HC Deb 14 May 1964 vol 695 cc617-82

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June.—[The Prime Minister.]

3.56 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

If one could have believed one's ears during the last half-hour one would have imagined that the Middle East is in an inflamed condition and that any hopes of peace and understanding in that area depend upon the action of the Government. I do not think that the House should go away for the Whitsun Recess before an effort is made to restore a reasonable air of objectivitiy.

The Prime Minister told us about the inflamed condition in the Middle East. What he did not tell us was the special contribution which he has made in the last few months to inflame passions in the Middle East. On 11th February of this year he was engaged in a broadcast in Canada and, speaking of the Suez operation, he said, "I rather wish they"—that is, the Americans—"had allowed us to deal with the Egyptian one as we had wanted to". In other words, the Prime Minister greatly regrets, as did Sir Anthony Eden at that time, that the Conservative Government of that day were not allowed to wreak their will in the Middle East.

We should reflect for a moment, before we go for our Whitsun holidays, what is the atmosphere in the Middle East at this moment, while I am speaking. Mr. Khrushchev and President Nasser, with the heads of 33 countries in Africa, are assembled at the Aswan Dam and there a button will be pressed not to explode a bomb but to divert the Nile. Egypt, from now on, will control the head waters of the Nile. Large areas will be fertilised. This atmosphere of hope to countless millions of people is being brought about not by the action of the Government, not by intervention in Suez, not by intervention in the Yemen, but as a result of the action of Mr. Khrushchev.

In my judgment, it is a nice juxtaposition. On the one hand, there is the Prime Minister's statement that he wished that he had been allowed to get on with the job in 1956, and, on the other, there is Mr. Khrushchev as the bringer of life and hope. This is the juxtaposition between Communism, on the one hand, and Western democracy, on the other.

In my judgment what is happening at Aswan today is the greatest diplomatic defeat which the West has suffered since the end of the war. This can be traced directly to the Suez intervention. It is my view, and has been my view all along, that there should be an inquiry and that the House should not depart for the Recess until it has authorised the setting up of an inquiry along the lines of the Dardanelles inquiry; that is, that there should be an inquiry into the inception of the operation, how the operation was carried out and what the consequences are.

The point has been made during the last week and has attracted some attention in the House to the subject of collusion. Much has been said about Professor Finer's book. I am one of those who try to deal with the facts, so I have obtained the book. I hope that no other hon. Gentleman will spend any money on reading it, because for the purpose of a more detailed understanding of what happened in Suez it is largely useless. The dates are not right, it ennobles Mr. Randolph Churchill—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Question to which the hon. Gentleman and any other hon. Gentlemen desiring to speak must address their observations is That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June. The hon. Member is quite in order in saying that we ought to set up an inquiry into the topic before we go away, but we cannot proceed to read books about it now.

Mr. Wigg

On the contrary, you must have heard me imperfectly, Mr. Speaker. I said that I had read the book, and not that we should read the book.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member was entering into a critique of the book, observing that the dates were inaccurate in it, and so on, and that is not on the Question which is now before us.

Mr. Wigg

My ability to express myself must be getting worse, because I said exactly the opposite.

I said that they were not important. The dates produced by Professor Finer and produced in subsequent commentaries are quite useless. The book, in my judgment, is worthless. What is important is not the date of the meeting. Indeed, I can tell the Leader of the House what he did on the 23rd October, on the date when he was supposed to have had that meeting. [An HON. MEMBER: "The 24th."] Professor Finer mentioned both. On 23rd October the Leader of the House was answering Questions, and at ten o'clock that night he dined and subsequently the Prime Minister came along, and it may well be that the right hon. and learned Gentleman went to France the next day.

On the issue of collusion, I have made myself plain on previous occasions and I wrote a letter to The Times, following a statement made by the Leader of the House at the United Nations. My case for an inquiry is not that the Government inspired or instigated the Suez operation. These right hon. Gentlemen were never villains. They have not the ability or the energy to be villains. At most, they were synthetic villains. The collusion was between M. Pineau and Ben Gurion, but the Government were parties to the operation. That removed from them any shred of personal honour and removed any shred of honour from any Conservative Administration, because they delivered an ultimatum demanding the stopping of a fire which they knew was to start. It was the guilty knowledge that they possessed.

I want to help the Leader of the House by quoting him once again, as did in 1956, in a letter in The Times, and again at the end of 1958. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will do me the honour of reading the letter in The Times on 27th November, 1956, he will see that I specifically cleared him of collusion to the extent of acquitting him of any share of the instigation of the operation.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must remember the Question to which he has to speak. This is the second warning to him. I hope that he will pay attention to it. It really matters, otherwise discussion on this Question gets all over the place on each occasion, and it must not. It is quite all right to say, "I want an inquiry before we go away", but not to discuss on this occasion all the arguments which the hon. Gentleman might wish to put before the inquiry. That is out of order.

Mr. Wigg

I have had some rehearsals of this, Sir. I made a similar speech on 20th December, 1956. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tedious repetition."] No, something has happened since then. I am aware that I must not go into detail, but I am entitled to say, in addition to the arguments which I put on that occasion and I do not repeat them, that there has been written Mr. Randolph Churchill's book which makes specific and much more detailed charges than were ever made by Professor Finer, and then there is Professor Finer himself. There is no shadow of doubt that outside this country it is believed and taken for granted that there was guilty and prior knowledge in the possession of Her Majesty's Government, but not collusion.

I do not want to trepass on your kindness, Mr. Speaker. Let us move on from 20th December, 1956, to another quite extraordinary happening. My case is that there ought to be an inquiry and that the House should not depart until there has been an inquiry into the inception of the operation, not about the conduct of the operation itself. General Keightley presented his dispatches. One would have thought the Government would have been so proud of what happened that they would have brought the dispatches to the House and we would have had a debate, but never, from the time when the dispatches were published in 1957 down to the present day, have they ever been considered by the House. Why not? For the very simple reason that the Government do not want this particular skeleton to be disinterred, because they are afraid of the truth.

Again, I do not want to bore the House, and whether I succeed in doing so is neither here nor there. What has to be done is to relate what happened at Suez and the need for an inquiry to what has happened in Aden at present. Let us have a look at the announcements which have been made by right hon. Gentlemen in connection with the Aden operation. Quite the most remarkable thing was the statement by the Prime Minister on 4th May. He was asked a Private Notice Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and he replied: These operations are essentially of an internal security nature, taking place wholly within the frontiers of the South Arabian Federation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May. 1964; vol. 694; c. 908.] I should have thought—and this, again, is a subject for inquiry as to why he did not say it—that if, in an internal security operation, he contemplated the use of major weapons he should have said so. But he did not breathe a word about that. It was not until several days later that we got a statement, on 11th of May, when the Secretary of State for Defence, talking about the bombs, said that authority was given for this operation generally and he thought that it was perfectly normal in that context for the bombs to be used.

Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)

On a point of order. There are many of us, I suspect, on both sides of the House who, given a suitable occasion, could debate Suez again and the responsibility or otherwise in different parts of the House, and what is happening in Aden as well. In view of the way in which the debate is beginning to develop, are we to understand that we shall be able to go into these issues through the hours of the night?

Mr. Speaker

Certainly not. I have warned the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) twice. First of all, he said that we ought to have an inquiry into the Suez history and, without touching on the detail, I gave him my Ruling about that. Now the hon. Member says that we ought to have an inquiry into something connected with Aden. He should make the point "that in view of inconsistencies between statements", or something of that kind, without going into detail, which is entirely out of order.

Mr. Wigg

I am endeavouring to do that, Sir. I say, first, that there should be an inquiry into the inception of the Suez operation and the manner in which it was carried on. I did not go into the details of the Suez operation. Hon. Members can read the details themselves, but I pointed out that the dispatches were never debated. I am now going into the situation which confronts the whole country, and not only the Con- servative Party, and everybody knows about it except us. We are the only ones who have our heads in the sands about what is happening. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, the Opposition."] It is only the Conservative Party which has its head in the sands about the reality of the situation; but I will come to that.

I am here dealing with what has happened in Aden. Here is an operation which was planned, we are told, for security reasons. The Minister then says that bombs could be used, that this was a general instruction. I do not dissent from that view, because, if one gives a commander in the field a job to do, one should let him get on with it with what arms he has.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman does not approach the rules of order. I wish that he would apply his mind to this, because it matters. He is quite entitled to say that, before we go away—if that is his reason—there should be some inquiry about Aden, but he is not entitled to develop here and now the matters which he would wish to develop before the inquiry, if it were set up.

Mr. Wigg

I am carefully refraining from mentioning the matters which I should wish to put before the inquiry, Sir. What I am arguing is that there is need for an inquiry on the ground that the House has not been given the facts. It has been, misled. No mention was made of the use of heavy weapons, although, if Shackletons were provided, there was no reason why they should not have been used. But we had to wait until last Monday before an announcement was made that a considerable number of 1,000-1b. bombs had been used.

Then we had the Prime Minister making a speech that night all round the Scottish constituencies, and my view about that is that the purpose of these bombs, or the release of the information a week later, had got nothing to do with the military situation but had got the hell of a lot to do with the political situation in Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This is my view.

From a military point of view, the dropping of 1000-1b. bombs on Radfani in that part of the world made a bang, made a lot of noise, but what hon. Members opposite have never really faced is the effect of Suez and of Aden. This is the case for an inquiry. The effect of Suez and of Aden upon the British public is traumatic. It comes by way of a shock, and afterwards, after the immediate shock has worn off, the Chauvenistic feelings which are in all of us just below the surface present a political bonus to them. They are welcome to reap it, but, in the long run, when the shock wears off and the truth cannot be denied, my case for an inquiry will be proved by the facts to have been overwhelming. But, unfortunately, the case for an inquiry then will be too late.

What is the situation in Aden today as a result of what happened at Suez and the way the operation was planned and carried out? The Suez Canal is being operated today better than it was ever operated in the past, and not one British pilot is there. This is what has happened. The Aswan Dam, which we tried to stop, is being completed. Britain now finds herself in an isolated position. She alone is backing the Imam. The United States has recognised the Yemen. Mr. Khrushchev recognises the Yemen. Within a very few weeks, in Cairo once again, Prince Feisal will go—

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that the United States recognised the Republic of the Yemen on condition that all non-Yemeni forces should be withdrawn from the Yemen?

Mr. Wigg

Again, an hon. Member tries to draw me into a discussion of the facts. You have allowed the question, Mr. Speaker, but if I attempt to answer it, and discuss the details, I shall be out of order. Therefore, only for that reason, I do not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If Mr. Speaker will allow me, I shall willingly go into the subject.

Mr. Speaker

No. I do not want the hon. Gentleman to pursue even the course which he is pursuing. With great respect to him, I think that he is quite capable of stating, without entering into so much detail, whatever reason he wishes to advance for the House not adjourning until some step has been taken, which he has rather vaguely described, if I may say so, as an inquiry.

Mr. Wigg

An additional reason why I want the House to stay in session and have this inquiry so that it can inform itself and public opinion is that, before the house reassembles, Prince Feisal will have gone to Cairo. Until recently, Prince Feisal was backing the Imam. Now he has changed his front. So, as a result of the Government's so-called strong-arm policy, we have lost the Suez Canal, we have conceded to Russia the influence—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman will think for the moment, he will realise that he is there expressing a series of conclusions or opinions of his own—I am not saying whether they are right or wrong—which do not, in fact, add up to an additional reason for the House staying in session instead of going away on the date proposed.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Some of us may want to take part in the debate later, with your approval, Sir, and it is as well, if there are misunderstandings, that they should be cleared away early.

If I may say so, I understand very well what you are saying to the House, that one can give as a reason for not accepting the Government's Motion that one wants an inquiry, and I understand, further, that one may not go into all the matters which might come out in the course of such an inquiry.

But would it not be right to say that one could not merely baldly say, "I want an inquiry", without giving the House any explanation of what it is one wants the inquiry about, what there is to inquire into, and what is the importance of the matter which requires that the House should not adjourn until an inquiry has been decided upon?

I know that it is a difficult line to keep, but it would, surely, be quite wrong to keep it only by not giving any explanation at all of why one wants an inquiry and what it should be about.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows all about this, and so do I. The only difference between us is in what is merely bald and what is something a little less bald. I can only exercise common sense about it, and we had better keep to the rules.

Mr. Wigg

I am only exercising common sense about it, Mr. Speaker, but I took the precaution of reading the previous debates. When this one is over, I shall study with enjoyment and mental refreshment the scope which was allowed to the Prime Minister on 20th December, 1956. But, of course, I understand that there have been changes, there is a new Speaker, and, of course, it depends on the attitude—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I shall withdraw nothing.

My hon. Friend has put the case very fairly and he is quite right. I am well within order in arguing that there should be an inquiry, and I should be allowed to give the reasons why there should be an inquiry. What I am not allowed to do, and what I have not attempted to do, is to go into too much detail, or into detail at all. However, I am allowed to argue the broad case for having an inquiry. Sir Anthony Eden was allowed, with great latitude, to argue why there should not be an inquiry—and he got to the point of throwing his pencil down and saying that he would do it all over again, which is what the Prime Minister has done now. However, I do not press that point.

What I say is that there was prior and guilty knowledge in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen. The operation was carried out with great gallantry. The planning was competent. But it failed. Consequences flow from that failure. Today, Britain has no influence in the Middle East. The Suez Canal is now running better, and Britain is excluded from its running. The Aswan Dam is being built. Although the first barrage was built by British genius and the plans for the dam were born in British minds, Britain is not there.

As regards Aden, we live in a dream world. There are meeting in Cairo the heads of the Arab States. Prince Feisal and King Hussein have come over to the Egyptian side. Britain now stands completely isolated, isolated from the Soviet Union, isolated from the United States, isolated from China, isolated from all her friends.

A price has got to be paid. The price will not be paid by that lot. The price will be paid by Britain. The dishonour which exists in the ranks of the Conservative Party is shared by all Britain, and the only possible chance we have of working our passage and once again standing for some of the things which we have stood for in the past is by coming clean and admitting where we went wrong.

I hope that I shall be in order in saying this. I know the Middle East fairly well. I have known it through the hard way, in the humblest of rôles. I have been going back and forth for 40 years. I was back there recently. One of the things that astonishes me, after all that has happened, is the tremendous friendship there is for the British people. I have walked round parts of Cairo which were out of bounds during all the years of service that I spent there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I say again that I have visited parts of Cairo recently that were out of bounds to British troops during all my service. I never before went into the Sultan Hassan Mosque. Now I have been into the Sultan Hassan Mosque, and I have been from Alexandria down to Abu Simbel. I have found on occasion after occasion that there is the most tremendous affection for the British people and a willingness to draw a distinction between what Britain stands for and what successive Conservative Governments have done.

This is the truth. That is why I am here today. I cannot understand why hon. Members have not a feeling of shame that at this moment there is, on the one hand, the diversion of the Nile—one of the most imaginative and gigantic operations ever carried out in the history of man—and, on the other, the dropping of 1,000-1b. bombs. Right throughout Africa and Asia there is not such a juxtaposition—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman cannot be imagining that he can make this speech on this Question and keep within the rules of order. I cannot believe that he can be thinking so.

Mr. Wigg

All I am doing, Sir, is arguing the general proposition that the House should not go away until there has been an objective inquiry into what has happened in the past eight years, so that the House of Commons and the British people shall come to an objective understanding of the situation in the Middle East at the present time. Surely, Mr. Speaker, I am entitled to point out that the Prime Minister said this afternoon that the Middle East is inflamed. The Prime Minister will not give us information, he says. Yet he is the man who has inflamed it. Surely we have a duty to say that we must have the facts. The House of Commons has a right to demand the facts. The facts are not given. An illusion is built up, an atmosphere of crisis, for partisan political purposes, but basically to conceal the truth.

Hon. Members opposite have no contribution to make. They have no part to play. If they remain in power, Britain will certainly be excluded once and for all from the affairs of the Middle East. Even if there was no other reason, I am confident for this reason that one thing that this country needs urgently is a new Administration. [HON. MEMBERS: "What has that got to do with the Question?"] An inquiry is necessary to understand the facts—not the details, but the broad outline of the facts. It should be understood that we on this side of the House—and I include the Liberal Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, I include the Liberal Party. All through its long history it has believed in the rule of law.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, may I ask for your guidance on the problem that the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is raising? Is it in order for an hon. Member to ask for an inquiry into something that happened seven or eight years ago, when there has been plenty of opportunity to ask for such an inquiry in the past, and when such an inquiry could be asked for after the Recess? Is this any reason for taking up the whole of the time in the debate on whether we should adjourn for the Whitsun Recess? If this is in order, I want to call for an inquiry into a much more important occasion affecting the life of the people of this country—

Mr. Speaker

The position is quite plain to the House. An hon. Member may ask for something to be done which would necessitate non-compliance with the proposal that we should adjourn for Whitsuntide as set out in the Motion. Having indicated his reason for that, an hon. Member has then exhausted legitimate argument in support of opposing the Motion. One cannot go wandering round the streets of Cairo to find out the sentiments there. That is too wide. I think that the House understands the principle. It is a matter of degree. I very much dislike having to interfere so much, but it nearly always happens on this Question. I think that we must confine ourselves to the Question before the House.

Mr. Wigg

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, I am foremost in supporting the Chair. To do that, Sir, it is imperative that one should understand the Chair's Ruling. I very diligently followed the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover). I failed to hear him mention anything about "wandering round the streets of Cairo". I wonder, Sir, if you would be kind enough to connect your Ruling—

Mr. Speaker

Yes, I will explain to the hon. Member. I am only asking him to assist me by complying with what he knows full well are the rules of order. When the hon. Gentleman was talking about the many instances of pro-British sentiment which still remain, I thought that the instances were so multiplied that he went rather over the line. I have stopped the hon. Gentleman so much already that I do not wish to go on stopping him.

Mr. Wigg

A point of order was raised by the hon. Member for Ormskirk. As I understand it, in replying to the hon. Gentleman you, Sir, in your capacity as Speaker, animadverted on the speech I was making. I am the first to comply with the Rulings of the Chair, provided that the Rulings are based upon precedent and on the rules of order. I respectfully put it to you, Sir, that the Chair is confined to giving Rulings on points of order and not expressions of opinion on the speeches of hon. Members.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must not imagine some wholly unintended discourtesy. I was asked to answer, in effect—I do not purport to quote the words—as to where the line is. That is all we have been talking about on these interventions. I thought that I had an instance in the hon. Gentleman's speech which illustrated where the line was not. That is all. I think that we understand. When an hon. Member goes into too much detail and begins to discuss the substantive matter which might be investigated by the inquiry, he goes beyond giving reasons for asking for an inquiry before we go away for the Recess.

Mr. Wigg

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad indeed to know that we both agree that we both understand. I do.

The case I was making was that there is a need for an inquiry. I shall not traverse the ground again. To my mind, the case for an inquiry is overwhelming. It is overwhelming in relation to Suez. As to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Ormskirk that a demand for an inquiry into this operation has been made before, I agree that it has. I have made it. I have asked that the Keightley Dispatches be debated. As long as I am a Member of the House, I shall go on doing that. I shall go on demanding this.

In the long run, the truth about the Suez operation will come out. Even though I did make this demand in 1956 and 1958 and even if that were an argument against me, since that time we have had Mr. Randolph Churchill's books. We have had publication after publication, until the point has been reached when the truth has penetrated and percolated into every elective assembly in the world. There is not a country in the world which does not know the truth about this operation, save only this House of Commons.

The truth is that, whenever a conflict arises between patriotism, between the interests of Great Britain, and the class interests of the party of hon. Members opposite, their class interests always win.

Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham) rose—

Mr. Wigg

No, I shall not give way.

Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Wigg

I shall give way when I am ready.

The Tory Party's class interests always win. That is what has happened here. This is another argument for an inquiry. It is common talk amongst accredited journalists of high reputation in London—they have been saying it for weeks— that the only hope the Tories have of winning the General Election is to frame a crisis—have a crisis, they say; beat the band wagon; wave the Union Jack. That is the only chance they have, never mind the interests of Britain. That is what they are after.

Mr. Awdry

I have been in the House for about one and a half years. I have heard the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) make a great many speeches. They have all been equally unpleasant. The hon. Gentleman makes the foullest accusations against my hon. Friends. May I ask the hon. Gentleman one question before he leaves the question of Aden? He purports to be a friend of British soldiers. Does he think that soldiers in this very dangerous position should go into action without adequate air support?

Mr. Wigg

If I am asked a question, of course I go on. If the hon. Gentleman had listened he would have known that that is exactly what I said. I said that if, on 4th May, the Prime Minister had said, "I have told them to use Shackletons. I have told them to use 1,000-1b. bombs", I would have agreed. The hon. Gentleman is not really complaining about me making foul accusations. What he is worried about is that my foul accusations will prove to be true. That is the charge against me. What about Ferranti? I will not mention other names, but I could. Even on this issue I could give some. There is a great deal more yet to come out about what has happened in Aden.

I have one point to make for an inquiry. Consider the case of Colonel MacWilliam, who occupied a star post in the Army. He was G.S.O.1. He was expecting a senior appointment, was right to expect it and, in fact, got it. He was appointed to the Arab Federation forces. He went out there for three weeks and came straight back again. So that I should not repeat any foul accusations without first making an attempt to be sure of my facts, I went to the Minister to find out what happened to Colonel MacWilliam, but he would not discuss the matter with me.

Why did Colonel MacWilliam come back? The answer is that when he got there he found certain things which made him come back. Hon. Members opposite can link this with the statement made by the Prime Minister on 4th May, when the right hon. Gentleman said that this was an internal security operation carried out to suppress the insurgents. When Colonel Mac William got to Aden and took charge of the Arabian Federation forces he found chaos in the transport and administrative services. He found himself being asked to undertake, for political reasons, a degree of Arabisation. Being an honourable and straightforward man, he refused to accept responsibility for what he found and came home.

As a result, therefore, British troops, for whom hon Members opposite are so concerned, are forced to go in to do the dirty work which the incompetence of Ministers on the Government Front Bench has imposed on them. [HON. MEMBERS: "oh."] These facts may be intolerable to hon. Members opposite, but this is why we need an inquiry. The facts must be gone into. At every point where one touches the problem of defence, the formula one gets is maximum expenditure and minimum results. All that hon. Members opposite can say is that we can reflect on the gallantry of British troops.

We are told that the Radfanis retired. A few bangs and they are gone, we are told, but is it not obvious that as soon as the instruments which are causing the bangs have gone they will return; that is, when it suits them? The Minister was right to say that we are dealing with an impossible situation. This is not something out of the middle ages. This is a country which is based on pre-history—a tribal system of the most remote kind. To imagine that Britain, on her own, can keep the Stone Age in existence in defiance of world opinion is complete nonsense.

Today, I have had a stormy passage, although I have rather enjoyed it. The day is warm and to those who object to what I have said, and who disagree with me, I say, "We shall see". As I said at the time of Suez—and even before then—when I heard the demand from Conservative hon. Members for strong action I had an uncontrollable desire to go out and be sick. Strong action indeed; sending battalions out well below establishment and using Shackletons to drop 1,000-1b. bombs on Radfanis who had hopped it, anyway.

How impressive it all was, hon. Members opposite may think. How impressed the Kremlin must have been at our using Shackletons or even Hunters. I want our troops to go in with modern equipment. It impresses no one but oneself to use the sort of weapons we use in these circumstances. I want our troops to have up-to-date equipment, our units to be at full strength and, above all, I want the Government to be honest. At present, we have none of these things and, because of this, I want an inquiry.

It is important that we should have that inquiry, but the importance of it will become absolutely certain before this year is out. I predict that. The consequences of the lying and humbug which has beset us these last eight years will be so great and will weigh so heavy in evidence in favour of such an inquiry that even the most dyed-in-the-wool Tory will not be able to deny the truth.

4.35 p.m.

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

I do not wish to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in certain of his unpalatable statements. I oppose the adjournment of the House for different reasons. I do not say that we should not adjourn tomorrow, just that we should come back earlier. I am proposing that instead of adjourning until 2nd June we should adjourn until Wednesday, 20th May. People in factories will have the long weekend and will start work again on Wednesday. I suggest that the House of Commons should do the same. I suggest this for several reasons and I hope that hon. Members opposite will hear me patiently, even if I must say some things which they will not altogether like.

I agree that there are many urgent problems of national importance which should be probed and debated, and I am prepared to go into the Lobby if necessary with hon. Members opposite to see that we have a shorter Recess, as long as the problems I wish to raise are discussed.

The party opposite assume that by the end of October they will be the Government of this country. The public opinion polls and by-election results would appear to give fair proof that their assumption is well grounded, but lots of things can happen in five months. They were certain in 1959 that they would win the General Election, but they were disappointed. Assuming that they will gain power, I do not believe that hon. Members opposite would want to have the responsibilities of governing Britain thrust on their shoulders without explaining fully and in every detail what they propose to do with the power they think is coming to them. Therefore, instead of adjourning until 2nd June I want Parliament to return earlier; and I have eight good days' work to suggest we might undertake.

The first problem hon. Members could usefully discuss is that of automation. With courage, the Leader of the Opposition has on more than one occasion warned his followers, both in the trade union movement and at his party conferences, that in his opinion there will be 10 million jobs lost as a result of automation in the next decade. We must debate what arrangements he thinks he is capable of making with the trade union world as a result of automation, the jobs lost and—

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

On a point of order. We discuss the adjournment of the House, the question of Ministerial responsibility and why we think a shorter time should be allotted for a Recess. Since the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is developing his argument along certain lines I must intervene quickly to ask you to give a Ruling on how far it is permissible to argue that the House should return earlier to enable the Opposition to explain what they will do in a hypothetical situation after the next election. As hon. Members opposite will be aware, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I have at least a nodding acquaintance with the Standing Orders of the House. This is a serious point and I am asking you to rule on it before the hon. Member for Louth develops his argument further, bearing in mind the rather tight line which Mr. Speaker sought to lay upon the House just prior to your assuming the occupancy of the Chair, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

Further to that point of order. From my recollection of past Rulings, has it not previously been ruled out of order, when discussing this sort of Motion, to discuss reassembling at an earlier date?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

If I may, I will read to the House the Motion we are debating. The Question is: That this House, at its rising To-morrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June. It would seem to me quite in order to argue, as the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is doing, that although he would agree with the House rising tomorrow, we should, for certain reasons, reassemble before 2nd June. That is how I took his speech and so long as he devotes himself to that argument, I believe him to be in order.

Mr. C. Pannell

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I must ask you to deal with the substance of my submission.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

With respect to the hon. Member, I thought that the argument of the hon. Member who has the Floor was being devoted to this House having an opportunity before 2nd June of debating certain things. So far as he keeps his argument close to that and does not stray too far into details of the certain things, I believe him to be in order.

Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. My hon. Friend raised the question of Ministerial responsibility. Nobody is suggesting that we should not discuss things that might be discussed if we came back earlier; but, surely, since this is a Government Motion, virtually arranging Government business time, we must be confined to discussing the kind of subjects which would be introduced by the Government if we came back earlier.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No. I think that the hon. Member would be mistaken. It might well be that if the House were to come back earlier, Supply days would be put down and Opposition business could be taken.

Sir C. Osborne

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am rather surprised, because I was trying to state my case moderately, that the Opposition should be so touchy. [Interruption.] Whether they like it or not, if it takes me two hours they are going to have it. I was saying that the greatest problem facing this country economically, as the Leader of the Opposition has said and told his supporters, is the economic consequences of automation. The Leader of the Opposition has said that, in his opinion, in the next decade, 10 million jobs will be lost. I want the House to come back earlier to discuss this problem. To give the House some idea of the immensity of this problem, I shall give one example only. At the moment, in the Jaguar motor works at Coventry 3,000 men are out on unofficial strike because one man alone has been redeployed owing to automation. There is no denying that it is a well-run factory, that the men are well paid, and that it is doing an excellent job in exports. This is inter-union rivalry and, over one man, 3,000 men are out of work and our exports are in danger.

The reason that I want the House to come back earlier is that if hon. Members opposite take office they will have to face these problems, and surely they ought to tell the country what they propose to do. Do they think that they can get agreement with their industrial wing to deal with the consequences of automation which will drive out 10 million men from their jobs, or is their election cry going to be, "Vote Labour and vote yourself out of a job"?

The second problem which I should like the House to come back earlier to deal with is that of immigration, which is very closely allied to the consequences of automation. The Home Secretary told us the other day that 300,000 people in India and Pakistan are waiting in the queue to come to this country. They are jobless, penniless and skill-less. If 10 million of our own people are to be out of jobs because of automation, are we to allow millions more to come in to swell that crowd? Is that their policy?

Mr. Warbey

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have no objection to this debate on this Motion becoming a free-for-all, provided that it is really a free-for-all. I am sure that we on this side of the House would be quite as happy as some hon. Members opposite to engage in this free-for-all. But Mr. Speaker has ruled that there are certain restrictions on this debate, and since those Rulings bear upon this side, I would submit that they apply to the other side as well. I would suggest, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that since the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is opposing the Motion and, therefore, is, in effect, attacking the Government, because this is a Government Motion which we are debating, hon. Members opposing the Motion must seek a reply from a Member of the Government, and must therefore address their questions to a Member of the Government and not to the Opposition.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member is quite correct in saying that this debate should be restricted. So far as I have heard the hon. Member for Louth, he raised two subjects which he thought should be discussed rather than have the House in recess during the days that are proposed from tomorrow to 2nd June. So far, I thought that that was in order.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I understood the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) to be going further than that, by saying that if we came back earlier we could not only discuss these very important subjects—which so far we have not—but that we could have answers from the Opposition in place of those which we are not getting from the Government. I find that a very attractive argument and I should like to hear more of it.

Sir C. Osborne

I hope that by the time that I have finished my eight points the right hon. Gentleman will like the whole lot. I was saying that the Home Secretary said that there were 300,000 people in the queue in India alone waiting to come here, and each is entitled to bring on average 10 dependants. That makes 3 million to add to the 10 million whom the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition says will be unemployed because of automation. Hon. Members opposite are pledged to repeal the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. I and the country want to know: is that what they are going to do? Are they going to flood this country with immigrants by opening the flood gates, and if so, what will be the effect on unemployment in this country? I think that is not an unreasonable request to put to them. On the third day, if we come back earlier, I want to hear what the Leader of the Opposition has to say—not from those below the Gangway, if I may say so with respect—on the problem of unofficial strikes. There are three or four unofficial strikes taking place at the present time. These unofficial strikes are clearly against the national interest. They reduce production, injure our exports, stop wages—and they infuriate the workers' wives. Furthermore, and this should appeal to hon. Members opposite, they undermine the authority of the trade union leaders.

I should like a day to discuss that subject, and hear what hon. Members opposite have to say on it. I was in this House in 1948 when the then Mr. Attlee used the troops to break an unofficial strike in the London Docks and bring the food from the London Docks to the London people. We are entitled to ask: would the Wilson Government take the same action as the Attlee Government did—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I do not think that the using of names of hon. or right hon. Members of this House is a good plan.

Sir C. Osborne

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—I will leave that subject.

I object to our going away and staying away while these grave problems remain unsolved. Before giving their votes the people are entitled to know what the Opposition would offer as a solution.

One of the most disturbing problems facing us overseas is the problem of the white settler in Southern Rhodesia. That is a very difficult subject, and we could well spend a day discussing it. Those with friends or relatives out there know how sore they feel. What would the position be, assuming that the party opposite were in power in October—

Mr. Warbey

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I have your Ruling on this point? The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is putting a number of questions to which there will be a reply at the end of the debate. Do I take it that hon. Members on this side will be entitled to reply to those questions, or are we to be placed in a position in which the reply to those questions is given, on behalf of the Opposition, by the Minister?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Hon. Members on all sides of the House have complete liberty to endeavour to catch the eye of the Chair to debate this question before us. That is the position.

Sir C. Osborne

Oliver Cromwell once said of his weaker opponents that they had too tender consciences; heaven knows what he would say about hon. Members opposite if he were here today.

Assuming that the Labour Party wins the next election, would a Labour Government compel the white settlers in Rhodesia immediately to surrender to a black majority? It is terribly important that the people should know. Or would that Government give the settlers 10 years or 20 years to get used to the change? This is what our friends out there are asking, and the matter should be debated. Would a Labour Government use British troops to force the white settlers to accept a black-majority rule. The people there would like an answer to that, and so would the public here, before they cast their votes. Would that Labour Government risk driving Southern Rhodesia into the arms of South Africa? I should like to debate that instead of having hon. Members wasting a day in the South of Spain—

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)

As it has apparently become necessary for the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party, would not my hon. Friend agree that a day should be given to that party for its members to state their own case?

Sir C. Osborne

I do not wish to keep the House too long, and I have three other points that I want to put.

As an exporter, I am concerned with the position of South Africa. Last year, our exports to South Africa were worth £196 million and our imports were valued at £114 million. We sell the South Africans £80 million a year more than we buy from them. What the workers who produce the goods we sell, and whose jobs depend on those exports, want to know from the Labour leaders is whether they are prepared to impose a total economic boycott? Are they prepared to throw that trade away?

If so, what is to be the effect upon the employment of the people who produce the goods the South Africans so readily buy from us? That is quite apart from their attitude to the Simonstown base.

Another of the days saved I should like devoted to a further matter. The country was surprised and his own supporters were terribly shocked a few days ago when the Leader of the Opposition advocated a new jingoistic policy in Cyprus. He said that instead of the U.N. "softee-softee, pussy-pussy", policy we should send in real tanks and live ammunition. If this is the new Labour Party policy, would it not need the use of further ground troops, and would it not necessitate conscription? Would the Labour Party bring in conscription, as it did before?

If I could have my way, my next day would be usefully employed in debating taxation—something of which I know a little. In the Budget debate, the "shadow" Chancellor said that he wanted less indirect taxation and more direct taxation. Let me remind hon. Members what direct taxation really means. The standard rate of Income Tax is now 7s. 9d. in the £—under the Socialists it was 9s. 6d. We are entitled to ask hon. Members opposite whether, if they were in power, they would put the rate back to 9s. 6d.

Under this same heading my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, made a very bold move and lifted the earned income before Surtax from £2,000 to £5,000. That step was bitterly opposed on the opposite side of the House. Would hon. Members opposite reduce the figure to £2,000 again?

Mr. Warbey

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. What the hon. Member is dealing with now must surely be out of order—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The House has just had an opportunity, on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, of discussing these very matters.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

As I understand the argument of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), it is that he wants the House to reassemble early in order to hear the views of hon. Mem- bers on the Opposition side. It may be a surprising argument, but I think that it is in order to put it forward

Sir C. Osborne

I could not have stated my case better myself, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

On this Surtax question, it is complained that many of our top scientists and executives are leaving this county for the United States for higher salaries. If we brought the Surtax figure down from the present figure of £5,000 a year to the old £2,000, as it was with the Socialists, would it not drive still more of our top scientists and executives away?

I should also like both sides to discuss the much-maligned capital gains tax. The Leader of the Opposition has described it as innocuous, and I understand that the Labour Party is pledged to impose a savage capital gains tax. We are entitled to know how savage it would be. What rate would they impose? Upon whom would it bear? Would anybody be exempt? To go to the country without answering these questions is to get votes on false pretences.

I should also like to hear the question of death duties debated. That would be much better than just sitting playing poker in the club. The Leader of the Opposition, on more than one occasion, has described death duties as a voluntary tax. To some extent, that is true. I remind the House that the rate already goes up to 80 per cent. Therefore, if the Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to get more money from death duties, he must impose heavier rates in the lower ranges. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because, you damn' fool, there is no other way of getting it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think that the hon. Member will appreciate that he is getting very near the edge.

Mr. Paget

Is not one alternative to convert a voluntary tax into an involuntary tax?

Sir C. Osborne

That is one reason why I am saying that the House should come back earlier to debate these matters. The hon. and learned Member is not quite as clever as even I thought he was. If the Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer is to get more money from death duties he must impose heavier taxes in the lower ranges.

Another day I would devote to an incomes policy. This is where the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) comes in. I have a very high regard for his common sense and sound knowledge of industrial matters. We could very well spend one day on discussing an incomes policy, a very important subject. If the Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer were to do as he threatens, namely, to impose a statutory dividend limitation, rigidly to control rents, savagely tax land values and abolish personal expenses, he still would not achieve an incomes policy unless he had control of salaries and wages. We could spend a very good day on this issue. How far has the political wing of the Labour Party got an agreement with its industrial wing that the trade unions would accept a wage and salaries freeze? Would it again be a case of "Vote Labour and have your wages frozen"? That is a possibility.

My last day I would devote to the one issue which completely divides the House. In fact, we would want to spend more than one day on this. Instead of being away all this time, we could come back earlier to discuss the general problem of nationalisation. This is the basis of the philosophy of hon. Members opposite which we oppose completely and which the country hates. We could spend a useful day on this subject. Hon. Members opposite are pledged to renationalise steel and road transport. We should spend a day in discussing this matter. The first question is: why pick on these two? This morning, the Iron and Steel Board issued its record figures for last April. Its production for the month was 527,000 tons, 24 per cent. more than the figure for April last year. This is a marvellous success story, and yet the Labour Party want to nationalise this industry. Why? We want to know.

I should like to return to the question which I raised in the Budget debate and which has never been answered. About a month ago the financial editor reported in the Sunday Express that, over brandy and cigars, the Leader of the Opposition had promised the chairman of I.C.I. that the Labour Party would not nationalise I.C.I. I was challenged to say this outside. I heard Mr. Paul Chambers on B.B.C. confirm it. Bite that one.

Mr. C. Pannell

The hon. Gentleman indicated to the Leader of the Opposition that he intended to raise these matters—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—and my right hon. Friend offered to discuss these matters with the hon. Gentleman this morning. However, the hon. Gentleman said that there would be no purpose in that because he had already communicated his intentions and his copy to the Press. I should like to know whether the hon. Member is in order in raising these matters in this rather curious way.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No matter of order arises for me to adjudicate on. I am without knowledge of these subjects.

Sir C. Osborne

I will explain to the hon. Gentleman. I am sorry that he is so touchy. The skids are right under him. Give me another two weeks and hon. Members opposite will not win the General Election.

It is true that in the Library this morning I saw the Leader of the Opposition's P.P.S. and, as a matter of courtesy, I said, "I am going for your boss again. Will you please tell him?" He said, "What on, Cyril?" I said, "On this" and I gave him one of two photostat copies. He said, "Which pieces are you going for?", and I marked them and showed him. How could I be fairer than that?

Mr. Warbey

On a point of order. The hon. Member has now confessed to the House, not only that he has been transgressing the rules of order in this debate, but also that he had the intention to do so this morning and that he communicated that intention to the Press. We have had an explicit Ruling from Mr. Speaker that hon. Members were entitled to suggest subjects which might be debated if we returned earlier but were not entitled to put forward arguments on the substance of those subjects. Since the hon. Member has clearly got away with putting forward arguments on the substance of certain matters, will other hon. Members have the same liberty, including liberty to communicate their speeches to the Press?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The Chair is not required to rule on anything to do with communicating speeches to the Press. The Question before the House is, That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June". If hon. Members wish to put forward reasons why they wish the dates to be altered they are in order in doing so. That is what the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has been doing.

Sir C. Osborne

I am trying to reason why we should not adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June, but should return, like other workers, on Wednesday, 20th May, and to suggest what we should do with the time we thus gain. That is all. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) does not like the facts.

Since I have been challenged about what the Leader of the Opposition said, may I remind the House of what appeared in the Sunday Express. It stated: The brandy was mellow. The cigars were the finest Havanas"—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I find it a little difficult to follow why the House should come back two days earlier to hear that read out; and if it is read out this afternoon, it would seem more extraordinary to argue that we should come back earlier to hear it read out again.

Sir C. Osborne

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but it is not the fact that the brandy was good and the cigars excellent that I am on; it is the consequences that follow. It is the political hang-over. This is germane to whether we should adjourn. I do not want to adjourn. I want to argue the political hang-over from that champagne and those cigars. [HON. MEMBERS: "Brandy."] Very well, brandy.

This is what was said: The Opposition leader who has been having secret lunchtime sessions with all sorts of tycoons… The House is entitled to know with whom and for what purpose. What promise has the right hon. Gentleman made to them? Why was I.C.I. promised that it would not be nationalised? Why not Courtaulds? Why not Dunlop? What is the price which is being paid? What is still more important is that all this has been printed and has not been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition.

The article stated that the Leader of the Opposition made a vigorous attack on Britain's numerous small firms. In particular. he singled out the small engineering companies. Many of us represent small companies. If it is the policy of hon. Members opposite to be kind to the big tycoons and to crush the little people, in honesty they should tell the little people so.

Furthermore—this is important to my argument and I hope that I may be allowed to make it—it states: A Socialist Government would encourage take-over bids in this field. It would openly show preference for the bigger organisations. For months we have had protests from the opposite side of the House about the iniquity of take-over bids, and yet we have it on the authority of the Leader of the Opposition that he will do that himself.

Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)

May I remind my hon. Friend that the Leader of the Opposition also said that there was a lot of dead wood in the boardrooms of many small companies and that he would sweep it all away? The only way he can do it is by nationalising and taking over 51 per cent. of the ordinary shares.

Sir C. Osborne

I am obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend, but his intervention does not help me.

As to the last day that would be saved under my proposal if we do not adjourn for so long, I promise the House that I will come back and debate these things. The electorate and the hon. Members of the Labour Party who sit below the Gangway are entitled to know what bargains the Leader of the Opposition has come to with the tycoons. I have often wondered—and I should like to debate this—why the party opposite has never proposed openly and straight to take over beer and tobacco. Are they frightened that the working man would hate a nationalised fag and a nationalised pint?

My last point about this is the confusion in the Labour Party over the vital question of nationalisation. I want to discuss it. Yesterday, in another place, a noble Lord pointed out—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The hon. Member will be well aware that unless the noble Lord was speaking for the Government as a spokesman, it would be out of order to quote what was said in another place.

Sir C. Osborne

Am I not allowed to refer to it at all, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? Perhaps I may say it from memory. It was stated in the other place from the Opposition benches that fruit machines last year made an estimated profit of £10 million. It was advocated from the Opposition benches that because £10 million profit was made, the fruit machines should be nationalised. But I.C.I., which made a trading profit of £150 million, is being excused. Despite the fact that the proposal which has been made would ruin half of the working-men's clubs, this is what the Socialist Party proposes.

My last two quotations concern nationalisation. The quotation which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition's P.P.S. and which he has with him came from the Evening Standard of 4th May, and I want to read it to the House, because it is germane to the problem. It states in the City columns: Harold Wilson has told Colonel Charles Clark—chairman of Alfred Herbert, Britain's biggest machine-tool group—that a Labour Government would aim to build up majority shareholdings in several big machine-tool companies. Colonel Clark tells me: 'I sat next to him at lunch and he came out with this.' [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is the Leader of the Opposition now?"] [An HON. MEMBER: "At lunch."] This is desperately important, and not even funny—

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order. The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is putting over a statement when he knows that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition denies that this meeting or luncheon took place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is Leader of the Opposition?"] My right hon. Friend cannot be expected to answer personally for any and every lunch that happens to have taken place over a period of years. The hon. Member for Louth does not know when it took place—if it did. I hope that the word of the Leader of the Opposition—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I could not assist the House in giving a Ruling on that matter. It does not appear to be for the Chair.

Sir C. Osborne

It is true that the P.P.S. to the Leader of the Opposition came to me after I had given him the photostat copy. He had not seen it until then. I had been doing the work for the Leader of the Opposition. I gave this to his P.P.S. and told him that would refer to it. He said that it was untrue. I said that in the event—and I do not doubt the word of the Leader of the Opposition—the place to deny it is on the Floor of the House of Commons. If this statement is not true, surely the Leader of the Opposition should take out an action for libel against the newspaper.

Mr. Wigg rose—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Do I understand that the hon. Member rises to a point of order?

Mr. Wigg

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am most anxious not to inhibit the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) in any way, but I spoke earlier in the debate and I found myself in some conflict with the Chair. What I cannot understand are the Rulings that were given to me and how they apply to the hon. Member for Louth—or can I now take it beyond any shadow of doubt that there is one set of rules for a Labour Member and another for a Tory Member?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No. The hon. Member and the House appreciate that the occupant of the Chair endeavours to keep the debate within the rules of order. What I am now doing is to endeavour to keep the debate on the Question, That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June. That is what I am endeavouring to do. In so far as what the hon. Member for Louth, Sir C. Osborne) says can be taken as an argument for coming back before 2nd June, I believe it to be in order and I have allowed him to continue with his speech.

Mr. Wigg

I am quite sure that the hon. Gentleman was in order, and I am equally sure that I also was in order.

Mr. Warbey

Further to that point of order. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) was perhaps absent when you were giving your earlier Rulings, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I must say that, from the Rulings which you gave at an earlier stage, I understood that you were extending the interpretation which Mr. Speaker had put upon the scope of the debate. As I understood it, Mr. Speaker had said that we could put forward subjects which ought to be discussed if we came back earlier and also that we could state very briefly the essential points which would be involved. I now understand from your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that we are also entitled, at least briefly, to sum up the arguments, on one side or the other, on the substance of the matter.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think that the hon. Member raises any further point of order that requires replying to.

Sir C. Osborne

If the House will allow me I will draw to a close, but I would say in reply to the intervention of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), which was really not a point of order, that the hon. Gentleman himself took nearly 40 minutes in dealing with one point. I have tried to touch lightly on different points.

The editor of the Evening Standard finally said this, and this should be made clear to the House: I do not dispute Mr. Wilson's right to air ideas at these hush-hush meetings with various industrial leaders, but I say that he has no business to keep the electorate in ignorance about his plans. This is what I am asking for. In a free democracy people are entitled to know. Just to show my good reasons why I want this confusion over nationalisation cleared up I will quote to the House what the Labour candidate in the Devizes constituency, who is seeking votes today, said only yesterday on this issue. I quote from the Daily Telegraph: Mr. Rogers said that he would not press if returned for the nationalisation of the"—

Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)

Can this ever be deemed to be in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in the debate on the Motion before the House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the right hon. Member had been present during the last half hour, and, indeed, during the last hour, he would have observed that the Chair was often in a little difficulty in deciding when the limit of what was in order and what was out of order was reached. I think that we have come to another of these awkward moments when the limit is very nearly reached, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) will be careful not to overstep it.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order. May I respectfully submit to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the hon. Gentleman has in no way reached the limit of the Chair's indulgence. After all, he is a Conservative Member.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

As a Member of his House, may I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and to the House to ask the hon. Gentleman opposite to withdraw the imputation that he has made twice against the Chair, that partiality has been shown to one side against the other?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The whole House will know that if it is wished to criticise the Chair that can only be done on a Motion, and not during the course of the debate.

Mr. Wigg

Further to that point of order. The last thing that I would wish to do would be to charge the Chair with partiality. The Chair is always impartial. The only thing is that at times it is more impartial than at others.

Mr. Warbey

Further to that point of order. As one who has been present during the debate at least as long as the hon. Member opposite, may I say that my impression is distinctly that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has been allowed considerable liberties in the debate which were not allowed to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg)?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

As I have said, if hon. Members feel discontented they have a course of action before them, but it is not orderly to criticise the Chair while the debate is going on.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

May I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, rather different from those raised by my hon. Friends? After all that the hon. Baronet the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) has said this afternoon, I would like to plead on his behalf that he should not now be stopped from retailing to the House any other odd bit of gossip which he may have managed to gather anywhere as a reason for the House not adjourning.

Sir C. Osborne

With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will reply to two of those points. I resent the interruption by the right hon. Member, for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) who has only just come into the Chamber. He has no right to interfere like that in view of the fact that his Deputy-Leader said earlier in the debate, "Go on. Let us have more of it." He had better go back to Smethwick and try to keep his seat.

As I was saying when I was so rudely interrupted by the right hon. Member for Smethwick, the Labour candidate in Devizes—

Mr. C. Pannell

Is that in order?

Sir C. Osborne

Of course it is.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I hope that the hon. Member will be very careful to devote his remarks to the question why he wants us not to rise tomorrow, or, alternatively, why he wants us to return before 2nd June.

Mr. Monslow

On a point of order. Would it be possible for the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), before he concludes his speech, to give us some indication as to how he is entertained by Mr. Khrushchev in the Kremlin when he is selling his stockings?

Mr. Wigg

No, no.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I recognise nothing in that point of order which requires the Chair to reply.

Sir C. Osborne

As that was a personal attack on me by a white-livered man, I will, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, reply to it.

Mr. G. Brown

I submit to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the debate must surely now be getting to the real limits of a shambles. This has nothing to do with any merits that there may be in the argument, to which I will come in a moment. We have heard the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) call one hon. Member a damned fool, to which you replied, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it was getting near the limit, though he was not asked to withdraw, and we have heard the hon. Gentleman call another hon. Member a white-livered man, and on that occasion, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you did not intervene at all. The hon. Gentleman is trying to quote speeches by people who are not Members of the House as part of his argument, and to that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you simply say that it is getting somewhere near the limit.

I submit to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the Rulings that have been given this afternoon have taken the debate, enjoyable as it has been and good as it will be to answer in a moment, far outside the limits that have ever been allowed in my experience on a Motion before the House. I therefore ask you to say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that the Rulings which you have given will apply to every occupant of the Chair. Let us recognise that the hon. Member for Louth is doing no service to the House at all.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think that I am called upon to reply to the right hon. Member's last comment, which is, in fact, a matter of opinion and not a matter for the rules of order. As for keeping the debate in order, the House must appreciate that there is scope for getting very near abuse. It is the endeavour of myself, as occupant of the Chair, to avoid the debate getting too wide, and I hope that we can continue debating with that constantly in mind.

Sir C. Osborne

I shall wind up, but I think hon. Members on both sides will agree with me that I am entitled to defend my character, and I deeply resent the slur which was cast on my character. I think I can say that hon. Members on both sides of the House who have known me for 20 years at least do not accuse me of being a cheat or a liar.

Mr. Monslow

I did not.

Sir C. Osborne

I am accused of what I was doing with Mr. Khrushchev—that I was selling silk stockings in the Kremlin. That is what was said. In the first place, I do not make silk stockings. In the second place, I do not sell them. In the third place, and most important—

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Mr. Khrushchev does not wear them.

Sir C. Osborne

—if I may be allowed to say this publicly—I have not said it before, and it touches my honour—I have been offered orders in the Soviet Union and I have always refused them—because of accusations like that that might come from hon. Members. I deeply resent them.

Hon. Members


Mr. Monslow

I will withdraw that, and on the point the hon. Member is making, I accept his word, but there is one point I shall not withdraw. The hon. Member has referred to Members of this House dining with members of I.C.I. I simply ask the hon. Member a bald question—how did he dine with Mr. Khrushchev in the Kremlin? Did he drink his vodka?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] That is the complaint?

Sir C. Osborne

I shall draw to a close. There are many other things I should like to say, but I will say this finally to hon. Gentlemen opposite. They seem to think that the Labour Party at the next election is going to have the reins of Government put into its inexperienced and inexpert fingers. Before they put their feeble hands on the economic levers of power, I think it is due to the electorate of this country that they should tell us exactly what they are going to do. I am pleading that we come back earlier in order to give them the opportunity to do so.

5.33 p.m.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) on what I thought was a most enjoyable and ingenious piece of electioneering. I have no doubt that he will become the campaign manager of the Tory Party.

Mr. G. Brown

Is that a promise?

Mr. Grimond

What I was in doubt about at times was on exactly whose behalf he was electioneering. Sometimes I thought he looked like giving us what would become his election address. There were other times when it seemed to me to be Labour Party propaganda —which rather confirms my view that there is a certain amount of collusion.

After all, there is a Conservative Government, but the hon. Member was ignoring them and putting all these questions up to the Labour Party. This is defeatist, and very rude to the hon. Member's right hon. Friends sitting on the Front Bench. They ought to be able to give us some answers about white men in Southern Rhodesia, about immigration, about taxation, about all these matters which the hon. Member so cogently raised.

I have no doubt that if by any chance he should lose his seat he can look forward to a very profitable career indeed on the halls. I must confess that for my part I greatly enjoyed his speech, but I hope that if he succeeds in convincing the Leader of the House that we ought to come back earlier he will not repeat his speech, which went on for some time, but will come back to listen. I hope that he will not be found only playing poker, if, after all, there is any chance that he or anyone else should convince his right hon. and learned Friend. The Leader of the House looks almost as though he thinks that we should come back earlier, and the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has said that he was much impressed by the hon. Member's speech. If the hon. Member or the right hon. Member succeeds in bringing the House back earlier no doubt some people will come, but quite a lot will stay away.

I agree with the hon. Member that there are many subjects to be discussed and I wonder that he did not add foreign affairs to his long and, indeed, convincing list. I want to say one word about an earlier matter, which was the proposal by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) about a committee of inquiry. I do not want to follow up what he said, though I share many of the views he has put forward about the Suez expedition, but the point I want to make is that I believe the House has to consider—and it may be that some inquiry is the right way for considering it—how the House may become adequately informed. I do not want to discuss this at length this afternoon, but I suggest that this is a serious question particularly for foreign affairs and defence.

Anyone in the House at the time of Suez cannot be altogether proud of the way the House behaved. We felt that we were misinformed. Rightly or wrongly, we felt that we were being misled. I think that if a similar situation should be repeated it is very desirable that we should have some machinery for informing ourselves upon what may be absolutely vital matters of defence and foreign affairs.

It has been candidly admitted by Lord Avon, as I have said earlier, that there were discussions and conversations. I should have thought that by now tempers had sufficiently cooled to enable us to have a little more information now with whom those conversations took place, and what was their result. Some of this will undoubtedly come out, and I think that when it does come out it may be damaging to the House, quite apart from many people in it. I am concerned about this. This House rightly took a very strong line against a right hon. Gentleman who misled it. I am not suggesting that there was anything similar in this case, but we were at that time searching our consciences and concerned about the duty owed to this House by hon. and right hon. Members.

It is an extremely difficult question in my mind how much the Government can tell and when they can tell it, but I think that this is a matter which has got to be examined, and that we should know what these conversations were about. It is most undesirable that the Press of France should be filled from time to time with allegations which are not denied and of which we tend to take no notice. They can have a considerable effect on public opinion throughout the world. I do not believe that it does any good to the House or to the Government.

In addition to other matters of inquiry, I think that there is a genuine and serious matter of inquiry here, and that it is important that the House should be kept informed on foreign affairs and defence, and also that it is time now, many years after the event, that we were told a little more about this very important instance of the Suez expedition.

5.38 p.m.

Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

I was prompted to intervene in the debate by the speech of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and the point he made which has been taken up, wrapped up in a somewhat different covering, by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond).

I do not, frankly, think that it is very difficult to discover what were the motives of the hon. Member for Dudley in arguing that we ought to have some form of inquiry into what might or might not have taken place before the Suez operation before the House can adjourn for the Whitsun Recess. By process of elimination I can straight away, I think, say what his motives were not. Certainly, he was not moved by any desire to improve Anglo-American relations, because the book of Professor Finer, to which he referred, and which has given rise to these hoary old chestnuts, was very critical of the late Mr. John Foster Dulles. Nor was he moved by any desire to improve Anglo-Egyptian relations. I acquit the hon. Gentleman straight away of any desire to improve still further the relations between Egypt and the Soviet Union.

The answer is that the motives of the hon. Member for Dudley and, perhaps in a slightly different way, the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland in raising this subject at all are clear. They think that they can gain a short-term electoral advantage. M. Pineau, one of the principal characters involved—he was the French Foreign Minister at the time—put the matter with great clarity in a statement in the Guardian last Monday. He said: I am particularly annoyed that my name has been used in the United States as well as in Britain, and that information which belongs to objective history has been used for electioneering, purposes.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I do not want to curb the hon. Gentleman. However, first he puts into my mouth the exact opposite of what I said. I repudiated the Finer book. I said that it was worthless. Then the hon. Member is allowed to quote from the book, which is something that Mr. Speaker specifically refused to allow me to do. What sort of game are we playing at?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I did not expect the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) to raise that as a point of order, because, clearly, that is not a point of order. I had been prepared for the hon. Member to complain that the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) was going too far into detail, possibly in conflict with previous Rulings. My answer to that was going to be that to reply to what is said in the debate would be in order. But I hope that we can get back to the question of advancing reasons why the House should not rise tomorrow or, if it does rise tomorrow, why it should come back before 2nd June.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

I was not quoting from the book. I was merely quoting from M. Pineau's comments on the book. I do not see why I should not be entitled to quote M. Pineau's comments on the book since the hon. Member for Dudley was allowed to make his own comments. I do not see anything out of order in it.

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I do not want to cramp the hon. Gentleman's style. He said that he was not quoting from the book, but was quoting M. Pineau's remarks. Mr. Speaker refused to allow me to do that. I cannot help but draw the obvious conclusion.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sure that the House will appreciate the difficulty which arises when one hon. Member says something and then the matter gets carried further. It would be good if the House would come back to the question that we are debating, advancing reasons why we should not stay away until 2nd June.

Sir C. Mott-Radelyffe

I was simply assessing the motives of the hon. Member for Dudley in arguing that we should come back before 2nd June or not adjourn tomorrow until there had been a commission of inquiry set up to go into the allegations made in the book by Professor Finer. I should not think that that was out of order.

Mr. Paget

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. With great respect, and without any criticism of the Chair, because the debate has been difficult to control, I should have thought that quite an astonishing amount that has been out of order has been heard today. However, the one thing which I should have thought was plainly in order upon the issue as to whether there should be an inquiry into the position over Suez was what M. Pineau said, and if the hon. Gentleman is going on to tell us that, I very much hope he will not be prevented. I should have thought that that was the one relevant point.

Mr. Wigg

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have not the slightest objection to the hon. Member saying what M. Pineau said. I have a slight objection to his pointing out the exact opposite of what I said and saying that I supported the Finer book when I repudiated it specifically. My point of order is simple, to draw attention, once again, to the fact that there is one set of rules for one hon. Member and another set for somebody else. You, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have allowed the hon. Member to quote M. Pineau, but I was denied the opportunity of doing the same thing.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well—I have pointed it out before—that if an hon. Member wishes to criticise the Chair it is not orderly to do so during the debate, but that a certain course can be taken and it is possible to put down a Motion.

Sir C. Mott-Radelyffe

I do not know why the hon. Member should get so excited. I was simply saying that among the motives which prompted him to argue against adjourning for the Whit-sun Recess the motive of furthering Anglo-American relations cannot have been included, because the book was critical of Mr. John Foster Dulles. I went on to say, and I repeat, that his real motive was to attempt to get a short-term political electioneering advantage. That is what I said five minutes ago was the motive, and I repeat now that it is so.

My recollection of all the allegations of collusion made at the time—they varied in one form or another from time to time—was that they were all answered by the then Prime Minister in the debates between October and December. I do not think that that has any relevance now, nor do I think that the Labour Party can hope to gain very

much political advantage by digging up these old bones. The attitude of the Labour Party both outside the House and in, and, to a lesser extent, the attitude of the Liberal Party both outside the House and in, during, the Suez operations, when British troops were in action, did not bring them very big political dividends, and certainly did not enhance their reputation in the country.

Therefore, I do not think that they would be well advised to seek any short-term political advantage by trying to resuscitate all these old arguments now. In other words, the hare which they are hunting arising from the book by Professor Finer is not a very profitable one. It is very old stuff, and, frankly, I do not think that it has very much to do with the issue of whether or not we should rise tomorrow for the Whitsun Recess.

5.48 p.m.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

I do not want to say very much about what the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) has said. I wish to address you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on the difficulties of the debate, and I do so with very great respect. It is very difficult when the occupants of the Chair change. We understand that. We do not expect the Deputy-Speaker to be looking over his shoulder and wondering what his predecessor has done. You can take your decision and give your Ruling only in the light of your knowledge. However, we have been led into very great difficulty.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley(Mr. Wigg) attempted to go into matters which were later touched on by the hon. Member for Windsor. If one reads what was said—

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—

Mr. Pannell

I am submitting a point of order. I have only just began. The hon. Member cannot be raising a point of order now.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I called the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) to make his speech. It is now the wish of another hon. Member to raise a point of order. Mr. Lewis.

Mr. K. Lewis

My point of order is that the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) would appear—

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

This is a point of order.

Mr. Lewis

—to be making a speech which appears to be critical of the Chair. I understand from your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that an hon. Member can criticise the Chair in a speech only if a Motion is before the House. There is no Motion before the House and, therefore, I would have thought that the hon. Member was not in order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I did not take the remarks of the hon. Member for Leeds, West as being in any way disorderly in criticism.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order. I only want to find out exactly where it is we are. I understood my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) to say to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that he was on a point of order. If he had been on a point of order, of course it would have been quite wrong to allow another hon. Member to introduce another point of order in the middle of his point of order. You said that you called him not to submit a point of order, but to make a speech. Is it not for him to say whether he rose to make a speech or raise a point of order? Might we not hear from him which it was he intended?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Perhaps the hon. Member for Leeds, West, whom I called to make a speech, will be good enough to tell the House whether, in fact, he rose to make a speech.

Mr. C. Pannell

I was bound to preface it with those remarks, because I wanted to come immediately to the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) and particularly to what he said about my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Again, with great respect, I wanted to ask the House and you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to reflect upon the course of matters this afternoon. I should have thought that it was almost without precedent for an hon. Member to suggest to the House why we should not adjourn because he wanted information from the Opposition. The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted some days. He touched on so many things that it was obvious that he would have used up all the supply days of the Session to deal with them.

As a matter of fact, the hon. Member was on a completely "phoney" premise. A sort of Ministerial responsibility cannot be attributed to the Leader of the Opposition, which is what the hon. Member tried to do. Although the hon. Member was very anxious to protest his honesty, his virtue and his integrity—and there is an old proverb about that—he was less than fair to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. As I understand, the hon. Gentleman met my right hon. Friend's personal private secretary this morning and gave him notice that he intended to raise these matters this afternoon. He was told that my right hon. Friend denied ever saying anything of the kind, at least in one of the quotations, but the hon. Gentleman was invited to see my right hon. Friend.

No hon. Member wants to bandy charges about in public, especially in the House, if he can be convinced that the charges are not well founded. However, the hon. Member for Louth said that he did not want to do it that way and had already acquainted the Press with what he intended to say. From time to time we all serve notice on people that we want to raise a matter, but when those people approach us and say, "No, I did not say that", we are all honourable Members and in such circumstances, in 15 years in the House, I have never proceeded further. If an hon. Member says something, he has a right to be believed, or there is no point in calling him an "honourable" Member. When the hon. Member for Louth speaks about Mr. Khrushchev, I believe him because he says it.

In exactly the same way, the hon. Member cannot expect the Leader of the Opposition to reply to every statement which is put out by any columnist in a most casual way and then go to him in the morning and demand his presence on the Front Bench, especially in view of all the commitments which a Leader of the Opposition has. The hon. Gentleman would not expect it from the Prime Minister or any other Minister. His course was to talk to the Leader of the Opposition, who had invited him to do so because he could prove that the charge was ill-founded, and yet the hon. Gentleman persisted in a course of conduct which at best was disorderly and at worst rather contemptible.

What appeared in the Evening Standard of Monday, 4th May, was a report of a casual conversation without a date. My right hon. Friend denies that he ever said anything of the kind.

Sir C. Osborne

If the right hon. Gentleman has been misquoted in a very serious and responsible newspaper, such as the Evening Standard, which is a responsible newspaper, I am entitled to take it at its face value, and if it is wrong it is for the right hon. Gentleman to come here and say that it was wrong, or to take action against the newspaper which misrepresented him.

Mr. Pannell

The newspaper and the hon. Gentleman cannot know what action my right hon. Friend has taken. My right hon. Friend is responsible for the policy of our party and plenty of that policy can be read in policy statements. There was a smear running through the suggestion that tycoons, responsible people in industry, had invited my right hon. Friend to meet them. Of course they have. We had the same thing with my right hon. Friend's predecessor. Why do they want to meet my right hon. Friend? It is because they know that he is just as much a man of the future as the Prime Minister is a man who has only a past. That is the fact.

If hon. Members ask any of my right hon. or hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench, those who hold any sort of brief at all, a "shadow" Minister, they will find that there is more than a glancing interest in their activities and in how they would react to this, that or the other in the future. Only yesterday the building societies published correspondence with my right hon. Friend for exactly that sort of reason. Of course they are interested.

Sir C. Osborne

If the right hon. Gentleman and members of the "shadow" Cabinet are being attacked by tycoons and businessmen as to how they react and what they intend to do, why do they not tell the House of Commons?

Mr. Pannell

They are not being attacked. They are being courted by all the sycophants in industry who know that, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the election will go a certain way. Hon. Members opposite need not worry about this any more, for the tycoons do not worry about them any more.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is it not just possible that these tycoons attend luncheons with the Leader of the Opposition for precisely the same and perfectly honourable reason that the hon. Baronet the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) attends luncheons with Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow—they are both looking for trade?

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

On a point of order. Hon. Members opposite keep referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) as the "hon. Baronet". In fact he is not, although he should be after today's performance.

Mr. Pannell

I refrain from making an adequate comment on that. I think that the hon. Gentleman does not necessarily want to bequeath the title to his son. It is one of his boasts that he has pulled himself by his own bootstraps and I would hope that he would expect his sons to do the same.

Sir C. Osborne

I will.

Mr. Pannell

We have agreement on one thing.

I think that I have covered most of what I wanted to say. I do not think that any public man, whether on the Opposition or Government benches, should be expected to reply to every innuendo. Any hon. Member who has read this piece knows that it was an innuendo. I think that, on reflection, the hon. Member for Louth will appreciate that he did not take the sort of course which honour would have dictated from him. This sort of thing which goes on throughout the country from time to time is a complete smear. If hon. Members want to know the policy of our party, they can read it in policy documents, and the leader of the party stands on policy documents and does not want to stand on anything else. I hope that we have now had enough of this sort of thing and that we can serve notice on it.

We had better remember that when we impute motives to one another in public life it goes right across parties, because people tend to take a lower view of us on both sides of the House than we may deserve. In that he has not promoted the sort of feeling which I have in mind, the hon. Member for Louth does not have a great deal of reason to be proud of his speech. Never before have I heard the curious principle that the House of Commons should be asked to meet to hear what the next Government will do after the General Election. That is a complete abuse of the processes of the House, and I am against it, whatever the ruling from the Chair.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)

Having listened to the valuable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), I feel that should the Opposition have the courage to take this matter to a Division today, I shall have to go into the Lobby with them. I say that because during the last 12 months many members of the Opposition, both "shadow" Ministers and others, have visited my constituency to make speeches, and have complained bitterly about the time available to them in the House to make statements which they think my constituents, among others, should know about.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been to Hornchurch once, and I think that the Leader of the Opposition has been there twice. Despite the fact that they have been asked to answer a question which is of vital importance to many of my constituents, they have never been forthcoming. The question is whether they would be prepared to nationalise the great Ford motor works. If it is possible to have a debate on that subject to give the Opposition a chance of being forthcoming, I for one would be delighted to attend the House and debate this important matter with them.

6.2 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

For my part, I heartily enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). I always enjoy his speeches. He has a certain intensity of expression, and a certain gleam in his eyes, and one suddently realises that he has spotted the steam coming out of the kettle again. Listening to the hon. Gentleman is one of the great joys of being a Member of the House. On this occasion I thoroughly enjoyed his speech, and I must come to his defence, because he was talking about the only thing that matters. The intentions of the Government do not matter now. The relevant thing is the intention of the Opposition. Everybody is realising that, and they are right to do so. This is a dead Government, which ought to have gone long since.

I wish to put forward two important reasons why we should not adjourn at this time. First, we are conducting warlike operations in Aden, and I feel—and we have cause for this—that there is a pretty profound lack of confidence in the political direction of those operations. We have had the incident, apparently ordered by the Prime Minister, of heavy bombs being dropped on a ridge. This is a political decision of great importance. I believe that I am right in saying that this is the first occasion in our history on which bombs have been used without warning against personnel engaged in tribal warfare. The usual practice in these tribal wars is to give warning of bombing. The people then move out, and some property is destroyed either as a reprisal or as a punishment. Quite suddenly this new policy has been adopted.

The decision having been taken to use bombs, the Prime Minister justifies it on the ground that it is providing air cover for our troops. Whatever else it is, it is not that. Bombing a ridge has nothing remotely to do with air cover, and so, at a time when this House proposes to adjourn, one is left with the anxiety that decisions of high political content are being taken by a man who displays an astonishing ignorance of what his decisions mean.

We have been told today that opinion in Aden with regard to joining the Yemen has altered. I am sure that that is so. I am sure that there is practically no support in Aden for joining the Yemen, because of the conduct of the Egyptians who have dropped bombs, including napalm bombs. This action has outraged tribal opinion, but we have now done the same thing, and we are told that it was done to give cover to our troops.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and learned Member, but I take it that his argument is that because of these things the House should not adjourn tomorrow?

Mr. Paget

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Thank you.

Mr. Paget

My point is that we are engaged in warlike operations guided by a political directorate which has given one cause to doubt its competence and its understanding. The argument for using Shackletons to bomb a ridge in order to provide air cover for ground troops makes one extremely anxious about the competence of those in charge of these operations. That is really all that I have to say about Aden.

The other point which seems to me to be of importance is the one dealt with by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Our political organisation and our political system depend on the trust which can, and must, exist between Parliament and the Government who draw their authority from Parliament. That is why the conduct of the late Secretary of State for War was regarded with the utmost seriousness. Now the question arises whether another Secretary of State, now the Leader of the House, did much the same thing. That is why we want an inquiry into what happened.

It was said at the time of the Suez incident that there had been a meeting between Mr. Ben Gurion, M. Pineau, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman, at which it was disclosed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that arrangements had been made for Israel to invade Egyptian territory.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. Are we not now getting into the subject matter which should be considered if an inquiry is made, rather than the fact whether there should be an inquiry or not?

Mr. Paget

With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, no. I am saying why this inquiry should be made. I am saying that it should be made because of a particular charge which I am describing and which is hanging over the Government. The charge made at the time of Suez was that this meeting had taken place and that the intention to invade Egypt had been disclosed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman some time before the invasion took place. That meeting and disclosure were denied at the time by the Government and, I believe, by the right hon. and learned Gentleman personally. They were certainly denied either by him or by the then Prime Minister beside him.

It has now been said that M. Pineau has told a journalist that that conversation did take place and that that disclosure was made. As the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) pointed out, M. Pineau, when asked about this statement in the book, refused to deny that this conversation and this disclosure had taken place. In those circumstances, we have asked the Government—and at Question Time today we asked the Prime Minister—to repeat the denial that the Prime Minister's predecessor made. The present Prime Minister has refused to repeat that denial. That refusal places the veracity of the right hon. and learned Gentleman directly in issue, and we should not adjourn while a charge of this sort hangs over his head, when neither he nor the Prime Minister is prepared to deny it.

It cannot be said that we are bringing forward new grounds and that we must not disclose this or go into it. One denial has already been made. The sinister thing is the refusal to repeat what has already been said.

6.12 p.m.

Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)

The Motion is that the House should adjourn until Tuesday, 2nd June. The debate was opened by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who made an outstanding speech in which he deployed many arguments against the proposal that we should adjourn for so long. I found myself in agreement with practically everything that he said. He was followed by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in arguing that on the Suez and Aden cases alone the House should not adjourn.

I agree with them. These are vital questions, affecting the honour of the Government and of Great Britain. It lends no credit to Parliament, as an institution, if we go from this House until 2nd June without insisting that the Government should give some frank answers to the pertinent questions that have been raised. I would have thought that the matters raised by my hon. Friends would be sufficient grounds to refuse to agree to the Motion.

We then had a highly entertaining and most amusing speech from the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), who is now probably very frightened about his own coming election.

Sir C. Osborne

I won my seat in 1945 with a majority of 4,500. If the hon. Member would like to put some money down for Louth, I will cover it.

Mr. Paget

What odds are you laying?

Mr. Stonehouse

I will certainly take the hon. Member up on that. Devizes was also won by a Conservative in 1945. There will be some changes in other constituencies which are at present held by Conservatives.

The most interesting point in the hon. Member's speech was the fact that he addressed his questions not to his right hon. and hon. Friends, but to my hon. Friends—because he knows, as everybody in the country knows, that the Labour Party will win the election and will be responsible for the Government of the country from next October onwards. The hon. Member's speech was an outstanding argument for an early General Election rather than for continuing this caretaker Government, who are fumbling and tripping over themselves every day of the week, and hanging on to administration until next October.

One thing that has impressed me about the debate is the fact that practically every speaker has spilled over into arguments justifying the case why the House should not adjourn. Why have they done this? It is because they have few other opportunities in which to deploy their points. That consideration applies not only to my hon. Friends, but to those hon. Members opposite who have participated in the debate.

That is perhaps the strongest argument for returning earlier than 2nd June. If we did that we could debate these matters in a more orderly way than we have been doing today. If we did that we could bring Ministers to the Treasury Bench to answer the various points that have been raised and the points which will be raised if we have an opportunity to raise them.

I oppose the Motion because we have had too few opportunities to discuss foreign affairs. The last full foreign affairs debate, on an ordinary day, took place last July—nearly 12 months ago—although it is true that we had a debate on Friday, 15th November, during the debate on the Address, when overseas affairs in general were discussed. I want to quote what the Foreign Secretary said on that occasion. He referred to the speech of the Prime Minister at the Guildhall, and went on: I know that I shall greatly profit by the Prime Minister's own experience and great skill as Foreign Secretary in conducting my own duties as Foreign Secretary in succession to him. I think the fact that our pint wisdom is available to the House of Commons is probably unique in the history of the conduct of foreign affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 502.] I do not want to come into conflict with that expression of opinion, but it is not unique that we have a Prime Minister and a Foreign Secretary as Members of the House of Commons, both with experience of foreign affairs. What is unique is that the experience and wisdom of the Foreign Secretary has not been available to the House in debate since last November. Six months have passed since we had a foreign affairs debate. This is a shocking commentary on the capacity of Parliament to make the Executive accountable for what they are doing in this most important field. We are spending £2,000 million a year on our defence forces to bolster up a foreign policy that we have not discussed for over six months.

There are many pertinent questions that I would like to put to the Foreign Secretary if we could come back before 2nd June and have a full day, or even two days, to discuss foreign affairs. In his speech on 15th November the right hon. Gentleman referred to the discussions he had had, within the Western European Union, with the Foreign Ministers of the countries of the Six. We have not had the opportunity of questioning the Foreign Secretary in debate as to his further commitment of this country in negotations for Britain's entry into the Common Market, in the unlikely event of the Conservative Party's winning the next election.

The very pointed questions that my right hon. Friend has put to the Prime Minister on this subject have not been answered. Though the Prime Minister boasts of being a straight talker, on this issue we have had no straight talk at all. We can only assume that, were the Conservative Party to win the next election, it would resume negotiations for Britain to join the Common Market on the original terms which were being discussed, and which, as everyone knows, were completely undermining this country's relations with the Commonwealth and the position of our farmers, and destroying our sovereignty and our capacity to plan our own economy.

Before hon. Members criticise, and follow the hon. Member for Louth in saying that we on this side of the House have not made our position clear on this question, they should remember that the attitude of the Labour Party has been completely clear. The position of the Government is very murky. If the House reassembles before 2nd June, I hope that we may have an opportunity to discuss this subject, which is most important for the future of Britain. It is one for which the Conservative Party should be accountable to the electorate if it intends to resume those negotiations.

The hon. Member for Louth deployed one argument with which I entirely agree. He said that the House should reassemble before 2nd June so that we could discuss the position of Southern Rhodesia. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was wound up at the end of last December, over five months ago. During that period there has been a lot of controversy, in Rhodesia, in this country and at the United Nations, about the position of Southern Rhodesia. Petitions have been sent to this country and there have been demands that independence should be allowed to the Government of Southern Rhodesia, although that Administration represents only a tiny fraction of the population.

The significant thing is that during the last few months the House of Commons —the very assembly which should have been discussing it—has ignored this question. We have not had an opportunity to discuss the issue of Southern Rhodesia in this House, although it has been discussed in other assemblies. We should discuss it here.

When the Foreign Secretary spoke on 15th November, he said: I should like also to stress our loyal sup, port of the United Nations. We want to see this organisation growing in strength and in influence…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November. 1963; Vol. 684, c. 513.] If there is an opportunity for a foreign affairs debate, I should like to hear the Foreign Secretary justify the action of the United Kingdom representative on the United Nations Committee on Colonialism, who walked out of the Committee when it was being addressed by Mr. George Nyandoro, one of the Southern Rhodesia spokesmen. Why did our representative do that? Why has not Her Majesty's Government responded to the pleas made to them to make their position on Southern Rhodesia crystal clear?

Another question to which I should like a reply is: what answer have we given to the demands from the Governments of Ghana and India on the question of the incarceration of Mr. Joshua Nkomo in prison in Southern Rhodesia—because he is demanding democratic rights for his own folk—that we should intervene? These are all very important questions and the element of responsibility for Southern Rhodesia is in this House of Commons. It is a shocking commentary on our Parliamentary system that we should have gone all these months without having a debate on these subjects.

Many other questions have been raised for which there has been insufficient time for debate. There have, for example, been occasions when the proceedings on Fridays have been marred by hon. Members who have cried "Object" to Private Members' Bills which we have wanted to get on to the Statute Book, but which we have been denied an opportunity to debate. This has happened either because the hon. Member introducing them has not been sufficiently fortunate to win a high place in the Ballot, or the Government are not prepared to give time for the Bill to be discussed.

I suggest that Parliament should return before 2nd June to give an opportunity for the adequate ventilation of some of these Private Members' Bills. I do not advocate that we should return on the day suggested by the hon. Member for Louth, but on 26th May. This would give us five extra days for debate, one of which would be a Friday, when perhaps it would be possible to provide time to debate the Bill dealing with racial discrimination, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). We on this side of the House intend to pass that Bill into law after the General Election. If the Government had the courage they would allow the Bill to be debated now and become law within the next few weeks.

Another Bill which merits consideration is that of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) relating to severance pay. There was a short debate on the Bill. But we should have another opportunity to discuss it, as the subject is of vital importance to hundreds of thousands of workers who face the prospect of being thrown out of work because of the introduction of new techniques into the factories where they are employed.

The hon. Member for Louth—he has left the Chamber—referred to the problem of automation, but I do not remember his being here when my hon. Friend's Bill was discussed and we were attempting to obtain some practical assistance for workers who will be thrown on to the scrap heap as a result of the introduction of these new techniques.

I have a direct interest in this subject, because a large works in my constituency, where 600 men are employed, is to close at the end of this year. There is plenty of employment in the West Midlands and many of these men will be able to and jobs elsewhere, but I am concerned—as are many other hon. Members who face similar situations in their own constituencies—about the older men, men between 55 and 60, and who probably will not be able to get another job. They are being offered derisory compensation terms for the loss of their jobs. It is suggested that they should receive £1 for every year they have served the firm. What a fatuous suggestion to make to a man who may have worked for 40 years for a particular firm. The minimum amount which should be offered to him is one week's pay for every year for which he has worked.

I hope that Parliament will reassemble before 2nd June so that these questions may be discussed, because they are of vital importance to our constituents. I do not think that our constituents will expect us to take so many days off from our parliamentary duties while these questions are left undiscussed.

Another point which is of considerable interest to most hon. Members—particularly those who represent rural constituents—is that of rail closures. We have not had enough time to debate this very important question. Yesterday, I put down two Questions to the Minister of Transport for oral answer. Questions addressed to the Minister of Transport were at the top of the list, but my Questions were not reached, so I had to be content with Written Answers, which were quite unsatisfactory.

Questions to the Minister of Transport will be at the top of the list on only one more occasion between now and the General Election. There is no guarantee that if I put down another two Questions they will be reached even then. It is very important that we should have enough time to discuss railway closures and the effect that they will have, not only on the convenience of constituents but also on the economy of our constituencies and the resulting effects of overcrowding on the roads and so on. These are all vital questions.

Then there are all the early-day Motions on the Order Paper. It will not have escaped the notice of the Leader of the House that today, when he announced the business for the week after we return, only one hon. Member rose to ask a question. Hon. Members have got "fed up" with the usual reply of the Leader of the House, "Not next week". He is always saying that. Why should we not return five days earlier and devote some time to debate the Motions which appear on the Order Paper?

There is Motion No. 98, in the name of the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), on the Wolfenden Committee's Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. That Motion has the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House and should be debated. There is the Motion of the hon. Lady the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell), another Conservative Member, on intensive factory farming. Many people are very much concerned about that subject and want it to be raised in the House.

There is the question of the addition to the House of Commons and the Report of the Select Committee on Accommodation. There are the proposals on that by my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) and several other hon. Members. These should be discussed.

There are on the Order Paper 105 early-day Motions, many of which are now worthy of close examination and debate by the House. These are reasons why we should not adjourn until 2nd June, but come back a few days earlier to do what our constituents have sent us here to do—discuss issues which affect them and which are all-important to our country.

6.33 p.m.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

We have come to the end of a debate which I think for a very long time will interest students of how this kind of Motion should be debated. Many things which I have understood are not part of the routine in discussing a Motion of this kind have been established in the debate as permissible to discuss and seemed to appeal to the occupant of the Chair. We have had a constructive and wide-ranging debate.

I shall not go over all the same ground but I shall try to define the subjects of the debate into two main streams. There have been those who take the view that we should not adjourn tomorrow. Generally, they say that we should not adjourn then because there are some outstanding issues affecting our conduct of foreign affairs and defence either now or in the period four years ago which ought to be explained because of their seriousness. It has been impossible to listen to their arguments without realising that there is a great deal in them.

In the issues of some years ago in which the right hon. and learned Gentle- man who is about to address the House was personally very much concerned, the question is whether certain meetings took place between him and statesmen of other countries, meetings which I understand in the past he has denied took place but which at any rate one of the statesmen of other countries concerned seems to imply by his letter did take place. This issue is a very serious reflection and one which ought to be settled.

If it were true that M. Christan Pineau's letter about Mr. Finer's book carries the implication that he is not prepared to say so but that, in fact, the meeting took place, that inescapably means that this House was grossly misled by the Foreign Secretary of the time, a time of great danger to our country. It would bring into question the Minister's personal credit. That goes without saying, but the whole credit of the Government, which still contains some of the same people concerned, is also called into question.

This is at a moment when we are again involved in difficulties in the Middle East, difficulties which the Prime Minister told us this afternoon were at least potentially as inflammable now as they were then. Obviously, to have that reflection cast upon the same Ministers handling our affairs would be a dangerous thing for our soldiers and for the whole nation. It has been impossible to listen to that discussion without realising that this is a very serious matter.

The other matter concerning the defence argument is the need to disentangle the obviously conflicting views of the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about the urgency of political arrangements being made about Aden even while military operations go on. This obviously is tremendously urgent and is directly addressed to the Motion whether we should rise tomorrow. Those military operations are going on at this moment and one senior Minister intimately concerned, the Secretary of State for Defence, takes the view—he clearly did the other day in this House—that we cannot talk about political solutions until the military operations are finally brought to a successful conclusion.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations is busily trying to arrange the politics in the middle of the military operations. We are likely to have over the next days and weeks, to put it mildly, a very troubled and disrupted situation. It is difficult for us to have much confidence in the Secretary of State for Defence in his conduct of responsibility when we know that his fellow Minister has been out there putting the exactly opposite point of view to the Southern Arabian statesmen.

I found it extremely impressive that unless that can be cleared up this afternoon it is a powerful argument for us not to rise tomorrow. I have no doubt that the Leader of the House will have something to say to us on the first issue, in which his own reputation as well as that of his colleagues is so heavily involved, and I hope he will also have something to say on the second issue. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations this afternoon said, in the presence of the Secretary of State for Defence, that the view, it was thought, that the Secretary of State for Defence was taking was not the view that he took. Last week the Secretary of State for Defence described that view as "waffle". We understood from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that his view prevailed. The Leader of the House has to say something about that this afternoon.

There are powerful reasons on both scores for cur not rising tomorrow. It is known that quite early after we come back from the Recess we shall be having a foreign affairs debate which certainly will range wide enough to cover both these issues. We on these benches feel that both these issues will have to be raised. If they are not cleared up this afternoon and the Government intend to postpone their discussion, I give notice that they will form part of the wide-ranging debate that we shall seek to stage on the occasion of the foreign affairs debate. We shall have to refer to these matters from time to time outside the House in the meantime if the Government send us away, but when we come back I shall be willing for that course to be taken, having served notice on the Government.

That was the first side of it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that we should not rise for these outstanding reasons. I have given my reasons why, even if the Leader of the House did not answer this afternoon, I would not hold the House back. There are many other opportunities for us to ensure that the people know about these issues, and we can take them up by means of a foreign affairs debate as soon as we return.

We listened to the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) in a very brief speech, and to the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) in a speech which could hardly be described in the same terms. Their point of view, which was equally interesting to me, as I intimated in an intervention, was that we should go tomorrow but come back as soon as we can because for a very long time a host of important issues has been neglected by the Government, the Leader of the House has failed in his duty by not bringing forward a whole list of very important matters, and that in any case, if I may complete the indictment which the two hon. Gentlemen made clearly and firmly, even if the Government had brought those matters forward for debate, no one was interested in their answers; it was the answers of the Opposition that they wanted. They argued that we should come back so that I and my right hon. Friend could put before the country views which seem relevant to this issue.

Mr. Lagden

That is entirely wrong. I did not convey that to the House, even if I conveyed it to the right hon. Gentleman. I said that I and my constituents were anxious to know the answer to a very straightforward and simple question: if returned to power, would the Labour Party nationalise the Ford motor works?

Mr. Brown

Even though we have had new Rulings from the Chair, that would hardly have been held relevant to the question of the Adjournment of the House for Whitsun. It was because the hon. Gentleman did not put it that way that he got away with it in the first place. I am dealing with the way he put it in the first place and not the second.

Sir D. Glover rose—

Mr. Brown

I cannot give way. I listened to 58 minutes of the hon. Mem- ber for Louth, who subsequently interrupted every other speaker at least twice. I have been speaking for only a few minutes. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must be a little understanding before starting the interrupting game.

I shall come back to the issues which the two hon. Gentlemen thought should be debated and on which the views of the Labour Party rather than those of the Government were, in their view, of crucial importance. But before I do that I should like to say one or two other things to the hon. Member for Louth about his speech. I found it entertaining. As I indicated at the end, I have some doubts whether using our time in this manner persuades those who hear us in the public galleries or those who read us in the newspapers that we are doing the job which they sent us here to do. However, as a performance, I found it entertaining. I agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. J. Grimond); it certainly qualified the hon. Gentleman to go on the halls if at any time he should decide that there was no future here for him, or his constituents decided that.

Sir C. Osborne

We will go together.

Mr. Brown

If we do that, it will ensure the hon. Gentleman full houses. I observe a certain amount of native caution in the hon. Gentleman in trying to make that provision.

However entertaining we may have found it, one or two serious matters arose. The hon. Gentleman was very free in telling us what he resented. I should like to make it clear, since I could not persuade any other steps to be taken about it, that I deeply resented my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) being called a white-livered man, and being allowed to be called a white-livered man. I gather, since nothing happened, that that must be technically in order. I deeply resented it not only on behalf of my hon. Friend personally, because he is a very fine man, but also because I do not think it is the sort of thing we ought to do in this House and not withdraw it when we have done it.

I was sorry to hear the hon. Gentleman call my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) a damned fool. When I heard my hon. and learned Friend answering him back, I felt sure that he would preface his remarks by saying "As one damned fool to another". If he had, at least the second part of the statement would have been right. However entertaining it might have been described in parts, and whatever is said about it tomorrow, I repeat that that sort of thing ought not to become common practice even in the name of good humour and entertainment, because it does not have that ring outside.

There is another and perhaps more serious point. The hon. Gentleman went on to regale us by reading from newspapers passages for which he took no personal responsibility—nor could he—about what was supposed to have happened at lunches that one or other of us on these benches were supposed to have attended with named or unnamed—as the hon. Member termed them—tycoons. We listened to long passages—in a debate which it used to be ruled should not be in detail—about the nature of the brandy or the name of the cigars—all hearsay, all gossip, all details for which the hon. Member could not personally take responsibility.

I was not clear whether the argument was that we on these benches should not meet businessmen, whether it was that every time we met we must seek authority to meet, or whether it was that every time we met we should disclose to the House of Commons what was said.

Sir C. Osbornerose—

Mr. Brown

I am explaining what I am not clear about. We listened to 58 minutes from the hon. Gentleman. All I can do is to take what was not clear at the time. What was said imported all the things that I have mentioned.

It may well be that in the present situation we are the only people which the business world wants to see. It may well be that the business world never speaks to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House privately. It may well be, therefore, that there is nothing to ask them about. However, it appears to be put forward as a serious argument that we should return earlier so that my right hon. Friend can explain whether it is gossip in the newspapers or true. This was seriously demanded. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman went so far as to say that it was my right hon. Friend's duty to deny any gossip that appears in the newspapers. This argument occupied a large part of his 58 minutes.

It is not long ago since Sir Hugh Fraser threw a very large lunch in Glasgow for a number of businessmen to meet the Prime Minister in order to raise a lot of money. On the same basis, if the hon. Gentleman has his way, can we, on the day that we come back earlier, have a disclosure by the Prime Minister, who was at that lunch, of what pledges he gave those present and how much money they subscribed to Conservative Party funds? If the hon. Member for Louth nods in agreement, I shall be extremely surprised.

As a matter of fact, I would be quite prepared to come back a day earlier and use my influence with my right hon. Friend to be, as forthcoming as the hon. Gentleman likes if we really could have a list of all the meetings that Ministers are currently having with businessmen, the sums of money that are being obtained from the businessmen and the pledges which are being given to the businessmen in return for the sums of money as a fair bargain.

Although it took up a good deal of time, I do not believe that it was as serious an argument as all that. But perhaps the Leader of the House would tell us how far he is prepared to espouse the cause taken up by his hon. Friend in a speech which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave every sign of enjoying. I should be prepared to talk to him elsewhere afterwards about how far we can co-operate and give the particulars which his hon. Friend wanted.

I come to the issues which the hon. Gentleman advanced as reasons why we should come, back early. I have been considering what to advise others to do, and what to do myself, in view of the hon. Gentleman's statement that he was prepared to go into the Lobby. It is a little difficult to see how he is to do that, because he remembered to make a speech but forgot to table the Amendment. However, I have no doubt that there is some way in which that can be put right. We have to consider what we should do when he and the hon. Member for Hornchurch invite us into the Lobby to vote against the Motion.

The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted to come back eight working days earlier. I should point out to the House that I gave up listing the issues when he reached 13, because if each issue was to have a day devoted to it the hon. Gentleman was getting himself into a hopeless tangle. The issues were these—automation, and industrial relations, immigration, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Cyprus, taxation and incomes policy, the relationship of public ownership to private enterprise, and Army recruitment. Those were the ones I got. There were others. I repeat that, since the hon. Gentleman was asking for only eight days but was suggesting 13 days' work, I gave up writing them down.

The hon. Gentleman's case for this was, first, that these issues are not being adequately and properly discussed in the House at the moment. That is patently clear. The responsibility for that is that of the Government. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's case was that the country is interested in what we have to say about it rather than what the Government have to say about it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is also patently clear. Anybody who has been round the country recently, who has been to by-elections and public meetings, knows clearly that this is the case. The people demonstrate it by the meetings they attend and by the attention they give us as compared with the attention they give to the other side.

Mr. Lagden rose—

Mr. Brown

No. Our position on this is clear. We are putting our case to the country at all kinds of meetings in all the by-elections that we manage to force the Government unwillingly into. Tonight we shall hear the verdict of a substantial part of the country. It will be very interesting for hon. Members opposite when the verdict is declared.

My own view is that the case the hon. Gentleman made was not a case for coming back a week early. This is why I shall in the end advise my hon. Friends not to support his plea to come back earlier. The case he made out was a case for dissolution. He proved up to the hilt, by what he said and by the performance itself, that this Parliament is dead, that this Government are in- competent, that they pick the wrong issues, that they are no longer really a source of interest to the country outside, let alone inspiration, and that it is what we are proposing to do that the people are interested in.

If that is true—that is the case the hon. Gentleman made—the place to deal with that is at the hustings. Let us go to the people. Let us put the case before them and use the hon. Gentleman's speech, as we clearly shall, as one of the arguments supporting our case. Let us put the case to the people, and let them judge. Let them vote. The voters in the four by-elections which are being held today should not be the only ones to have this privilege. The entire nation should now be asked to pass judgment on a Parliament so dead that it spent this afternoon on what was thought to be entertainment of the halls kind instead of debating one of the important issues which the hon. Gentleman said should be debated.

This is a dead Parliament. The hon. hon. Gentleman's condemnation of his own Government was that they are impotent and no longer interesting. He further said that we are clearly the people from whom the country wants to hear. I advise my hon. Friends not to support the hon. Gentleman, but we call upon the Government to advise Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament immediately.

6.54 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

I think that I can reply very briefly to the debate. I agree with the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) that it has been a wide-ranging debate, and I think that it has, on the whole, certainly in parts, been an entertaining one.

What the right hon. Gentleman said was quite inconsistent with what his hon. Friends said beforehand. The argument which was being advanced by them all the time, particularly by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse), was that there were all sorts of topics which we ought to be discussing, that there was a lot of useful work for the House to do, and that, therefore, we should not have such a long Adjournment.

Mr. Stonehouse

The Leader of the House will at least acknowledge that we all agree that the dissolution should come and that we should have a General Election.

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly agree that after the Dissolution there will be a General Election. The hon. Gentleman has me with him on that point completely.

Having said, as hon. Members opposite did last time we debated a similar Motion, and as the right hon. Gentleman did today, that it is no good the House returning at all, on the whole the tenor of the debate has been that there are a very great many important topics for us to discuss.

Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is not here. He has explained to me why he cannot be here. However, I must say this about his speech, even in his absence. It would be difficult to imagine a speech more likely to add to instability in the Middle East. He talked about an inquiry on Suez, as did other hon. Members. I have no intention of adding to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about that today, for the reasons stated by him.

The hon. Member for Dudley then talked about Aden. We have heard today that a conference is to take place next month to deal with constitutional matters. I think that that was generally welcomed by the House and that it is wise to await its results and then have a debate. The hon. Gentleman can raise his point in that debate, if he thinks that any useful purpose would be served.

I have some sympathy with what the the hon. Member for Wednesbury said about a debate on foreign affairs. I intend to arrange for a two-day debate as soon as I can after we return, having regard to the business of the House.

I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) made a very entertaining speech. I liked his list of topics for discussion. I hope that we shall succeed in debating them all, in one way or another, in June and July. I think that my hon. Friend will come back refreshed and reinvigorated after a fortnight's holiday and be all the better able to deal with those matters then.

I have to consider the general interests of the House as a whole, the health and the convenience of hon. Members. There are some who really need a holiday and a little rest. I do not say that they actually need medical attention, but they would be all the better for a rest. There is one hon. Gentleman, not on this side of the House, whom we think of particularly in that connection.

Then I have to think of the convenience of hon. Members and the other tasks they have to perform, and the work that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will have to be doing in their constituencies if they are to hold them at the next General Election. I therefore ask the House, in accordance with the precedents—seven out of the last eight times—to agree that the House should be adjourned for the time that I have suggested.

Mr. Paget

In view of the charges brought against the right hon. and learned Gentleman's integrity by right hon. and hon. Members, does he really intend to sit down without dealing with them?

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, at its rising tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd June.