it among the most important of all the Clauses in the Bill. It seems clear to me that Clause 3 and other Clauses are probably even more important—Clauses 8 and 29, and so forth.
430 Here, the position is that the Committee has had 13 sittings and is still only on Clause 2. I think that it is clear to everyone that even if the whole of this Parliamentary Session were devoted to this Bill, at the present rate of progress it is doubtful whether it would become law. When, on last week's business, I had an exchange with the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), I said that I had seen expressions of opinion about the progress on the Bill in Committee which would seem to put a rather different interpretation on what had happened from that of the hon. Member. I will not pursue this point in particular, because the hon. Member is not in his place and I have not given him notice. I referred to such comments as these in the Edinburgh Evening News, from its political correspondent. I will read only the headlines:Committee Becoming Socialist Debating Society. Hours Being Wasted on the Housing Bill.
It has nothing to do with the Tory Head Office. My authority in these matters stops at the Tweed.
§ Miss Herbison
The right hon. Gentleman has read only the headlines. Perhaps it would be better if he read the rest of it. So far as I can remember, these were the exact words used by one of his own back benchers.
Indeed, I assure the hon. Lady that I would be very willing to read it, but perhaps I had better pass it over to her, and then, if she likes she can read it all. If she insists, it goes on like this:But while it is good for a laugh to say that it took the Scots as long to fix the arrangements for an extra Sitting of their committee as it took Colonel Glenn to do three orbits of the world "—
The next words are:—the whole thing is really getting past a joke. And when one Socialist M.P. accuses the Press of reporting the committee's work in a frivolous manner, the last excuse for laughter disappears completely.The Minister in charge of the Bill has done everything he can to expedite its passage. He has, when it would bring about a decision, moved the Closure 431 half-a-dozen times, and, as with the Transport Bill, the Committee is now sitting three times a week.
The House will recall a point, and I think this, too, is a very important one, put by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) on business questions last week, that there was a similar Bill, I agree of comparable size, applying to England and Wales, which went through the Committee stage without the use of the Guillotine. When I announced this Motion, the hon. Member for Fulham said:On the Housing (Scotland) Bill, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he recollects that we had a comparable English Bill last Session and that although we gave the Bill the protracted discussion which it deserved, a guillotine Motion was not considered necessary and there was no idea of introducing it at this comparable stage in Committee?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 1547.]The hon. Member was, in fact, making my point for me. The two Bills were more or less of comparable length, although a considerable section of the English Act contained provisions on multiple occupation, which proved difficult and contentious and which indeed took seven Sittings.
Nevertheless, the Housing Act, 1961, passed Standing Committee in 22 sittings, and if, once more, I make the reasonable assumption that for the remaining period of the Committee stage, there will be, as there are now, three sittings a week, this Bill will have been examined for 22 sittings. When we remember that the English Bill contains, as I have said, the additional complicated Clauses on multiple occupation, it does not seem at all unreasonable to suggest that the Scottish Bill should be disposed of in the same number of sittings as the English one.
The House will have seen that the Allocation of Time Motion proposes to make use of both the Business Committee and the Business Sub-Committee, because these are Bills in Standing Committee. These conditions are established under Standing Orders Nos. 41 and 64. When last we discussed an Allocation of Time Order, shortly after the Christmas Recess, the Opposition said that as a gesture of protest they would not take part in the consideration of the proceedings of the Business Committee.
432 The Business Sub-Committee did not arise in that case, because both Bills were taken on the Floor of the House. I do not know whether they will take the same attitude, but I hope that they do not.
All Oppositions always detest, and always will detest, an Allocation of Time Motion. This is entirely right, but I do not think that it commits them in any way to approval of it if they share in the provision that the House has made through its Standing Orders for allotting the time available. Indeed, I believe that the Opposition stand to gain very much from this, because it would be normal in the Business Committee and the Business Sub-Committee for their suggestions to be accepted regarding the amount of time that might be given to different parts of the Bill and to the different Clauses. In this way, they would be able to put the emphasis of debate during the remaining stages of the Bill where they wished, and to concentrate their criticism where they judged it would be most effective.
The fundamental fact which we, as the House of Commons, have to consider is that with our procedures, which have grown up over so many years, any Bill whether it is long, or of moderate length, or even as we saw a year ago in March, a very short Bill indeed, will, if it is sufficiently disliked by the Opposition, result in a situation in which the Government must ask for allocation of time powers or drop the Bill, particularly if, as in this case, both the Bills are programme Bills, mentioned in the Queen's Speech, which have made some progress in Committee.
There have been two instances since the war, one from each side of the House, of moving for these powers before a Bill reached its Committee stage, and after it has had its Second Reading, but it is more common form that progress should be made in Committee, and that we should see whether such powers are or are not necessary. Both sides have in the past indulged in what one might call delaying tactics of a strenuous nature—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This is perfectly legitimate; it is all in Erskine May.
To accuse anybody of obstruction is also entirely Parliamentary. I remember Lord Morrison of Lambeth, as he is 433 now, putting me right on that point a dozen years ago. Whether it is wise or not to do this, I do not know. I would be fairly confident that the Conservative Opposition, as they then were, lost ground in the country as a result of what came to be called the "harrying tactics "towards the end of the period of Socialist Government.
Some hon. Members hold the view, and it was expressed particularly from the Opposition benches at the time of the guillotine Motion a year ago, that prolonged political controversy in the House is welcomed by the public outside. I understand that point of view, but I do not believe that it represents the point of view of the ordinary man. I believe that if he sees the House of Commons failing to complete its business, or not making reasonable progress in reasonable time, he comes to the conclusion that we ought to manage our affairs better.
I believe that the case that I have made today is unanswerable, although I expect it to be answered from now until ten o'clock, but I do not doubt that, after we have examined the case for the Allocation of Time Motion for these two Bills, the House of Commons, after debate, would be right to give us these powers.
In each instance I have taken the case which seemed to me to have most relevance, the 1947 Transport Act against this Transport Bill and the English Housing Act of 1961, which is closely related and in many cases has almost exactly the same wording as in the Scottish Bill.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
Is it not the case that since the Scottish Grand Committee has been divided into 434 two Standing Committees we have never had this procedure? Is not the chief allegation against the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends that he is, on this Bill, curbing discussion which is denied to half the Scottish hon. Members who are not able to be members of the Scottish Standing Committee?
I do not know whether it would be in order to reply to that. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) answered himself. There is a precedent for this.
I daresay, but the first precedent for a guillotine Motion in a Committee was a Socialist precedent, so we are even in that.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) asked me some time ago to contrive the organisation of this debate. I did not then know what the Leader of the House was to say about the likely time of the intervention by the Secretary of State for Scotland. I say now, in view of that arrangement, that I shall try as far as circumstances permit to have my eye concerned with hon. Members wishing to raise matters relating to Scotland early in the debate. I must, however, first call Mr. Strauss.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Does your statement, Mr. Speaker, mean that hon. Members who are English Members and who are interested only in the transport section of this Motion, which is the major part of it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—in substance the major part of it—will not succeed in catching your eye until after seven o'clock this evening? If so, is not that a grave inconvenience to English Members, who are in the majority on this occasion? Should we not have at least equal rights with the Scots?
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss (Vauxhall)
The speech of the Leader of the House in introducing this Motion was similar to those we have heard on these occasions in the past. When timetable Motions are introduced by the Government, the Leader of the House tells us that there has been delay in procedure in Standing 435 Committee and that the Bills concerned are important. Precedents are quoted and he tells us that if the Government are to get through their legislation, and Parliament is not to be frustrated, it is essential to introduce a guillotine Motion.
We do not dispute for a moment that the Government must be empowered, as, indeed, they are empowered, to get through such legislation as they desire. The procedure of the House permits that. We cannot complain if the Government use these powers, except to say that on certain occasions—and we have the occasion before us today—they should not be used. The right to use the guillotine Motion is undisputed, but there is another principle of equal importance which the House must consider. It is that it is wrong for a Government to curtail free and full discussion of important legislation except in extreme cases and on rare occasions.
There is, admittedly, a conflict of principle which arises on these matters, which it is difficult to reconcile. We say that the Government are using the powers of the guillotine far more frequently and with less cause than any previous Government. We complain that whenever a Bill gets into any difficulty in Committee, and the Minister becomes impatient at the progress which is being made, the Government proceed to the introduction of a timetable Motion.
I remind the House that, taking these two Bills into account, the Government will have introduced guillotine Motions in respect of four Bills within six weeks, which compares with the record of the Labour Government during their six years of office of only three guillotine Motions under the greatest provocation.
In those days, the Labour Government were forced to introduce the guillotine procedure, but the House will remember the extreme provocation which the Opposition gave the Government by deliberate, open, prolonged obstruction over a number of Bills. The House will remember that the Committee considering the Gas Bill was kept sitting for 50 hours non-stop and that a vast number of frivolous Amendments were tabled.
436 I can speak only in relation to the Committee on the Transport Bill, on which I have been sitting. It is impossible to put forward a case of obstruction in respect of that Committee. The proceedings there have been smooth and harmonious. There have been very few occasions on which points of order have been raised by any hon. Member of the Committee. Indeed, I think there have been no such occasions at all except those seeking from the Chairman legitimate guidance on procedure. No obstructive points of order have been raised. In view of the importance of the Bill, discussion in Committee has gone on smoothly and no one has complained about it.
The Leader of the House has quoted the Transport Bill of 1947. He said that was a Bill on which the Labour Government brought in the Guillotine. He asked me to justify guillotining discussion on that Measure when I opposed guillotining it on the Transport Bill now before Committee. I justify that by the statements I have already made. In those days we were facing obstruction from the Conservative Party such as no Government had faced since the days of obstruction by the Irish Members. It was absolutely necessary to introduce the Guillotine to get our legislation through.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that on the 1947 Transport Bill his Government were facing obstruction which was quite unprecedented?
§ Mr. Strauss
I say that throughout their life the Labour Government were facing obstruction. It was quite clear, even at that early stage, what the action of the Opposition would be. That we were proved right was shown by developments on the Gas Bill, which arose later. It was inevitable, in view of the line which the Conservative Opposition were taking at the time, that the Government were certain to face fierce obstruction on the Transport Bill. On that occasion the imposition of the time-table Motion was essential.
As the Leader of the House has quoted that Bill as a precedent, I desire to remind him of what leading members of his own party said about the introduction of the guillotine Motion at that time. They opposed it violently. I have looked 437 up that debate. J can quote to the Leader of the House and hon. Members some of the comments which were made by his colleagues on that occasion. Lord Hailsham, then Mr. Quintin Hogg, said that we were turning Parliament into a Reichstag. Sir Anthony Eden, now Lord Avon, said on that occasion:I am bound to say, it seems to us utterly scandalous to use the Guillotine, in this way, on major Bills upstairs at this stage of the Session.That statement was made on 3rd March and today is 7th March. He went on to say that the Guillotine procedure in respect of the Transport Bill was "intolerable and unacceptable" and that we wereviolating the traditions of the House".
§ Mr. Nabarro
But 3rd March, 1947, was much longer before the following Genera] Election. We are much nearer a General Election now. In 1947, therefore, much more of the Session was in front of the Labour Party.
§ Mr. Strauss
I thought that the hon. Member was about to make an intervention which was relevant, as his interventions usually are, but certainly is not on this occasion.
In summing up his objections to the Guillotine procedure, Sir Anthony Eden said of the Government:They are making it impossible for Members of this House, however diligent they may be, and wherever they may sit, to carry out their duties as they should be carried out. I beg them, even now, for the sake of our Parliamentary traditions, and for the sake of their own reputations, to withdraw this monstrous proposal… "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March. 1947; Vol. 434, c. 69–78.]The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who also spoke on that occasion, talked about the Guillotine Motion as the first step upon the road on which the Government had started—the effective strangulation of parliamentary debate and the substitution for it of legislation by Government decree."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 89.]If we took the first step, the present Government are taking leaps and bounds in the same direction. We imposed a Guillotine on three occasions. This is the eleventh Bill for which the Con- 438 servative Party has introduced Guillotine resolutions, four of them within six weeks.
There were similar comments by other leading Conservatives opposing the introduction of the Guillotine on the 1947 Bill, which the right hon. Gentleman advanced as a precedent. When he is advocating the Guillotine on this occasion, therefore, he is saying one of two things—either that his right hon. Friends in those days were talking nonsense or that he is now embarking on the same "intolerable", "unacceptable" and "monstrous" procedure which they condemned in those days.
§ Mr. J. Wells
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the dates of Easter and Whitsun in that year when the Labour Party were in office? He will remember that those dates affect the Parliamentary programme.
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not think that the date on which Easter fell in 1947 compared with the date of Easter this year is relevant.
I ask the House to consider the Transport Bill, its importance and its effect on the lives of a very large section of the community. The Bill does two things. First, it disintegrates the publicly-owned transport system of the country—in so far as it is already integrated, which is nothing like as much as we should like. This is a major operation of great importance, involving a number of detailed provisions, all of which are highly contentious. The Bill therefore affects the lives of over half-a-million people working in the transport industry.
Moreover, it touches the community in another direction; by implication, the provision of all the transport services in the country is seriously affected, as the prospects of the withdrawal of such services by the proposed Railways Board have arisen for consideration on many occasions under the Bill. The Bill is, therefore, a matter of great public importance—not only its principles, but the detailed way in which it is to be operated.
Another part of the Bill deals with reorganising the financial structure of the publicly-owned transport industry. Broadly, that part has the support of the 439 Opposition. When the Minister of Transport accuses us, as he did the other day, of delaying this necessary and too-long-delayed reconstruction, the answer is simple: there are two quite separate proposals contained in the Transport Bill which have little connection with each other, and if the Minister wants the financial reconstruction of the British Transport Commission to be put into operation quickly it should have been put in a separate Bill. If he expected the reorganisation of the Transport Commission, splintering it into a large number of different sections, to pass through the Committee after only a short discussion, he was being wildly optimistic. Such a thing is not possible.
The discussions in Committee have gone smoothly. We have had many speeches by hon. Members who are peculiarly fitted to talk about this great problem. Some Members of the Committee have spent many years in the railway service. They have great knowledge of the industry, and they have spoken from their experience. They are hon. Members who have devoted their lives to the welfare of the industry, and, naturally, they feel keenly and bitterly about the Government's proposals, which they believe will do grave damage to that industry. They have an obligation to give a warning to the Committee and to the Government about the consequences of the Bill and to move Amendments which they hope will modify some of those consequences.
They have done so effectively and extremely well, and I think that all hon. Members, including those on the Conservative side of the Committee, will agree that the contributions made by my hon. Friends who are expert in this subject have added a great deal to our knowledge and our understanding of the implications of the Bill. They feel that if they had not made their contributions they would have failed in their duty to the nation and in their responsibility to the industry with which they are so closely associated and in which they have spent so many years of their lives.
If it is suggested, as it was implied by the Leader of the House, that there has been undue delay and time-wasting in Committee as a result of the speeches 440 and actions of the Opposition, I reply that it has been time-wasting only in the sense that it is wasting time to put forward Amendments in Committee which one knows that the Government are certain to reject. That has happened in respect of every Amendment which we have put forward, whether it were a major Amendment or a smaller Amendment. Not one of them has been accepted.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
There is one other point which my right hon. Friend may wish to develop. In addition to the Amendments which have been tabled in Committee by my hon. Friends and me, a large number of Amendments were tabled by dissatisfied Government supporters, and by some stroke of magic those Amendments have disappeared from the Notice Paper under pressure from the Government Whips. That needs to be explained before this debate ends.
§ Mr. Strauss
I hope that we shall be given some explanation from Government members of the Committee during the debate.
There are two special, although minor reasons, why the Bill needs special scrutiny, both the responsibility of the Government. In some respects, the Bill is drafted with incredible carelessness, in particular in respect of one very important Clause. One of the major provisions of the Bill is the setting up of a new body called a holding company, which is to take charge of a large number of the services now being run by the Transport Commission. I shall not discuss the merits of such a provision, for that would be out of order.
§ This Clause is drafted in a way which makes absolute nonsense. It is now to be changed by a very large number of Amendments which have been tabled by the Government. Whether hon. Members will believe it or not, the Holding Company is to be established, under the Bill as at present drafted, without any explanation of what it is to be, whether it is to be a body corporate or not, who is to compose it and run it, or how those people are to be appointed. A Bill which comes before Parliament with that drafting defect on a matter of major importance, requires, at any rate in respect of this Clause, very careful and long scrutiny.441
§ The second reason, which I put forward with all seriousness, why the Bill has so far entailed lengthy discussion, longer than would otherwise have been necessary, is that we have had no one in the Committee from the Government side with the authority to accept Amendments, however desirable. The Minister of Transport has hardly attended the Committee. Every hon. Member who has sat on Committees knows that, if the Minister responsible for the Bill is there to guide the proceedings, these are greatly facilitated and speeded up.
§ I cast no reflection on the leadership which the Parliamentary Secretary has given to the Committee. He has done his work well and effectively. All members of the Committee pay tribute to him for this. But that is nothing to do with the question whether the Minister of Transport should be in the Committee or, if he had been in the Committee, whether the work of the Committee would have proceeded faster than it has. We hardly ever see the Minister. Many days go by without him putting in an appearance at all. Occasionally, he flits in and out like a bumblebee; he takes a look round and disappears again. His persistent absence from the Committee is a cause of complaint, not only by members of the Committee, but by the whole House, as it is a discourtesy to Parliament when a Minister introduces an important Bill and does not attend its Committee proceedings.
§ I repeat that, even if the Minister had been present throughout the Committee proceedings, the Bill is one to which we object and which we dislike very much—or certain parts of it. The Government have every right to introduce a Bill which they like and which we do not like. They have every right to force it through, if necessary by a timetable Motion, but only if such a timetable Motion is essential.
§ It is true, as the Leader of the House said, that we rejected the proposal for an agreed timetable. My colleagues were anxious to be unfettered in their criticisms of the Bill. They wanted to put forward freely the strong objections they hold to those parts of the Bill that they think are particularly evil and obnoxious. The Leader of the House said that we rejected an agreed timetable 442 proposal. On the 1947 Transport Bill, the Conservative Party also rejected such a timetable, through Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, as he then was, who led the Opposition on that occasion.
We dislike many parts of this Bill very much indeed. Therefore, we cannot be expected to agree to any proposal such as the right hon. Gentleman puts before us today which makes its passage easier or more certain. We were elected to the House to oppose by all the powers which parliamentary procedure accords to us the enactment of such legislation as this Transport Bill. When the House discussed, on 25th January a timetable Motion in respect of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and the Army Reserve Bill, there was opposition from some Conservative Members. The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who very much disliked the Army Reserve Bill, refused to vote for the timetable Motion. He said:
… I will do nothing whatever to facilitate its passage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1962; Vol. 652, c. 497.]
We take the same view about the Transport Bill. We think that it is a thoroughly bad Bill and will have bad consequences nationally and on those working in the industry. Therefore, we oppose the timetable Motion, which will inevitably curtail what we consider to be proper discussion on the Bill and the movement of essential Amendments. We opposite it, further, because guillotine Motions are now becoming far too constant a feature of our proceedings. The use of the Guillotine weapon, as we are now witnessing it, is, we believe, a threat to parliamentary democracy and should be stopped.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. J. A. Stodart (Edinburgh, West)
One thing which has filled Scottish Members on both sides with sorrow is that this is the first occasion on which a weapon which is so clearly and so closely associated with France is to fall upon the necks of France's ancient allies. In a recent sitting of the Standing Committee which has been considering the Housing (Scotland) Bill, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) made a literary reference which I found both apt and humorous with reference to the falling of the Guillotine and those who sat alongside and watched it. That 443 literary reference caused me to delve into the deep recesses of my memory and into literary matters which I hold there.
Many, many years ago—I think some thirty-five years ago—I once played the part of the Fairy Queen in "Iolanthe". Since remembering this I have gone to the trouble of confirming that the activities of the Standing Committee considering the House (Scotland) Bill have recently been in the pure vein of W. S. Gilbert. It seems to me to be quite fantastic and extraordinary that Gilbert, who wrote "Iolanthe" exactly sixty years ago, and who set one of its scenes in Arcadia and the next one in the Palace of Westminster, should have created three characters whom it is not difficult to identify in the Scottish Standing Committee at the moment.
There was the Fairy Queen herself. She, perhaps, was not like the traditional Fairy Queen of one's imagination. She was a bit of a tartar. I well remember declaiming her lines, which went like this:Every bill and every measureThat may merit our displeasure,Though your fury it arouses,Shall be quashed by both our Houses! …You shall sit, if we see reason,Through the grouse and salmon season …I am not sure if the mention of the month of November has passed the lips of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), but I have certainly heard it pass the lips of certain Members of the Committee that they think that it would be a good plan to run this Bill into next November; but the sense of these lines has at least been spoken on many occasions in the Standing Committee by the hon. Lady, if a trifle less lyrically.
The second easily identifiable character is the hero—
§ Miss Herbison
Before the hon. Member goes on to the next character, perhaps he will give quotations to prove that his analogy is right.
§ Mr. Stodart
There was a time when I knew the whole of the libretto, but, unfortunately, I must confess that I do not know it any longer.
§ Mr. Stodart
The second easily identifiable character is the hero, who rescues the Scottish Standing Committee. That is clearly my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Again, W. S. Gilbert appears to have—
§ Mr. Stodart
W. S. Gilbert saw the hero sixty years ago as a Liberal-Conservative Member of Parliament. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, although not a Liberal-Conservative, is a Liberal-Unionist. I pay tribute to him for subscribing to the Motion, which will rescue us from the penal servitude to which hon. Members opposite would have us sentenced.
§ Mr. Stodart
If we are arguing about that, we shall have to put it to "Trial by Jury".
The third character, however, which is the most remarkable of all, is the character in "Iolanthe" called Private Willis. [Laughter.] [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] There really is a distinct resemblance to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), because in the play Private Willis said this:I am an intellectual chap,And think up things that would astonish you.That is only too true, as can be seen from twenty-five columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT, containing some 9,000 words, including the following—and I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee for 20th February, at c. 332, when the hon. Member said—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I think that it would be out of order to quote from the proceedings of the Committee which is still sitting.
§ Mr. Stodart
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I would remind the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, who is now present with us and whom I have ventured to identify with the character of Private Willis in "Iolanthe", of the 445 fate that befell him. The Fairy Queen was so perfectly attracted to him by his powers of verbiage, which far exceeded her own, that she clapped a pair of wings upon him and he disappeared from Westminster altogether.
I regret profoundly that a timetable is necessary, and I regret it for two reasons. The first is that it appears to me seriously to strike at what might be called the very roots of our democratic method of discussion, which is associated all over the world with the British Parliamentary system. The Glasgow Herald—
§ Mr. Stodart
—last Friday stated that members of the Opposition had described the Bill as a crucial one. Certainly, I consider it a Bill of great importance. That opinion is borne out by the Report of the Toothill Committee, which set great store by housing in Scotland. If the Bill is crucial, obviously it must be passed. It is a pity that so many important Clauses—for example, Clauses 3 and 29—will be curtailed in discussion because of the time which has been spent, fifteen hours of it, on Clause 1 and four hours in arguing whether we should meet on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
Hon. Members opposite claim that they have been doing no more than their duty in opposing the Bill. I should, however, like to say this, and I am aware that it will meet with no agreement from the benches opposite. I believe it to be true and fair to say that the reputation of the Scottish Standing Committee now is that it merely havers, to use a Scottish word. That is certainly the reputation which it has in this House.
I wonder very much whether, perhaps, this is a deep-seated plot. Is it, perhaps, that Scottish home rule has once again found, or will find, its way into the Labour Party programme. If it does, one thing of which I am certain is that the majority of hon. Members in this House would willingly give us Scottish home rule, so fed up are they with these antics and the dreadful fate that awaits anyone who is press-ganged into service on the Scottish Grand or Standing Committee.
If the Press reports of this matter are any reflection of opinion in Scotland, 446 opinion at home would appear to bear out what I have described as opinion here. I am well aware that if I mention the Glasgow Herald, hon. Members opposite will say, "Ah, a Tory paper". All the same, I shall quote the report from the Glasgow Herald of 2nd March, which said:The Government has decided to apply the guillotine to the Scottish Housing Bill, which has been making sluggish and surly progress. Socialists have approached the Committee stage of the Bill with what a polite man would call leisurely caution. In eleven sittings so far, they have reached Clause 2—the Bill has 36 Clauses and several Schedules. A week ago, they spent seven ludicrous hours arguing about a Government suggestion that the Committee should hold an extra sitting every week to try to get on with things. In spite of this lamentable history, Scottish Socialists gave a good imitation of surprise today when the Leader of the House told them he was going to set a limit on their evidently interminable discussion. They said it was a crucial Bill and that they had been making reasonable progress.I have done my best to find what can generally be regarded as a balancing comment and, in doing so, I have searched the files of the Daily Record. I fully expected that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) might have had something to say in his column last Friday about the merits of the Guillotine. I admit that it may have been difficult for him to do so, as his copy for last Friday no doubt had to leave London before the Guillotine Motion was announced. I hope at least that if there is genuine grievance and irritation about this the hon. Gentleman will have something to say to counterbalance the arguments of the wicked Tory hon. Members in this Friday's column.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for having given that explanation. Indeed, I was shocked when I heard that a guillotine Motion was to be introduced. I heard about that on Thursday when the business for this week was announced. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) might have mentioned a word or two about the comments I have made publicly in the Press about this, for I have said that the only Conservative hon. Member to have really participated in the Committee stage of the Bill—if it can be called "participated"—was the Minister. He surely has a case.
§ Mr. Stodart
I will now travel eastwards and quote from an independent 447 newspaper, the Edinburgh Evening News. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to make jibes about this let me assure them that no one is more frequently photographed in the Edinburgh Evening News than is the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East. That shows that this newspaper is balanced in its outlook; and no one contributes more frequently to its columns than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn).
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) does not do too badly, either.
§ Mr. Stodart
But not quite as well. Although the Leader of the House has already pinched the best of the comments from the Edinburgh Evening News, some of those he did not use are worth quoting. An aticle in that newspaper read:It is only fair to say, however, that one or two of the Scots Socialists are heartily sick of the behaviour of their colleagues in the Committee.The participants themselves, however, are delighted with the success of their manœuvres the result of which was that for a total of four and a half hours no word was said about the Housing Bill, which is what the Committee were supposed to be talking about.The time was spent debating whether the third weekly meeting of the Committee—necessary because progress with the Bill has been so slow—should be held on a Tuesday afternoon or on Wednesday mornings, or at some other time of the week.
§ Mr. Manuelrose—
§ Mr. Stodart
Let the hon. Gentleman hear the rest of this before he intervenes. The article continued:Of course, a subject like this has to be discussed. But for how long?One hour would have seemed adequate since the Government are bound in any case to get their way in the end.
§ Mr. Willis
Surely the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) appreciates that four and half hours could have been saved had the Government accepted a Motion to meet on Wednesdays?
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Would the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) indicate that the only contribution, as far as I can recollect, that he has made so far to the deliberations in Committee on the Bill has been to take part in the very debate which he is now condemning? Did not his contributions add to the period of time in question?
§ Mr. Stodart
The premise of that question, in any case, is not quite right, because the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) was absent from the Committee yesterday afternoon at a time when I took part.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Stodart
I must complete the quotation I was making. The article continued:Part of the trouble is that, whereas other elements in the House having opposed a Bill at the Second Reading stage, are prepared in Committee to do what they can to improve it, the Scots Socialists prefer to keep their opposition going throughout all stages.That is a fair comment, and on those grounds—as stated, as I have said, by an independent and impartial newspaper—I support the timetable Motion.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
I am afraid that I cannot follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) in his Gilbert and Sullivan stuff. All I will say is that we can leave Iolanthe to Private Willis, who is quite capable of dealing with the matter. But there is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan which says that every childThat's born into the world aliveIs either a little LiberalOr else a little Conservative!It would appear that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West has been both. He has been a Liberal believing in home rule for Scotland, and now he is a Conservative and is not believing in it. Indeed, I am quite satisfied for the House to know that the contribution of the hon. Gentleman in Committee occupied 15 or 16 minutes, which was more time than was taken up in Committee on the Housing (Scotland) Bill by all the other Conservative hon. Members put together.
449 I assume that the reason why they are not participating is that they have absolutely no case to defend. I give credit to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) for some of the interventions he makes in order to elucidate certain points. When the Secretary of State introduced the Bill last November his introductory remarks occupied forty-six minutes. He indicated, after speaking for that time, that time did not permit him to go into any great detail about the Bill. Really! Did the right hon. Gentleman really mean, after spending forty-six minutes introducing a Bill and explaining its Clauses, that he did not have time to go into it in detail?
The Secretary of State described the Bill on that occasion as "a major Measure" which would make a great contribution to the solution of Scotland's housing problem. That being so, surely the Leader of the House must realise that a Bill designed to solve the greatest social problem in the whole of Great Britain merits the maximum consideration. That is what we are doing in Committee. We are giving the Bill the absolute maximum consideration, and it is in the light of these circumstances that I fail to appreciate why the Leader of the House has decided to apply the Guillotine.
After all, the Bill has thirty-seven Clauses and five Schedules. I have sat on many Committees since entering the House. For example, I sat on the Committee which considered the 1957 Housing and Town Development Act, which had twenty-eight Clauses, not thirty-seven, as well as three Schedules. We had twenty sittings of that Committee, with no Guillotine. I sat on the Committee on the Town and Country Planning Bill of 1959. That Bill had forty-three Clauses and eight Schedules and we had twenty-five sittings, but no Guillotine. Neither of those two Bills was of a controversial character such as is the Housing (Scotland) Bill. I sat on the Committee on the Betting and Gaming Bill of 1960, a Bill which, like the Housing (Scotland) Bill, was of a very controversial nature. That Bill had only twenty-three Clauses and six Schedules, as against thirty-seven Clauses and five Schedules in the Housing (Scotland) Bill. We had eight sittings on the Betting and Gaming 450 Bill before we disposed of Clause 1. Indeed, altogether we had twenty-five sittings extending over a period of four months, and no Guillotine was introduced.
The whole heart of the Housing (Scotland) Bill—I think that the Leader of the House confessed to this in his speech this afternoon—is contained in its early Clauses. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I make that submission. Clauses 16 to 28 consist largely of Amendments to existing housing legislation. Obviously, these will not involve any prolonged discussion. On the other hand, I think we must recognise that the Housing (Scotland) Bill deals with the question of housing subsidies, with a new rent structure which the Secretary of State intends to impose on the Scottish local authorities, with giving millions of pounds to private housing associations, with money that has to be given to the Scottish Special Housing Association, and things of that character. These matters are all of a very controversial nature.
In the light of the circumstances which I have described concerning the other Bills that I have mentioned which were taken in Committee upstairs and the period of time occupied on them. I say that there is absolutely no justification for the introduction of the Guillotine on the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Indeed, I say quite candidly to the Leader of the House that I regard the introduction of the Guillotine as an attempt to deny freedom of speech and of expression as far as Government Bills are concerned, and I personally am vigorously opposed to it.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
I also wish to make some remarks about the Housing (Scotland) Bill in the light of the Motion which we are considering today. The Bill consists of thirty-seven Clauses and five Schedules, and up to last night the Standing Committee had had thirteen sittings and had not quite completed consideration of Clause 2. I certainly agree, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) has said, that not all the remaining Clauses are controversial, but some of them certainly are. The Notice Paper as it stands at present runs to fourteen pages of Amendments that still have to be considered.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Clearly, if the present rate of progress is maintained the Bill will certainly not be completed this Session and the consequent continuing uncertainty will delay housing development in Scotland.
§ Mr. Manuel
The hon. Gentleman says that if we continue as we are doing the Bill will not be completed this Session. But he knows very well that we willingly offered to meet on Wednesday mornings. In fact, on several occasions we have been prepared to sit all night, and on any particular night of the week. Surely, the hon. Gentleman will agree that if these offers were accepted we could make some progress with the Bill.
§ Mr. MacArthur
If the hon. Gentleman is as anxious to speed the deliberations on the Bill as he says he is, it is surprising that his hon. Friends did not agree to sit on the Tuesday afternoon, which opportunity was lost because of their verbosity. Also, in speaking in this way, the hon. Gentleman is in complete disagreement with his hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) who warned at the start of the Committee proceedings that the consideration of the Bill was going to be such that there was no chance of it getting on to the Statute Book before November. I suggest that the hon. Lady's gloomy forecast was an under-estimate of the time that her hon. Friends were going to take, much of it wastefully, in the guise of careful, serious consideration.
No heed was paid to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland who early in the Committee proceedings pointed out that careful examination of the Bill did not necessarily involve examination of it at undue length. It would surely have been possible to have combined serious examination of the Bill with reasonable brevity of expression, but from the moment that we started the Committee stage the Opposition have taken every opportunity to extend every argument to the uttermost syllable. Hours have passed with little being accomplished and time has been wasted interminably by bogus points of order.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
Surely the hon. Gentleman would agree that quite a lot of time was taken up—I will not say wasted—by the contributions of 452 his hon. Friends. They accounted for at least sixteen minutes during the thirteen sittings.
§ Mr. MacArthur
In one breath the hon. Gentleman objects because my hon. Friends and I, who were in agreement with the Bill on its first two Clauses, did not speak at inordinate length and he also objects, apparently, to us taking up sixteen minutes of the thirteen sittings which we have had so far. If the hon. Gentleman wants to examine time wasting, he might care to look at the occasion when, I think, his Amendment was accepted by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, and accepted very courteously. But that was not good enough for the hon. Gentleman and for hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. J. Robertson rose—
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Gentleman must allow me to finish what I am saying. He cannot behave here as he does in the Scottish Standing Committee. He must sit down occasionally and allow hon. Members who are addressing the House to complete a sentence.
§ Mr. J. Robertson rose—
§ Miss Herbison
On a point of order. I wonder, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if you heard the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) making a very bad criticism of the Chairman of the Scottish Standing Committee?
§ Miss Herbison
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It may be that you did not hear the hon. Member. He said to some hon. Members on this side of the House that they should not behave here as they behave in Standing Committee. Surely it is the Chairman of the Committee who guides and controls behaviour in Standing Committees, and if criticism is levelled at the behaviour of hon. Members surely the only person who is criticised is the Chairman.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think I took the hon. Member's remarks so 453 seriously as the hon. Lady is taking them.
I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Before this spate of interruptions I was calling attention—
§ Mr. Willis
Having heard Mr. Deputy-Speaker's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), I am a little bewildered. I do not know whether the hon. Member is speaking humorously or seriously.
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Gentleman himself must be the judge of that. Sometimes I find that he strains my imagination and understanding in the same way. I was referring to an occasion when my hon. Friend accepted an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson)—
§ Mr. MacArthur
That was not enough for hon. Members opposite. Nearly half an hour of the Committee's time was occupied with discussion after the Amendment was accepted, for this reason—it is a very curious reason—that if my hon. Friend rejects an Amendment, which he has to do very often because some of the proposed Amendments are so bad, he is accused of acting frivolously or in ignorance or with discourtesy, but on those occasions when he accepts an Amendment he is equally open to reproach which goes on and on—
§ Mr. J. Robertson
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that when the Under-Secretary accepted the Amendment he was suitably thanked? I agree that it was a little while later, but he was suitably thanked.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Having given way for about the twelfth time, I do not think I need give way any more. I would say in reply to the hon. Member that the thanks, which were most ungracious and belated, were, in my view, wholly inadequate.
Reference has been made to the sittings Motion which was moved on the morning of Tuesday, 20th February. My hon. Friend then gave the Committee an opportunity to start their extra meetings on Tuesday afternoon. It did not suit 454 the Opposition, including the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis). In fact, nothing seemed to suit them, The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) said that he did not like the idea of meeting on Tuesday afternoon because it was the time of the week when he liked to have a little nap. Indeed, sometimes he could have a little nap in the House of Commons.
But that was not all. Tuesday afternoon for the hon. Member for Shettleston—I have given him notice that I would raise this point—was a time, if not to sleep, perchance to shop. He explained that he had to lay in stores for the week, perhaps a toothbrush or a bar of soap. It was on Tuesday afternoon only that he found it possible to go on these little expeditions round the shops and, therefore, he could not conveniently attend to Scottish business on those afternoons.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Would he agree with me that the hon. Member who commenced this frivolous approach to the choice of Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday was his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart), who began by saying that he rejected the Wednesday forenoon sitting which we were suggesting, because he wanted to get fresh air on the Wednesday morning; and as a result of that, I followed him immediately in the same strain? I am sorry now that I followed a very bad example.
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Gentleman's comment is not surprising. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) very briefly and sensibly opposed the suggested meeting on Wednesday morning because it was the only time when he could get some fresh air to keep himself fit and enable him to build up his strength to withstand the interminable performance of finicky attention to unnecessary detail by hon. Members opposite on the Thursday.
That Tuesday morning went on, and no progress was made. At one stage my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary rose to speak. He was promptly interrupted by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) who, on another bogus point of order, asked if it was in order for my hon. Friend to look at the clock.
455 However, undeterred, my hon. Friend continued his speech, and after about twenty words he was interrupted again. Before he completed his speech he was interrupted with straightforward interruptions and points of order no less than eighteen times.
My hon. Friend was immediately followed by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay) who suffered several interruptions and points of order—so much so that the proceedings reached a point when hon. Members in the Committee, headed by the Chairman, could no longer remember who in fact was originally addressing the Committee. The original Motion was carried over to the Thursday morning, and the Opposition, who claim to be so anxious to give serious and prolonged study to this Bill, thus lost the opportunity of studying it on Tuesday afternoon.
On the Thursday several of my hon. Friends took objection to this waste of time. We said that we were not objecting to serious study of the Bill but we did object to this monstrous waste of time during the whole of the Tuesday morning. At the same time, the Scottish Press began to comment on the farcical proceedings of the Scottish Committee. This upset hon. Members opposite. They were very offended by the comments which were made by some of my hon. Friends and myself. It is curious, because the manner of some hon. Members opposite ranges from the discourteous to the openly offensive in Committee, but if the slightest criticism is made of them they turn into sensitive lilies and utter loud protests. [Laughter.] Scottish Socialist lilies are not short of words.
We talked on, day after day, and yesterday we completed the thirteenth sitting, with our consideration of Clause 2 and most of the other Clauses still incomplete. Many of my hon. Friends and I object to this interference with our proceedings. There are later Clauses in the Bill which interest us far more than Clauses 1 and 2. Yet, at the rate we are going, they will not be reached, the Bill will not be completed, and a very valuable Measure will be lost.
I regret the need for this Motion. Much more than that, I deeply regret the circumstances which have made the 456 Motion necessary. The proceedings in the Scottish Standing Committee—I say this seriously—are approaching the level of a farce. We have become involved—in fact, engulfed—in a morass of interminable verbosity. We are accomplishing nothing and we are losing opportunities to do positive work for Scotland. I believe that the more protracted the discussions in this Committee, the less time there will be for other Measures and for other meetings of the Scottish Committee to discuss the Scottish Estimates and Scottish problems in general. Not only are hon. Members opposite endangering future discussions of important Measures and important problems but—
§ Mr. Willis rose—
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am not going to give way; the hon. Gentleman will find that he will have an opportunity to speak in a moment—more important than that, perhaps, is the harm which this unfortunate state we have reached does to the reputation of Scottish Members on both sides in Westminster and, through them, the harm which can be done to the proper understanding and appreciation of Scottish problems in Westminster. There are many hon. Members on both sides who, to my dismay, seem to be getting fed up with Scotland, fed up with the perpetual, unceasing verbosity of many hon. Members opposite. I believe that this is cause for great regret. In the end, it can do only harm to us as hon. Members and grave harm to the cause of our country.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Archie C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
I do not want to follow at length the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur). I think I should be kind to him if I said that he has shown an infantile appreciation of this place and its work in Committee. He has not been here very long, yet he sets himself up on a pinnacle as a sort of oracle able to give decisions of immense import. He really should crawl back into his shell and gain a little knowledge of what he is talking about.
The hon. Gentleman spoke about time wasting. What does he know about time wasting in political debate? He is a young Tory Member. Although he is a 457 bit scarce of hair, he is quite young, and the difficulty is that he and others like him come into the House of Commons without any real experience of public life and debate and of how we manage things in a democracy. These young Tories are straining away to some form of dictatorship or Fascist government where the Secretary of State can speak and we all follow like good little boys. I hope that that day never comes. The hon. Gentleman should guard himself against the way his thoughts are travelling in wanting to get Bills through too easily. Local government and Scotland itself can be destroyed if we follow that line.
§ Mr. Manuel
We have now reached the end of Clause 2. The hon. Gentleman said that we had not, but the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", is finished. As I understand it, the vote is about to come, and I am near enough to the centre of things to know what is happening. He should not try to give the wrong impression.
If we are to do our job examining a Bill meticulously, as the Housing (Scotland) Bill should be examined, we have a right to take as long as we want. The Bill will be in force for some time. It is having an immense impact in local government circles. We can dismiss from our minds all the comedy, the "striptease" stuff, we have had from the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire.
§ Mr. Brewis
The hon. Gentleman keeps referring to local government. I do not know about his town or county council, but in mine there is a rule that no one shall speak for more than ten minutes without leave of the chair. Does that apply in the hon. Gentleman's council?
§ Mr. Manuel
This is the very thing I am talking about. We have local authorities bringing in these rules because they are dominated by a large Tory majority which wants to shut out as much democratic freedom as possible.
458 Ayr County Council, of course, would never adopt such a practice. It is controlled by a Labour majority. It breathes freedom and wants to have freedom of voice and expression for its members.
§ Mr. Manuel
I know many people on the Glasgow Corporation, and they find ways and means of handling the matter if the business before them is important enough. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) must realise that one can suspend a standing order to provide for as much freedom of discussion as one wants if the members think the occasion is important enough. This is very often done in local government.
I come now to the Guillotine Motion, after these little interruptions. The Leader of the House freely admitted that the Housing (Scotland) Bill is very much disliked. He would not have said that if someone, the Under-Secretary of State or the Secretary of State, had not told him that that was so. But does the Leader of the House understand the scope of the dislike among local authorities in Scotland? The Secretary of State could give him a list of a great number of protests which have come to him from local authorities, from associations of local authorities, from the Scottish Housing and Town Planning Council, the highest body in Scotland in these matters, the members of which are recruited from housing conveners all over Scotland, from county councils, from cities and from boroughs where the town clerks or town chamberlains attend. They are all heartily opposed to the Bill and have sent us a mass of literature, to some of which I hope to refer tomorrow, before the Guillotine comes on, in order to enlighten and educate hon. Members on the Government side of the Committee about the scope of dislike for the Bill and how necessary the local authorities think it is that we should discuss it most meticulously. That is the expression of view I am receiving from local authorities in my constituency, and I know that hon. Friends of mine are having similar representations made to them in their constituencies.
We must not let the Leader of the House down too easily. He is a pseudo-Scot. He fought the Western Isles once, 459 though he did not make many converts. He has a spot of Scottish blood in his veins, I imagine, and I think that he is naturally well disposed to Scotland. I suppose that he is the sort of fellow who would like his children to wear the kilt, his daughters to wear tartan dresses, and that sort of thing. But that is all very well as a show. We must go deeper into things if we are to show our appreciation and love of Scotland and the things that Scotland stands for.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of harrying the Government. I do not think that we have had this term used before in regard to our work in the Standing Committee on the Bill. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire was not here in 1950 when the right hon. Gentleman who is now Leader of the House was committed to harrying the Labour Government and the present Minister of Pensions and National Insurance led the attack when we had only a very small majority.
I gathered that the Leader of the House thought that the Tories lost favour in the country. Of course they did. They lost favour with some hon. Members on their own side because of the need then for us to bring people out of hospital and shoulder them through the Division Lobbies in order to maintain Government in the country at that time. People did not want to run into another election, and that is what we had to do.
We had colleagues who went to an early grave as a result of the harrying by hon. Members opposite. Yet they have the colossal impudence to talk today about what is happening in the Committee upstairs. It ill becomes the Leader of the House or any other right hon. Gentleman opposite, in introducing a timetable Motion, to talk in this way.
To compare the harrying which took place when the Labour Party was in power, when we had a majority of only five or six, and in view of the illness which pervaded our ranks and the people we had to bring here to try to keep government in this country going, with what is happening in the Committee upstairs is monstrous. I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw the word "harrying".
460 I take it that I have not mistaken the time to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. At that time I raised a point of privilege about a speech which was made by a former Member, who is now in the other place, at Banbury boasting about the harrying which was taking place and saying that hon. Members on his side could not match the intellectual ability of hon. Members opposite and that the only way in which they could bring down the Labour Government was to harry them until they could not get enough Members to vote. I refer to the former Member for Aberdeenshire, East.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro) rose—
§ Mr. Manuel
I am delighted to give way to a railway colleague, although he is a solicitor. We do not usually regard solicitors as colleagues, but we on the footplate always have a large measure of sympathy with everyone.
§ Mr. G. Wilson
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the speech to which he has just referred was made by a former Member of the House who had not taken part in the harrying at all?
§ Mr. Manuel
That was the matter that I raised in my point of privilege. The Member left this great Conservative rally at Banbury, saying that he had to hurry back to the House to carry on the harrying tactics in order to bring the Government down. This came through on the tape. The hon. Member did not get back to the House to do the harrying. That was a potent point when I raised my point of privilege the following day with Mr. Speaker. We should not liken what is happening in the Committee upstairs to the despicable conduct of so-called educated hon. Members opposite who were then in opposition.
I am very sorry that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) has left. We had a fantastic exhibition when he was speaking. I do not know with what fallacy he was carried away. He spoke about Gilbert and Sullivan, fairies and ogres, and he quoted poetry. But he also gave us a glimpse into his own mind and of what is wrong with the hon. Members for Perth and East Perthshire, Galloway and Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) by a little slip that he made. He indicated 461 that if we carried on like this we should interfere with the grouse and salmon season and that the Recess might have to be shortened. That is what hon. Members opposite are thinking about. We know the value of such things to them. Apart from that insight which the hon. Member gave us into how the minds of hon. Members opposite operate—
§ Mr. J. Wells(Maidstone) rose—
§ Mr. Manuel
An English Member would not know what we are talking about. Please sit down. I will deal with the hon. Gentleman later.
The rest of the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West was rather a joke. I am sorry that Scottish Tory Members regard Scottish business in this way and talk as the hon. Gentleman did about the greatest social blot on Scotland, namely, the festering sores in many of our cities which have resulted from the housing problem. This ex-Liberal who represents Edinburgh, West gave us pure tripe today in the joking way in which he tried to deal with the subject which is occupying us upstairs.
We are opposing what we consider to be a bad Bill. We are quite definite about that. The hon. Members who face us in the Committee upstairs do not consider it to be a bad Bill. Not a single Amendment to the Bill on the Notice Paper is from hon. Members opposite, despite the fact that it is proposed that dictatorial powers should be exercised by the Secretary of State for Scotland over the functions of local authorities, powers which we have never seen since we first had local authorities. The Government now propose to encompass them with rules such as we have never envisaged any Secretary of State would bring into operation.
I can imagine what the Secretary of State and the Leader of the House would have said if a Secretary of State in a Labour Government attempted to take powers such as those proposed in the Bill. It is our duty to examine every part and Clause of the Bill. That is what we are sent here to do. We have had representations from every local authority association and every borough in our constituency to the effect that they oppose completely Clauses 3, 8 and 29 and certain other portions of the Bill.
462 Hon. Members opposite have received the same information that we have received from the Scottish Housing and Town Planning Association, of which I was a member for many years and which is a top organisation in Scotland on housing and town planning. Even the proof in the memorandum which hon. Members have received does not instil in one of them the desire to table an Amendment to the Bill.
Hon. Members opposite are satisfied with the Bill. To them, the Bill is completely all right. Cannot they draft Amendments? Is there something wrong with hon. Members opposite? Cannot they think of appropriate Amendments? Or are they afraid of the Secretary of State for Scotland? The right hon. Gentleman is not a bully. I am sure that he would forgive them if they overstepped the bounds a little. The Under-Secretary of State goes over the bounds sometimes. He is easy to stir up. He is getting more like his father every day. I advise him to keep control of himself, because, while we all liked his sire, I think that we prefer to have him as he is now and not to get too easily irritated. Is it the irritation of the Under-Secretary of State which prevents hon. Members opposite from doing work on behalf of their constituents?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I should like my hon. Friend to treat the Under-Secretary of State with some sympathy because he is my constituent.
§ Mr. Manuel
I appreciate that. However, my hon. Friend is a little late. I divulged that information to the Committee upstairs yesterday when I tried to obtain some more humane treatment from the Under-Secretary of State.
In view of the representations which we have received, it is quite wrong that our discussions on the Bill should be curtailed or that we should allow Clause 29 to go through without voicing our opinion about it. It has been said that there was so much discussion on the early parts of the Bill that there will not be time to discuss the later parts. It is this ignorance that I deplore so much.
This timetable Motion is set out by the Leader of the House egged on by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has been prompted to introduce the Housing (Scotland) Bill by the Treasury.
463 He did not think out the Bill. The formula in the Bill is not his brain child, nor that of the Under-Secretary of State. It stems directly from the Treasury. We can see the need for the Bill in that more than £1 million less will be spent on housing in Scotland in 1962–63 than was spent in 1961–62. That is why we are having the Bill, which was introduced through the Treasury's compulsion upon the Secretary of State.
I have appealed to the right hon. Gentleman on many occasions to take his corner in the Cabinet and to speak for Scotland, but still he will not do it. He will not stand his ground. He keeps giving way, and we get less and less from him for Scotland. I feel, therefore, that it is up to the Opposition to be vigilant on behalf of Scotland.
We must never forget for one moment that we really are the Government of Scotland. We have more Members of this House than the party opposite. We have more votes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We hold more constituencies. I know the point which the Under-Secretary of State is trying to make, but if we add up all the Opposition votes and compare them with those of the Government in Scotland we find that there the Government are in a minority. They are in on a minority vote. Start counting in the Highlands and all through the crofting counties in particular and at the end we discover that that is so. The Leader of the House is a much more political animal in this respect than is the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State. He discovered many years ago this fact about the votes of Scotland, when he fled from the Western Isles. He did not contest the Western Isles a second time. Oh, no. One experience was one too many for him.
I have been talking too long. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not like debating timetable Motions. I am not keen at all on this sort of debate. We are spending time which we could have spent in Committee upstairs on the Bill. All of the Members of the Scottish Standing Committee could have been dealing with the Bill. Why did the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire want to spend time down here on a timetable Motion? This is not the Bill. Let him discuss it with that corre- 464 spondent of the Edinburgh Evening News who said that, in the Committee, instead of devoting time to the Bill we were devoting time to a Government timetable Motion. But we had to discuss that Government Motion and resist it in the hope of getting extra time. After all, it was not we who put down that Motion. But we have to discuss it if we were to discuss the Bill as we should. There is so much colossal ignorance about these procedures. If on that Motion we had discussed the Bill we should have been run out of the Committee for disobeying the Chair.
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Member is being less than fair. He knows perfectly well that I said nothing of the kind at all. What dismayed so many of us was that we spent the whole of a Tuesday morning debating a Motion about sitting on Tuesday afternoons and continued that argument until noon on the following Thursday. What depressed us was the waste of time that took place then.
§ Mr. Manuel
I do not want to carry on this argument too long, but we are continually coming into conflict with decisions of the Chair in these allegations and accusations which are being made. If, as custodian of the rules of the House and its Committees, as custodian of order in Committee, the Chairman of a Standing Committee does not feel like accepting the Closure he need not, but I think he accepted it on every occasion that it was moved. He has never refused it. We cannot carry the thing on against the Chair if the Chair accepts the Closure.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I have the greatest respect for the Chair, and the conduct of the Chairman of the Standing Committee has been admirable. Of course I have a great respect for the Chair. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that there were desperate attempts by hon. Members opposite to find some workable and acceptable Amendment to the Motion, and the Chair, very courteously, allowed that discussion, which went on for a long time and is reported in column after column of the OFFICIAL REPORT. But that discussion was, I believe, a waste of time.
§ Mr. Manuel
I do not want to carry this on, or to carry on my argument on 465 that part of this Motion relating to the Housing (Scotland) Bill, but the hon. Gentleman is bound to recognise that we of the Opposition offered to sit on Wednesday mornings in the Committee and that we were prepared to sit all night, and that in that way we could have got more time for the discussion on the Bill in Committee than by sitting on Tuesday afternoons. We thought that we offered an excellent bargain, but it was not accepted.
I am in rather a peculiar position, because as well as being a member of the Scottish Standing Committee on the Scottish Bill I am also a member of the Standing Committee considering the Transport Bill, and I have to try to divide my time between the two Committees and the two Bills, and I have had to set up a system of runners by the Officers of the House in order that they may let me know when I should be voting in one Committee or the other. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) is in the same difficult position, for as well as being a member of the Scottish Standing Com-mitte he is a member of the Standing Committee on the Sea Fish Industry Bill, talking about cod and kindred fish. It seems passing strange that the Committee of Selection seems never to select hon. Members on the Government side for this sort of thing. I think it must be because my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East is keen and virile, and that they want to overwork him and wear him down. The harrying process is being operated by the Government, it seems.
The Leader of the House said that it was very necessary to get the Transport Bill as soon as possible. As a railway man, I can understand the Government's concern about this, although I completely disagree with the Bill. I do not, however, agree with the reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave for saying he wanted to get that Bill as soon as possible. The reason he gave was, to relieve concern among the staff. Better for him to have said, concern by the British Road Federation and these other people who are dinning us with documents every day of the week about how we should keep the railways, how we should contract them, what traffic should go on the railways and, so on.
466 The reverse is the case. I have had meetings with railway staffs all over the country on this thing, and from the staff I meet, whatever grade they come from and whether they belong to the Transport Salaried Staffs Associations or the National Union of Railwaymen or my own Union, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, I do not get any sense of the sort that the right hon. Gentleman indicated. They are all wanting us to oppose the Bill, to oppose railway closures, to oppose the closure of branch lines and to do something to protect the thousands of staff being made redundant because of contracting railways, to institute a cheap rail fares policy in this country in order that trains do not run as empty as they are. It is such things as these which are exercising their minds.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) indicated that we have had four guillotine Motions in these last six weeks. Nobody can pin any accusation like that on the Labour Government. The Guillotine has been imposed on eleven Bills since this Tory Government came in. This is deplorable. While some of us do not like talking on timetable Motions which keep us from discussing the things we ought to be talking about, I would say that on this occasion there is a very strong, a massive, case which we can put to show that we are being put in an impossible position.
I would hope that my hon. and right hon. Friends would agree that, if we are to have this timetable, we should allocate the most time to the most important parts of the Bills, the Transport Bill and the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Even so, I hope that there will be complete recognition among all hon. Members of the House that what we are accepting is very much a second best. We shall not be able to do the work which we were elected to do, that is, to give these Bills the examination which we are entitled to give them.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
I hope that it will be convenient to the House, in the light of what Mr. Speaker said at the beginning of the debate, if I intervene now.
§ Mr. Lawson
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We understood, in the first place, that there might be a possibility that the Secretary of State would catch your eye about seven o'clock. It is now only ten minutes past six. Can we take it that this will in no way jeopardise our prospects of carrying on discussion on the Scottish aspect of this business?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No. I think that the Question before the House is one which affects both the Transport Bill and the Housing (Scotland) Bill, so the whole debate must be regarded as one. I understood Mr. Speaker to state that it might be for the convenience of the House if Scottish speeches were made in the earlier stage. I understood that that was agreed.
The Secretary of State rose to reply. Scotland has had a very full debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—during these last minutes. It is already, I understand, intended that the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), a Scottish Member, should speak at the close of the debate. It is incumbent upon the Chair to bear in mind the needs not only of Scotland but of England.
The Secretary of State caught my eye, and I, as Deputy-Speaker, have called the Secretary of State for Scotland to speak.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Would it be in order to draw your attention to the fact that no hon. Member of this House who is an English Member has yet succeeded in catching the eye of the Chair?
§ Mr. Nabarro
The Leader of the House is not an Englishman; he is a Scot. May I ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether it would be in order for a Sassenach to participate in this debate at any time before ten o'clock?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) has made it clear to the House how difficult it is in these debates to do what is fair to everybody. The Chair is trying its best. I call the Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Miss Herbison
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I wish to have your advice.
Some of my hon. Friends have been put in a very difficult position this afternoon. I can assure you that my hon. Friends from Scottish constituencies would have been completely willing today to take their chance in catching Mr. Speaker's eye. The difficulty in which we have been placed has been brought about by the Government's own decision to put the Secretary of State for Scotland somewhere in the middle of the debate, as if he were a messenger lad rather than the Secretary of State for Scotland.
A further point which I wish to bring to your notice, and on which I wish to ask your advice, is this. The debate was very late in beginning today. The Leader of the House opened it and my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) dealt with transport. If one takes these two speeches from the time available, Scottish Members have had a very short time indeed.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I find it a little difficult to accept the hon. Lady's first proposition as a question for the Chair. Scottish Members have am opportunity of rising to catch the eye of the Chair later in the debate. They will have that opportunity. That is not prejudiced. The Secretary of State for Scotland has now caught the eye of the Chair, and I propose to call him to make his speech.
§ Mr. Ross
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Will you elucidate something that you have already said and would appear to have gone back on in the last remarks that you made? You said that the Secretary of State for Scotland had risen to reply. The implication of a reply is closing the debate. You have yourself stated that the devision of the debate was such that Scottish Members would catch your eye in the earlier part of the debate.
I think that we should get something straight about this. Is the Secretary of State really closing the debate? By rising now is he applying yet another Guillotine to Scottish Members? If that is so, I want to protest as violently as I can. We are entitled to more than one hour, because the first two speeches were relatively unrelated to Scotland at all.
469 My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) did not deal in any detail with Scottish points. The time of Scottish back benchers whose rights are being curtailed by this Motion are again being further curtailed by the action of the Secretary of State. He did say seven o'clock.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member is well aware that the debate today continues until ten o'clock. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman speaks now does not close the debate.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It does not close the debate. It is open to any hon. Member on either side, from any country, to rise and endeavour to catch the eye of the Chair. I now call the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has caught my eye.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. For the sake of harmony, and the good name of the Secretary of State for Scotland, may I make a suggestion? Would it not be possible, even if the Secretary of State for Scotland has caught your eye, for another hon. Member to catch your eye if the right hon. Gentleman stays in his place, so that we can have this debate extended? In practical terms we all know, as I am sure you know, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the chance of a Scottish Member being called from now on, once-the right hon. Gentleman has sat down, are almost nil. It really is unfair that he should rise now.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I am making no forecast at all of what hon. Member in future may succeed in catching the eye of the Chair. Mr. Maclay.
§ Mr. Maclay
In catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may I say that I have no intention whatever of endeavouring to curtail the debate. I do not understand why hon. Members should assume that there is any termination of the possibility of their speaking. If hon. Members feel that, they must be speaking from some experience which I have not yet known.
I would make it clear that I have on this occasion reason to rise in the middle of the debate instead of opening it or 470 winding it up. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House conventionally opens the debate on a Motion of this kind. Sometimes I think that it is best, where there is a double debate going on, for the Secretary of State for Scotland to wind up, and sometimes it is more convenient for all hon. Members if he speaks in the middle of the debate.
As I shall not be entirely soothing in what I have to say, I thought it right that hon. Members should have an opportunity of commenting on my speech. I want to say things which, I hope, hon. Members will consider very carefully.
I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) will not refer again to messenger lads. She has done it before and it does not mean anything at all. She knows very well the problem of how to get the best balanced debate. That is what we are always trying to do. It is a very real problem in this kind of debate and in all debates in which there are Scottish and English elements. We search to find the best way in which to get the most useful debate for all hon. Members.
Hon. Members who have spoken so far have raised a number of points, but nothing has been said about the good work of the Under-Secretary of State. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) was reasonably polite, as far as he is ever able to go in that direction about another hon. Member in public, whatever he may say in private. I thank him for that. I think that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is doing extremely useful work on the Bill. We are in close touch throughout. It is one of the great fortunes I have in my present job, which makes it impossible for me to attend all Committees.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) should not go on interrupting. He has been doing it for seven, eight or nine years and I would ask him to sit down and be quiet.
I have not attended some Committees of recent years because it is impossible to do my job as Secretary of State and, at the same time, be in Committees. I keep in close touch with the Under-Secretaries. In many cases we do not need to consult 471 because each of us knows how the other thinks. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary who attends the Committee has a very wide authority to handle the Committee stage as he, in his own judgment, thinks right.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), whom I do not see in his place, spoke with some emotion about Scottish housing conditions. I have every sympathy with his point of view but if hon. Members listened to his short, sincere and—because he feels strongly on these matters—slightly emotional speech, they will have realised that the hon. Member was making the whole point for this Motion, because he said clearly that what worried him was that the essential parts of the Bill would not be adequately discussed; that there was not a lot of time.
§ Mr. Maclay
No, that is not what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central said. The fact is that 13 sittings of the Committee have gone by and we have not yet got the first important Clause.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Maclay
I am not prepared to give way. I have given way to the hon. Member a great many times over the last five years and I do not intend to give way tonight, because for once the hon. Member must listen to what I have to say.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Maclay
What Clauses in the Bill are of the greatest importance is a question of judgment, but hon. Members opposite will agree that Clauses 3, 8 and 29 are of importance and that we have not yet reached them.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. An obligation devolves upon hon. Members to behave properly or else we can have no proper debate.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire rebuked my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), who made an interesting and serious speech, for being pompous. Has the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire thought out the argument about democracy which he developed in his own speech? I ask him to pay attention to what I shall say later and I think that he will then agree that my hon. Friend was not in the least pompous. My hon. Friend, like me, is concerned about the good government of Scotland and about the good handling of Scottish affairs in Committee.
First, I should like to deal briefly with the need for the Bill. Clearly, the Government have presented the Bill because they are convinced that it is necessary and desirable in the interests of house building in Scotland, in the interests of local authorities as a whole, and above all of those local authorities who most need help. There may be varying views about the intention of the Bill and about some of its detailed provisions—these are very properly bound to be expressed—but we think it desirable that the pattern of housing subsidies should be recast in such a way as to give more help where help is most needed.
§ Mr. Maclay
I will take things in my own time and in my own way, provided that I remain in order. I am referring to the substance of the Bill but using that as an illustration of the reasons why we need the Bill.
We think it desirable also to encourage building to let at cost rents or for cooperative ownership, and there are also a number of other desirable amendments and additions to the statutory provisions relating to housing. Quite clearly, we want the Bill. We are anxious that it should be fully and properly discussed, 473 and, equally, we would like to see it discussed in a balanced way. By that, I mean that adequate time should be available for discussion of those parts of the Bill which are novel as well as for the examination of drafting and the detail of what may be described as the machinery parts of the Bill. Unfortunately, 13 sittings have gone on two Clauses which we know are not the most important Clauses of the Bill.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am quite satisfied that within the number of sittings available between now and 27th March fully adequate consideration can be given to the rest of the Bill, always provided that discussion is conducted—and I emphasise this—on genuine Committee lines with a concentration on what matters and a resistance to the urge to elaborate on details which have already been discussed or which are not of significance.
§ Miss Herbison
The right hon. Gentleman is insisting, and it was suggested also by the Leader of the House, that the two Clauses with which we have already dealt are not important in comparison with the others. Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the first part of Clause 2 deals with the worst feature of housing in Scotland—the difficulty of making overspill provision for Glasgow? Is he aware that the second part of the Clause deals with housing to meet the urgent needs of industry and that our need for new industry is urgent because there are over 85,000 unemployed? I do not wish to take up the time of the House, but I could say something similar about Clause 1.
§ Mr. Maclay
I agree that one can argue indefinitely about which Clause is the most important. All I say is that while those Clauses are important they are not as important as other Clauses and we have had 13 sittings and we have not completed discussion on Clause 2 yet.
I want to be quite serious, but I do not want to import any pompous note into what I have now to say. The working of an effective Parliamentary democracy, such as we have in this country, depends on effective government and on effective opposition. It also depends, with our very flexible—and 474 properly so—rules of order, on a fair amount of common sense and give and take, not only in relation to the substance of the matters under discussion but also in the method of discussion.
§ Mr. Maclay
No one would seriously attempt to lay down hard and fast rules on the details of how discussions should be conducted.
§ Mr. Maclay
It may well be that occasionally the precise placing of a comma can be extremely important, but that is not to say that all commas demand meticulous examination and argument. The fact is that each of us—perhaps I should say the great majority of us on both sides of the House—know very well when the examination of a Bill in Committee is being carried out with a proper regard for what matters. Equally well, we know when meticulous argument, reiterated in various forms, is going far beyond what is reasonable. None of this may amount technically to tedious repetition. With a little skill—and I pay tribute to skill where tribute is due—the rules of order may be strictly observed, but I repeat that hon. Members know very well when enough is far too much.
As for what has been happening in recent weeks, we all know that in opposition, for good reasons or bad, it may seem sensible so to protract debate that the Government of the day are bound to impose a timetable. But if that is the tactic, do not let there be any complaint when the inevitable happens. One can expect a lot of things to be said, but everything has been said before. The possibilities of quotation and counter-quotation are infinite and, up to a point, great fun, but do not let there be any sententious nonsense about it.
I ask hon. Members to consider whether the right use is being made of the Scottish Standing Committee. In my time in the House there has been a marked change in the way in which the Committee conducts its debates. The 475 strength of conviction expressed and the weight of argument developed on things that matter have changed little, if at all, since 1945. The only difference in this respect that I see is that it is now much more difficult to disentangle what matters to the Opposition from what does not.
I want to deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, that I am the first person to guillotine proceedings in a Scottish Standing Committee. I ask hon. Members to listen carefully to what I am going to say, because the future of Scottish business in this House is at stake. During the years from 1945 to 1951 some extremely important and highly contentious Bilk went through the Scottish Committee. Not one was guillotined. No one who was there would say that the things that mattered were not strongly argued, or that the Bills were not improved in substance and in detail. What was the score?
In the 1946–47 Session the National Health Bill, with 81 Clauses and 11 Schedules, went through in 19 sittings, unguillotined. The Town and Country Planning Bill, with 114 Clauses and 11 Schedules, took 21 sittings. Imagination boggles at the prospect of such a Bill today. It is a horrifying thought. In the 1947–48 Session the Agriculture Bill—which to us, to say the least of it, was not free from arguable points of principle, and was full of detail—with 88 Clauses and 10 Schedules, took 15 sittings.
Hon. Members opposite who were not there then may say that we were not doing our job. We most certainly were. [Interruption.] It depends on one's interpretation of wise and sensible opposition.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Maclay
We were most certainly doing our job, but I admit that we did not rise one after another to question in detail the application of certain Clauses or parts of Clauses to an infinite variety of hypothetical situations.
§ Mr. J. Robertson rose—
§ Mr. Maclay
I am sorry, but I cannot give way.
It is possible to take any Bill, word for word and line for line, and ask just what it means. That may be good fun, but only for those who are doing it; for everyone else it becomes the most appalling bore. Of itself it is not likely to improve a Bill.
I believe that we have evolved a very effective system of devolution for the handling of Scottish affairs. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) in a guarded—or unguarded, perhaps—moment has paid tribute in the House to the efficiency of the Scottish Departments. We have also evolved, over the years—and both sides have had a hand in this—a quite workable procedure for the discussion of Scottish business and the consideration of the various stages of Scottish Bills, but I ask hon. Members to consider seriously whether they are using it to the best advantage—and I mean to the advantage not of the Government, because that is not the job of the Opposition, but to the advantage of Scotland as a whole, which is the job of the Opposition, just as much as it is the job of the Government.
I now want to apply this argument to the Bill under discussion. Up to last evening, out of a total of 33 hours spent in Committee, Opposition Members had spoken for approximately 29 hours, this time including a remarkable variety of points of order and the time unavoidably taken by the Chair in dealing with them. It also includes four hours on the Sittings Motion. I will not go over that again. I should be ashamed to disclose what happened on that occasion in the Scottish Standing Committee.
Time went, too, on the undoubtedly fascinating subject of the correct disposition of a dispatch case, and the reading of newspapers, and, with considerable regret, I must point out that in the first six sittings of the Committee hon. Members were called to order about 30 times for irrelevancy, interruptions, and so on.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is it not a matter of considerable importance that hon. Members should not read newspapers in Committee, even if they are not taking part in the debate? When hon. Members observe that some Members opposite 477 come into the Committee room regularly to do their correspondence, and pay no attention to what is going on, is it not their duty to bring this breach of order to the attention of the Chair?
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member has been in the House almost as long as I have, and he knows that this practice is unavoidable in Committee.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
I should like some help from the right hon. Gentleman. I am new to this sort of thing. I have not sat in many Scottish Committees, but I have been listening to the Minister's lecture on democracy. Will he explain why all the Government's supporters were unable to utter a word on the subject of the Bill.
§ Mr. Maclay
I welcome the hon. Member's interest in the proceedings of the House. If he remains here for very long he will discover that what he has just said has been said—to my knowledge—in every Guillotine debate since 1945. It is said in every Committee. It is old stuff that is not worth repeating. The short answer is that if hon. Members on both sides of the Committee work properly it should be possible for them to take a proper share in the work of the Committee, but it is sheer hypocrisy to deny that if hon. Members on this side of the House—who, in my opinion, exercised a remarkable degree of self-restraint—had risen they would have been certain, on every occasion, to provoke more irrelevancies from hon. Members opposite.
It has been common in Committee for nine or ten Members to speak to an Opposition Amendment—some of them twice, or even three times. This is a new departure in Committee work. It may be right; I am not challenging it, because the Chair is in command of Committees, and the hon. Members concerned deliberately stayed in order. But it is not real Committee work. It is not normal practice for a stream of Members to rise to a certain Amendment and make comparable speeches, even if they are slightly different.
One hon. Member contrived to speak twice on one Amendment, for a total of about three-quarters of an hour, and then to speak for as long again on the following Amendment. That is surely carrying things a little too far. It is far 478 beyond sensible discussion. And after all these 13 sittings, with this wonderful discussion, the Committee has not yet completed its discussion on Clause 2.
I want to quote from a speech made by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I hope that he is not leaving the Chamber. Some of the things that go on are quite all right, and this would be a dull place if none of it ever happened, but I ask hon. Members seriously to consider whether an overdose of it can possibly do any good to themselves or their party—neither of which worries me very much—or to Scotland, about which I am extremely concerned. I urge hon. Members opposite to think about this. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire and other hon. Members opposite who have touched on the same theme claimed the inalienable right of people in a democracy to talk for ever—
§ Mr. Maclay
—to talk a great deal, then. I urge them to pay some attention to the wise remarks of their right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields in November, 1948. He said:The danger to democracy is not that there will be too short a time spent on the preparation and discussion of Measures that are essential. If there is anything to learn from the history of the past few years, it is that where, owing to one cause or another, excessive discussion has brought Parliament into disrepute, parliamentary democracy has suffered its most severe defeats."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1538.]I leave the members of the Standing Committee to consider that.
I submit that the action we have taken today has been quite inevitable. It is one which I believe members of the Scottish Standing Committee have accepted, and have deliberately played for.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The last person who should have delivered that speech is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland. He has played no part at all in the Committee stage proceedings on the Housing (Scotland) Bill. In fact, for some time now the right hon. Gentleman has played no part at all in any Standing Committee. The Minister of Transport is a member of the Standing Committee which is discussing the Transport Bill.
479 When the legislation relating to housing in England and Wales was being discussed in Committee the Minister of Housing and Local Government was a member of the Committee. But on not one single Bill relating to Scotland do we see the Secretary of State for Scotland in the Committee, and I think it an insult to us that the right hon. Gentleman should proceed today to lecture us.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) referred to Gilbert and Sullivan. He, too, made a mistake. He seemed to think that the Secretary of State for Scotland was a member of the Standing Committee. I wonder whether he remembers the quotation aboutThat celebrated,Cultivated,UnderratedNobleman,The Duke of Plaza-Toro"?Does he remember:In enterprise of martial kind,When there was any fighting,He led his regiment from behind—He found it less exciting."?So far as the Leader of the House is concerned, someone referred to the right hon. Gentleman as a Highlander. The song which he should be singing is not, "Over the Sea to Skye" but, "Over the Sea from Skye".
Actually, this is a very serious matter. One of the worst things that any Government can do—and I am glad that the Leader of the House had the decency to express his regret—is to curtail the right of hon. Members to speak. After all, this place is Parliament. Some hon. Members—some with not a great amount of service in this House—seem to forget that. That is all we can do here, speak, proclaim the needs of our people, urge the Government to do something and, when the Government do something which is not satisfactory to meet the needs of the people, criticise them. That is the right of back bench Members of Parliament—and also to try to stop the Government from doing something when it is bad.
The Leader of the House knows this quite well. The whole fundamental basis of Parliamentary democracy is our right to speak out, our right to oppose. When any Government introduce a guillotine Motion, that Government are 480 cutting down on something which is the basis of Parliamentary democracy. When the Leader of the House has to resort to this method four times in six weeks, he should first look a little beyond his own convenience and examine whether the Bill in question should have been introduced in the first place, and, secondly—when the Bill has gone to a Standing Committee and there has been a good deal of talk—whether it is a fact that the conduct of the Minister in that Committee is such as to leave quite a lot to be desired.
One thing the right hon. Gentleman did not do today, in relation either to progress or to precedent, was what the Secretary of State is now doing in relation to this Scottish Bill. If he looks up the precedent established by the last Measure of this kind—the Bill which became the 1957 Housing and Town Development (Scotland) Act—he will find that during the Committee stage discussions Clause 2 was not disposed of until after there had been ten sittings, and the Bill took twenty sittings. Two of those sittings, may I remind the right hon. Gentleman, lasted for thirty-four hours. If he takes the normal period of two and a half hours per sitting, it will be seen that on that Bill, and without a Guillotine, we had thirty sittings. There was some reason for curtailing the debate on that occasion because there was a time limit which made it necessary for the Government to get the provisions of the Measure in operation before a certain time.
Let me return to the Housing (Scotland) Bill. I hope the right hon. Gentleman noticed that the Bill applies to every house approved after 1st November last year. Suppose we take six months, eight months, or nine months. It does not cause a single legislative inconvenience to Scotland in relation to housing. Do not let us have the Secretary of State for Scotland lecturing us on the importance of Clauses 1 and 2. He says that they are relatively unimportant. Yet every single power which the right hon. Gentleman possesses to issue circulars to local authorities stems from the provisions contained in Clause 1 of the Bill.
Does the right hon. Gentleman remember the speeches made from his side of the House about Government interference with local authorities? Does 481 he remember the speeches made about delegated legislation? Clause 1 deals with the power of the Secretary of State to pay subsidies. If he did not pay subsidies he could not order local authorities about. Yet we must not examine the Clause. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland spoke about "33/60 tenants" and his hon. Friends did not know what he was talking about. The expression "33/60" relates to a circular under which, without any further legislative power, the Secretary of State for Scotland, whether he knows it or not, is practically telling local authorities who will go into their houses. That stems from Clause 1—but we must not talk about it.
In relation to the 1957 Act, Lord Craigton said that, with Glasgow unable to find sites to build houses for the people within its boundaries, overspill was the biggest problem in Europe. "The biggest problem in Europe" is dealt with under Clause 2 of the Bill-but we must not talk about it. We have five or six hours to deal with a problem which has beset this Government and the last Government and which is still insoluble. In 1957, when these overspill arrangements first started, we were told by Lord Craigton that in ten years the local authorities were to build 15,000 houses in order to deal with the matter. Does the right hon. Gentleman know what progress the local authorities have made in four years under a Tory legislation towards that target of 15,000 houses? The number built is 500. But we must not examine this. We must not talk about it and tell them where they have gone wrong.
All this time we have the "dumb oracles of Caledonia" on the benches opposite. The only contribution made to our discussions by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) was on a Motion that did not relate to housing at all but to whether or not we should sit on Tuesday afternoons. The hon. Gentleman rose out of his pompous silence and made as pompous and patriotic a declaration as I have heard—"Let us do something for Scotland". Then the hon. Gentleman sank back into his lethargy. Silence has become elevated to a new pinnacle of Parliamentary performance by the hon. Gentleman. He has not opened his mouth again until today—
§ Mr. Ross
—when he repeated the speech that he delivered on that occasion. This is the hon. Gentleman's stock speech. Whenever we want any enlightenment in relation to the virtues of silence, we can expect the hon. Gentleman to make his speech. But what about the rest of them? He was not alone. The only person I could absolve is the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis). He did speak. He was persuaded by our arguments, and this is true not only of the hon. Gentleman, but also of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart). Having listened to us and having been dragged out by the compelling force of our arguments to say a word or two, what did we find? They could not support the Government. No wonder we are having a guillotine Motion, because this kind of thing is catching. Before we finish up, if we go on much longer in that Committee, the tight-lipped legislators will be not just abstaining but actually voting against their own Government, and no wonder.
The right hon. Gentleman has a tremendous responsibility. I think it is unfair of him, in an important Committee dealing with an important Bill like this, to leave the whole responsibility of making decisions whether Amendments shall be accepted or rejected to one who, with all due respect to him, is a rather immature junior Minister. But this is true. Somebody has said that he was" a chip off the old block." We remember his father with respect. His father had exactly the same position as he now has, but his father had a long experience not only of Parliament but of local government work as well. We found with his father that we could make him lose his temper just as easily. [Laughter.] Well, we have to liven up the Committee procedure, and I am quite sure that after what hon. Members have heard they will think that the Scottish Standing Committee is the liveliest and finest Committee in the House.
§ Mr. Ross
Hon. Members do not seem to me to appreciate that their function as Members of Parliament is to talk 483 and to criticise, and the trouble with the Under-Secretary is that he has not realised that. He is one of the trinity of Under-Secretaries, and he has not even had the help of the Lord Advocate. He has remained alone on the Government Front Bench without a single one of his supporters opening his mouth. Yes, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) did open his mouth. I remember that debate. He was going to sit day and night. We have hardly seen him since.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West) rose—
§ Mr. Ross
Of course, I will, but it is not the one which the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is. It is not the Huey Long one. It is not even the one where he talked about the "unravished brides of quietness". It is the one in which I feel he has let me down and really shocked me today by his attitude. I can well remember when I was on the other side of the House in February, 1947, and when I delivered what I thought was not a bad speech. I do not think it was quite as good as that of the right hon. Gentleman, because he then rose in his place and said:I hope that we shall hear lots more from the hon. Gentleman."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c. 1743.][HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I think I have said enough. Have I not got cause for complaint? If I take his advice, and when I meet his measured hopes, what does he do? He is the first Secretary of State in Scotland in history who has found it necessary to guillotine the Scottish Standing Committee. That, to my mind, was a reflection upon himself. With due regard to the previous Secretary of State, now Lord Stuart of Findhorn, were we less voluble in his day? It may well be that Lord Stuart of Findhorn had more Parliamentary 484 experience, knew when to give way and knew what power he had as Secretary of State for Scotland to make his legislation different from that of England. But what do we find now?
Since the right hon. Gentleman became Secretary of State for Scotland we have had these troubles. There is a very obvious moral to be drawn from this. Since he became Secretary of State, more and more Scottish legislation has taken a purely English pattern. This is true of the national character of Scotland in many ways, but it is true of legislation, and we as Scots must protest against it and protect our interests.
The right hon. Gentleman today has not given any reason for speed. I have already shown that there is no reason to guillotine this Bill because of any date of operation in regard to it. I think it was the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West who, in an unguarded moment and in one of the few speeches we heard from the silent senators opposite, told us, "Let us get on with this Bill, because we want to get on with the Licensing Bill." In other words, he wants to start a "pub-crawl". This is the real reason why the Housing (Scotland) Bill has been included in this Motion. It is because of the Licensing Bill and the public houses. I hope the Minister of Transport will remember a speech which he made only last week about alcohol and will appreciate what has been going on during the last six days. We have to hurry up, and we must not talk about slums, overcrowding, overspill and the powers of the Secretary of State. It is a case of "Hurry up, we want to talk about the Licensing Bill".
§ Mr. Ross
This is the real reason why we are faced with this Motion, and if the Secretary of State realised the needs of Scotland he would appreciate that all we want is a housing Bill far better than the one he has given us. Until we get that we will echo through these walls of St. Stephen's the wrongs of Scotland.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that by this tyrannical legislative act he is speeding on to the Statute Book a Bill that gives him more tyrannical powers than any Secretary of 485 State for Scotland ever had. He is to take power to depart from the contracts he has entered into with the local authorities on subsidies. He can abolish subsidies after ten years, not just for the houses that are to be built but for all the houses built now, but we must not talk about it. He is to take powers over the local authorities to fix the rents of local authority houses, but we must not talk about them. He is making important new provisions regarding housing associations and the contribution which they can make to Scottish housing, but we must not talk about them. He tells us that we have to finish it in nine sittings of two-and-a-half hours each.
Once this guillotine Motion goes through, of course, the tongues of hon. Members opposite will be loosened. The rights of the Opposition to proclaim against the Bill which does not meet the needs of Scotland at all and is opposed by everyone in Scotland—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Local authorities in Scotland are opposed to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They have more sense of democracy than have hon. Members opposite. The democracy nearest to the people is the democracy of the local authorities. That democracy will be overruled and overriden by a Secretary of State who started in life as a Liberal.
I remind the right hon. Gentleman of one thing which was said:The only thing which really entitles this country to be called a Parliamentary democracy is not the right of free speech but the right of an Opposition, which has something serious to say in opposition to a Measure, not merely to say it plainly, but to say it at such length as the subject really deserves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 106.]That is what we have been doing in the Scottish Standing Committee and that is the right that is being denied us by the action of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The action to which he is a party tonight is just one other act in the tragedy of the present Secretary of State who has served Scotland so ill, although ever so well-intentioned. In this case it is action which is setting even himself a very bad example.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)
Although the Housing (Scotland) Bill may be of parochial interest north of 486 the Border, the major Measure that we are discussing within this Motion today relates to She Government's proposal to apply a timetable to the Transport Bill. The Committee, I am told, although I am not myself a member of the Standing Committee, has had 23 sittings and has got through only 25 Clauses out of the total of 91 Clauses and 11 Schedules in the Transport Bill.
Superficially, that might be judged to be a good reason for a timetable Motion. I have read through practically all the proceedings of the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill—I am sorry that I am not a member of it—and I cannot find much cause for the allegations that there has been deliberate delay on the part of the Opposition, or Government supporters, or any measure of filibustering.
I say to the Minister of Transport that this Bill is one of immense complexity and, other than the nationalising Statute of 1947, is certainly the most massive transport Measure ever brought before the House. One has only to study any one of the 11 Schedules to the Bill. notably those connected with docks and harbours, to understand their controversial character. I assert without any fear of contradiction that any one of those Schedules could usefully occupy three or four sittings of a Standing Committee, or a full day's debate in this House, so much are transport interests concerned and the livelihood of local people.
I do not believe that the Transport Bill has been unduly delayed. I must at once contradict what was said by the Leader of the House. He attributed to the Minister of Transport a statement on an earlier occasion that if the Bill carried on at the rate at which it was going through Standing Committee it would not be through until 1964. That is not so, at least not judged in the true perspective of the position today. Twenty-three sittings have been required to get through 25 Clauses.
I judge from that that about 100 sittings would be required at the rate of progress for the first 23 sittings, to complete the passage of this Bill in Standing Committee. In fact, some of the later provisions of the Bill in Clauses after Clause 50 are extremely difficult, notably Clause 63, dealing with inland 487 waterways, and notably several of the Schedules to which I have referred. I should have thought they would have occupied more time, without a Guillotine, than has been devoted to the earlier Clauses.
§ Mr. G. Wilson
In arriving at his arithmetical calculation, has my hon. Friend considered that ten, eleven, or twelve Clauses were rushed through during the last few sittings after the Guillotine had been announced?
§ Mr. Nabarro
All right, I will grant my right hon. Friend that there is a lot of substance in it, but I ask him to turn to Clause 63, which deals with inland waterways. I ask him to consider that the Bowes Committee, which produced a Report on that subject, and the future of the canals, did so nearly two years ago and that we in this House have not been able to debate that Report. The provisions of this Clause change the whole of the management and financial structure of the inland waterways.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Hay) rose—
§ Mr. Nabarro
May I be allowed to finish what I was saying? It may be unpalatable to the Government Front Bench but—
§ Mr. Nabarro
I will give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) to give him an opportunity to expose the verities, but I now give way to the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Mr. Hay
When my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said that the Report of the Bowes Committee had not been debated in this House, he forgot that we had a day's debate on it eighteen months ago. It took place on a Friday. Perhaps my hon. Friend was not present, but the subject was certainly very fully debated.
§ Mr. Nabarro
That is perfectly true. It took place on a Private Member's 488 Motion. The Government have not attached sufficient importance to the # Bowes Report to allocate time for a discussion of it on a Government Motion. The plain fact of the matter is that most hon. Members have duties elsewhere on a Friday, as is well known, and that it is mainly Government business which attracts their attention.
The case I am putting is that there are matters of massive moment to the entire nation in the later stages of this Bill. I wish to say, not particularly of the timetable being imposed in Committee upstairs, because I am not a member of the Standing Committee, to my right hon. Friend that, so far as he has influence on the Leader of the House in settling the terms of the Motion, only two days are to be devoted to the whole Recommittal, or Report and Third Reading of the Bill.
Now I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Truro, who wishes to expose I the verities of the Measure.
§ Mr. G. Wilson
The point has now been answered by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I spoke in the debate on the Bowes Committee's Report. The debate took a full day. We went into it very thoroughly and had a full answer from the Government.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I do not think that that is any reason for almost eliminating debate on Clause 63 of this Bill, which would change the statutory position of the canals. It is an entirely different matter.
§ Mr. G. Wilson indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Nabarro
My hon. Friend is indicating dissent. This is a Government matter. It should not be left to private Members and then used as an excuse by the Chairman of the Conservative Transport Committee to back up his Minister when little Government time is being devoted to the matter on this Bill. I believe that substantial Government time should be devoted to matters of this sort.
I want to allude particularly to my main cause of grievance about the timetable Motion on Report and to illustrate it by an even more important matter than that of the canals. I allude, by way of example only, to the contents of Clause 13, which is of an explosive 489 character politically, because it involves diametrically opposed views of the Socialist Party in regard to the powers of nationalised industries and views which I and, I hope, my Conservative hon. Friends hold as to what should be the prerogative of private enterprise in manufacture and production of equipment for transportation purposes.
I will read to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport an extract from the manifesto of the Conservative Party at the 1959 General Election, on which he fought his election with such conspicuous success in Wallasey and I fought mine with equally conspicuous success in Kidderminster.
§ Mr. Nabarro
No. Not more. My right hon. Friend has a bigger majority than I have.
I will read an extract from paragraph 4 of the document "The Next Five Years"—a document which bears a magnificent portrait of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, no doubt to establish its authenticity. Paragraph 4 deals with the nationalised industries and begins:We are utterly opposed to any extension of nationalisation by any means.I invite my right hon. Friend to turn to Clause 13 of the Transport Bill, which says that each of the boards—that is, the boards established under Clause 1—shall have power to construct, manufacture, produce, purchase, maintain and repair anything required for the purposes of the business.In other words, the four boards—the British Railways Board, the London Transport Board, the British Transport Docks Board and the Inland Waterways Authority—are being authorised under the Bill greatly to extend the powers of nationalisation and to manufacture any equipment which they choose to manufacture. I suggest that this is a matter of very great moment—certainly it should be a matter of very great moment—to all of my Conservative hon. Friends, for this is an outright extension of the powers of nationalisation and is in direct contradition to an essential part of the Conservative Party's manifesto.
§ Mr. Philip N. Hocking (Coventry, South)
Does my hon. Friend realise that the Clause goes even further than any 490 of the nationalisation Measures introduced by the Labour Party?
§ Mr. Nabarro
Yes, that is so. I should be out of order if I went into great detail in this matter on a timetable Motion. I am well aware of that, but I answer my hon. Friend's intervention: the nationalisation Statute of 1947 placed a quantitative restriction upon the equipment which might be manufactured for the purpose of the transport authorities in the ownership of the State. This Clause sweeps that restriction away and gives them complete carte blanche.
I am not, of course, imputing to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport any subversive intention in this respect. I know that his private enterprising instincts are identical with my own. I always note with pride the monuments to his efficiency on the roads, labelled so prominently, as, for example, the recently completed Hammersmith flyover, whenever I travel to London Airport. I know that his views in these matters are identical with my own. But we are enacting here provisions which will provide for the requirements of the nationalised transport undertakings for a long time ahead—and what would happen if a Socialist Minister were empowered with the provision which my right hon. Friend has written into Clause 13? Such a Minister would have no hesitation at all in expanding and extending the powers of the State to manufacture transportation equipment.
I quote to my right hon. Friend an exact analogy: in 1957 the then Paymaster-General, who was responsible for fuel and power, brought to the House an Electricity Bill which contained similar manufacturing provisions, but for electrical plant. I fought those provisions in Standing Committee upstairs. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) is in his place. He seems to think that he is the only Member on this side of the House who ever serves on Standing Committees. As I say, I fought these provisions in Standing Committee, and I was defeated on a Division.
I then took the matter to the Conservative Transport Committee, over which my hon. Friend the Member for Truro presides today with such great 491 distinction. I secured the support of that Committee and that of the Power Committee. I then went to the 1922 Committee and secured its support; and we caused the Minister to withdraw these wretched provisions, on the Report stage of the Electricity Bill. The reason which he gave—I commend these words to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport—was that they were inimical to the philosophy and the principles of the Conservative Party.
I hope that I have said enough to demonstrate to my right hon. Friend the interest which my hon. Friends and I have in this fundamental matter. I propose, on Report, to put down appropriate Amendments. I listened to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). He felt rather aggrieved because these timetable Motions would mean that the Opposition would lose some of their time and that suddenly my hon. Friends and myself might become rather garrulous in the future stages of the Bills and have a good deal to say I am not concerned with the Housing (Scotland) Bill, but I am very concerned with the Transport Bill when it comes back to the House, and I am certain that no inhibition will be felt by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking), my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) and, I hope, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone, and others of my hon. Friends and myself.
§ Mr. J. Wells rose—
§ Mr. Nabarro
I hope that other hon. Members on this side of the House, too, will join us in pressing matters of this sort, because I remind my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport that we were not elected in 1959 to extend the principles and practice of Socialism—which is what Clause 13 means. It is no good the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport shaking his head in dissent. The Clause extends the power of manufacture.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We cannot possibly argue that on this Motion. The Question is whether we get on with this Allocation of Time Motion.
§ Mr. Nabarro
It was by way of a passing illustration. I will give way at 492 this point to my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone.
§ Mr. J. Wells
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way to me. May I point out two things to him, briefly? First, I do not think that I am the only hon. Member on this side of the House who serves on Standing Committees. But I notice that my hon. Friend's name has been notably absent in recent years, as I said earlier this afternoon.
Secondly, my hon. Friend has grouped together several hon. Members on this side of the House with particular respect to Clause 13. As he is so extremely interested in what took place on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", when we were debating Clause 13, he might have been in attendance outside the Committee, when he would have noticed that some of us had the Closure moved against us and saw fit not to vote with the Government on that occasion.
§ Mr. Nabarro
My hon. Friend has missed the point. I do not attend Standing Committees to listen to his speeches. I can read what he said in HANSARD afterwards.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Why bother? I have since read the speech as a sort of imposed duty. The debate was very short and limited in scope.
That is why I am making the point that this is a matter of great interest to the whole of the Conservative Party and should not be disposed of under the guillotine Motion on Report in a few minutes—for it was very inadequately dealt with in Standing Committee.
I am not alone in expressing these views. The Times, on 28th February, 1962, carried an admirable letter in the correspondence columns—the title was "Principle and Practice"—over the signature Mr. R. H. Smallman. He concluded that admirable letter with these words:The Government should tell us plainly what lies behind a piece of legislation which is prima facie in direct conflict with its declared aims and policies.For all these reasons, I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, as the Leader of the House is not here, to cause a greater allocation of time 493 to be made under paragraph (2) of the Motion, which contains this restriction:the Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Bill shall be completed in two allotted days …I calculate that that represents not more than ten and a half hours for Amendments on Recommittal or Report.
I suggest that the House should be given three full days for the Report stage, which would represent approximately nineteen and a half hours, or nine hours longer than the Motion proposes. There are a large number of Conservative Members Who have had no opportunity of contributing to debates on matters which fundamentally affect the policy of the Tory Party. I calculate that no more than 5½ per cent. of the Members of the House of Commons have been able to participate in this massive Transport Bill. Two days were devoted to Second Reading. I sat right through those two days, bobbing up every time another Member sat down, but I did not catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. I was not one of those Members privileged to be selected to serve on the Standing Committee.
Therefore, my only opportunity is on Report. With this attenuated programme which is now put before the House I shall have little opportunity to speak on my Amendment, if, indeed, it is selected. The chances of it being selected are ten to one against, because the matter has been debated in Standing Committee. I am not making a criticism. I am stating a fact. This issue has been debated, far too shortly, in Standing Committee. Therefore, the chances are ten to one against it being selected on Report.
I am one of the majority of 95 per cent. which, by the rules of order of the House of Commons and the guillotine Motion combined, are refused an opportunity to debate and divide against the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear some murmers of support from behind me. We have been refused the opportunity to debate and divide against the Government on such Clauses as Clause 13.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I have "leaked" nothing. I said that I raised this important principle at a meeting of the 1922 Committee, five years ago, on another Bill. Surely that is not being "leaky". What I want is an opportunity of showing my hostility individually to Clause 13. Otherwise, I might be faced with the position of having to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill, which I do not want to do, because 97 per cent. of the Transport Bill is good. Only perhaps about 3 per cent. is bad.
Therefore, I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to persuade the Leader of the House to give us those extra nine hours on Recommittal and Report, so that adequate attention may be devoted by my hon. Friends and myself to these very important matters of principle.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)
I agree in principle with the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) about the paucity of time allotted. I shall develop my argument, not on the slender issue of one board manufacturing for another board, but on the wider issue of transport as it affects the nation. The hon. Member for Kidderminster was guilty of a contradiction. At one moment he was opposed to the idea of one board manufacturing for another board, but in the same breath he spoke of additional money being pumped into inland waterways by the State. He recommended this in respect of an undertaking which is known not to be viable and not likely to be viable. The Conservative Party tends to use waterways for weekend pleasure. They are not unprepared to use public finances for that purpose.
The Leader of the House adduced two reasons, amongst others, which he said led to the conclusion that a timetable Motion was desirable. First, he referred to the anxieties of those engaged in the industry. I know about these anxieties. Secondly, he referred to important appointments which would have to be made, and said that he did not want the Bill delayed until the end of the year. We have heard the Minister of Transport argue, "Better a good appointment than 495 a quick appointment". On this argument the second reason adduced by the Leader of the House is invalid.
The Motion will give us another twelve sittings in Committee, which will presumably amount to thirty hours in all, and the Report stage. This is a quite insufficient allocation. I agree with the hon. Member for Kidderminster that it should be increased. What is the Bill about? The Bill will kill the British Transport Commission, whose working receipts are £759 million a year, which has working expenses of £800 million a year, and will have a deficit—so we are told—of £151 million next year. The Government are reallocating, redesigning, repatterning and to some extent killing this undertaking. The Government are, in effect, writing off in terms of £ s. d. two-thirds of the B.T.C. book values.
The Bill is not merely concerned with waterways. The argument is not only whether one workshop should do a job for another. I want to correct my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), who said that the total staff of the B.T.C. was half a million. The Bill concerns the welfare and destiny of three-quarters of a million people employed by the B.T.C. We are concerned about so much capital being written off, which I suppose is the legacy of ten years of political neglect and misjudgment. No wonder the Minister of Transport and the Leader of the House are anxious that the burial should take place quickly and quietly.
There is great public anxiety about the Bill. There is also great anxiety within the industry. Railways, waterways, docks and London Transport are being revalued and realigned. A holding company is to be set up. I liken the Bill to a ship. So far in Committee we have examined merely the shell. We have dealt with three or four undertakings. In the next twelve sittings we have to deal with the people, the implements and the functions which will be within the shell.
The time allotted is not sufficient. I am a member of the Standing Committee. Making all allowance for what might be argued to be a certain amount of delay, I cannot place my hand on my 496 heart and say that there has been any filibustering. I acknowledge that I have taken some part in the proceedings of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite, as we have just learned from the hon. Member for Kidderminster, have read the report of our proceedings. There is no evidence of any concerted filibustering in the Committee. If it is argued that contributions by those with intimate knowledge of transport, dealing with important matters of detail, are filibustering, I am as guilty as anyone. It is, however, the job of Members of Parliament to consider both principles and details. That is the job of the Committee.
In the remaining four weeks, we have to write in the furniture and mechanics of the holding company, which is in many ways a new departure and over which there is considerable controversy. We have to decide the division of the Commission's assets, on which there are differences of view. But we have not yet faced one of the most controversial issues, the question of charges and facilities.
Are we, in a matter of a few hours, to say goodbye for ever to the question of the common carrier? Are we to free, as I want them freed, railways from all legislative restrictions on their charges by way of local enactments, and so on? I am prepared for that. Certain details and assurances should be forthcoming, but the time will be limited so that those of us who might have something to say will be cut out.
There is a big lobby among hon. Members opposite which took a number of items off the Notice Paper a few weeks ago concerning Clause 54. Have we, in the Bill, a proper relationship with coastal shipping? I do not associate myself with that lobby, but at least I and others in the Committee want the opportunity to take a helpful and constructive line on that and similar Clauses.
There is the innovation of an alleged Nationalised Transport Advisory Council, with which we have the limited powers of the existing consultative committees. How many hon. Members are there, on both sides, who at some time have not been vitally involved in this local mechanism that the Minister so often uses against us in Adjournment 497 debates? The powers of the local consultative committees are to be cut even more and the powers of the Nationalised Transport Advisory Council are to be purely advisory, whereas advice may be forthcoming, both from this side and from the Government side, to give the Council power and strength so that in one way and another it may be a channel of first-class advice to the Minister. At the moment, it is an anaemic affair, but it is the job of the Committee, for which it should have the time—it has the ability—to fill in the details.
I must indicate my interest in this matter. I was, and still am, with the railways. A number of Clauses deal with the transfer of assets and, inter alia, of staff to the respective boards. Many of us have considered the Clauses dealing with the transfer of staff, pension provisions and consequential matters. There is manifest uneasiness about the Clauses. The police side of the railways has great uneasiness. One does not want to waste time, but we want to safeguard the position of the three-quarters of a million people in the industry. Some of them have changed from one division to another and they seek to go back. Many will want assurances about superannuation fund solvency, but our time is to be guillotined.
The Minister states that he is anxious about the Commission. Consider some of the changes of mind of the last few months. Part of my argument is that, if the Committee deploys itself as it should, the Minister will be changing his mind still further. Since the issue of the White Paper, he has changed it vitally concerning hotels and the private development company. If time were available, further argument in Committee might educate the Minister. Alongside the Bill has come the Pipe-lines Bill, which is to some extent related to it. This is a further complication.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall pointed out, there was a serious omission in drafting concerning the holding company. The fertile discussion which has come mostly from this side has pointed the need for further Amendments by the Minister.
I say with regret that I cannot compliment the Minister on his tact. Apparently, he has not authorised his 498 Parliamentary Secretary, who has done good work in the Committee, to give way even on small points. It is no wonder that he and the Leader of the House have not found the full cooperation that would have been forthcoming had the areas of doubt been properly explored.
When I looked at the Notice Paper on 23rd February, following the Minister's heated intervention on one of his few appearances in the Committee, I found that 119 Amendments remained of Which 63 were in the names of hon. Members opposite. These included 34 by the Minister. Were they put down as a waste of paper? Should we not give them the vetting that they need?
After the Committee finished yesterday, I made a further calculation. The illuminating fact emerges that 105 Amendments remain for the Committee to face. Forty-four of these are in the name of the Minister and 33 in the names of his hon. Friends. A mere 28 are from hon. Members on this side. Yet we are being asked to limit the time, and the Minister recommends that we should have a mere twelve sittings to deal with this great problem.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster pointed to the size of this problem in the national economy—
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Of even greater importance is the fact that an earlier Bill introduced by the Minister was withdrawn after it had become an Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. Mapp
I wish to refer to an intervention which the Minister made in our discussions in Standing Committee early last month. He said, in effect, that he was annoyed that my hon. Friends had taken so long over Clause 9—longer than it had taken Colonel John Glenn to go round the world; and Colonel Glenn went round the world three times. The Minister went on to argue that the delay being caused would, in turn, delay the financial reorganisation of the 499 B.T.C. That was begging the major question, for he was, in effect, saying that this great financial reorganisation must now be considered under duress.
Surely it is the right of hon. Members to scrutinise every part of a Bill of this sort without having the threat of the Guillotine hanging over us. What is even more important is that the Minister's statement was incorrect. I could say that in somewhat different language, but I wish to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to retract the words he used. I refer, of course, to a remark he made which meant, in effect, that unless the Bill had passed through all its stages by June there would be no method of communication between the union leaders and the Railways Board, the established machinery would break down and the whole thing would be difficult to organise without the Bill.
I referred in Committee to the right hon. Gentleman's statement about the possible lack of communication and the established machinery, and I now urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider his words again. I think he will agree that his argument was incorrect, untrue, and that he uttered those words at a time when he was trying to "sergeant major" the Opposition. That will not do, for that sort of thing will not help him to get his Bill. Having observed the Minister over a period of time I have come to the conclusion that, rather like Dr. Beeching, he is learning fast. The right hon. Gentleman will learn a lot faster soon about the difficulties of the railways.
In many respects the Guillotine will mean that the Bill will not receive the careful attention it warrants. It is our duty as hon. Members to give it that attention. As a result, it will be two-thirds a Whitehall Bill and the old saying "Whitehall knows best" will, presumably, apply. Does the Minister really want this sort of action to cover up ten years of politically wrong decisions and neglect? I urge him to allow the Standing Committee to do its job properly and get on with its proper consideration of the Bill. There is no evidence to show that there has been any concerted filibustering, and the guillotine Motion, apart from the wider issues involved, is not justified and is a travesty.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I listened to the opening stages of the debate on this timetable Motion with very mixed feelings. I felt that it really was a waste of time either for the Government to point out what the Opposition had said when they were in Government, or for the Opposition to say what we had said when we were in opposition. It does not affect the issue today. No one likes the Guillotine and no one likes to impose it. We all understand what Parliamentary procedures involve and I thought that it was very sad, when there are so many important things to discuss, that we should spend such a lot of time discussing the pros and cons of what went on in 1947.
I do not very often agree with the Opposition, but they are perfectly right to attack the timetable. It is part of their business to do so. I would be upset if the Government did not do the same when in opposition. That said, let us now call it a day.
I do not want to detain the House, but I must make a protest about the possibility of the Standing Committee not being able to deal with Clause 54, which relates in detail to new plans for dealing with coastal shipping. I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) say that he would join that lobby, but I am not sure that I like the word "lobby". It is a bit too Americanised.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I am glad that I have given the hon. Gentleman an opportunity to make his position clear. I thought that he sympathised with the position of coastal shipping.
I rise tonight mainly to ask my right hon. Friend whether he will give an assurance that, on Report, there will be an opportunity to discuss this very important matter, for it is absolutely essential that we should do so. It is unfortunate that we were unable to obtain the services in Standing Committee of any hon. Members who have either knowledge of or interests in shipbuilding or shipping—coastal shipping, 501 in particular. This has made matters awkward, and the lack of hon. Members with this knowledge is deplorable from the point of view of the interests of coastal shipping.
All hon. Members seem to have been arguing, and rightly so, about the points which they consider should be dealt with in the Bill. When my right hon. Friend replies I hope that the representations that have been made to him on behalf of coastal shipping will have sunk into his brain and that we shall have an effective answer which will enable us to protect this industry.
I realise that I would not be in order in arguing the case for this tonight, but I felt that I should ask my right hon. Friend to give an assurance that an opportunity will be provided for hon. Members to discuss this very important matter and that if, when we reach the Report stage, there is any intention on the part of the Government to clip the wings of the House in this discussion, we shall be able to extend the time so that the interests of coastal shipping can be reasonably and properly discussed. That is important if we are to retain an adequate Parliamentary system.
That is all I have to say, except that I very much regret that it seems rather unlikely that Clause 54 will have a chance of being discussed in Standing Committee. I shall, I hope, be sitting on this little back bench when the Minister winds up the debate and I hope that he will make a delightful speech in which he will say that the wishes I have expressed will be taken note of and a chance given for this important matter to be discussed on Report.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
Having listened to the debate so far, I fail to discover any justifiable reason why the Government should introduce the Guillotine. Although I have not taken the trouble to read every word of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Scotland (Housing) Bill proceedings in Committee, I have taken the trouble to read the report of the debates in Standing Committee E. Having done so, I again fail to discover, from that Committee's proceedings, why the Government feel justified to introduce the Guillotine.
I find that the debate on the Amendments to Clause 13, to which the hon.
502 Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) referred, and which is one of the most important Clauses in the Bill, occupied only two hours. The twenty-first sitting of that Committee took place last Thursday. The proceedings started at half-past ten in the morning and finished just after twelve o'clock, so one cannot accuse Opposition Members of filibustering or of trying to prevent the passage of this Bill to the Statute Book.
Apart from that, what concerns me profoundly is the fact that there will not be an opportunity of discussing Clause 13 on Third Reading and Report. I wonder whether the Minister or the Department appreciates the tremendous effect that part of the Motion will have upon the industry and the people engaged therein. If this part of the Motion is passed, it will cause serious disturbance among workers engaged in an industry—and the right hon. Gentleman knows the industry to which I refer, namely, the wagon repairing industry. I think I can understand the right hon. Gentleman's view up to a point, but I cannot understand why he has allowed the Government to impose the Guillotine on this very important Measure.
Paragraph 10 of the Motion states: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.Paragraph 11 says:If, at Seven o'clock on any allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or 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.One gathers that we shall not have an opportunity of discussing the Amendments which have been tabled to the Bill in Standing Committee. As an ordinary man, I think that is a very serious slight on those of us who claim to live according to the principles of democracy. This is having a serious effect in my constituency. Except in the case of old-age pensions and compension, I have never known of any piece of legislation which has caused 503 so much interest as this Bill has caused, because the livelihood of the town which I represent depends upon the proper administration of this country's transport system.
In that constituency there are factories employing about 1,000 men, and they have done very important work, particularly during two world wars. They were commanded by the Government to manufacture and repair all sorts of wagons. These works have been in existence in one case for 100 years, in another case for sixty years and in another case for seventy-five years. I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary is aware of the effect that the Bill will have upon the men employed in those workshops. Would he or the Minister like to work with a feeling of insecurity in the next twelve months? Sweeping powers are given to the boards under Clause 13—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but he must not embark on a discussion of the merits of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman's argument is that there is not sufficient time to discuss the merits, that is all right, but to discuss the merits themselves is out of order.
§ Mr. Brown
Then I will only say that I am very concerned at the effect which the Bill in its present form will have on my constituents, and let it be remembered that there will not be an opportunity of debating the Bill on Report or Third Reading. As a result of this Motion, hon. Mmbers who are accredited 504 representatives of the townships in which such works are situated will be prevented from voicing their opinions.
We have heard a great deal this afternoon about the principles of democracy. I am always inspired by a quotation from one of the greatest writers who ever lived. He said that individual responsibility is the cornerstone of democracy, and if we fail to (realise our individual responsibility, down will come the cornerstone of democracy upon us. I tell the Minister and the Government as a whole that this Bill, unless it is operated in a kindly and humane manner, will strike a terrible blow at this industry and at this town.
§ Mr. Hay indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Brown
The Parliamentary Secretary may shake his head, but we have had some experience of these things. We know how these things operate when legislation comes. With all respect to him, the right hon. Gentleman may not be the Minister of Transport in a few years.
I was very glad to note—it is a credit to him—that the Parliamentary Secretary gave a partial promise during the debate on the Amendments to Clause 13. I wish I could be sure that that promise will be carried out. I have my doubts, not because I fear that the Parliamentary Secretary will fail but because I fear that there will be some interference between now and the time when the Bill reaches the Statute Book.
There were several other matters with which I should have liked to have dealt, but time is getting on. I conclude with this plea. Whatever is done in a Department, however it is done, let those responsible make doubly sure, before any attempt is made to close a works, that something similar is put in its place so that the men may earn their living. This is what worries me. For a century these works have been in commission. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary knows them. I will tell him. There is the Central Wagon Works, in commission for over 100 years. There is the Ince Wagon Works, in commission for over seventy years.
At these works more than 700 men are employed, representing through their families 1,500 to 1,800 people. For God's sake, I say, let us not leave those men 505 stranded. The Government must see to it that they deal humanely with them in carrying out the purposes of the Bill. I am not talking about finance. I am not talking about whether nationalisation is better than private enterprise. One thing I know is that private enterprise at its best has done very well for the town and for its inhabitants who have earned their livelihood there. Let us not be charged with the responsibility of disturbing these men after all those years. If they are disturbed—this is what I regret—they will have been disturbed as a result of a Guillotine put on by the Government.
§ Mr. Hay indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Brown
I do not mind the Parliamentary Secretary shaking his head. It is customary, and I like to know whether the Government agree with me or not as I proceed, because I am inspired if they agree with me.
I make the plea that nothing shall be done in the administration of the Bill which will create unemployment such as we experienced in the 1930s in my district. I am not arguing the pros and cons of Clause 13 now. I am speaking today because I had experience of unemployment then, 80 per cent. unemployment in my area, and I do not want it to happen again.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), because of what he said about the kindly and capable way in which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has been able to give us some half-promises and semi-assurances on Clauses which lie ahead and which may, perhaps, not be debated as fully as we should like because of the guillotine Motion now before us. I welcome the Guillotine wholeheartedly, but for this thought, that, had we had it a little sooner, the Business Committee might have provided more time to debate the various Clauses still to be discussed.
I have great sympathy with Members like my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), who is concerned about coastal shipping, and others of my hon. Friends who are concerned about the charges likely to be made on the inland waterways and similar matters I am very concerned 506 about the possible implications of the reallocation of the shares of the bus companies. I hope that there will be sufficient time left to debate those matters fully. The matter of wagon repairs is, in part, behind us, but we may well be able to have another go at it on Report.
I deplore a little that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)—if I may adopt the phrase used earlier by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss)—seems to have flitted in and out like a bumble bee and has now left us. Although he has not served on the Committee, he is rumbling and threatening that he will put down Amendments on Report. I do not believe that that is the right way to proceed in the matter.
I agree with hon. Members opposide who have said that there has not been a vast amount of filibustering, but there has undoubtedly been some At the same time, I have great sympathy for hon. Members who, as the right hon. Gentleman said, are peculiarly fitted to discuss this great problem. There are hon. Members opposite who have specialist railway knowledge. My hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson), like them, has given many years of his life to railway matters. We have welcomed a great deal of what they have said, but the fact remains that there are other Clauses not dealing with railway matters. I cannot help feeling that those hon. Members who are specialists in railway matters might have given others more time to discuss their affairs.
I am glad to see the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) in his place, because I know the interest he takes in the northern commercial waterways and all matters concerning waterways. Somewhat irrelevantly, my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster said that the Bowes Committee's Report had never been debated. It has been debated. Two hon. Members, myself one of them, made their maiden speeches in the House in that debate. We remember it clearly.
The debate on the Bowes Report reminded the House that inland waterways are divided into three categories, A, B and C. There can be no doubt that the category A waterways, which are predominantly used by the commercial 507 waterway carriers, are making money. The commercial waterway carriers are providing the bulk of the revenue of the waterways, and it would be deplorable if we did not have sufficient time to debate the rights and the position of the waterway carriers.
The first new Clause on the Notice Paper, if I may say so, is a very deserving one, and I hope that the Business Committee will see its way to arranging the business so that the Committee takes that as its first bite of the sitting when we reach that stage.
As I have said, although there has been no vast amount of filibustering, there has been some. I feel I must mention—I am sorry he is not here—the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh). Although he has taken a great deal of the Committee's time, very ably no doubt, he has managed to be altogether absent from the Committee on several occasions. Notably, when we were debating an important constituency matter of his under Clause 13 (3), he was not there. No doubt he will seek to say something later about that matter.
In supporting the principle of the Motion, I hope that the Business Committee will so arrange matters that all the minority interests which lie ahead for our consideration will have a reasonable chance of being dealt with and that the country outside will note the excellent half-assurances which my hon, Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has given, although we realise that the reports of HANSARD, particularly of Committee proceedings upstairs, are not Statutes and that, therefore, they can only be a guide to the new authorities and new boards in their day-to-day management.
However, notice should be taken of what the Government spokesman has said. I hope that, when there is insufficient time for a full debate on a particular matter, the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will find it possible to continue to give assurances of this sort so that some guidance may be given to the new boards and authorities about their day-to-day management.
Finally, may I say this to the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), who did not give way to me 508 earlier today? Since he was dealing with Gilbert and Sullivan, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart), I was proposing to say to the hon. Gentleman that he should have remembered the verses about the awful cost which Strephon was going to inflict on this House. It was said that he would end the cherished rights which we enjoyed on Friday nights. May I say to the hon. Gentleman that we do not see many Scottish Members here on Friday afternoons?
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells), particularly because of his personal interest in waterways. We on this side disagree with him about certain matters, but we appreciate the contributions which he will be able to make to our proceedings upstairs when we are discussing the waterways undertaking.
I join my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) and my hon. Friends in paying tribute to the Parliamentary Secretary for the courteous way in which he has dealt with matters we have raised in Committee. Although we could not always agree with them, the explanations which he gave on many occasions were understandable. It is a good thing that we in Parliament can pay tribute to the Parliamentary Secretary, despite the fact that we profoundly disagree with the policy that he is putting forward in Committee upstairs.
We should consider whether this Motion is justified. I am a member of the Committee considering the Transport Bill. I have not been absent many times from the Committee's meetings. I am satisfied that there has not been any attempt by my hon. Friends unduly to lengthen the debates on the important matters before the Committee.
In recommending the Motion to the House, the Leader of the House unfortunately said that we had not made too much progress in Committee, but that yesterday we put a spurt on and dealt with eleven Clauses. That was rather unfair because the first few Clauses in the Bill form the essential basis of it. It was essential that the Opposition 509 should try to ensure that there was a thorough examination of the Bill from Clause 1 onwards. It was a little ungrateful of the Leader of the House to try to make out that we allowed those Clauses to go through simply because we were to have this debate today. The fact is that there was very little opposition to the Clauses which went through yesterday because we agreed, in the main, with their provisions.
The case for the Guillotine has not been made out by the Leader of the House. Our Scottish friends complain of the silence of hon. Members opposite who refrain from making contributions to the debates in the Committee on the Housing (Scotland) Bill. With one or two exceptions, the position on the Transport Bill is precisely the same. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have been asked not to speak, but in the main they are silent during our discussions on the Bill.
The whole purpose of the Committee stage of a Bill is destroyed unless hon. Members on both sides attempt to mould the Bill and to make it a much better Bill when it leaves Committee than it was when it reached there. If we get to the stage, which we have almost reached, that a Committee stage is merely a formality and almost a farce, that, no matter what arguments are put forward by the Opposition, the Government simply dig their heels in and say, "We are having this Bill as it stands", and if back bench Members opposite do not fulfil their Parliamentary obligation to act as examiners of Bills in Committee, the Committee stages of Bills will be almost useless and purposeless.
This is a very important Bill from the point of view of national transport. It seems to me to be extraordinary that at this time, when we are in economic difficulties, when we are hoping against hope that everything will be done to restore the economic prosperity of this nation, we are prepared to disturb a system of co-ordinated transport which offers the only hope of getting a real contribution by the transport industry to the solution of the industrial problems which confront the nation. It is because I feel profoundly that the Bill will not help to get the nation back to industrial prosperity that I feel that we must of necessity seek to examine it Clause by Clause 510 and try at least to improve it so that its effects upon the economy of the nation may be less harmful than they will otherwise be, if the Bill goes through in its present form.
We are told that there has got to be haste with this Bill. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall, who opened the debate from our side, exploded that balloon, but the issue on this Motion is not so much that the Motion will speed delivery of the Bill from the Standing Committee to the House of Commons so that the House can make a final decision upon it. The issue and the tragedy is that with that speed there will have been no proper examination of what the Clauses imply not only for those engaged in the industry but for the communal life of the nation. The Bill does not affect merely the industrial prosperity of the nation; it affects the rights of the travelling public.
The Minister is given in the Bill almost unlimited powers of veto. I think it was said that there were about a hundred provisions in it whereby the Minister can approve or disapprove proposals. I am not sure that the Minister, even with all the good intentions in the world, will be able personally to examine these problems himself and make a personal decision for or against any proposal made by any of the respective boards.
What we are really enacting through the Bill is that civil servants shall have the power of deciding these matters, and we are inviting the Minister to rubber stamp what the civil servants have done, because with all his other duties the Minister will not be able to do more. That is the power we are passing on to the civil servants. I am making no criticism of the civil servants. I think that we in Britain are being served very well inded by our civil servants, and I should not dike any suggestion or inference to get out that they are not highly competent for their jobs; but the point I am making is that if we say the Minister shall do this, that or the other, we are entitled to expect that the Minister will do it, and that it will be he who will give approval or otherwise to any proposals made or changes made affecting the expenditure, and so on, of the respective boards.
We are breaking up the existing Transport Commission and are appointing four 511 new boards to deal with the various aspects of the problem. Therefore, the Minister's task in giving directions will be infinitely more difficult, when he has to give directions to four separate boards instead of giving directions to one Commission.
I have spent my lifetime in transport, although not on the railways, and I feel that this transport question is the very heart of the economic problem which confronts the nation. We try as far as we can to forget our political prejudices when we approach this problem. If we approach it, as we must, from the point of view of what is good for the nation and the national prosperity, then I believe that we can provide a system of national transport which will serve the nation's needs, but my complaint about this Guillotine is that it presupposes that everything in the Bill is reasonably good, and that all we have to do is to hasten it through the House of Commons by Guillotine and without adequate discussion and that then everything in the garden will be lovely.
I know from experience in the past ten years that successive Tory Governments have played with this question of British transport to the extent that they brought the railways into serious financial difficulties. It is no good their coming to us and saying, "The reason we are doing this is that the railways are millions in the red", because when they took them over they were just paying their way, and so the criticism is not of the railways but of the mismanagement by successive Tory Governments since they took them over. The Government are attempting to gull the public, saying that all this is because the railways are in the red. Successive Tory Ministries have tried to gull people into thinking that that is the railways' fault and that they have got to do something about it. The fault lies in successive Tory Governments' incompetence, and if the Government are as successful in what they do in the future as they have been successful in the past British transport will be in a dreadful position.
I believe that the Bill has been ill-conceived. It has not been thought out properly. There are serious defects in it. We shall not have an opportunity in Committee to examine it in proper 512 perspective. Both in Committee and in the House itself hon. Members will have to be content with the limitations imposed by this Guillotine, and at the end of the day the Government majority will file into the Lobby and get the Bill passed on Third Reading, and eventually it will get on to the Statute Book.
I do not know what the Government are thinking of. I do not believe that the Government have given very serious thought to this question. I do not believe that they have done what they ought to have done before embarking upon this. I do not believe they have held full consultations with either the industrial organisations on the one hand or with the trade unions on the other. I am perfectly sure that, from the point of view of industry, both the trade unions and the employers' federation would feel that a major disturbance at this time was extremely unwise.
It would have been far better for the Government to say, "We have landed British transport in a mess, we have allowed the railways to get into financial difficulties, and we do not know what to do about it." I should have thought that, instead of trying to rehash the position, they would have had the most extensive discussions inside and outside the House to try to find the solution, based not on politics but on common sense, which ought to be applied.
I do not believe that the break-up of the principle of integration will serve the interests of the nation. It is becoming high time that the public should understand that if they are confronted with increased bus fares, increased railway fares and the like, it is largely due to the bad policy of successive Tory Governments over the past ten years, and that it will not be until the Labour Party is in office and is prepared to face this issue of British transport from the point of view of the well-being of the community that the public and industry will have the type of services to which they are entitled.
The position of the travelling public is getting worse and worse. Branch lines are being cut off; even more severely under this Bill people will be forced more and more to go on to the roads with all kinds of motor vehicles, some of which may not be of a good road-worthy standard. We shall therefore be 513 confronted with greater congestion on our roads adding to the problems of road safety. I believe that it is midsummer madness to bring in this Bill at the present time when it will not, and cannot, under any circumstances provide a permanent solution to these problems which confront the Government.
It is almost useless to beg the Government to think this matter out again and to have further consultations with the people who understand the job and who can apply the remedy. We do not need to go to big business giants to solve this problem. We should go to the people who have worked in the industry.
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he is straying into the kind of speech which would be more appropriate on the Bill itself.
§ Mr. McLeavy
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I shall conclude by saying that I think that it is a mistake to apply the Guillotine because it will prevent our having the opportunity of reasonable discussion upon the remaining Clauses. We shall probably have under the Guillotine silent members of the Committee becoming vocal. That is all to the good.
§ Mr. McLeavy
I should not like to join the Parliamentary Secretary in that wish, because I am perfectly sure that the vocal people to whom he refers are the people who in the main are more knowledgeable on the subject than many hon. Members opposite. If I were the Minister of Transport I should become extremely anxious that the vocal people who know what they are talking about should continue to talk and talk so that at least something might penetrate into the Minister's brain through the armour built up by political prejudice.
The Guillotine means that there will be a limitation on both sides of the Committee. We cannot stop the Government from applying the Guillotine. We shall have to make the best of it, but the Government are serving no great interest of the nation nor any great purpose in forcing the Bill through with their Parliamentary majority. In the years to 514 come they may well regret the steps which they are now taking by means of the Bill and the efforts which they are making to force it through without adequate consideration.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
I do not want to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) too far, as otherwise I am afraid that I also will be out of order in debating the merits of the Transport Bill, but I will mention one or two points to which he has referred. I wish to confine myself mositly to that Bill, although I belong to a family of Scottish origin and my father was born in Edinburgh, as were most of his forebears.
I believe that one of my more remote ancestors was killed in the Battle of Flodden, fighting the English. Therefore, when Scottish Members make remarks about English Members referring to Scotland they should remember that a great number of hon. Members who represent English constituencies are of Scottish origin. I do not call myself an English Member. I am a Member for a Cornish constituency.
My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) said that the extreme verbosity and the constant flow of points of order we get from Scottish Members are giving Scotland a bad name in the House, and many hon. Members feel that very strongly.
§ Mr. Willis
The debate was at its liveliest today during the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Mr. Wilson
It is true that there is a distinction between the two Committees on the Bill which we are discussing today. There is a distinction between what is happening in the Scottish Committee and what is happening in Standing Committee E, but it does not seem necessary to prove any extremes of filibustering to satisfy the House that it will be desirable to have a timetable Motion. The point is that the Transport Bill is absolutely vital and should reach the Statute Book as early as possible.
As hon. Members know, I have had experience of being in the transport industry when it was undergoing a major 515 change. I was there during the passing of the 1947 Act, and I know that the period between the passing of that Act and its coming into force was one which caused a great deal of disturbance and delay. Everything was put back for further consideration until the new setup had come into being. That must be happening today, not only on the railways but throughout the transport industry, as a result of the introduction of the Bill, and it does not do the industry any good to keep matters hanging about.
§ Mr. Wilson
The more prolonged the Committee stage of a Bill, the longer it is before a decision is made, and if a decision is to be made it should be made as quickly as possible, not only for financial reasons but because if five boards are to be set up it is highly desirable that they should be set up quickly so that the trade unions can enter into negotiations with them. Those new boards will have to deal with affairs in the future, and it would seem to be to the benefit of all that this matter should be disposed of with the least possible delay.
Although there may not have been any flagrant or bad cases of filibustering in Standing Committee E there has certainly been a good deal of verbiage, and much talk which could have been condensed into far fewer words while making the same point. The Committee stage does not suffer at all under the Guillotine procedure. It improves the debate, because it brings home to Members that they must be brief in their remarks and come to the point.
If hon. Members read through the reports of the twenty-three sittings that we have had they will find that many speeches have been of inordinate length and have repeated the same points over and over again. Each point could have been dealt with in far fewer words.
Having said that, I had better keep my remarks as short as possible. Especially in the early stages of the Bill we took rather a long time in our discussions. The Bill contains ninety-one Clauses and eleven Schedules, and it took six sittings to complete Clause 1, 516 and eleven before we reached Clause 3. That was quite a long time.
§ Mr. Mapp
Does not the hon. Member agree that Clause 1 sets up the vital four pillars of the whole fabric of the Bill? Surely he will agree that hon. Members on both sides—and especially on this—would have been avoiding their obligations if they had not given those four major pillars the consideration in detail and in principle that the Bill warranted.
§ Mr. Wilson
But it did not take six sittings to complete the Clause because of the large number of Amendments.
§ Mr. Wilson
It took that long time because each point was debated at great length by many speakers. It seemed to me quite an unreasonable time to take. We have recently got on very much quicker. It may be that some of the later Clauses are not so important as Clause 1, but I believe that the mere threat of the Guillotine has caused some speeding up in our proceedings—and it would be a good thing if they were speeded up even more.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is not present. Apparently he did not succeed in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, during the Second Reading debate. But the fact that a Member does not catch the eye of the Chair during the Second Reading debate does not prevent him from putting down an Amendment in Committee, even though he is not going to be a Member of that Committee. We have had examples of that in Standing Committee E. Two of my hon. Friends have put down very important Amendments. My hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot) put down a number of Amendments in connection with harbours, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Sir L. Ropner) put down a series of Amendments on coastal shipping. Other hon. Members have added their names to the Amendments relating to coastal shipping. One has been debated and no doubt others will be. Had my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster felt strongly about the inadequacy of the Amendment put down to Clause 13 517 he could have put down another one and persuaded an hon. Member who is a member of the Standing Committee to support it.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
Knowing the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)—and I would not say a word against him in his absence—does the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) think that his hon. Friend would consider that anyone could speak for him?
§ Mr. Wilson
That may be, I do not know. The point is that there is no reason why we should debate a thing twice simply because my hon. Friend did not happen to be present on the occasion when it was debated. We have had a debate on Clause 13 and if it proved to last no longer than it did, that was because the hon. Member who moved the Amendment did so shortly. He might have taken longer, and, no doubt, had it been my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster the point would have been explained at a somewhat greater length. But I do not think that that is an argument for altering the timetable. I consider that a case has been made out for imposing a timetable and that it would be to the advantage of the transport industry and the public to complete the stages of this Bill at an early date.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)
The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) has done his share of speaking during our debates in Standing Committee E. He is an exception to the general rule in respect of hon. Members who support the Government. I was rather surprised to hear a Government supporter attack my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) for the speeches which he has made in that Committee. As my hon. Friend is not present to defend himself, I would say, on his behalf, that he has made speeches which were a worth-while contribution to the debates. I congratulate him on the good work that he has done.
I regret the use which the Government make of their majority in the Committee to force through their point of view and refuse to accept any Amendments. The Parliamentary Secretary has had his orders. It is because the Government refuse to accept Amendments that hon. 518 Members on this side of the House who are serving on that Committee have thought it worth while—mistakenly as it has proved—to make a case for the Amendments which they were urging. The length of the speeches which have been made results from the efforts of hon. Members on our side to point out the weaknesses in the Bill in the hope that our Amendments would be accepted. The Parliamentary Secretary has suggested that hon. Members who have spoken should be silent now that the Guillotine is to be applied, so that perhaps some hon. Members who have not yet spoken will speak.
§ Mr. G. Wilson
Has it occurred to the hon. Gentleman that another explanation for the Government's refusal to accept Opposition Amendments may be that the Amendments were not very good and, therefore, could not be accepted?
§ Mr. Spriggs
The Bill is not a good one. If we try to amend a bad Bill we cannot make a worse job of it than the draftsman. From time to time the Committee has come across serious mistakes in the drafting. What do the Government expect from an Opposition? It is not long ago that the Government were saying that there was no effective opposition. When they have one, what do they do? They refuse to accept any Amendments put forward by the Opposition, and, worse still, bring forward a guillotine Motion to shut them up—to stop that opposition. If anyone has for a moment ever thought that any Government want a strong Opposition, he has been making a big mistake.
I want to concern myself more than anything else tonight with the fact that the Transport Bill should be debated right to the end and in full. The Minister should be authorised by the Leader of the House, who has just come in to listen to the debate, to withdraw this pernicious Motion. It is a shocking state of affairs that when we have a Bill of such tremendous importance the Government complain about the time we have spend discussing it and bring in a Guillotine Motion.
Clauses 1 and 2 set up the four boards and the regional railway boards and these are very important matters. There are businessmen who would say 519 that the Standing Committee was entitled to spend the time which it has spent in the debates which took place on the first two Clauses of the Bill. In Clauses 3 and 4, we deal with the duties and powers of the Railways Board and the Board's road services, while Clause 5 is concerned with shipping services and power to provide air services, and Clause 6 with the power of the Railways Board to provide hotels.
I cannot see where the case has been made so far—indeed, it is the other way round—for this Motion. The case against it has been proved by my right hon. and hon. Friends who have spoken so far, and I am sure that my hon. Friend who will be winding up the debate will add further weight to the case against it.
In Clause 7, we have the duty and powers of the London Board, in Clause 8 the London Board's road services outside London, about which there was a terrific debate. Inland waterways are dealt with in Clause 10, which is one of the few Clauses in the Bill which has been received with partial unanimity on both sides of the Committee. We found that there were hon. Members on both sides who had a common interest in waterways and their development. Clause 11 deals with the development of land, and Clause 12 with pipelines, though I understand that the Pipe-lines Bill will take the place of Clause 12.
Clause 13 concerns the boards' powers of manufacture and production, Clause 16 supplemental provisions relating to the boards' powers, Clause 15 the compulsory purchase of land, Clause 16 working agreements involving the delegation of special statutory powers, and Clause 17 the power to promote and oppose Bills. Then we have the Clauses dealing with the financial provisions.
One of the things which we ought to take into consideration is whether the time spent on the Bill is worth while. We know what the Government intend to do. Up to the present, they have shown a distinct refusal to accept any Amendments, and unfortunately, the Minister who now proposes to apply these restrictions to the Committee has himself attended the sittings of the Committee less than anybody else. I do not know what his business has been 520 elsewhere. Probably he can answer that question if he wishes. He has caused the Committee to have further sittings each week so that the Government could get this Bill within the specified time. Although hon. Members on the Committee came to sittings in the afternoons and evenings he has rarely attended. I suppose that he went to his dinner at the usual time while hon. Members on the Committee had to carry on discussions on the Bill.
§ Mr. Hocking
Is it not true that we have always risen at a reasonable hour for dinner each night? I do not think that on any night we have been denied having dinner at the normal time. Is not what the hon. Member has just said unreasonable?
§ Mr. Spriggs
The answer is that undoubtedly many of us had dinner after the Minister had had his dinner, because he did not attend the sittings of the Committee.
I wish to give the House some idea of opinion on this Bill in commercial circles. A man who is chairman of a bus company writes to me:As Chairman of this Company, I am venturing to write to you about a point on the Transport Bill which causes me considerable anxiety.This is to do with Clause 29 which I want the Committee to deal with. It is one of the most important parts of the Bill. It is in direct contradiction of everything the Parliamentary Secretary said to the Committee about commercial freedom. The letter goes on:Ever since the Main Line Railway Companies acquired shares "—in the firm—and its associated omnibus companies some thirty years ago, the omnibus companies, the railways and the travelling public have had the benefit—and in my opinion, a real benefit—of road-rail co-ordination. It is an astonishing thing that under the Transport Bill the old railway shareholdings—now held by the British Transport Commission—are to be transferred to a holding company which will be divorced from the railways. Thus, if the Bill becomes law as it stands, the road-rail partnership which has been in existence for over thirty years will be destroyed, to my mind a very regrettable and wholly unjustifiable retrograde step.Under the old partnership—continued by the B.T.C.—senior railway representatives have been on the Board of this Company and we have had a standing joint committee consisting of operating railwaymen and operating busmen 521 and this Committee has done a lot of good work from everyone's point of view. It would in my opinion be a sorry thing if these long-established arrangements were to be done away with, unless there were to be some very good reason for doing so, which certainly has not yet been produced.If the Railways Board were not to be financially interested in the bus company, it seems to me that there could be little likelihood of their being senior railwaymen on the bus boards or that the travelling public could have the benefit of road-rail co-ordination which has now existed for so many years.That is only part of the letter I have had from a man who has never been a railwayman. It concerns Clause 29, which is most important. Righthon. and hon. Members would be able to identify the manager who has written to me—the chairman of this bus company.
In the last financial year moneys invested by the B.T.C., and, earlier, by the old L.M.S., received £140,744 interest from invested capital. That is only one example. Take the case of the Birmingham and Midland Bus Company. The money which has come from its investments amounts to £240,000. This has been coming into the "kitty" of the Transport Commission year after year. The figure for Northern General was £169,355—a fairly consistent income to the railways finances. During the last financial year North Western showed a healthy return of £121,905. As we go down the list we see that one after another showed a healthy return for the money invested in these road under-takings.
The railwaymen and those who work with the omnibus companies are entitled to know what Clause 29 will do, and yet, because of the guillotine Motion, we may not be able to debate that Clause line by line—the Clause which is the heart of the Bill and which deals with one of the major activities which the Minister intends to inflict on the new Chairman of the Board. This great Chairman, selected by the Minister of Transport, will have to go to the Minister to ask for permission to do these things.
It has even been said that the Minister will interfere with the day-to-day working of the B.T.C., but I do not think that that is correct. We are entitled to know what the Minister intends to do on major matters, because this affects not only those who work on the railways but those who use the railways and those 522 who, in the future, will have no railways if the Government have their way under the Bill. Areas which require economic development will be cut off from the means of providing it.
Can we stand by and let the Minister of Transport do this? He has scarcely attended the Committee meetings to take part in the deliberations on one of the greatest transport undertakings in the world. We can be proud of our railway undertaking, but he is breaking it up and destroying the integration which has helped to make it greater year by year.
I know that my colleagues in Committee are prepared to deal with the Bill Clause by Clause. Because of a prior engagement I was unable to attend the first additional meeting which the Minister of Transport imposed on our ordinary sittings—and I gave notice of that fact. But I have attended all the other sittings almost minute by minute, and have listened to all the debates. We have listened to Government supporters in Committee who have taken part in the debate and we have waited for others who have not yet made their contribution. We appreciate the point of view of hon. Members opposite, even if we disagree with them politically. I appeal to the Minister before it is too late, let us not divide the House on this issue; please withdraw the Motion.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I have listened to most of the debate. I have come to the conclusion that it will be very difficult for the Minister of Transport to justify applying the Guillotine to both these Bills. The Leader of the House, when introducing the Motion, was very quiet. He did not adduce many reasons why the two Bills should be guillotined. I gained the impression from his speech that he was not very sure that what he was doing was right. Indeed, it seems that there are grave doubts in the minds of those of his hon. Friends who spoke, apart from the two Scottish Members, with whom I shall deal later, about the Tightness of guillotine Motions.
It is not often that I take up a point made by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), but the sum total of his speech was that the Transport Bill is a Bill of immense complexity.
523 The hon. Member has gone to the trouble of reading the report of the Committee's proceedings, although he is not a member of the Committee. He has found that there is no sign of any filibustering, either by the Opposition 01 by Government Members. He said that there has been no undue delay. He is very worried because when the Bill comes up for Report 95 per cent. of the Members of this House will be prevented from discussing very important matters.
It is evident from all the speeches which have been made about the Transport Bill that there is no justification whatever for the guillotine Motion. My hon. Friends who are on the Committee have been doing the job of an Opposition. They have been examining the Bill carefully and trying to improve it. So far, not one Amendment has been accepted. It is also evident that there is some feeling about the fact that the Minister of Transport is not attending the sittings of the Committee. There is the feeling, which we have in the Scottish Standing Committee, that no matter what the Parliamentary Secretary may want to do he is not in a position to do it. The Transport Bill will affect the lives of many thousands of people. It is evident from today's debate that my hon. Friends have very great fears about what will happen to these people in the future if the Bill is not thoroughly discussed and amended. With the guillotine Motion in operation there will be little chance of serious discussion of all these matters which are considered to be of great importance, not only to the thousands of people who will be affected, but also to places like Scotland and Wales, which may be very badly affected by the Bill.
I hope that the Minister of Transport will announce tonight that he has been so impressed by the contributions which have been made that he has decided to let the Bill run its course without a timetable Motion.
I come to the Housing (Scotland) Bill. We have heard three speeches from hon. Members opposite on this Bill—one from the Secretary of State for Scotland and two from his hon. Friends on the back benches. It is passing strange, perhaps, that the content of those three 524 speeches was very similar. Each of the three hon. Members rose in his place for one purpose only—not to make a case for the guillotine Motion but to castigate hon. Members on this side for doing our duty.
I thoroughly enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart). I sometimes like comic relief, but since the hon. Member was so good at giving us advice, I advise him to leave Gilbert and Sullivan alone for a time and to turn to our most famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Robert Burns wrote a poem called "The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer to the Scotch Representatives in the House of Commons". This is what Burns advised:Tell them wha hae the chief direction,Scotland an' me's in great affliction …In gath'rin' votes you were na slack;Now stand as tightly by your tack;Ne'er claw your lug, an' fidge your back, An' hum an' haw;But raise you arm, an' tell your crack Before them a'.
§ Mr. Maclay rose—
§ Miss Herbison
I know what the right hon. Gentleman will tell me—that Burns was not talking about Scots housing or anything else. These words of Burns are appropriate to the debate today.
§ Miss Herbison
Not into the part I quoted. I knew that that would be the right hon. Gentleman's interjection, but it does not take away in the least from the sentiment of Burns on the duties of Scottish Members of Parliament.
§ Mr. MacArthur rose—
§ Miss Herbison
I have given way already and time is short. I should have liked to have given way to the hon. Member, because I do not burke interventions.
The Secretary of State and his hon. Friends know that in gathering their votes in Scotland they had no mandate whatever for the Housing (Scotland) Bill. I would say to the Secretary of State—I hope he is listening to this, because he placed himself and his side on a pedestal today as those who were concerned about the good name of 525 Scotland—that Robert Burns again spoke to the "Unco Guid".O ye wha are sae guid yoursel,Sae pious and sae holy,Ye've nought to do but mark and tellYour neibour's fauts and folly!That is really the only thing that the Secretary of State and his two hon Friends have done in the debate today.
I wish—I do not say this offensively—that the two back benchers on the Government side, who are really infants in the precincts of Westminster, had tried to find out the history of their hon. and right hon. Friends when we on this side were the Government The Gas Bill has been mentioned. I was a member of the Standing Committee which considered that Bill. I remember how we had to sit morning after morning, and, in the later stages, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and again in the afternoons. I remember the last sitting, when we began at 10.30 one morning and finished two complete days later at 12.8 p.m. At that last sitting what did the right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the then Opposition's case have to say? He said, and I hope that the two hon. Gentlemen opposite to whom I referred will take note of these words:Not only in this Committee did we do everything we could to make his life difficult"—that was the life of the Minister who is now the Leader of the Opposition—but, by a splendid combination of forces … we opened up a second front below, much to the discomfort of the Minister and much to the happiness of the Members of this side of the Committee … The Minister was right in saying they have been extremely patient. We have done our very best to disturb that patience.He went on to say:… considering we were a very small band, we did manage to create an immense amount of trouble in the minimum amount of time for the Government. That is our function, and my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that we have discharged it well."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 13th May, 1948; c. 2187–8.]Apart from that right hon. Gentleman—who later became a noble Lord—another participant was the present Minister of Pensions. I advise the two hon. Gentlemen opposite to whom I referred to have a look at the OFFICIAL REPORT of those sittings. They are all in one book, for 526 they occupied a complete bound volume of HANSARD. If they read them they will realise that the kind of speeches they made today were very childish indeed.
The Bill to which I have been referring and which will be guillotined is of immense importance to Scotland. It has thirty-seven Clauses and five Schedules. Apart from the diatribes on how we should behave ourselves, the main burden of criticism from the Leader of the House and the Secretary of State has been that we have been an inordinately long time considering two Clauses. Those right hon. Gentlemen seem to think that these two Clauses were not very important, and the Leader of the House seemed to think that the part in the English Bill which dealt with multiple occupation was more important than any part of the Scottish Bill. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that Clause 29 has yet to be discussed and the contents of that Clause cannot be found in any English housing Bill.
§ Miss Herbison
The Secretary of State seemed to think that Clause 1 was of no importance, but I remind him that it contains references to the infamous Clause 8 which we have yet to discuss. That raises the question of the Secretary of State back-dating subsidies, and these are matters of great importance. Then the Secretary of State gave the impression that he did not think Chat Clause 2 was of very great importance. My hon. Friends consider Clause 2 one of the most important in the Bill. The Secretary of State said that we had discussed it word for word and line for line and he condemned us for doing so. Even if we had discussed it word for word and line for line, there could have been no condemnation. But we did not do so on Clause 2. It just shows that the Secretary of State has no idea of what is happening on that Committee, or he would have realised clearly that Clause 2 was certainly not discussed word for word or line for line.
The right hon. Gentleman accused us of wasting time and then—what I thought was the biggest joke of the day—the Leader of the House said that the Under-Secretary had done everything possible to expedite the proceedings of 527 the Bill. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) complained that when an Amendment had been accepted we dared to speak on it afterwards. I will tell the House why we spoke on it. It took the Minister two columns of HANSARD to accept a simple Amendment, and in the greater part of those two columns he was offering gratuitous advice and insults to hon. Members on our side of the Committee—that we had dared to put down an Amendment that could be accepted! The Secretary of State says to his junior Minister, "Well done.". I wonder who is doing the filibustering now, who is taking this Bill seriously and who regards it as comical.
§ Mr. MacArthur rose—
§ Miss Herbison
I wish the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire would want to speak as often in Committee when we are trying to improve the Bill.
They are a wonderful pair, the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary. The Secretary of State told us, "We know how each other thinks." That is what he told us today; because they know how each other thinks, they do not need to consult. Really, what a pair. I am sorry to have to say this, but if the Secretary of State really knew how his Under-Secretary was handling this Bill in Committee he would have realised that perhaps he and his Under-Secretary did not know at all times how the other thought.
Two great problems face Scotland at present—apart from the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary. One is housing and the other is unemployment. We have seven Scottish Ministers, and I should have thought it reasonable, with a Minister of State attending two of the Ministers, that the Secretary of State would find time to attend this Committee. I am not asking him to attend every Sitting of the Committee—I want to be reasonable—but I think that on a Measure so important as this to the Scottish people the Secretary of State ought to attend from time to time. If he had done his bounden duty he would not have made the kind of speech that he made today.
528 This Bill is opposed by almost every local authority in Scotland. Only today, I received a letter from the town council of the furthermost burgh of Scotland, Lerwick. Lerwick Town Council is very concerned about the remote area subsidy, and we have still to discuss that.
The Secretary of State, who complained so bitterly when he was a backbencher about centralisation—I shall not waste the time of the House in referring further to that—takes powers by the Bill which no other Secretary of State has ever attempted to take.
Apart from Clauses 1 and 2, there are three further Clauses of outstanding importance, in our view. First, there is Clause 3, which we hope to begin tomorrow morning. It deals with the amount of subsidy and contains a very complicated formula which many local authorities still do not understand.
§ Miss Herbison
When we try to elicit an explanation from the Under-Secretary of State, again, I fear, we shall have the time-wasting which we have had in the Committee so far. Clause 3 also cuts subsidies to many local authorities by 50 per cent. No wonder we oppose the Bill. No wonder we feel it our duty to try to improve it as best we can, with no help at all from the Government side.
The next Clause of exceptional importance is Clause 8. Here again, the Secretary of State is taking unto himself a power which no other Secretary of State has ever had, a power either to abolish or to reduce subsidies. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that, with this uncertainty about subsidies and the length of time local authorities will have them, there will not be the necessary drive in providing the houses which Scotland so desperately needs. Because we feel so strongly about it, we must give time to Clause 8.
I come now to Clause 29, which deals with the default powers of the Secretary of State. In the English Bill, no such power was asked for or taken. This is a matter to which we should devote even more time than we did to the multiple occupation of houses. The Secretary of State is taking power to say to any local authority in Scotland, "You will charge 529 the rents which I determine you shall charge", a power for which no other Secretary of State has ever asked.
On those three Clauses alone, the amount of time which we are to be given under the Guillotine is disgracefully small. It will begin to operate on Tuesday of next week. We shall have eight sittings of the Committee. We need more than eight sittings for those three Clauses alone, quite apart from other Clauses which some of my hon. Friends regard as of the greatest importance. There is dictatorship of the very worst form in the Bill itself, and, in order to get it through the House as quickly as possible there is dictatorship in the Government's attitude.
The Leader of the House said that a voluntary timetable on both Bills had been offered. That is true. But he should have realised that on neither Bill could a voluntary timetable be accepted. My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) and my hon, Friends have shown how impossible it would have been to accept the kind of voluntary timetable proposed for the Transport Bill. I was the Member who met the Secretary of State and Under-Secretary of State. The time which they offered in a voluntary timetable was pitifully short for the important matters that we are to discuss.
When a proposal was made in Committee upstairs that we should spend more time on the Bill, I and my hon. Friends tried to co-operate to the full. I do not know whether the Leader of the House knows this, but we were willing to give up Wednesday mornings to consider the Bill. Wednesday mornings are very precious to all hon. Members. Because we considered that the Bill was so important, we did not adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude to the Government's proposals. We said that we were completely willing to give up Wednesday mornings to discuss the Bill. But the Government did not. want that, and I know why. They get too much pressure from their own back bench Members with business interests who need Wednesday mornings in order to get on with their work. The proposal was turned down.
Then we had the diatribe from the hon. Members who have spoken today 530 —at least from one of them—and the wonderful fighting speech in Committee of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry). I had some experience of those wonderful fighting speeches a few years ago, and the one that he made on this occasion did not surprise me. The hon. Member was, it was said, so keen to examine the Bill and to get it through the House that he would sit in the evenings and he would sit up all night in Committee. Of course, that reached the headlines. That was said on the Tuesday morning. On the Tuesday afternoon, a quorum was present, but it was only about forty-five minutes later that this great fighter arrived. Yesterday, we met for 2½ hours in the morning and for three hours in the afternoon; and the wonderful champion the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West did not put in an appearance at all.
That is the "phoney" kind of fighting speeches that we get from hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West) rose—
§ Mr. Hendry
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. I agree that I was willing to sit all night in Committee, but she will remember that I qualified that by saying "if necessary". It is also true that I was not present during the Committee's proceedings yesterday. However, I am told that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) characterised yesterday's proceedings by referring to the old churchman who was given to extemporary prayer at great length. He said, "We have spoken a great deal of nonsense. Possibly God will be able to make some sense out of it".
§ Miss Herbison
I was wondering then whether I should have the honour of asking the hon. Gentleman to allow me to intervene in his speech. However, his intervention has not helped him much. He was willing to sit up all night, but he could not attend a normal meeting of the Committee.
§ Miss Herbison
I have been rather amused because we have been so much used to the Under-Secretary of State losing his temper and sometimes even becoming white with anger that one wonders when one sees an hon. Member, who is usually so suave, losing his tamper. I have given one reason why the Government are in a hurry to have the Scottish Bill.
There is a second one. It is that there is a Licensing Bill. Again, the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West thought that we ought to get the Housing Bill through so that we could get on with the Licensing Bill. It seems that some hon. Members opposite are much more interested in ensuring that visitors will have facilities for drinking strong liquor than they are in ensuring that the people shall have houses in which to live. I would say that their priorities are very different from the priorities we on this side of the House have.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. MacLean) is not in his place. He spoke the last time we debated a guillotine Motion and he gave his reasons why he would not vote for the Government. Referring to the Army Reserve Bill he said:That is why I will do nothing whatever to facilitate its passage.Why? He said:No one is more convinced than I am of the urgency of this matter … Equally, nobody is more convinced than I am that the Army Reserve Bill is not the way to do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1962; Vol. 652, c. 497.]
§ Miss Herbison
If the hon. Member will wait he will find out what it has got to do with it. I would advise the hon Member to go where he has come from, we are so unused to his coming into debates at this time of night. We are dealing with an important and serious matter.
532 The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire was dealing with a matter about which he knows a very great deal. I would say to him and to other Scottish Members that if they oppose this timetable Motion tonight they will be showing that they are convinced of the urgency of the Scottish housing situation. They will also be showing that the Housing (Scotland) Bill at present before us, which we intend to try to improve, will not meet the urgency at all. If they were really concerned about these matters they would do something tonight, and one thing which they could do would be to vote against this Motion.
§ Miss Herbison
One of the greatest wrongs which has afflicted Scotland for generations and is still afflicting our country today in the most acute form is our shockingly poor housing conditions. The Bill will do nothing to improve them. Even if this Guillotine is imposed, we on this side of the House will try to improve the Bill. We object very much to the Government action—
§ Miss Herbison
—and we will vote against it, and even, with the timetable, will try to improve the Bill, but I hope that our people in Scotland, seeing that the Government in six weeks or less have had to bring in four guillotine Motions, will see that as evidence of an inefficient, incompetent Government who cannot handle their business properly.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)
I am sure that I voice the feelings of the whole House when I say that the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) delivered a most agreeable and charming speech, witty and amusing, and, if I may say so, for one of the opposite sex of so small a stature, what I would call a fighting speech.
§ Mr. Marples
It is perfectly true that we are both short, but I am the taller of the two.
The hon. Lady made a fighting speech which reminded me of my term of office as Postmaster-General, when Scottish 533 Members of the party opposite—they are very fierce north of the Border—tried to get a Burns stamp. I cannot imitate the accent of the hon. Lady, and I shall not try, but may I say that it was not the Scots people who were after a Burns stamp.
§ Mr. Marples
Oh, no. The man who was really after it was the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), who was born in Dublin, rode in the Irish Grand National, practises at the English Bar and represents a Scottish constituency. There was no Scot who really brought pressure to bear.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Marples
The hon. Gentleman is a frequent interrupter. At least, he might allow me to start.
When I looked up what Burns had done during his life, I was reinforced in my decision that it was right not to have given him a stamp. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] Yes, he had a very curious personal life which myself I would not like to justify, but I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite could do so.
During the debate one thing that has intrigued me and, I am sure, all English Members is this. Having listened to the Scots speaking in this debate, I am sure that it is the wish of every English Member that they should have the privilege of serving on the Scottish Committee. It must be a most wonderful experience. I am only sorry that so far I have never been allowed in that Committee.
This has been, on the whole, a very good-tempered debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, it has. Apart from one or two Scots, the others have been all right. This Motion deals with two Measures, the Housing (Scotland) Bill and the Transport Bill. The Government decided that it would be for the convenience of the House if my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition opened and deployed the general case. [Laughter.] We shall not be in opposition for twenty years. It was decided that the two Ministers in charge of the Bill should speak and not take too much of the time, so that hon. Members on the 534 back benches on both sides of the House could make their contribution.
I should like to concentrate on the Transport Bill. I cannot speak on the substance or the merits of the Bill, but I can briefly refer to the Government's objectives. The Government's policy is to do three things as quickly as possible. The first is to replace the British Transport Commission by a new management structure. The second is to reconstruct the finances and particularly to relieve the railways of the burden of debt and also to provide a sound basis for modernisation and further investment. The third is that we must give the maximum practical commercial freedom, which is particularly important to the railways.
I know that it will not command acceptance on the benches opposite when I say that in the Bill we are not doctrinaire. We are attempting to grapple with the facts of the situation, and for the sake of the reorganisation of the railways we must have the Bill as early as possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) stressed that point.
The party opposite guillotined the 1947 Transport Bill. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite now complain because we are doing the same thing. That is fair. The right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), who leads for the Opposition on the Bill and is always courteous in these matters, made some points in his opening speech with which I should like to deal. I quote from what I wrote down as he spoke. First, he said, "We could justify the 1947 Bill Guillotine because in those days we were facing obstruction unprecedented since the Irish Members were in the House." He went on to say, of the 1947 Bill, "We faced fierce obstruction, on the Bill and, therefore, a timetable was essential." Then he said, of the present Bill, "There is less cause to have a Guillotine than under any other previous Government." That was the right hon. Gentleman's whole case.
The question which the right hon. Gentleman posed, therefore, is whether we are being more reasonable in 1962 than the party opposite was in 1947. I should like to examine the details and try to put them before the House as dispassionately as I can, in four respects. 535 The first is that before Second Reading we gave ample warning of our plans. In 1947, we had no advance warning. We gave advance warning in two ways. On 10th March, 1960, the general intention was set out by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House. The second advance notice was on 20th December, 1960, in a White Paper of 62 paragraphs which gave our detailed intentions to the House. We had a debate on 30th January, 1961, and the White Paper was approved by Resolution of the House by 303 votes to 221.
The first point, therefore, is that we gave advance notice of what we intended to do, both generally and in particular. The second point on which we have been more favourable to the House is in the gap between Second Reading and the Guillotine. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall said that in 1947 Lord Avon, then Sir Anthony Eden, said that it was indecent haste to move the guillotine Motion. The right hon. Gentleman said that that speech was made on 3rd March whereas today's date is 7th March.
Surely, if it was indecent haste then it is indecent haste now—that was the right hon. Gentleman's argument. But he omitted to say that the gap between Second Reading and the Guillotine Motion in 1947 was 75 days whereas the gap in this case is 106 days, 50 per cent. more.
§ Mr. Strauss
Lord Avon said that it was indecent to move the Guillotine "at this stage of the Session", meaning early March, and the gap between Second Reading and the Committee stage is quite irrelevant.
§ Mr. Marples
It depends on when the Bill is started and when the Committee stage is started.
Thirdly, let us compare the progress made in Committee on the 1947 Bill with the progress on this Bill. On 3rd March, 1947, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, in a very rumbustious contribution to our debate, which I well remember, said that after 11 sittings we had reached only Clause 6. The right hon. Member for Vauxhall characterised the debates on the 1947 Bill as being full of fierce obstruction—when they reached Clause 6 after 11 sittings—but said that on the 536 1962 Bill we had worked smoothly and harmoniously, when, after the first 11 sittings, we had reached only Clause 4, If that is right, words must be losing their meaning. If to reach Clause 6 after 11 sittings is regarded as fierce obstruction and to reach Clause 4 after 11 sittings is regarded as smooth and harmonious progress, where are we getting with the English language?
The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) said that there had been no filibustering. We have never suggested that there has been. We have said that the points which have been raised may have been good or bad ones, but they have taken a tremendously long time to dispose of. I was going to use another word, but it would have been unparliamentary. Nevertheless, I mean it.
Fourthly, let us compare the time left after the Guillotine. In the 1947 Bill there were 121 Clauses and 13 Schedules, and we were left with four-and-a-half weeks to dispose of them. In the 1962 Bill we have 66 Clauses and 11 Schedules—that is, approximately half the number of Clauses—and we have almost the same amount of time, namely, four weeks.
So there are four points which absolutely destroy the right hon. Gentleman's case. First, before the Second Reading debate we gave notice of our intentions and had a debate on the subject; secondly, the gap between the Second Reading and the Guillotine was greater in 1962 than in 1947; thirdly, the progress made in Committee in 1962 was far worse than in 1947, until the Guillotine was announced—and I shall deal with that point shortly—and, fourthly, we have left more time for the remaining Clauses to be dealt with under the Guillotine now than the party opposite allowed in 1947.
The hon. Member for Oldham, East, who has been a very consistent attender in the debates upstairs, and the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) said that there was no filibustering upstairs. As I said before, we have not made that charge. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Opposition, who are experts, have made a useful and valuable contribution to the debates. For that we are grateful. What he did not say was how quickly or how slowly the 537 party opposite deployed their points. The Guillotine was announced on Thursday, 1st March. Before that announcement there were 21 sittings of the Committee, and after it there were two. Before the announcement the Committee got through 13 Clauses in those 21 sittings, and in the two sittings after the announcement it got through another 12 Clauses.
§ Mr. Strauss
The Minister is fully aware that those 12 Clauses which were dealt with in two sittings, although important, are not contentious. That is why we went through them quickly.
§ Mr. Marples
The right hon. Gentleman says that they are not contentious. Let us see what the hon. Member for Oldham, East said about them. He said that this financial reorganisation required scrutiny, and that it would not be possible to give it that scrutiny. If he looks at the Bill he will find that the financial provisions are contained in Clauses 18 to 24. The Opposition put down nine Amendments, and all those Clauses, plus one other, were dealt with in four-and-a-half hours, yesterday, with no Guillotine.
§ Mr. Marples
Two hundred years ago, Dr. Johnson said:Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged … it concentrates his mind wonderfully.We tried to come to an arrangement with the Opposition. It was their right not to accept it. We gave them three choices. We introduced the Bill on the first day possible, and we wanted to finish it on the last day possible before the Summer Recess. We asked if they would like the proceedings in Committee to be held with three sittings a week or with four, and, if they did not like 538 either of those choices, what their suggestions were. They rejected everything. We tried very hard to come to an agreement with them. If we have this Business Committee I hope that the Opposition will take part in its proceedings. I am now told that they will and I am both grateful and pleased about that.
How will the remaining time be used? It would be out of order for me to say what the Business Commttee will do. It will recommend the allocation of time and what business should be taken and at what time. It would be out of order for me to comment upon it. In my view, the Opposition should have a larger and a stronger part in arranging the business for each day. I shall do everything I can to attach importance myself to whatever the Opposition attach importance to with regard to discussions on the Bill. That I agree with that broad assumption and with those sentiments is proved by the fact that I did try to do a deal with the Opposition, but I could not.
I come now to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), who said that she was sitting on that little back bench of hers—
§ Mr. Marples
I thought that it was the same size as all the other little back benches.
My hon. Friend asked what about the Business Committee drawing attention to Clause 54? The Business Committee will be considering the dividing of time between the Report stage and Third Reading and the allocation of time to the Report stage. I will call the attention of the Business Committee to what the hon. Lady has said.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who is not present—
§ Mr. Marples
My hon. Friend and I have a lot in common. In peacetime we have both been in private enterprise, and my hon. Friend did refer to the Hammersmith Flyover, which was built by a very good firm whose name escapes me 539 at the moment. In wartime we were both sergeants—I was a regimental sergeant major and he was of inferior rank, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the point he made was being considered by the Government long before his baritone voice raised itself in its objections. I should like to make one other point—
§ Mr. Marples
No. I only wish that my hon. Friend had served with me in the Army and had been under me. He would have been very much better today.
One last point which I wish to make refers to what was said by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall on 30th January, 1961. The right hon. Gentleman said:I have one final comment to make on the White Paper. We have been told that legislation to implement its provisions will not be available until next Session."—that is, this Session.That means that the new scheme cannot be operative for two years at the earliest.
During that period, whatever the Minister may say to the contrary, there is bound to be insecurity and uncertainty in the minds of the administrators and executives who have the responsible task of running the publicly-owned transport services. This cannot help having grave adverse effects, particularly when the modernisation plan is in such a critical stage."
The right hon. Gentleman went on:
Having decided on this reorganisation, the Government should have determined, however difficult it may be, to introduce the necessary legislation in time for it to pass the House by the end of this summer"—
that is, 1961.
They could have done so if they had wanted to do so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th January, 1961; Vol. 633, c. 641.]
Now we want to pass the Bill this Session. We expeot the right hon. Gentleman to support his words by coming with us into the Division Lobby tonight. I ask my hon. Friends to give an overwhelming vote for this guillotine Motion and get the Bill on the Statute Book.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 211.543
|Division No. 117.1||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Cary, Sir Robert||Gardner, Edward|
|Aitken, W. T.||Channon, H. P. G.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gilmour, Sir John|
|Allason, James||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Clover, Sir Douglas|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Cleaver, Leonard||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Cole, Norman||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Collard, Richard||Goodhew, Victor|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cooke, Robert||Cough, Frederick|
|Barber, Anthony||Cooper, A. E.||Gower, Raymond|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Grant, Rt. Hon. William|
|Barter, John||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.|
|Batsford, Brian||CorfieId, F. V.||Green, Alan|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Costain, A. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Coulson, Michael||Gurden, Harold|
|Bell, Ronald||Craddock, Sir Beresford||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Critchley, Julian||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos & Fhm)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hare, Rt. Hon. John|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Crowder, F. P.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Curran, Charles||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Biffen, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||d'Avidgor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Deedes, W. F.||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bishop, F. P||de Ferranti, Basil||Hastings, Stephen|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hay, John|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Box, Donald||Doughty, Charles||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||du Cann, Edward||Hendry, Forbes|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, Sir James||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.|
|Brewis, John||Eden, John||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Brooman-White, R.||Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Emery, Peter||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Bryan, Paul||Errington, Sir Eric||Holland, Philip|
|Buck, Antony||Farr, John||Hollingworth, John|
|Bullard, Denys||Fell, Anthony||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Fisher, Nigel||Hopkins, Alan|
|Burden, F. A.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hornby, R. P.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Foster, John||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Freeth, Denzil||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Hurd, Sir Anthony|
|Iremonger, T. L.||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Morgan, William||Smithers, Peter|
|James, David||Morrison, John||Smyth, Brig, Sir John (Norwood)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Jennings, J. C.||Nabarro, Gerald||Speir, Rupert|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Neave, Airey||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Noble, Michael||Stodart, J. A.|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kirk, Peter||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Temple, John M.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Leavey, J. A.||Peel. John||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Percival, Ian||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Peyton, John||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Lllley, F. J. P.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lindsay, Sir Martin||Pitt, Miss Edith||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Pott, Percivall||Turner, Colin|
|Longbottom, Charles||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Prior, J. M. L.||van Straubenzee W. R.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|MacArthur, Ian||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|McLaren, Martin||Pym, Francis||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ramsden, James||Walder, David|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rees, Hugh||Wall, Patrick|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Renton, David||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Webster, David|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Ridsdale, Julian||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Maddan, Martin||Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R. (B'pool, S.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Maginnis, John E.||Robson Brown, Sir William||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Maitland, Sir John||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Roots, William||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wise, A. R.|
|Marshall, Douglas||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Marten, Neil||Russell, Ronald||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||St. Clair, M.||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Woollam, John|
|Mawby, Ray||Scott-Hopkins, James||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Seymour, Leslie||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Sharples, Richard|
|Mills, Stratton||Shaw, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Shepherd, William||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr)||Skeet, T. H. H.||Mr. Finlay.|
|Abse, Leo||Chapman, Donald||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Ainsley, William||Cliffe, Michael||Forman, J. C.|
|Albu, Austen||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Awbery, Stan||Cronin, John||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Baird, John||Crosland, Anthony||George, Lady MeganLloyd (Crmrthn)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Ginsburg, David|
|Beaney, Alan||Darling, George||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Bence, Cyril||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Grey, Charles|
|Benson, Sir George||Deer, George||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Blackburn, F.||Delargy, Hugh||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Blyton, William||Dempsey, James||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)|
|Boardman, H.||Dodds, Norman||Gunter, Ray|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Donnelly, Desmond||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Bowles, Frank||Driberg, Tom||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Boyden, James||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Edelman, Maurice||Hannan, William|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Evans, Albert||Healey, Denis|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fernyhough, E.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Finch, Harold||Herbison, Miss Margaret|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Fitch, Alan||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Callaghan, James||Fletcher, Eric||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Hilton, A. V.|
|Holman, Percy||Millan, Bruce||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Milne, Edward||Small, William|
|Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Mitchison, G. R.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hoy, James H.||Monslow, Walter||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Moody, A. S.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morris, John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mort, D. L.||Stonehouse, John|
|Hunter, A. E.||Mulley, Frederick||Stones, William|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Neal, Harold||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Oram, A. E,||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Oswald, Thomas||Swain, Thomas|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Owen, Will||Swingler, Stephen|
|Jeger, George||Padley, w. E.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, s.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Parker, John||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Parkin, B. T.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee E.)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Paton, John||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pavitt, Laurence||Timmons, John|
|Kelley, Richard||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Tomney, Frank|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Peart, Frederick||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pentland, Norman||Wainwright, Edwin|
|King, Dr. Horace||Prentice, R. E.||Warbey, William|
|Lawson, George||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Probert, Arthur||Weltzman, David|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Proctor, W. T.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||White, Mrs. Elrene|
|Lipton, Marcus||Randall, Harry||Whitlock, William|
|Loughlin, Charles||Rankin, John||Wigg, George|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Redhead, E. C.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McCann, John||Reid, William||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|MacColl, James||Reynolds, G. W.||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|McInnes, James||Rhodes, H.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Mackle, John (Enfield, Eaat)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ross, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Manuel, Archie C.||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Woof, Robert|
|Mapp, Charles||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Marsh, Richard||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Mason, Roy||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Zilliacus, K.|
|May hew, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Short and Mr. Rogers.|