I beg to move,
That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
Their Lordships by this and subsequent Amendments struck out one of the Parliamentary Secretaries to the Ministry of Health. I am well aware this is not a popular cause to defend, but I would ask the House to remember that in Committee and Report, and Third Beading, the proposal of the Bill in respect of this matter went through without a word of objection, and, therefore, I think I am entitled to say that we unanimously approved of it, and at all events there was no word to the contrary. The facts are that under the great amalgamation which takes place under this Bill there is absorbed the whole of the National Health Insurance work, as to which there was previously a representative who answered solely for the National Insurance work, which will now be under "the Ministry of Health. There was also previously one Under-Secretary of the Local Government Board who is brought in under the Ministry of Health. In addition to that, we have to undertake a gigantic task in connection with housing of which we have had some experience today. The object of the Bill before the House is to enable us to formulate and submit to the House, and subsequently secure the carrying out of effective measures for dealing with the health of the people in a more comprehensive way than we have done hitherto. I may say it is only too true that in connection with some of our affairs, such as tuberculosis and venereal diseases, our demands hitherto have been utterly inadequate, and in many respects we have not begun to make provision for a good many things which are all required. The burdens which would be cast on the Ministry in connection with demobilisation and the absorption of work now under the Board of Education, and Pensions, apart from matters which will arise in connection with the Poor Law and other matters of importance, is so great that we certainly ought not to be deprived of the Parliamentary assistance which we had before when there was a spokesman for National Insurance, and we ought not to be placed in a worse position than previously. In
my opinion it is quite impossible for the Minister to do this work full justice unless he can have adequate assistance in the way of at least two good men to whom he can delegate a great amount of his political and Parliamentary work. It would have been open to us to keep insurance separate, but now it has been amalgamated. I know that their Lordships have the desire to promote economy and to avoid the multiplication of officers, but I am sure it is not the promotion of economy to ask the Minister to press forward the great undertakings with which he is now being charged without adequate assistance. Therefore, I think that justifies us in proceeding with the proposal.
This is the first time since this House met that I have supported any increase in expenditure, but on this occasion I think my right hon. Friend is right, and that the additional Under-Secretary, although it is not really an additional Under-Secretary, is a just and a proper appointment. I would only ask him this question. At no distant date, I hope, the Poor Law will be brought within the scheme of the Bill which is now before the House, and I would suggest to him that he might give us an undertaking that when that is brought in he will not come to us to ask for an additional Under-Secretary, because I think that, great as that work must be and to some extent onerous as must be the conditions which will come within the ambit of the Ministry of Health Act, as it then will be, I certainly think that with one Minister in charge of two Under-Secretaries they ought to be able to cope with the duties as far as the Parliamentary work and the administrative work in Whitehall are concerned.
I am sorry my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not in his place, for we see the truth of what he said the other day on the Budget, that when any effort is made towards economy the House of Commons is the last place in which economy is supported. We have a representative of the Government and the Leader of what Opposition there is in this House—[An HON. MEMBER: "Do not be too funny!"]—combining together to recommend the expenditure of an additional £l,500 a year in order that there may be for this Department two Under-Secretaries to assist the Minister of Health. My right hon. Friend, defending this course, relying, I cannot help thinking, on the inexperience of a good many Members of this House, tries to represent that the Parliamentary Secretaries are of very great importance in carrying out the departmental work, but, as a matter of fact, the position of Parliamentary Undersecretary in the main is in Parliament.
Then he uses them improperly and had better give up the practice. If he asked for an additional permanent secretary that might or might not be a reasonable demand, but Parliamentary Under-Secretaries are necessary for the purposes of answering questions and of defending policies before Parliament. No doubt in this case there will be a good many questions, and I think either the Minister of Health or one Undersecretary can easily cope with the work. It means only attending for three-quarters of an hour at the beginning of the Parliamentary sitting. The Health Department is not likely to be a very controversial Department like the Army or Navy. There is not likely to be a great dispute over health policy every year, and a great deal of the Parliamentary business arising in consequence of that legislation will probably be of a non-controversial type. I am quite confident that the Minister and one Under-Secretary could easily cope with the Parliamentary work of the Department. In truth and in fact, my right hon. Friend wants to appoint two Undersecretaries, probably promising supporters of the Government. He does not wish to have this valuable piece of patronage taken away from him. There can be no other reason. I have been in the House a good many years—longer than my right hon. Friend—and I say it is perfectly absurd to tell the House of Commons that one Under-Secretary could not perfectly well suffice. It is merely another instance of official extravagance—the desire to spend public money and to make it a little easier or more convenient in one respect or another, with a total indifference to national economy. My right hon. Friend does not care two straws whether he spends £1,500 of Parliamentary money. Look at the Labour party, who come to the House and tell us of extravagance and the necessity of reducing taxation! But when it comes to a point of spending public money, who is so anxious to waste it on any Under-Secretary, knowing nothing whatever about public exigencies or what official support is necessary to carry on public business?
But I have known a great many who have had experience, and have a great deal of knowledge of the matter I am discussing. Observe the enthusiasm for public extravagance! Observe the indignation of the Government the moment a demand is made to save public money! How can you get anyone to believe in your public economy? All the world will see that, where it is a case of appointing a Member of the House of Commons at £1,500 a year, the House of Commons' desire for economy disappears. Do you not see that you discredit the House of Commons and the whole cry for economy? You lower the whole level of the effort you are professing to make to reduce expenditure, if you do a perfectly gratuitous piece of extravagance, merely to give another post to a supporter in the House of Commons. I protest, although I shall probably be alone, for I know national economy is a matter of lip-service, and no one is prepared to carry it out.
The Noble Lord has been talking about economy. I do not know whether he has realised that this Bill is for the preservation of the health of the people of this country. He has been complaining that this £l,500 is to be spent on an Under-Secretary, and yet he went into the Lobby the other day to vote £650,000,000 for an Army to bring about the destruction of life.
This Bill has been discussed in Committee and on Report in this House, and not a word from any Member did I hear protesting against the appointment of this Under-Secretary. I may perhaps point out to the Noble Lord that the Welsh Parliamentary party, with the assistance of the Labour party, has forced this as much as anybody. There is a Secretary for Ireland and a Secretary for Scotland, but the Insurance Commissioners are now to be embodied in this Ministry of Health Bill, and we have no one from Wales representing us in this House at all. Therefore, we are going to see to it that Wales has better treatment in the future in this House than she has had in the past. I hope that the House will reject the Amendment put forward by the House of Lords, because it is not only in economy that we believe, but in efficiency as well, and this Bill cannot be administered efficiently unless we get these two Parliamentary Secretaries.
I think that my hon. Friend who has just addressed the House is a little modest in disclaiming that Wales has no one to represent her in the affairs of this country. The Prime Minister, as the head and centre of the Government, probably would not advance that plea. This Debate is really remarkable. Those of us who have had some experience of this House always look on with the utmost suspicion when Members on both Front Benches agree in proposing to spend money in making appointments. The Noble Lord opposite (Lord Hugh Cecil) based his argument chiefly on the ground of public economy. That certainly should not be left out of the case. But the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill has not made out his argument in such a way as to convince anyone who really knows the working of departmental government in relation to Parliament that two Undersecretaries are necessary to carry on the Parliamentary business of this new Department. If his argument is good, then he practically stated to the House of Commons that the new Department which he is setting up is more than any one man can manage. His Department itself is overwhelmed, top-heavy at the very start. I cannot think that this is the argument which he wishes to advance. In that case we are reduced to the argument that for certain reasons, because there have been two Parliamentary Secretaries in certain directions, the Minister in charge of the Bill desires that those two Parliamentary Secretaries shall be maintained, although this new Ministry is being set up. I think that the House of Commons ought to be extremely jealous of in any way extending, or even maintaining, patronage of the Government among Members of this House. Already, in the Division Lobby, the Government is able to produce upwards of 100 Members who are members of the Ministry—Under-Secretaries, Parliamentary Secretaries, and various others. The House of Commons ought to restrain this, and to maintain its freedom, and not to extend the patronage of the Government except under the strongest compulsion and on the most urgent grounds of public policy for the benefit of the State. For these reasons I should be glad to go into the Division Lobby and vote against this proposed expenditure of public money, for which no sufficient case has been made out, and which will undoubtedly maintain and extend the influence of the Government in the House of Commons in the direction of appointing members and paying them salaries in connection with the Government. It ought to be resisted. I do not wish to oppose the Government on any occasion on which I am not absolutely obliged to, but this is one of those occasions on which I feel bound to rise and enter a protest.
In view of the attitude which I adopted when a Bill relating to the re-election of Ministers was before the House, I am sure I shall not be accused of making it unduly easy for the Government to appoint new Ministers. But I do protest absolutely against the point of view which has been advanced by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). His speech was a very plausible one, and very witty, as his speeches always are. But, although I do not know what has been in the past the function of a Parliamentary Secretary, he certainly completely misrepresented what ought to be that function in the future, if this House is to keep an effective control over administration in Government departments. I have no experience of being a Parliamentary Secretary, but I have had experience of being a joint permanent secretary of a Ministry, and that from experience I can say that that function of the Parliamentary Secretary is absolutely essential, if this House is to keep control over administration. The Noble Lord wants economy in the administration of every public office.
It is not £1,500 a year that will introduce economy in any Ministry, but having sufficient control by the Minister and his deputies, and having sufficient power to see economy enforced in the administration which they control. It is for that reason that I shall support the proposal to have a second Parliamentary Secretary. The Noble Lord suggests that the function of a Parliamentary Secretary is to answer questions, but that has been far too long his function. The officials of the Department settle the answers, and possibly they are not satisfactory, and they are brought to the notice of the busy chief perhaps an hour before the House meets. He runs through them quickly, and often unsatisfactory answers are given. That is an unsatisfactory start to give to a new Minister of Health, whereas with his two Parliamentary Secretaries he can organise things in such a way that when his deputies answer questions they will not give answers simply prepared by the officials of the Department, because they will know what they are responsible for. I think it is simply camouflage to say that this is an unnecessary expenditure. If you give what is now asked for, you will have a right to go to the Minister and say that you have two Parliamentary Secretaries and you must see that your Department is economically administered. If you do not do this, he will be able to say, "I asked for two Secretaries and you refused to allow them."
It is quite a new thing to me to hear that the Parliamentary Secretary can control the expenditure of this Department, for I cannot conceive any case in which he would. Any question raising a matter of importance would probably not only come before the Secretary of State himself, but would also go before the Cabinet, and, therefore, I can conceive no useful purpose that can be served with a second Parliamentary Secretary. It has been pointed out that this is a new Ministry, but up to the present we have had no experience of what work will be involved. I am not satisfied that there will be anything of a controversial nature in regard to the work of this new Ministry. I doubt whether there will be any such questions arise.
I do not think there will be the least difficulty, and I protest, until we have had some experience of what these new duties will involve, against incurring this additional expenditure. As a rule Parliamentary Secretaries are very short-lived, because they are often quickly transferred to other Departments, and it is not long before they are sent somewhere else. Answers to questions are not settled by the Under-Secretaries at all, but by the ordinary Civil servants who provide the answers, and they have to carefully consider the answers which they give. If it happens to be a question of expenditure they will not go to the Under-Secretary, but to the chief of the Department. Supposing an Under-Secretary says he will not incur this expense, and they cannot agree, is he going to resign?
I protest absolutely against this second appointment. This immense Government control is a great danger. We had it in the late War. With from eighty to one hundred Members of the House in the Government they can keep themselves in office. Let us see if we are justified in doing it before we incur this expenditure. Let the Minister come down and say that he is overloaded with business, and that he really requires a second Parliamentary Secretary to assist him, and the House may be trusted in reason to do that which is right. Apparently, my right hon. Friend who leads the Liberal Opposition is not quite happy about it, because he asks for an undertaking in regard to some other Ministry. Let us divide and take a strong line, and let us strike for economy. Everybody wants to patronise somebody else. It is the same in the country, and it is a great cause of unsettlement. How can we say that these demands are unreasonable and unjust when the Government are the first offenders. If the Noble Lord goes to a Division I shall have the greatest possible pleasure in supporting him.
The House must be tremendously impressed not only with the character of the speeches which have been delivered, but with the source from which they have come. I am surprised that an old and seasoned Member of this House like the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Hohler) should have allowed this Bill to pass through its various stages before he recognises the malevolence of the transaction.
I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that I am a Member of a Committee upstairs, and that I get every chance. I am comparatively a young Member compared with the hon. Gentleman, but I would advise him not to go on a Committee unless he takes advantage of his opportunities. This Bill has been discussed in this House on First Heading, on Second Reading, and on Report stage, and we have not had a single protest made against the proposal until the House of Lords, the great symposium of sound economists, comes along and recognises that the Empire is stricken to its foundations because there is to be an additional Under-Secretary appointed for the administration of a great measure of this character. This question of public health is a very vital matter. These Bills have been introduced into this House so that when they operate this may be a land fit for heroes to live in, but, because in pursuance of the policy of creating a paradise for potential heroes there is to be an additional official appointed, up rises all the economists. I used to think that they were all reactionaries; now we are told that they are the sound vocal economists of this House, and that they are all up in arms against it. In the first place, I think the proposal should be rejected because it comes from the House of Lords. No good comes from that quarter. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil), during all the varied discus-sins upon this most profound and vital matter of public interest, has never once offered the slightest contribution to the common reservoir of wisdom that has actuated this assembly in this great and important question. But the Noble Lord would have far more attention paid to his always brilliant speeches in this House when he poses as an advocate of economy if he were consistent in this matter. Does he think it makes for financial stability or sound economy to preserve an Army of Occupation of 40,000 soldiers in Ireland for the suppression of their will? If he is in a genuinely saving mood, if he wants to save public funds for other matters of great national importance, let him rise up here with his accustomed eloquence and speak from his heart about the appalling conditions which send 40,000 of an Army of Occupation to a sister island to prevent the constitutional will of the people of that island being expressed. It is not a question of £1,500 or of £15,000: it is a question of millions of money, which, instead of being used in trampling upon the people's constitutional rights, could be spent in making for the peace, happiness, and comfort of countless men and women. I am not concerned with Ministers or Assistant-Secretaries or Under-Secretaries. If the Noble Lord rises to propose that we have no Ministers at all I will second it. I believe that in intellect he and I are quite the same, and that after this Division, although we have never spoken to each other, we could shake hands in the Lobby on this. We have a Chief Secretary for Ireland. We never see him. He is never here. I do not know whether Ireland suffers or whether England does by that unfortunate coincidence. But we can do without a Minister in Ireland—the one bright spot in the British Empire, and if we can do that surely in a country governed by a spirit of such public stability we could do without a Minister in England. It is not a matter of any concern whether we have Cabinet Ministers or Under-Secretaries. There might be a coalition between the Noble Lord and myself to govern both England and Ireland. But I suspect economy coming from the House of Lords. It did not enter into the bosom of any wiseacres in this House until they got orders from the House of Lords. I have laid down two principles for myself since the General Election. I will never vote for the Government and never support anything that comes from the House of Lords. If it were not for the first principle. But I would support the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot possibly support this Government under any circumstances—any conceivable set of circumstances, and I cannot support the Noble Lord because I do not like him to think that everything that comes from the House of Lords is sacrosanct. I take the opposite view. Therefore, I am in a dilemma, and I shall not vote at all. If I were an Englishman, deeply interested in the successful operation of these two great measures of housing and public health, and if I listened, as I have listened, to the right hon. Gentleman who, in my judgment, is a most modest man, and allow mo, if I may do so without offence, to say he is not to be regarded as a picturesque figure in the public life of this country—there is only one thing after all that tells in my judgment in politics, and that is the record of the man in rendering human service, in promoting the cause of humanity, in lifting the poor and wretched out of their squalor and wretchedness. These two great measures for promoting the public health and the creation of better houses for the toiling masses of these Islands—these are higher monuments than the pages of rhetoric which will stand as a record of statesmanship of so many men in this House
I do not at all object to the expenditure on the appointment of the two Under-secretaries. But if this Minister has two Parliamentary Secretaries to assist him in his duties he himself ought to be in attendance in the House to answer questions. We have been rather oppressed in the last few years by Undersecretaries attempting to answer questions—and very important questions. The result has been what you, Mr. Speaker, have complained of—a great many supplementary questions, because the junior Members of the Government were unable to give satisfactory answers or to deal with matters which arose. The Minister
should allow the Under-Secretaries to do the office work, and he should attend to the work in this House. This would, I suggest, lead to a smoother working of the Departments. I do not for one moment suggest that he will not give his personal time and attendance here, but I would suggest that by so doing we shall get satisfactory and authoritative answers instead of merely written replies prepared by the Departments.
|Division No. 35.]||AYES.||10.49 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Parry, Major Thomas Henry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Peek, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Assheton|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Pratt, John William|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greenwood, Col. sir Hamar||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Gregory, Holman||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Grundy, T. W.||Reid, D. D.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Remer, J. B.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hacking, Captain D. H.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hartshorn, V.||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Belt, James (Ormskirk)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A.W. (Dublin Univ.)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Hilder, Lieutenant-Colonel F.||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (G'nwich)||Hirst, G. H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Holmes, J. S.||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hood, Joseph||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. W. E.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hurd, P. A.||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jesson, C.||Stephenson, Col. H. K.|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Johnson, L. S.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sturrock, J. Long-|
|Buckley, Lt.-Col. A.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sugden, Lieut. W. H.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Cairns, John||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Cape, Tom||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Carr, W. T.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Casey, T. W.||Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Townley, Maximillian G.|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Lorden, John William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Lort-Williams, J.||Waddington, R.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lanes.)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-Gen. G. K.||Lunn, William||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||M'Lean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Cory, J. H. (Cardiff)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||M'Neill, Ronald (Canterbury)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Craig, Capt. C. (Antrim)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Whitla, Sir William|
|Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Mitchell, William Lane||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Edge, Captain William||Moles, Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Eiliot, Capt W. E. (Lanark)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mosley, Oswald||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com.||Mount, William Arthur||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)|
|Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot||Neal, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C||Parker, James|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hayward, Major Evan||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Hogge, J. M.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Inskip, T. W. H.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Balfour, Georga (Hampstead)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Betterton, H. B.||Lindsay, William Arthur||Wolmer, viscount|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Clough, R.||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hohler and Colonel Gretton.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Dennis, J. W.|
Question put, and agreed to.
I desire to support the Amendment of the Lords, not because the Amendment comes from the Lords, but because it originated with the Commons. I would ask the Government if they would give some explanation why they accept from the Lords what they refused from the Commons. This Amendment has a rather interesting history. Not in the precise words, but with the same object, I had the honour of moving this Amendment upstairs in Committee. The Government then refused to accept it. We carried it to a Division and in that Division we had a majority in favour of my Amendment. It was assumed by those who voted for it that the Government would accept that decision, and I think it was the desire of my right hon. Friend to accept it, but when we came to the Report stage, not the right hon. Gentleman but the Financial Secretary to the Treasury came down with a Motion to reject the words which the Committee had put in. I entered my protest against that course, but unfortunately the members of the Committee not being present the words were struck out. Then the Bill goes to the Lords and it comes back to us with this Amendment which, although not in the precise terms of my Amendment, has the same object, and is to prevent discrimination between the sexes in the appointment of these officers. Now the Government accept from the Lords what they had previously refused to grant to the Commons. Therefore, the position is entirely different from that which arose on the last Amendment. There is no suggestion of accepting something from the Lords against what the Commons pro- posed, but it is a case of the Lords helping us to do what we ought to do for ourselves in the Commons. Under these circumstances, while accepting the Amendment which comes from the Lords, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give some explanation of the circumstances under which this rather extreme course was taken.
On consideration of the words accepted in Committee it was quite clear that they raised more difficulties than they settled, and, therefore, on Report, my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury made the Motion to which my hon. Friend (Mr. Thorne) has referred. We wanted to meet the spirit of my hon. Friend's Amendment, and therefore cast about for words to give effect to it. These words were devised for the purpose, and I am glad that my hon. Friend accepts them.