Five allotted days shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill, and the proceedings in Committee on each allotted day shall be those shown in the second column of the following Table, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of that Table.
After this Order comes into operation, any day shall be considered an allotted day for the purpose of this Order on which the Bill is put down as the first Order of the Day: Provided that 2 and 4.30 p.m., respectively, shall be substituted for 7 and 10.30 p.m. as respects any allotted day which is a Friday as the time at which proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under the foregoing provisions.
For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day and have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and shall next proceed successively to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules, and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and in the case of Government Amendments or Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill, as the case may be, and on the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman, in the case of a series of Clauses to which no notice of Amendment has been given by the Government, shall put the Question that those Clauses stand part of the Bill without putting the Question separately as respects each Clause.
A Motion may be made by the Government to leave out any Clause or consecutive Clauses of the Bill before consideration of any Amendments of the Clause or Clauses in Committee: The Question on a Motion made by the Government to leave out any Clause or Clauses of the Bill shall be forthwith put by the Chairman or Mr. Speaker after a brief explanatory statement from the Minister in charge and from any one Member who opposes the Motion.
Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10 on an allotted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
On an allotted day no dilatory Motion on the Bill, nor Motion to re-commit the Bill, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, nor Motion that the Chairman do report progress or do leave the Chair, or that further consideration of the Bill or any Debate be now adjourned, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.
Nothing in this Order shall—
This is the kind of demonstration of unlimited zeal to which we are all accustomed in Opposition, but to which we devoutly pray the Government of the day will pay no attention. I do not rest solely upon that. I think that it is a matter of public policy to avoid an Autumn Session this year, if we can do so. Since I came into the House there has been a profound change in this matter, and one which I venture to say is not good for the House or for the legislative or administrative business of the country. The House has been overburdened, the Government and the Offices necessarily have been still more overburdened, and legislation could not be prepared with the care and attention which was customary in more leisurely times. We can all choose our illustrations. I am stating a general principle which, I think, will not be denied by any Member of experience, and I am putting forward a proposition which, I believe, merits the serious attention of those who value the influence and authority of Parliament. May I make clear to the House the contrast between the recent practice and the old practice. I had the curiosity to examine, or to have examined, the number of years in which Autumn Sessions have been held during the 29 years for which I have been a Member of the House. Those 29 years are almost exactly divided into two by the end of the Parliament of 1905. Between 1892 and 1905 there were 14 Parliamentary years, and in only five of those 14 years were there Autumn Sessions. Between 1906 and 1920 there were 15 Parliamentary years, and in 13 out of those 15 years there were Autumn Sessions.
No, my right hon. Friend mistakes me. It is not his head that I want on this particular occasion, but I do not think that the comparison is fair if you are merely showing the tendency of Parliament to take the years of the War when we had to sit.
My Noble Friend's interruption would have carried greater weight if in those War Autumn Sessions we had done nothing but summon Parliament in order that it might keep its control over the Executive in very critical times, but he well knows that was far from being the case. I include those years, not for the purpose of saying that they are similar to the years before the War, or to the years subsequent to the War, but for the purpose of measuring the burden which has fallen upon Parliament and all concerned with the work of Parliament in recent years. Let me take the years immediately preceding the War, when the change had already taken place, and of which, I think, he was as sharp a critic as any of his former colleagues who then occupied those benches in his company. In 1906, 1908, 1909, 1910, and 1911 there were Autumn Sessions. In 1907 and 1913 only was an Autumn Session avoided. That is taking the years before the War. What result does that have? In the first place, the Government of the day and the Offices are deprived of the autumn period during which in former days they applied themselves to bring into force the Acts already passed, preparing the legislation which they would submit in the succeeding Session, and generally to the close and careful-examination of the work of their Departments in all their branches. It is not only that Ministers and the Offices suffer. Permit me to say, if they suffer, that Parliament must suffer through their work in Parliament being less worthy.
Parliament itself, however, suffers. Members are tied to this House to an extent which renders it extremely difficult for them to keep in touch with their constituents in the country, and there never was a time when, either by reason, I will not say of the smallness of the attention given in the Press to Parliament—that would be misleading—but of the small amount of space devoted to our Debates and discussion, or of the magnitude, complexity, and novelty of many of the questions which are exercising the public mind, it was more important that Members should be, and that it should be made possible for them to be, in close touch with their constituents. Under these circumstances, I think, and His Majesty's Government think, that it really is of public importance, no less than of importance to the convenience of Members in the discharge of their duties, that we should avoid an Autumn Session if possible.
From the beginning of this week up till 12th August—let me hastily say, lest I give rise to misapprehension, that I do not anticipate that we shall be able to rise under any circumstances on 12th August—there are 45 Parliamentary days, 36 full days and nine Fridays. I have to make assumptions for the purpose, not of laying down a definite programme of business, but of giving the House a rough sketch of the demands upon our time. Supply, without allowing any additional days, would require seven days. To the Finance Bill I allot five days for the Committee, Report, and Third Read- ing, to the Railways Bill four days for Report and Third Reading, the same to the Agriculture Bill for Second Reading, Report, and Third Reading, the same to the Unemployment Insurance Bill for the same three stages, eight days for the Safeguarding of Industries Bill as provided in this Resolution, two to the Consolidated Fund Bill, three to the Church of Scotland Bill—probably that is an unduly large number—and three to the Law of Property Bill which has come down from the House of Lords.
I have put down three days for each of them. As I say, I am not attempting to make out a programme now, but only to give some sort of idea of what is involved. Probably the last two items are given more time than the House will require for those particular measures. That would occupy 40 out of the 45 days. Beside that we have to consider a possible Measure on licensing—only possible if a large measure of agreement is reached as a result of the conference to which the Government are inviting Members—the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, to which great importance is attached, as the House knows, by a large section of the community, and especially by the organisations which are either wholly or particularly representative of women, a small Bill on Indian divorces, the consideration of other Bills from the House of Lords and of Amendments to important Government Measures, and any other Measures which it may be necessary to take. The House will see that we have not any more time than we require, and that, if we are to rise, say, by the end of the third week in August, we must husband the time that is at our disposal. Under these circumstances I have put down this Motion in regard to the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. I do not understand that the Opposition intend to challenge the propriety of fixing a time limit to the Debate on that Measure.
They have not put down an Amendment challenging the propriety of fixing a time limit. Their Amendments are all in the direction of the extension of the time, but, since the right hon. Gentleman announces that they do challenge the propriety of fixing any limit at all, and since the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull seems to think that, while it might be proper to limit any other Bill, it would be improper to limit a taxing Bill, I must say a word or two on each point. I am really not reproaching my hon. Friends for not having put down an Amendment challenging the proposal; I am only sorry that I have misunderstood their intention. I thought, if they challenged the proposals, that they would put down an Amendment to leave out all the words after the word "that" and to insert a different proposition.
My right hon. Friend need not make a grievance where no offence was intended. I thought that I found myself in agreement with him on principle, differing only on the point of time. He tells me that is not so. May I tell him why I was led into that misapprehension? It was from a careful study of the utterances of my great predecessor with his almost unrivalled experience, the late Prime Minister the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley was an adept in that art in which I am to-day appearing for the first time as a humble neophyte. He was an adept in the art of persuading the House of Commons that if they wanted to do their business properly they must apply a time limit to the various stages of all kinds of measures. That had been done by others before him and has been done by others since.
And always opposed by the party in opposition. Except in the case of the Leader of the present Liberal Opposition, it has always been done with an expression of regret, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley gloried in the proposal which he made, and he announced that he had come to the conclusion that such time-fixing arrangements on all important Bills must be a part of our permanent machinery. That was why I was errone- ously led to believe that his followers did not challenge the proposal which I have put down. Let me remind the House what the right hon. Gentleman said. This was in October, 1911, on the National Insurance Bill.
Time has not become less valuable since the War, and I therefore do not see the point of that observation. The right hon. Gentleman said:
I have slowly and reluctantly come to the conclusion that you cannot carry on legislation here on large and complicated subjects without treating a time table as part of our established procedure. This does not apply to one party more than another. … I assume the absence of anything in the nature of organised, intentional, or even casual Parliamentary obstruction. I assume all these things, and I venture to say that having regard to the commitments of this Parliament, the multitudinous nature of its duties, the diversities of interests with which it has to deal, the enormous and ever-increasing burden of the labours it has to perform, legislation on a large scale in regard to grave and complicated questions is impossible unless you have got some from of time table and some allocation of time. I do not believe if that comes to be recognised as a normal part of our Parliamentary procedure it would fetter or manacle free and adequate discussion.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say
I, therefore, do not in the least shrink from any taunt or retort that will be made that we are here creating a precedent for the future. I believe it is a precedent that is necessary and that its operation will prove to be beneficent—
I am sorry, very sorry, that the right hon. Gentleman is not here to support these observations. I know the cause of his absence, and I regret it. How useful his presence would have been?
and that without it you cannot carry out the duties which this House is required by the country and the interests of the Empire to discharge."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911, Cols. 120 and 121, Vol. 30.] I think that is sufficient as a justification for the principle of the Measure.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is a very young Member of the House. Had he been a little older Member he would have been here to support, and I have little doubt would have supported, his leader in applying the same measure to the Finance Bill of 1914. On this, the second occasion, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, whose absence I infinitely regret, said:
Speaking quite seriously, without going into remote or hypothetical considerations, I do not think that anybody who seriously takes into view all the possibilities of our present procedure will deny, with regard to Finance Bills and others, that it has become necessary that the Government of the day should fix some definite allocation of time for their various stages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th July, 1914; col. 932, Vol. 64.]
We have taken to heart the lesson taught us by my right hon. Friend and we propose such allocation to this Bill. It may be objected that we should wait until we have got to the Committee stage before putting forward our Resolution. That has always been done, and I venture to say that it has never worked well for anything. It results in a waste of a great deal of time, and then in the compression of all that remains into such time as the Government or the House can afford. If you once recognise what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley did, that in regard to a highly-contentious and important Measure, or even a complicated and important Measure, not highly contentious, that a time-table is necessary, it follows that it is an advantage to everyone that that time-table should be produced at the earliest moment possible so that the time which is allotted may be spent to the best advantage.
I would ask the House to remember that we have already spent six days over the Bill, three in detailed consideration of the Resolutions in Committee, one in considering the Resolutions on Report, and two days on the Second Reading of the Bill. We now propose to allocate eight further Parliamentary days, and in framing the time table we have sought to the best of our ability to see that the really outstanding features of the Bill come fully under discussion; in other words, we have endeavoured to fix the different compartments of the Bill in such a way that those points of the Bill that we believe hon. Members will most wish to challenge may be reached at an early time in the com- partment in which they fall. I hope I have said all that the House expects me to say. I do not at this stage think it necessary that I should add more. I do not wish to adopt at the present in its fullness the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley that all complicated Bills, the Finance Bill or others, in future may be made subject to the rules allocating the time; but I submit, having regard to the time we have already given to this Bill, to the character of the discussion which it has provoked, and the work which lies before us this Session, it is necessary that we should take this step on this occasion and in respect to this Bill.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House based his argument for the support of this Motion on two grounds. First of all, he said it had been done before and, therefore, that was a very good reason for doing it again. In the second place, he urged that whatever happens we must not have an Autumn Session. In regard to the first point, on which the right hon. Gentleman read the statement made by my right hon. Friend and Leader the Member for Paisley, the Leader of the House (Mr. Chamberlain) entirely forgets—I suggest to him—what has happened in this Parliament. The very first thing we undertook after the reading of the King's Speech was the reform of the procedure of the House. When my right hon. Friend made the statement to which reference has been made by the Leader of the House he was not in the position at all of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The condition of affairs was that which obtained before the reform of the procedure of the House. What were those reforms—or alterations—for some of them were mere alterations, and not reforms. Some, I admit, were reforms. Instead of the Floor of this House being congested with big Bills, so to speak, struggling for precedence here, we established the system of Grand Committees. There has been another very striking reform, and that was giving the Chairman of Ways and Means, and his Deputy a most drastic power of control over our Debates. There was one significant exception, and that was the question of finance. The House when it started its new career expressly and definitely kept out of the gambit of Grand Committee such a Bill as the one we are now considering. The position which the Leader of the House took up on that occasion has been substantially minimised by the new rules of procedure. We are now dealing with an entirely different state of things, and only those who have been in opposition know how drastic such powers can be.
The other point made by the right hon. Gentleman was that there must not be an Autumn Session. Personally I shall be very glad if there is no Autumn Session this year. The House is very tired and it has been overworked. But if our public duties necessitate it, as I think they do in regard to this Bill, then we ought to have an Autumn Session, but if we can avoid an Autumn Session I am certainly all in favour of it. I do not know whether the Leader of the House was present during the Debate which took place last November in which the former Leader of the House and I took part. We then discussed the question of finance and the time given for finance. I said then in the new Session of Parliament what the Government ought to do and what I am certain the House of Commons would back them in doing would be to introduce only legislative measures of the most vital importance and concentrate the whole of our Parliamentary time on efforts to secure economy. I got a very favourable reception as far as the then Leader of the House was concerned in regard to that proposition, and he agreed that we were crowding the Statute Book with legislation which might not be vitally necessary, that there was an urgent and overwhelming need for a discussion of finance, and he promised in the coming Session to introduce as few highly controversial measures as possible.
Let me now take up the question of the time which the Government are now proposing for this highly controversial Measure. What was said in November last with regard to economy is five hundred fold more important now than it was then. The Government might have jettisoned several Bills, for example the German Reparation Bill. What is the good of that Measure? By common consent no more ridiculous Measure was ever put upon the Statute Book. Then there is the Agriculture Bill. That Measure has already gone by the board. We are now strewn with the wreckage of Measures which experience has demonstratd were quite unnecessary. If the Government thought the Bill now before us was the great Measure of the Session, they should have started upon it long ago. The House met in the second or third week in February, and time after time the Leader of the House and the President of the Board of Trade were asked when this Measure was coming in. On this question, however, the Government drifted on. I suggest to the Leader of the House that instead of coming to us and saying that under the great pressure of Parliamentary time he is reluctantly compelled to introduce this Guillotine Motion, he should have said: "I very much regret that I have had to come to the conclusion that the best thing the Government can do is to drop this Bill." If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to save an Autumn Session, that is the way to do it. That is the way to clear the business and get rid of another Measure of the same class as those which have already been demonstrated to be useless, vexatious, and unnecessary.
I wish to say a word or two now about the proposals of the Government and the non-necessity for the Measure to which we are now asked to apply this Motion. How do the Government stand with regard to their powers? I have already referred to the drastic powers in the hands of the Chairman of Ways and Means, but the Government have an unexampled majority, and they need not worry about securing a majority. The Division bells have only to ring, and in troop the supporters of the Government by the hundred to vote for any such Measure as this that will curtail Debate and enable hon. Members to get home before 11 o'clock. They have the drastic powers of the Chair, and they have overwhelming and powerful majorities. With what are we faced? There is an Opposition which I claim, for its size, has performed as useful a function as any Opposition ever did in. this House, but, after all, numbers are a very severe handicap. The hon. Members belonging to both parties who sit on these benches are in a very difficult position, and it is difficult for them to maintain the necessary Debate in order to criticise properly the proposals of the Government. The Government have immense reserves of all kinds at their hand, and yet in these circumstances they come forward and propose one of the most drastic Measures ever put forward by a Government with regard to a time table on an important Measure.
What sort of a Bill is this? I will observe the rule of the House and not discuss the Bill itself, but I think I may be permitted to make some reference to the kind of Bill for which the Government are taking this drastic step. It is a Bill of a nature which requires most careful and, indeed, meticulous consideration. I shall leave hon. Members who will follow me, and who will move Amendments, to discuss this matter in more detail, and I will simply draw attention to one proposal, and that is with regard to the Schedule. How much time are we giving to the Schedule? Only three hours. The Schedule is really the Bill, for that is where the taxes are dealt with and where the specific levies are made, and yet the Leader of the House, knowing that, contemptuously suggests that all that can be got through in a little over three hours. That shows the spirit in which this question is being treated, and it is a spirit of contempt for the House of Commons. It is trifling with our power and rights and duties, especially in regard to a Finance Bill. This is really a taxing Measure, and why should our proceedings in regard to it be interrupted by a Motion of this sort?
I do not care a rap for what happened in 1914 I am reminding the right hon. Gentleman what happened in 1919. These solemn stately steps which centuries of experience have laid down as the proper method and means whereby to deal with a Finance Bill have been ruthlessly cut short by the proposal of the Government. Of course, the reason is known to all of us. It is of immense importance to the citizen who finds the money for the support of the State that there should be the most careful scrutiny of every proposal of every Government or any Executive that has charge of the affairs of the country. On the Schedule alone you have a long list, and nobody can tell the incidence of the taxes and tariffs in the Schedule. Very often by discussion you can find out some of the dangers and remove disadvantages, but the right hon. Gentleman practically says: "Not at all; in Committee we shall have three hours of discussion, and that will be sufficient." You may discuss about three of them in that time, and all the rest will have to go through without any discussion. There never was a more high-handed action on the part of any Government in recent times with regard to a Finance Bill than this. The time may come when the Leader of the House will be on this side and the Government may take up the precedents being set to-day, and I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will live to regret the steps they are asking the House to take in regard to a Finance Bill, This is a most serious financial matter, and the only reason my right hon. Friend can suggest for this course is that we must not have an Autumn Session. By their own default the Government are in the position in which they find themselves to-day. We have not interfered with them.
There has been little or no obstruction of business, either this Session or last Session. There never has been in any Parliament of modern times less obstruction to the will of the majority than there has been in this Parliament. Complaint is very fairly made of the Government having brought forward this proposal without having tried first to see what progress could be made. It is a very strong ground of complaint. There has been no serious attempt to do that, and they have come down without first allowing a day or two to pass in order to see what progress was made in Committee. They have assumed what will be the action of the Opposition, small in numbers, limited in physical power, and faced by a majority such as we know, is at the back of the Government—a Government which has behind it the power of the Chair and has only to ask for that power to be exercised on its behalf—with all these facts before them they make this proposal, never giving us a chance to see how we can get on. As one who has taken a pretty active part in nearly all the Debates of this Parliament, I never remember any really serious appeal made by the Leader of the House to the Opposition which has been unfairly rejected. Whenever any serious appeal has been made to us it has always been substantially acceded to. We may have suggested that the House should sit a bit later or a day or two longer, but we have not gone beyond that. The people of this country are watching this House much more closely than many Members think. I do not believe they are apathetic or indifferent to the proceedings of this House, and while I am sure they will be impatient, and rightly so, of vexatious and frivolous discussion, at the same time they are very jealous of any interference with the rights and duties of the House, especially in connection with public finance. The right hon. Gentleman has struck a blow at the usefulness and power of the House and its restraining influence—a power which no one in this House of Commons reveres more than I do.
I think the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) was a little wrong in his historical account of the alterations of the method by which Bills are automatically sent to Standing Committees. That alteration was instituted by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, I believe in the year 1906 or in 1907, and all the present Government did was to create six Standing Committees instead of four. But they also gave Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees the power to "kangaroo" without any special Resolution having been passed, and they enabled Money Resolutions to be discussed after 11 o'clock at night. That is all this Government have done, and I repeat that the system of Grand Committees was instituted by Sir Henry. Campbell-Bannerman. I have never voted for a guillotine Resolution. I shall not vote for this one. Whether I shall vote against it is another matter. I agree with the right hon. Member for Peebles that there has been no obstruction on the part of the Opposition during this Parliament. I do not pretend to be an authority on obstruction, but I have sometimes thought that what the Opposition wanted was a little more vitality and a little more obstruction. I do not think they can be accused of obstructing in any patent way. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that Autumn Sessions are bad. I do not want to see one, but I do not agree with him in the means by which he is going to avoid it. I see no reason why we should pass the Church of Scotland Bill this Session. It would be a very excellent thing to do next Session. Then it is proposed to deal with the Law of Property. I am always very much afraid when new Bills relating to property are brought in, especially when they run into 140 Clauses. I am afraid of the result. I am inclined to think it would be better to leave the whole thing alone. Property has had a rather bad time lately, and if it is to be dealt with by a Bill of 140 Clauses a whole Session should be given to the consideration of it. I think there is some force in the objection which has been raised that this Resolution has been brought forward before the Committee stage has been entered upon. Over and over again when I was on the opposite side of the House, and when similar proposals were made, I heard my Leader declare that the proposal was not fair.
Yes, and when I was in Opposition, when the right hon. Member for Paisley brought in a Resolution of this sort I said he was doing a bad thing. My opinion is not changed because I now happen to be on the other side of the House. Under these circumstances I am not sure that I shall not take the opportunity of enjoying a little well-earned rest this evening.
I accept the view that there are occasions on which a Motion of this kind would be justifiable. It would be justifiable if the Opposition insisted on deliberately wasting the time of the House by using its numbers and by indulging in unduly long speeches, or by adopting other devices not unkown in recent Parliaments. It might be justifiable too in order to secure the passing of a very important Measure which the country was demanding and which it approved, but which apparently could not be got through in reasonable time. I can imagine in such a case the Government being fully justified in resorting to such a plan as the one now proposed. But as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has pointed out, the Opposition cannot be charged with having misused any of its resources, such as they are, or with having failed to meet reasonable requests put forward by the Government in regard to the general conduct of business. The Government has not been able to show that the country has manifested enthusiastic approval of the Bill which is the subject of this present proposal. The Bill itself was mentioned in the course of a general controversy, but of national urgency or demand there is no evidence whatever, neither has it been shown that national approval has been signified in regard to this proposal. I endorse the opinion expressed by the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) that the fitting thing to do, faced as we are with a desire not to have an Autumn Session, is to drop this Bill rather than bring forward as an argument relating to Autumn Sessions a reference to a Measure of this kind. It is a Bill which can be dropped without loss, and that indeed would be a self-respecting course for the Government to adopt.
The Opposition is entitled to complain of the failure of the Government to arrange its programme during the Session on something like reasonable lines to meet national needs. The Session has not been without surprises. Last week was full of them. A policy settled in one Session is reversed in the next, and in some instances the settlement and the reversal both take place in the same Session. This is not properly arranging our business agenda. No authority is vested in a Government merely by virtue of its numbers. It is not justified in relying merely on its mechanical majority. It does not get moral authority or national approval or the assent of Parliament merely by the procedure of relying on its large majority. We have recently had a number of very sudden and immature decisions which have greatly upset our calculation, and these reversals, in our judgment, are no justification for this further change in our Parliamentary agenda. The procedure of this House within the last year, as a fact, was altered in order that this very extreme step should be avoided. The automatic passing of Bills to Committees upstairs and the widening of the powers now vested in the Chairman on matters of selection clearly were designed to avoid the very procedure which the right hon. Gentleman now asks this House to sanction. Everyone admits that of all Parliamentary methods of conducting business this is the worst, and it can only be justified in extreme cases. No case can be made out for it in regard to what has happened this Session. We have wasted time on a number of occasions on industrial measures during the past six or seven weeks, and two or three times the House has been called upon to discuss proclamations and the raising of armies, and other matters in relation to the conduct of disputes which, however, have been peacefully carried through by the enormous numbers of men engaged in them. That is an outstanding instance of the failure of the Government to appreciate the national temper and to do justice to those who are as anxious to preserve the law as the Government is to enforce it.
I do not know whether it is intended by the Government to listen to the appeals which are being addressed to it, and especially to the proposal on the Order Paper in the name of the right hon. Member for Peebles, to double the amount of time which the Government propose should be allotted to the consideration of the Bill. In principle I would not accept that action as an absolute justification for the conduct of the Government, but certainly it would go far if it would not absolutely meet the needs of the situation. This is clearly the most controversial Bill of the Session, the Bill which has received the least degree of national sanction, and, perhaps, the Bill which has received the least amount of half-hearted support which the majority of the Government can give to any Measure brought forward by its responsible heads. Members have gone into the Lobbies and have recorded their votes in favour of it, but, judging from all the signs, there seems to be very little whole-hearted approval of the general terms of the Measure itself. It is in the Committee stage that we must have opportunity fully to examine its terms, and I do not think that any Measure has been introduced in recent years in the case of which minute and full consideration of the details has been more essential. There are very great interests affected—commercial and trading and working-class interests—by the proposals of this Bill, and to force the Bill through its Committee stage without full opportunity adequately to examine every proposal, would properly evoke very great resentment from those who may be subject to its provisions, when later on it becomes law. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to see his way to meet the substance of the Amendment to which I have referred, appealing for a large increase in the amount of time to be given.
I should like now to say a word on the question of an Autumn Session. I dissent from the view that it is inadvisable to do Parliamentary work during the course of an autumn. I have felt, like any other Member of the House, the physical strain of year by year giving uninterrupted attention to Parliamentary and public duties; but there is a great deal of difference between having to work all the year round and working for only half the year. An adjournment from, say, the middle of August to the middle of February, is surely too long, and I would seriously put to my right hon. Friend the view that this is a year in which we should not think of light-heartedly rising from our duties in the middle of August and not considering their resumption until some time next year. Unless we are extremely fortunate, and unless very many serious economic and industrial difficulties are overcome, there will be need for Parliamentary action, there will be need for an outlet for opinion, and there will be need for Parliamentary decisions during that long period between August and February. I am mindful of the heavy burden that is placed upon the heads of State Departments, and upon those who are permanently responsible for the general working of the great State and Parliamentary machine. I am in the fullest sympathy with them, and have some very slight knowledge of the manner in which they are overburdened. But I am putting the view that there is a great deal of difference between doing no Parliamentary work for a period of some five or six months, and at least doing some work during a part of that period. I suggest, without pretending to speak for everyone on this side of the House—because the matter has not really been considered, and it is only the chief argument of the Leader of the House that has prompted me to express this view—that we ought not now to accept as a settled doctrine the conclusion that it is not desirable to have Autumn Sessions, and that they are only to be regarded as the exception and not as a permanent part of our whole Parliamentary system. A reasonable interval is one thing, but these extremes of long periods of no Parliamentary work at all ought not to be accepted as something which is absolutely settled.
The Opposition has just cause to press its appeal upon the Leader of the House not to show himself immovable with respect to the list which is now before the House. Perhaps, in regard to this particular measure, if the Opposition is reasonably met, the feeling which would be engendered by the course proposed could be very greatly diminished, if not altogether dispersed. Five days for the full consideration of the details of a Measure of this kind is absolutely too short a time in which to do justice to the Measure itself, and, considering that there are non-party interests—trade, commercial and industrial—which will be so deeply affected by the terms of this Bill when it becomes law, I hope that the Leader of the House will not err on the side of giving insufficient time for the full consideration of a Measure which is so highly controversial as this.
The Lord Privy Seal advanced two main arguments in favour of this Motion. The first was the desire of the Government, which is shared in all parties, to avoid an Autumn Session. I will not amplify the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles on that point, except to say, that of the 36 Parliamentary days which, as the Lord Privy Seal indicated, would be available, eight, or practically 25 per cent., will be occupied by legislation revoking recent legislation passed by the Government. In view of that large percentage of time so occupied, I hope the Government may be induced to give further time to this very important Bill. The Lord Privy Seal came down this afternoon fortified with two declarations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. The first consisted of certain words uttered in this House in 1911 with regard to the National Insurance Bill. If my memory serves me correctly, however, there was no Division on the Second Reading of that Bill, and to apply the simile of a Bill in the case of which the House did not divide on Second Reading to the Safeguarding of Industries Bill, is, I think, hardly in keeping with the position now. The other reference was in connection with the Finance Bill of 1913, but those hon. Members who were in the House at that time will agree with me that the provisions of that Bill differed profoundly from the provisions of the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. The comparison on those two points, therefore, falls to the ground.
I do not think that the Lord Privy Seal suggested that there had been organised opposition. An analysis of the Members who took part in the Debate on the Second Reading reveals the fact that on the second day 10 Members were called upon who spoke against the Bill and 9 who spoke for it, while on the first day also there were 10 Members who spoke against the Bill and 9 who spoke for it; and I think I am justified in submitting these figures as showing that there has been no organised opposition to the Bill from any quarter of the House. The characteristic of the Second Reading stage was the number of hon. Members from Scotland who took part in the Debate against the Bill. Of 20 Members who spoke against the Bill, as many as 8 represented Scottish constituencies. Scotland is keenly interested in this Bill. Scotland thinks that her trade and industry may suffer, and hon. Members who come to this House with that logic which I am told distinguishes my fellow countrymen are anxious that the provisions of this Bill should come under criticism free and unfettered by any guillotine Resolution or by any expedient which the Government may adopt to pass this Measure into law. It might be said that the Government, with its very large majority, can force this Bill through the House of Commons, but might I just remind the President of the Board of Trade that at the recent bye-election at Heywood all of the three candidates who stood were opposed to the Bill. If there were a big wave of popular sentiment in favour of the Bill outside, I could understand the Government pressing it through regardless of opposition, but, in view of the strong feeling which is gradually being engendered throughout the country against the provisions of this Bill, I think the Government would be well advised to allow it free and unfettered discussion.
There is one further argument which I am anxious to submit to the President of the Board of Trade. It has been said that there are three ways of governing people—by priests, by bullets, or by open discussion. The Government have thought out a further method of passing legislation through this House by the aid of the guillotine Resolutions, which legislation is to be enacted by a Department of the Board of Trade. This matter raises, not so much a party question, as the question whether the House of Commons, which has the sovereign powers, is to be per- mitted to levy taxes on the subjects of this Realm—whether this House, by free and open Debate, is to decide according to its own judgment whether the subjects of the Realm are to be taxed, the method of taxation, and the burden of taxation. That, in the past, has never yet, except in the case of the 1913 Bill, been discussed under a guillotine Resolution, and I therefore suggest that the Government view of the feeling outside against this Bill, and of its far-reaching provisions, which run contrary to all our fiscal system, would be well advised to withdraw their Resolution and permit the Bill to be discussed in full and open Debate in this House.
I agree with a great deal that has been said in criticism of the Bill to which this Motion is to be applied. I think that the Bill is partly futile and partly pernicious. But I do not base the observations which I am going to make to the House upon my opinion of the Bill. My right hon. Friend, in proposing this Motion, went through the time-honoured Parliamentary practice of quoting what had been said by Leaders of the present Opposition in times past when they were Ministers. I do not know that that particular kind of argument has any great weight with anybody. It has not much weight in this House, and it has absolutely none outside. I think it unfortunate that my right hon. Friend—for whom, if I may say so, I have a great personal admiration—treated it as a matter of the slightest possible importance that he was himself proposing a Measure which he had constantly denounced when he was in Opposition. That is unfortunate particularly in the case of my right hon. Friend, because his personal character and position is one of the assets of the country. I am not in any difficulty. I am like my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury). I am always always opposed to the guillotine. I have never voted for it, and I have always voted against it. While I was a Member of the Government no guillotine was proposed. That has nothing to do with the fact that I was a Member of it, but because it was during the War, and no opportunity arose when the guillotine was even considered, but as a matter of fact I have always opposed it. For what the argument of inconsistency is worth in such cases it does not apply to myself.
I have been opposed to it because I honestly think it a very bad plan for the House of Commons. Debate under Guillotine is a most unsatisfactory form of Debate. I have often said so. So has the Lord Privy Seal, and I am sure he thought so when he said so, and everyone who has been through Debates under the Guillotine will, I am sure, agree with me that Debate under Guillotine is a most unsatisfactory Debate. It makes the Government extremely perfunctory in their dealing with Amendments. They are not afraid of anything which may happen. They know quite well that in a Parliament like this there is not the slightest danger of their being beaten in the Division Lobby. No one imagines that there is. The only thing they are afraid of is acting in so unreasonable a way as to make the House intractable and therefore involving great delay and difficulty. But once having got the Guillotine they do not care a bit about that. They may be as unreasonable and tyrannical as they like. Their personal character will no doubt be a great obstacle, but once having got over that obstacle there is nothing in the procedure of the House to stop them. If a Minister under the Guillotine makes a most provocative and insulting speech to the Opposition it makes no difference at all. He gets his Clause or his Bill just the same. The whole work of Opposition is absolutely destroyed in such a House as this, where there is a large majority on one side and a small minority on the other. The Guillotine is bad. It encourages a practice which has already gone much too far, namely, that of making speeches which are not really directed to alter opinion in the House, but are entirely for consumption out of doors. In other words, you destroy the House as a deliberative assembly the moment you pass the Guillotine. The President of the Board of Trade and the Under-Secretary for the Home Department are the only Ministers who are present, but they, who have worked under it, know perfectly that what I am saying is true. They know that the Guillotine is destructive of debate, and they know that it destroys the House as a deliberative assembly, and yet they are proposing it in this particular case.
In this House there is a very small minority. I do not know what the number of the Opposition may amount to, but it is under a hundred. That is much the smallest minority that has ever existed, so far as we know. I am not quite sure whether the first Reform Bill—[Interruption.] That was after the Opposition had split up. At one time he had a much larger Opposition than that. Certainly, since the Reform Parliament this is the smallest Opposition there has ever been. Therefore, in my judgment, they are entitled to greater consideration. If parties are nearly equal you may be quite sure the Government will not do anything unreasonable or improper or tyrannical, because they will suffer the great danger of defeat, whereas there is no danger of defeat in this House in a normal case. The only thing the Opposition has to rely upon is the greater freedom of debate and the protection of the rules of the House, as administered by the Chair. For these reasons, I am altogether against the Guillotine as a regular part of our proceedings, or, indeed, in practically all cases in this House. I admit that all-night sittings are, in my judgment, worse. I have always said it is the worst form of dealing with Parliamentary business to sit up all night so as by physical exhaustion to compel legislation. But, with that exception, I think the Guillotine is the worst system that has yet been adopted. I do not deny the evil of obstruction. I have indulged in obstruction in my day—I do not want to pretend to be more sinless than my neighbour—but I do not think it is a good thing. It is the resource of an Opposition when they find a Government is absolutely unreasonable and intractable, and it ought to be confined to that case. It ought to be confined to those cases where everyone sees that the Government is wrong and that the only way is to secure delay so that they may become amenable to opinion out of doors. But ordinary obstruction is very objectionable. My real objection to all these things is not only that I think them unfair to this or that section of the House, but because I am sure they do a great injury to the House outside.
I am sure that obstruction, all-night sittings, and the Guillotine are bad for the reputation of the House of Commons. I feel that very strongly, and I also feel very strongly, as I believe the Government do, that we cannot afford to injure the reputation of the House of Commons in the country at this time. The situa- tion outside is much too serious. I never understand the policy of this Government. They say the most admirable things to the effect that they desire to promote the reputation and prestige of the House of Commons in every way, and then they come down with a Motion of this kind, which can do nothing but diminish its reputation and prestige. Have the Government tried every other possible way of obtaining a reasonable discussion of their Measures and the passage of this particular Measure,? Have they tried the possibility of an agreement? I am not speaking for the Opposition—I am not in a position to do so—but I ask the Government if they have tried it. In the Home Rule Bill, a year ago, the Guillotine was proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law). Considerable protest was raised from the benches behind him, and then he reconsidered it, and said if he could receive some kind of undertaking from the Opposition that they would allow the Bill to go through without undue obstruction or opposition he would not insist on the Guillotine. An agreement was arrived at, and it was carried out absolutely. There was no suggestion of anything to the contrary. The Bill was passed and we avoided the Guillotine. I think this is a most disastrous step on the part of the Government. I honestly think this is the end. of the old system absolutely and for ever. It is all very well for the Leader of the House to quote what was done by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) in times past. He can quote scores of passages, just as I have no doubt I could quote scores of passages in which he had said the contrary. That is not the point. Let us look at the reality. Before the War, undoubtedly, the Guillotine had become almost a fixed part of the procedure of the House of Commons. I remember a speech opposing a particular Measure of Guillotine in which the right hon. Gentleman said that if it passed it became a necessity for either side of the House, whenever it was in power, to impose the Guillotine. Then came the interval of four or five years during the War when there was a complete change in the House of Commons in many respects. There were great changes in personnel. The Guillotine was dropped absolutely. There was no need of it during the War. It was dropped until 1920. Then came the pro- posal to Guillotine the Home Rule Bill, and after discussion my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow agreed to drop it and rely on agreement with the Opposition.
I hoped we should really have a chance of getting back to something like the old traditions of the House of Commons where the Government of the day relied not on this or that hard and fast rule, but on the general sense of the House as to what was reasonable opposition and what was unreasonable opposition, and with that force behind them they were able in the old days to carry through their legislation without any serious difficulties. I still think there is just a chance that we might get back to the old system and rely on the rules of the House of Commons for the work that is urgently necessary for the good government of the country. If no agreement is possible, I should much prefer to face an Autumn Session. I would prefer anything rather than fetter ourselves again with this system of Guillotine round necks. My own belief is that whether the Government desire it or not there will be an Autumn Session. Public needs will require it, and they will not avoid it by the Guillotine or anything, because they will be compelled by the urgency of public events to call Parliament together in the autumn, whether they like it or not. But let us try everything rather than go back to the guillotine. Let the Government try first whether they cannot get an agreement. If they cannot do that, I implore them to reconsider even the question of an Autumn Session. If they will not do that, if they insist on forcing this Guillotine through, and of course they can do it without the least difficulty, it will really mean absolutely and for ever the destruction of the old system. We have a chance of restoring it now. It is just possible. Everything should be tried before we abandon it. If you go on with this it really means its destruction. No one will think of avoiding the Guillotine in the future. This will be a definite announcement to this House and to the world that it means to carry on business under the guillotine. It will be taken as the final decision of this House for all time to come. Once again it will be the party dominated by what used to be the Conservative party which will be destroying one of the great institutions of this country. I deeply regret the decision of the Government, and I shall vote against this Motion in every way.
Many hon Members will be inclined to agree that those of us who only entered this House in December, 1918, are in a position of some advantage in considering a Motion of this kind. We have no past that can be dug up in the pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT. We have never been in a position of power and responsibility, and we have never made any suggestion of this kind. Therefore we can come to the consideration of the question mainly from the point of view of the effect which it will have upon the country and the political activities outside, in the light of the conditions through which the country is now passing. What would impel many of us to oppose this guillotine Resolution? I say sincerely and frankly to the Government that I think the representative principle in this country is in considerable danger. It is being attacked by a very large and increasing number of people on the ground that, after they have subscribed to the representative principle and have elected this House of Commons, they are denied that free discussion and that full investigation of public issues which they thought they had earned. That is well worthy of consideration in connection with this Motion. The Government must be well aware of the fact that many of us in connection with Labour issues are doing our best to defend what has been called the constitutional method. We are doing that against very considerable opposition. We always say that, argue as we may, in Great Britain we cannot get rid of the representative principle. I do not think that any hon. Member would argue that even in a small country like ours direct democracy is possible. If that is so, we must give the representative principle a chance of being practised, and see that there is absolute fair play and equality in the House of Commons. That is the foundation of our opposition to this Motion.
Even if we had not that cause for opposition to this proposal we should still be compelled to ask whether in the circumstances that confront the House today this proposal is really necessary. I invite any hon. Member to look at the programme of business which was sketched by the Leader of the House. It cannot be disputed that far too much time has been given to certain Bills which, in practice, will probably occupy nothing like the time that has been allocated to them. Take one Measure with which some of us on this side are connected. I refer to the Scottish Church Bill, for which three days are allocated by the Government. I do not dispute that we could easily discuss theology for three days, or for many more days, but there are only seven or eight Scottish Members who are offering opposition to this Bill, and probably they would agree that anything resembling three days would not be required for the full statement of their case. Probably in connection with other Bills there is room for a good deal of economy in time. Therefore there should be more time available for the discussion of the Safeguarding of Industries Bill.
I presume that the action of the Government has been dictated by the fact that there are very large numbers of Amendments on the Order Paper. I have no right to speak for my hon. Friends who hold Independent Liberal views, but I think it would be admitted that many of the Amendments belong to what I call types, and it should be possible if we get a fair and just discussion on a type of Amendment that we need not devote a great deal of time to other Amendments which belong to one category. That is a perfectly practical suggestion, and I hope that if hon. Members on this side are prepared to take that view, and to behave in reason, as I think they are all prepared to do, we should probably be able to arrive at an agreement without the introduction of the guillotine method. I make that definite proposal to the Government for this reason, that I think they are entitled, and I am speaking mainly from the point of view of Labour Members, to rely upon the inevitable exhaustion which must overtake us in a diminished Opposition. Our numbers are very small, and probably during the time this Bill is under discussion they will be even smaller, owing to the industrial crisis. I am satisfied that if the Government give the eight days which they have already conceded, or probably very little more, they will find that the necessity for the guillotine will have disappeared.
I hope the Government will try to see if they cannot come to some deal with the Liberal Opposition—because I gather that it is the Liberal Opposition that is the cause of the Guillotine Motion, and that Labour Members do not take quite the same view—in order to get us out of this Resolution. This Resolution will create a precedent. No doubt it is a most dangerous precedent. The real villain is the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). He created the Guillotine in this form, and rubbed it in, and used it on every possible occasion, and then fell in love with it, and used it on its merits. He ought to be here this afternoon and in the pillory for the way in which he destroyed the Debate in the House of Commons by creating this elaborate form of Guillotine, which took Mr. Speaker ten minutes to read. He closed the avenues of free discussion, and handed down to posterity in this House this dreadful form of Debate. Once you have this Guillotine in practice, further Debate on the Bill is futile. I do hope that if the Government are going to stick to their Guillotine Motion, which I profoundly regret, they will not listen to the Opposition to give more days for the Committee stage, but that they will reduce the number of days given to the Committee stage, because it really is futile. I think that five days of Parliamentary time on the Committee stage is absolutely wasted under Guillotine conditions. You never get an important point fully discussed. When there is a Guillotine you never get any reality in Debate. We have discussed this particular Bill up hill and down dale on the Financial Resolutions, and to waste five days on the Committee stage gives to the Bill an importance which the Bill on its merits does not deserve, and it has the effect of restoring the Guillotine as part of our Parliamentary practice.
I have supported this Bill. I do not think it is very important one way or the other. I think a good deal of it may be repealed by a subsequent Bill, and a good deal of it will never be operative. There is this merit of an all-night Sitting over the Guillotine, despite what was said by the Noble Lord, that the Measures passed in all-night Sittings during the last Session have required an amending Bill this year or a repeal. The Agriculture Act, the Ministry of Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, the Housing Bill, and the Insurance Amendment Act, these were dealt with in all-night Sittings. One of those all-night Sittings did give us a new Minister of Health, for which we are glad. That is an indirect benefit of an all-night Sitting. An all-night Sitting usually has the effect which we want in regard to these unnecessary Measures, namely, either an amendment or repeal. I hope that some attempt will be made to prevent this dangerous Guillotine precedent being further tried in our procedure. By attempting to arrange with the small political opposition to the Bill the Government might be able to prevent something which is very undesirable. I think the Opposition on this Bill are shouting about something that is not going to hurt anybody. It seems to me to be very largely a manufactured opposition to a Bill which is not going to do anything very serious.
I hope we shall be able to avoid the disgrace of a return to the wicked principles of debate introduced by the right hon. Member for Paisley. The right hon. Member for Paisley will go down to eternal infamy for the Guillotine, and I regret that the Leader of the House thought it necessary to quote from his iniquitous speeches this afternoon. He quoted when he ought to have burned with indignation at repeating the kind of thing which he did repeat. We all remember the Welsh Church Act, the Home Rule Act, and the way the thing was done, the way in which the right hon. Member for Paisley destroyed the House of Commons and destroyed debate. That was one of the main causes of the Wee Free rout at the last election. The way they conducted legislation and the Guillotine was the main cause of the destruction of the Liberal party. The way they forced things like the Welsh Church Act down people's throats, the way they destroyed debate in this House, wickedly and wilfully, is notorious. If we are going to follow their example, and are not going to have free debate, and are going to act in the same way that the Liberal party acted when they were depending upon the Irish vote and were forcing things through the House under the Guillotine, some of us will meet with the same fate that has overtaken them when our time comes.
I have been more frequently guillotined than any Member in this House, and yet I have kept my Parliamentary head on my Parliamentary shoulders. I am quite unable to rise to the heights of the lofty language or the unctuous indignation of the hon. Member who has just spoken. My hon. Friend suffers under the disadvantage of being youthful in this respect and not altogether acquainted with the Parliamentary history of the question of the Guillotine. There was the Guillotine long before the right hon. Member for Paisley used it.
If not in this particular form, it was in pretty much the same form long before the right hon. Gentleman used it and earned that eternal infamy to which the hon. Member has referred. Mr. Gladstone, when he was endeavouring to pass the Home Rule Bill of 1893, resorted to a form of Closure which was practically the same as is now proposed, or, at any rate, not much different. I appeal to the Leader of the House, who was one of my contemporaries at that time, to say that I am not wrong in that statement. Therefore, so far as eternal infamy is attached to the Guillotine, I am afraid that neither the Leader of the House nor the right hon. Member for Paisley will have the same historical infamy as Robespierre, under his particular and more drastic form of Guillotine. I can speak from experience of Opposition in all its forms. I began my Parliamentary career by five years' vigorous opposition to a Liberal Government, and I am in a position of impartiality. I am against Guillotine on principle, and in the interests of the House of Commons. There is one observation of my hon. and gallant Friend with which I agree entirely. The Guillotine nullifies all Debate. It nullifies it on the Government side, because all they have to do is to sit tight, conscious of the fact that by 10 o'clock each evening the Amendment under discussion will be satisfactorily disposed of in the Division Lobby, and it is equally futile so far as the Opposition are concerned, because the inevitable tendency of the Opposition is not to utilise the time to the best advantage by criticising the Measure of the Government, but to utilise it by exposing the iniquities of the Closure.
The result is that if a Debate begins, say, at 4 o'clock in the day, and lasts until 10 o'clock, the very first Amendment proposed may be the least important of all those on the Paper. If hon. Members of the Opposition, free from the spirit of resentment which the Guillotine induces, were inclined to put their case on what was to them the most tenable ground, they would make their choice between the Amendments, and they would get rid of the first Amendment as not worth much, and get rid of the second as, perhaps, irrelevant. They might consider the third as open to question, and they would concentrate on the fourth, fifth, or sixth Amendment, instead of stopping progress on the first, because they are made hopeless by a Government proposal which is an embarrassment to anything like free discussion, and their whole object is simply to expose the iniquities of the Government by increasing the area of the Bill, which has been deprived of discussion by the Guillotine.
I am about to say something which may appear paradoxical, but, so far as the House is concerned, the longer I live, the more I believe in the wisdom and necessity of talking out. Carlyle wrote 20 volumes to show the virtue of silence, and superficial critics of Parliamentary institutions, who look from outside, and not like us, from inside, are constantly making the stupid criticism that the House of Commons talks too much and does too little. I am not going to commit myself to the principle that the more it talks the more it does, and the better for the country, but if you look at the whole history of the spirit of this great Parliament, and the whole history of this country, I think one of the finest and sanest principles is that most of our most ardent and violent controversies have ended in a little conversation and compromise behind the Speaker's Chair. Why? Because when men start out, especially in time of intense political feeling, understanding of each other's position is often reached by discussion.
I am not talking of electioneering times; in electioneering times no one is responsible for what he says. In electioneering times when you appeal to the masses your lines have to be what I may call broad, and in electioneering times what on other occasions may be described as an anachronism becomes, to use the classic phrase, a cold-blooded refrigerated lie. But in this great Assembly, when we listen to each other patiently in a spirit of toleration and open-mindedness, we gene- rally find that we are not nearly as far apart at the end of a reasonable discussion as when we began. That spirit of compromise is the great safeguard which has kept this country from revolution, which has made progress in what I regard as the true form, progress by gradual evolution instead of revolutionary activities, and that great principle of Parliamentary Government which is of such great value to this nation is to a large extent prejudiced by any form of Closure, especially by this violent form of Closure. For these reasons, as one who has been a parliamentarian for many years, who has never lost the opinion that serious, tolerant, good-humoured debate, and at the right moment, necessary compromise are the true foundation of British statesmanship and liberty, I regret the action of the Government.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down speaks from a Parliamentary experience to which nobody in this House can pretend, and I am sure that the speech which he has addressed to the House will find a response in many quarters. But I rise only to say a few sentences and to put a question to the Government and make a suggestion. With the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) I am almost in complete agreement. I regret very much that the Government have found it necessary to propose the Motion which we are debating this afternoon, first because, as the hon. Member who has just sat down said accurately, it is entirely destructive of that free debate which is the very life of the House of Commons, but it goes much further than that, and I want to associate myself with my Noble Friend in suggesting that at this absolutely critical moment in the history, not merely of the House of Commons, but of Parliamentary institutions in this and indeed every other country, it is a matter of regret to have a proposal to curtail debate in the particular way suggested by His Majesty's Government, and I regard it as a very serious blow at this particular moment to the authority of Parliamentary institutions.
I really rose to ask a question and make a humble suggestion. I want to know whether the Government have considered their own precedent of 12 months ago. We had reached a stage in the discussion of the Government of Ireland Bill very much the same as we have reached in regard to this Bill. I do not pretend to be enormously in love with this Bill. Parts of it are not likely to do much harm; other parts I should be very glad to see deleted altogether. There is one part of it, the first part, which I very cordially support. I do not think that anybody who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) could doubt the efficacy or at any rate the desirability of that portion of the Bill. But we are not discussing the Bill, but the procedure, and the point I want to put to my right hon. Friend is this, whether, if it were urged upon him in a way in which I have no authority to urge it upon him from different parts of the House, he would be prepared to adopt the procedure which was adopted in regard to the Government of Ireland Bill 12 months ago?
There was a proposal then very similar to the present proposal for a time-table under Guillotine, and the suggestion was that that should be put aside and a small Committee appointed. A small Committee was appointed, if I remember aright, representative of the different parties in the House, and that Committee produced a time-table, not a Guillotine, to which all parties in the House assented. That time-table was adopted by the Government and was adhered to loyally by every party in the House, and there was no further difficulty. Will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to consider any such suggestion as that as an alternative to the proposals which he now puts forward? If he would I believe that a great deal of the difficulties which obviously arise in consequence of proposals which are distasteful to every part of the House would be overcome.
While the right hon. Gentleman is considering the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Gentleman, I may make a few remarks about the difficulties of the scheme proposed as applied to this Bill. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) has made one of the most cynical speeches to which I have ever listened in this House. I do not refer to his references to the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). I understood his philosophy in reference to the Welsh Church Bill, but what I do object to is the tone adopted by hon. Members opposite that after all this Bill means nothing to anybody, that it does no harm and does no good, and for that reason this Bill has no moral support inside this House or out of it. This Bill is one of the Government's Measures of the policy of social reform which were to give us the new world promised some years ago, and which have been passed through this House. In regard to these other Measures there was no hurry, but when a pet scheme of one or two Members of this House, Tariff Reformers, is introduced it must be forced through the House at all hazards and at lightning speed.
This Measure is harmless according to the cynics opposite. Nothing in this life seems to matter according to hon. Members opposite. I quite admit that that applies to the legislature which has been passed by this Government up to now. It has been all compromise, one party giving a sop to the other. The consequence was that when Measures became Acts of Parliament they did no harm or no good to anybody except to a few officials. That is the sterile, futile legislation of Coalition, but this is not Coalition legislation. These Resolutions are the result of a fight that has been going on for the last two or three weeks between one section of the Coalition and the other. The right hon. Gentleman the Liberal Patronage Secretary goes up and down the country collecting old people who were once called Liberals and forming them into Coalition Liberal Committees, people who are out for O.B.E.'s and things of that kind. They would like to see a pretty ribbon.
The Patronage Secretary collects these people and makes a speech. I have read two such speeches. They are all of this kind: "There are no Tories now in the Government; there are no Conservatives, no Tariff Reformers. They are all one. This is the first Liberal Government that ever existed in the history of this country." When the Patronage Secretary joined the Government it became the first and only Liberal Government in the country. But the Leader of the House said to himself, "I will teach him whether it is a Liberal Government or not. It is a Tariff Reform Government." So the fight goes on. In order that the two sections of the Government may show to the House and the world who is in power, the House of Commons is to be the corpus vile on which vivisection is to be performed. So that it will be demonstrated that the Tariff Reformers are in power. As a Member of the House I object to being operated on in this way. If this sort of thing goes on I shall claim the sympathy of my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir F. Banbury) and ask him to put the House in his Dogs' Protection Bill so that no operation of this kind can be performed. There is no moral authority behind the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. I listened the other evening to the Minister of Education, who was put up to speak in support of the Bill. I never heard a discussion in which medical terms and similes were so freely used. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a dose of strychnine. Strychnine has a most vile taste and the right hon. Gentleman made the usual grimaces which anyone—
I think I am in order in saying that a Bill like this, which has no moral authority behind it, and in which no one believes, should not be forced through in this way. It is quite plain that the Minister of Education, at any rate, does not believe in the Bill, though he was put up to support it. I was glad to notice that the Leader of the House gave him just one cheer during a half-hour's speech. The Leader of the House ought to be jealous of the traditions and liberties of the House, yet he is going to sacrifice the best element in those traditions in order to get through a Bill in which no one believes, and for which nobody cares. That is the sort of cynical attitude we are seeing. There never was a Bill supported with so much cynicism. I believe that the Leader of the House believes in his Bill. I do not think he would support anything in which he did not believe, but it is cruel for the Government to put up Liberal Ministers to speak in support of Bills in which they do not believe. The Bill is a child that no one owns. The Minister who introduced it said it was not his child, and he disclaimed all responsibility for it.
My opinion is that a sufficient number of days has been given to the Bill. As a matter of fact, the Government, through various backdoor agencies, tried to make Members of this House believe that we were not to hear any more of the Bill. In the Lobby Coalition Liberals said, "What is the use of worrying about the Resolutions? The Bill will never be seen." Effect ought to be given to that sort of suggestion and we ought never to see the Bill again. But we are going to see it. The Bill will revolutionise not merely the whole fiscal policy of a party but the whole fiscal system of the country. It will undermine the system on which the trade and prosperity of the country have depended for generations. A Bill of that kind wants every kind of attention that the House can give to it. When a proposal similar to this was made by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the distinguished father of the Leader of the House, a Bill of this sort was not brought forward in the House, but the country was consulted upon the question. In those days they acted constitutionally; they did not try to force through a proposal even in an attenuated form on a half sheet of note-paper, as does the present Leader of the House in these degenerate days. I protest against the traditions and the best characteristics of this House being outraged on account of a Bill in which not even the right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentlemen opposite or even the Government believe.
I do not propose to follow the last speaker in his most eloquent appeal against being vivisected. His appeal would have carried much more weight if he had not vivisected or attempted to vivisect the Coalition Government. As a supporter of the Government and a strong supporter of the Bill, I ask the Government to do their best to meet the appeal made by the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) and to try to come to some arrangement which will make it unnecessary to carry this particular Resolution. I ask the Government to do that, even though it may entail giving a somewhat longer time to the Bill. I do that mainly on the ground urged by my Noble Friend. I feel very strongly that these Guillotine Resolutions should not be made use of except in cases of real and extreme urgency. This occasion particularly is one on which it would be well if the Government could come to some arrangement of that kind as a precedent. For this reason: there has been more time wasted over the discussion of this Bill up to now than on any other Measure I have heard discussed since I came to this House in 1918. We may be creating a good precedent if we can succeed in doing without this Resolution. The Bill is highly contentious. In my opinion it is highly important, although it is a very short Bill. Almost everything that could have been said upon it on the Second Beading has already been said on the discussion of the Financial Resolutions. An hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of only two days having been spent in Committee on those Resolutions and of their having been no obstruction then. I would remind the House that the discussion on the Report stage could hardly be described in quite the same way. The opponents of this Bill have practically exhausted three or four times over the arguments they' have against the Bill.
Generally speaking, the ideas of the supporters of the Bill was that, having answered the arguments once, they did not require to answer them three times more because they were repeated three times. The criticism which has been levelled at this Bill from the other side on certain matters of detail shows that the Opposition, if they were wishful to obstruct, are not only woefully deficient in powers of real scientific obstruction, but that they have not got up their brief in this case. In the discussion of the industries scheduled under the Bill they have shown a most lamentable ignorance of how those industries are carried on and a most lamentable ignorance of the real facts. In the particular industry of which I have spoken before, the scientific glassware industry, they have repeated over and over again things which have been answered, they have repeated the statement that profits were made by those concerned during the War, which has been contradicted; and they have repeated over and over again statements which are not only untrue but grossly unfair and unfavourable to British industry. After all the discussion that has taken place there is very good reason for asking the Opposition to agree to and to keep to an arrangement which may obviate the need of proceeding with this Guillotine Resolution. On the other hand, if the conduct of the Opposition shows that there is an attempt at obstruc- tion, the remedy may still be resorted to. I hope, however, that, if it is possible, both sides will endeavour to come to some arrangement.
I do not think anyone who has listened to the Debate will find any cause to congratulate the Government on the proposals made by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House, nowadays, seems always to be moving either "That the Question be now put" or that the Guillotine be applied to the Debates of House of which he is the Leader. On this particular occasion we have had from his own side of the House one plea, that the Resolution should be dropped, and that from the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. We had, also, a speech from the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), which cannot have given great pleasure to his leader on the Front Bench. By way of attacking the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), he said that Gentleman would go down to eternal infamy—for proposing a Resolution far milder than the Resolution now proposed by the Leader of the House. One wondered, on listening to him, why the Leader of the House did not burn with indignation, instead of which the Leader of the House was defending himself against quotations from his own speeches by explaining that when they were made they had no very serious purpose or great sincerity. That is the defence always put forward in cases of this kind. Regarding the attack which was made upon my leader, the hon. Member for Paisley, I will only say that the Leader of the House inadvertently misled the House as regards some material considerations. He quoted a long extract from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman as a defence of the Guillotine on the ground of its being, inevitably, a part of the Parliamentary machine. But he did not tell us the occasion on which the speech was made. It was made on the occasion of an Amendment to the Address. The right hon. Gentleman was bound to resist an Amendment to the Address. Everybody knows the Government cannot accept an Amendment to the Address, and he was resisting an Amendment, moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil), suggesting certain modifications of our procedure. That modification has taken place, and the very reason for which the right hon. Gentleman defended the necessity of the Guillotine has disappeared.
I beg the hon. and gallant Member's pardon for interrupting, but he is speaking under a misapprehension. The first speech from which I quoted was made on the 25th October, 1911, and the other was on the Finance Bill of 1914. I think, by a slip of the tongue, I said 1913, but it was actually made on the 7th July, 1914. Therefore the hon. and gallant Member has got hold of the wrong speech. I had not traced that one.
Although his correction is quite justified, I think the Leader of the House has not in the least assisted his case. My point is that the ex-Prime Minister explained that in the absence of a reform of the procedure of this House, something of this kind was a necessity. That was his defence, and that was the whole gravamen of the case. That reform, whether for good or ill, was actually effected, and that at a particularly bad time, namely, when a new House was elected, many Members of which could not be expected to be good judges of Parliamentary procedure. As regards the Finance Bill of 1914, what was the reason for the right hon. Gentleman's action on that occasion? I believe it is the only precedent for the application of the Guillotine to finance proposals, and the reason for it was that there was a statutory obligation to pass that Bill by a certain date. Consequently the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley was then obliged to take steps, objectionable in themselves, to see that it was passed within the statutory time. Of course, there is plenty of scope for battledore and shuttlecock on this question of the Guillotine, but I do not really think the Leader of the House has supported his case with anything very definite or convincing. In regard to the 1914 Bill there were several days' discussion, and the Bill was in Committee before there was any Guillotine pro- posal. The real point, put briefly, is that this and many other things are reacting on the prestige of the House of Commons. I put forward this consideration. Parliamentary institutions are being attacked from many sides. I do not say the alternatives which have been suggested have very much popular favour, because I am sure they have not. But I am quite sure it is not sufficient to show that they are worthless or undesirable. You have also to show that the House of Commons can be effective and good as a governing machine. Therefore we should be particularly jealous of any attacks upon the liberties of the House of Commons.
I do not wish to say anything offensive, but the very mode of the last election in itself cast a certain—I will not say slur—but suspicion upon the House of Commons. It resulted in a House of Commons largely nominated by the Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I did not expect there would be general concurrence in that opinion in the House itself. I can only say, so far as I was concerned, that I was deposed from a constituency which I had represented for a number of years through a stroke of the pen by an official of the Government, but I am glad to say I was elected to another constituency, that which I have the honour to represent today. Then the liberties of the House were considerably curtailed by Standing Order 37 which confers upon the Chair, on the application of the Government, certain very drastic powers. Further we have an absentee Prime Minister. At present, unfortunately, he is absent for reason which we all deplore. Still he has made a practice of being absent; he is like a sort of quasi President [Interruption]. It is not my province to defend the Prime Minister; that is an event which is deferred for a short time. In any case, we have a Prime Minister who only comes down here twice a day to answer questions—[An HON MEMBER: "Twice a week!"]—and who is represented by the Leader of the House. That is creating an entirely new precedent. Finally we have the growth of the Ministry which in 1914, before the War, numbered about 59 and now numbers about 80. These hon. Gentlemen, of course, vote with a regularity and promptitude which cannot be praised too high. In addition to that they have all private secretaries, and as an ex-private secretary myself, I am well aware of the censure which falls upon the private secretary who does not loyally support the Government to which he is attached.
Thus, we find that of the 700 Members in the House, 70 of whom are absentees by design—the Irishmen—about 160 are, in one way or another, attached to the Government. You have the privileges of the House curtailed by Standing Orders, and now in favour of a Bill on behalf of which no candidate could be found to stand at the last bye-election the Government proposes to allot time in this way. I shall not criticise the details, but as an instance of the profound objections to which this proposal is open I may point out that a tariff is imposed and we are only to have 3½ hours upon the discussion of the Schedule, or if it happens to be a Friday, only two hours. If we look at Part 1, we shall find there is a most vital proposal affecting the powers of this House to control Orders made by the Board of Trade, and it will come right up against one of the occasions where the Chairman is to put the Question. Is legislation worth having which is produced under conditions of this kind? I say no. Any hon. Member of this House, even though he has only been a Member since the last election, can bear that out from his own experience. Does anyone remember the Profiteering Act? A Select Committee sat under the President of the Board of Trade and then came down to the House with a Bill which had to be passed at once. There was the German Reparation Scheme, the Decontrol of Mines, and many other things which were done in a great hurry because it was necessary to force them through the House of Commons; and this Bill will prove to be another of the same kind. Legislation of this kind is no good. After all is said and done, the value of this House—whatever hon. Members opposite may say about the reiteration of arguments—is that it collects together a number of men of diverse experience and critical power who examine the proposals put forward and who do bring to light matters of very great substance in the interests of the people of this country. This sort of thing injures the prestige of the House. The country can have no respect for a House to which its own Members show so little respect by perpetually absenting themselves from the Divisions—I think only about 50 per cent. habitually vote. As one who believes in the House of Commons and in its utility and who wishes to maintain its power, I propose to vote against the Resolution.
Captain STANLEY WILSON:
The House has listened to a somewhat elaborate defence by the hon. Member who has just sat down of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. I have a very vivid recollection of the time when I was on the Opposition Benches, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley was the Leader of the Government, and the Leader of the House with the hon. and gallant Member for Leith as one of his supporters, and I also remember how on every possible occasion he resorted to a Guillotine Resolution of a character similar to this one. I do not like it, I candidly admit, and as one of the old Members of this House I find myself in a somewhat awkward position. I think many of the older Members of the House on this side find themselves similarly situated. I am a supporter of this Bill. I do not look upon it as a very great or very important Measure, but I am a supporter of it. I am just as strongly opposed to Guillotine Resolutions if it is possible to avoid them, and I do most sincerely regret that the Leader of the House—and my own leader—should have seen fit to ask the House to pass the present Resolution.
I am all for passing the Bill into law as quickly as we possibly can, and I am all for avoiding an Autumn Session if it is possible, but I maintain that the Resolution is premature. The Chairman of Committees has very great powers at the present time. He has got the kangaroo Closure, which is a powerful instrument to wield, and we have seen it used effectively in regard to many Bills. I think the Government would have done well had they given the Bill a day or two in Committee in order to see what the attitude of hon. Members opposite was going to be towards it. We should have had, say, two days to see if they were going to be reasonable or not, and if that had been done I should be much more wholeheartedly in support of the Government on this Resolution. I quite agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) when he said there had not been any particular obstruction, but he added that he thought the principal reason was that the Members of the present Opposition did not know how to obstruct. There is a certain amount of truth in that. At any rate they have not yet learned how to obstruct in the same artistic fashion as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) did when he used to occupy those Benches, and obstruct the Government Measures of that day. As I have said, I am anxious to see the Bill passed, and if the Government is going to insist on imposing this Guillotine Resolution on the House I suppose I shall find myself somewhat halfheartedly wandering into the Lobby in support of it. I do beg the Government most earnestly to consider the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Oxford City (Mr. Marriott). I think it was a most valuable suggestion. At any rate, I earnestly hope my leader will find some way out and will not force the House to pass this Resolution.
I believe the pigeon holes of the Treasury and the principal Liberal offices contain stacks of speeches usually made on these occasions, giving quotations by the yard of what the other side said, but in the Labour party we are at present free, and can say what we like. In two or three years' time we may be sitting there on the Government Benches, in which case we shall no doubt give quotations to our adversaries, but at present we are able to look at the subject as citizens. This Debate is an admirable example of what ought not to have occurred. The Leader of the House has not been supported by his own party, the Debate is wholly a waste of time, and I am quite confident that if the Bill had gone to Committee without a Guillotine, and with the very stringent kangaroo Closure witnessed on the Report stage of the Financial Resolutions, he would have got his Bill much more quickly than he will do under this Guillotine arrangement. There are certain quite new circumstances to be considered on this occasion. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman has a party at his command much more extensive and much more docile, well under control to prevent them interfering in Debate or answering any arguments used on this side. In all these cases of contentious Measures the principal difficulty of the Government is not in answering the arguments of the other side, but of somebody on their own side getting up and talking and giving an opportunity for speakers from the Opposition. They have such an admirably trained Government service now behind them that they need never be afraid of anybody getting up and interrupting the Debate. The hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Captain S. Wilson) was almost a rebel, and he will not get a coupon for the next Election. They have a thoroughly docile party, and can put up the Minister of Health, or the Minister of Education, or any other ex-Liberal Minister to defend Tariff Reform with perfect complacency. The right hon. Gentleman has also got a fairly good House of Commons to deal with on the Opposition side. The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) said he had never seen more crass obstruction in this House than he witnessed on the Report stage of the Financial Resolutions on this Bill, but he is a new Member, and he does not know the good old days and what obstruction really meant.
I had read that, and my point was the difference between the scientific and artistic obstruction of the old days and the different class of obstruction at the present time.
The hon. Member has wonderful powers of reading if he has read all the speeches of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and I can assure him that the obstruction in those days sounded even better than it read. It is a poor Opposition the Government has got at the present time. They cannot talk unlimitedly, for any length of time, on any subject, without notice. They cannot really keep it up. They want practice, and I hope this Bill will give us on these Benches an opportunity of practice of that sort. With an Opposition which has not as yet shown any powers of obstruction, with a Government following completely docile and at the nod and beck of the Leader of the House, I think we might have been spared this Resolution altogether. I cannot help thinking we shall find some difficulty in filling up the five days given for the Committee stage. We shall, of course, do our best, but I am certain that with the extra sixth day which is now being wasted, and with perhaps another day or two which could well be spared before we rise in August, we should have got through this Bill without any closure at all. Personally, I very much regard the House of Commons, and I should like to see financial matters debated without any Guillotine Closure, but as it is, hon. Members opposite should realise that they are giving us, when we sit on the Government Benches, a very admirable precedent. There was no excuse for this Guillotine, and when we come to introduce our Bills on finance, the capital levy, a good round tax on land values, and a few other thoroughly unpopular Measures so far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, we too shall have a Guillotine Resolution. We will play off the same game on you that you are playing off on us, we will force through the House Measures you do not like, and we will deal as we have been dealt by. Judging by the bye-elections, I do not think it will be a remarkable space of time before that happens.
How about Heywood? I am not ashamed of the Labour vote there, and after you have repealed the Unemployment Act and abolished the wages boards in agricultural districts, you will find that the 40 per cent. vote of which the Prime Minister spoke has been transferred from one side to the other and that the balance will comfortably put a Labour Government into power. Then we shall refer unanimously to this day's Debate, and we shall be able to cull from the speeches of the Leader of the House the arguments we want to use, and if we are still to have this Guillotine Closure, you will have forged a weapon to be used against yourselves, in a moment of mental aberration, as I believe, when there was absolutely no necessity for any Guillotine Resolution whatever.
I beg to move, to leave out the words "Committee stage" ["That the proceedings on the Committee stage"].
We have had a long discussion on the general aspects of this Resolution, and I do not propose to add anything to the general discussion except to say that if one of the reasons for moving the Guillotine is really meant as a substantial one, it is a reason why I at any rate shall vote against it, and that is the question of the abolition of an Autumn Session. I think it would be shameful to trust this Government with the affairs of this country for six months without a meeting of this House, and that is one reason why I should vote against this Resolution. My Amendment, to leave out the words, "Committee stage," would be followed by a consequential Amendment to leave out also the Third Reading, so that the effect would be to confine the Guillotine to the Report stage of the Bill. The reason for the exclusion of the Third Reading is, I think, obvious. The Guillotine in any case only gives it one day. There is power in the Chair already, at the request of the Prime Minister or Leader of the House, for the Closure on the Third Reading Debate, and therefore no Guillotine is required for the Third Reading. If it is true that we are, as an Opposition, feeble and inartistic and unscientific, as has been stated by an hon. Member opposite, it is equally true that the Government are abnormally dumb. Not one of them have taken the trouble to support their Leader to-day in favour of the Guillotine, and any who have spoken have been in favour of asking him to reconsider his attitude towards the Guillotine. The arguments that have been used have been that it would be better to have a trial run of the Bill in Committee, and this Amendment will enable those Members who have used that argument to support us. If we have a thoroughly good discussion in Committee, it is not nearly so important to have a repetition of those discussions on the Report stage, and therefore this Amendment will be willing to give the Government their Guillotine proposals on the Report stage in exchange for a fret: Committee discussion. I do not want to make a speech in the nature of repetition, but I should like to make one addition to one of the arguments used with regard to the Schedule. I do not know whether hon. Members have counted the industries affected in the Schedule, but if they do, and if they consider the amount of time allotted to those important industries, they will see that it is only a question of two or three minutes to each of the industries affected. That is not discussion.
I think if the hon. Member had studied those industries better he would have discovered that every article in the Schedule is not necessarily a separate industry. The industries are comparatively few.
That is quite likely, but it does not affect what I am saying. I will take from my hon. Friend, without discussing it at all, what is the precise number of industries. Apparently he has not even taken the trouble to count them, but if they are five six, ten, or twelve, there are only three hours for the lot.
Of course it is, but it is so short a time that they cannot be adequately discussed in that time. If the Leader of the House will accept this Amendment, which would leave the Committee stage free, it would enable him, after the first two or three days in Committee, in which, of course, he would have the advantage of being able to sit beyond 11 o'clock at night if he so desired, to see whether we were deliberately obstructing the Bill, and then he could apply a Guillotine if he liked.
As I understand the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, it is that the Resolution should not apply to the Third Reading, as that is unnecessary, because, by getting the consent of the Chair, the Third Reading could be brought to an end, and that it should not apply to the Committee stage. Whether it should apply to the Report stage or not, I am not clear.
I have no desire to speak for the Labour party, although in many cases I can better speak for Labour than some hon. Members. What I have said, is that if my right hon. Friend were prepared to give a free Committee stage, and it was not abused by carrying on deliberate obstruction, that would satisfy a great part of the House, and we—speaking for my right hon. Friend who leads on this side—would certainly not worry about the Report stage.
I do not see in the proposal, I am sorry to say, the prospect of an agreement. If it had been possible to come to an agreement about the progress of the Bill, I should have been glad, and I did not put this Resolution on paper until after making inquiries in the usual way. I was led to believe that there was no hope of such an agreement. My Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) and my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford City (Mr. Marriott) pressed upon me that we should at least try to come to an agreement before we asked the House to pass a Resolution of this kind. It is a little late to make such an agreement now, but if I had found it possible to make the agreement, or been led to suppose that we could make the agreement, I would certainly have endeavoured to do so, instead of having recourse to machinery of this kind. What the hon. Gentleman proposes is that, provided there be no persistent obstruction by his Friends in Committee, we should withdraw so much of this Resolution as applies to the Committee stage, and that we should take no further action unless we were prepared to allege and to prove persistent obstruction by his friends. No Leader of the House in recent times, in, making a Motion like this, has ever attempted to base his Motion on persistent obstruction by the Opposition. On the contrary, the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr Asquith), in the speeches which I quoted here earlier, carefully refrained from suggesting obstruction.
The fact of the matter is that if you have, let us say, 630 active Members of the House of Commons taking an intelligent interest in all the business that is brought before them, not a few of them anxious to impress their constituents with their diligent attendance and defence of the public interest, it becomes impossible to continue the old, unlimited freedom of debate, and from time to time, under one Leader of the House or another, steps have been taken to curtail that freedom, in order that the House might not be brought into contempt by its inability to carry out its programme. If parties in opposition were near the Government in mind, and were willing to come to an arrangement, I would do my best to meet them, but from the Amendments on the Paper I see no common ground on which to base such a prospect. I observe that the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Wedgwood) said, in his opinion, the time given to the Bill was quite sufficient, and that we should really have got it in the time without a Guillotine Resolution. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, at any rate, will not complain that the Guillotine is too drastic.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think, is not stating his case quite accurately, if he will allow me to say so. Unlimited discussion does not give the House the right to choose what they will discuss. It constantly gives rise to the taking of an immense amount of time on the very points which the majority of the House least desires to discuss. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman, though he dislikes the Guillotine, has not infrequently voted for it, and hopes to have an opportunity of enforcing it from this Bench in a short time. My hon. Friend opposite had no other alternative to offer to the Govern- ment than to drop the Bill. That is no doubt what he would do. He is an opponent of the Bill, but that is not a basis for an agreement between the Government and the Opposition. We think it is a necessary Bill. It is a Bill which we included in the programme on which we went to the country, and we must take the steps necessary to get it through in reasonable time. If hon. Members look at the Schedule, I think they will agree that the time is fairly apportioned, and I hope that they will be of the same opinion as the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, that the time is ample.
I regret that my right hon. Friend has shown no signs at all of any desire to accept in any form the suggestion which has been made. The suggestion is that there should be no Guillotine on the Committee stage, which is the important stage, but that there should be on the Report stage, and, if necessary, on the Third Reading, though it is not necessary on the Third Reading, because, in all probability, Mr. Speaker, if desired, would give the Closure on a single day's Debate. That is exactly where we are. Shall we curtail, on a most important Measure like this, the liberty of the House of Commons on the Committee stage, which is the important thing. Let hon. Members for the moment cast their minds back to the extraordinary powers which the Chairman has. Supposing we are dealing with Clause I, and there is undue debate—I will not say flagrant obstruction—the Government can claim the words of the Clause down to a certain part, or right down to the end of it, or that the Clause be added to the Bill. Most drastic powers could be exercised on the floor of this House within the hearing of Members, who could judge whether there had been unfair discussion. This is a very short Bill in Clauses, and, of course, when you come to the Schedule, there is the same power with the same support from the Committee hearing the Debate, and judging the whole thing as time went on. That is the suggestion which is now made. My right hon. Friend knows, with his experience of the House, that you cannot get these things cut and dried behind the Chair. It is only as Debate goes on, and the views of Members in various parts of the House are expressed, that you get the sense or the feeling of the House.
There can be no doubt at all that there is a great sense of uneasiness in the House on this matter. I will not put it higher than that. Certainly, as regards the majority, they do not like it at all. Here is a suggestion made. Try the House on the Committee stage, and, if you find that things are not going as they ought to go, then see if you cannot come to some sort of business agreement. I am sure my right hon. Friend will believe me when I say I am very much more concerned about the House of Commons than about any party in it—much more—and I do not like the threats of what may happen in years to come. I really feel on this question, as hon. Members know, very seriously indeed, and I do feel that we are committing ourselves to a step to-day which we may live to regret. I say, try the House of Commons on the Committee stage, and see how it behaves. If it is not going well, then put up your Guillotine Resolution again.
This suggestion is made in the interest of the House of Commons. I do not know what days are necessary; we cannot tell. We put down ten days for the whole of the Committee stage. You always ask for more than you expect to get. If there are any means of releasing the most important part of this Bill from this dire precedent, which at some future date may be used against hon. Members who are listening to me to-day, I say to Members, if we are driven to a Division, "Guard well your votes."
|Division No. 161.]||AYES.||[7.2 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Dawes, James Arthur||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edgar, Clifford B.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Jesson, C.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Elveden, Viscount||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bigland, Alfred||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Foreman, Sir Henry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Forrest, Walter||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lorden, John William|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Gardner, Ernest||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gee, Captain Robert||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Loyd, Arthur T.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lyle, C. E. Leonard|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Glyn, Major Ralph||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Goff, Sir R. Park||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Grant, James Augustus||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Maddocks, Henry|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Greer, Harry||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Manville, Edward|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Martin, A. E.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Haslam, Lewis||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Morrison, Hugh|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Davidson, J.C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Davidson, Major-General sir J. H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hood, Joseph||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Neal, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Parker, James||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Pearce, Sir William||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Perring, William George||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Simm, M. T.||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.||Wise, Frederick|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Pratt, John William||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Purchase, H. G.||Stanton, Charles Butt||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Raper, A. Baldwin||Steel, Major S. Strang||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Stewart, Gershom||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Reid, D. D.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Remnant, Sir James||Taylor, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Armitage, Robert||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Irving, Dan||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Johnstone, Joseph||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Tootill, Robert|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wignall, James|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Mills, John Edmund||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mosley, Oswald||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hayward, Evan||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newtom|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Major Barnes and Mr. Hogge.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
I regret we were unsuccessful in the suggestion we made to the Leader of the House in discussion on the last Amendment to try to effect some kind of compromise with regard to the number of days, and I am very disappointed to find that all the Members of the Government who spoke in favour of a compromise and against imposing the Guillotine were all found in the Lobby voting with the Government in favour of no compromise and the Guillotine. I do not notice on the Government Bench anybody who has anything to do with the Bill, and therefore I beg to move an adjournment of the Debate until the Minister is present. This is a very important question dealing with the time of the House, yet the Leader of the House is not present.
This is a question of the division of the time of the House, and surely it is unusual for an under Minister to take charge of a Motion in which the question of the allocation of the time of the House is an important matter. We have been refused any compromise on the Schedule. The time of the House is entirely in the hands of the Leader of the House, and I think we are entitled to ask that the Leader of the House should not be absent when we are discussing the question.
No Minister can be expected to be here at every moment of the Debate. The Leader of the House was present up to the taking of the last Division, and he may have been detained elsewhere for a moment. There could not be any Motion to report Progress, and I could not accept a Motion for the adjournment of the Debate.
I beg to move, in paragraph (1), to leave out the word "Five" ["Five allotted days shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill"], and to insert instead thereof the word "Ten."
If you, Mr. Speaker, cannot accept a Motion for the adjournment of the Debate, I cannot move it, and therefore I shall move my Amendment to extend the period of the Committee stage. Incidentally, I should like to say that it is possible to send for the Leader of the House, who has as much right to be in his place as we have to be in our places. The reason we desire 10 days is obvious; five are not sufficient. If hon. Members will look at page 2159 of the Order Paper they will notice a succession of Amendments which seek to make a different allocation of the subjects which can be discussed. Of the first seven Amendments on the Paper, six are consequential to the first. It is unnecessary to go over the subjects which are dealt with in these Clauses, because, unless we know that there is to be a different allocation of time, it is scarcely worth wasting time in discussing subjects which are to be discussed inside these periods.
I should like to say this about the Guillotine: that it is not so much the question of putting time into compartments that one deplores as the fact that on any one subject the House never gets a free run. On one particular subject the House very frequently develops discussion which is in the nature of a free run, and a decision on which determines what the action shall be of those who have subsequent Amendments down. Quite frequently when we have a longer run on a particular subject the effect of that is to shorten further proceedings. That is my reason for not going into the details of these re-arrangements. I want to make one specific remark about the Government's suggestion on page 2157 of the Order Paper. It deals with the fifth and the last of the Committee days. On that day new Clauses are to be taken along with the Schedule, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion. That is to say, there is only 3½ hours in which to discuss the whole of the Schedule. I do not know whether the Government are going to make any concessions, but, if they are, surely on the question of the Schedule they could afford to give us more time. I make another suggestion now to my hon. Friend who at the moment is in charge of the House. We ought to have a day extra for discussion. My 10 days would give us that, but if he is not going to give the 10, I hope he will in the course of his reply say whether the Government are prepared to give any concession at all.
Another Amendment I should like to refer to is this, and it concerns a vital matter of principle and suggests the necessity why we should have 10 days: Under any discussion on the Finance Bill the Eleven o'Clock Rule does not operate. The Guillotine, as set up by this Amendment, brings our proceedings to a conclusion at 10.30, half an hour before the close of the ordinary Parliamentary day. So that, not only does not the Government programme deprive the House of the right to discuss beyond 11 o'clock, but it actually takes half an hour of the time of the ordinary Parliamentary day. That is why we suggest that, instead of five days, we should have 10 allotted for the Committee stage of this Bill. The concession for which I ask does not imperil the Autumn Session. It does not make any suggestion beyond this, that the House should sit till the end of August instead of till the end of the third week. In view of the nature of the changes suggested, the Government must have a very weak case if they are going to confine discussion to these five days. Let me again emphasise my suggestion as to the necessity of more fully discussing the Schedule, and at least having one day for it alone. That is not, indeed, enough time for adequate discussion, but I do think that in one day there might be time to draw attention to the more important cases, and it will give some indication of the mind of the Committee in regard to these. It will be fatal if we are to be asked to put through the Schedule in three and a half hours. Hon. Members will notice that Amendments have been put down to every one of these particular articles—
By the same people, because, naturally, they think the same way on the subjects on which they agree. We do not want Division after Division. Everybody has some objection to one or other of these aspects of the Schedule, and you cannot deal with them all in three and a half hours.
The Government, I trust, will be very cautious before accepting the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has put forward. I have listened to a good deal of the discussion to-day, and to the rather lengthy speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to the time allotted to the consideration of this Measure by the House. I confess that not one single argument appears to me to hold water. For example, it is represented very vehemently, if not quite so sincerely, that this Measure is to be pushed through by the aid of the Guillotine. Here we have the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, the hon. and gallant Member for Leith, and others, very busy taking up the whole of this afternoon and evening in arguing that sufficient time is not being given to consider the Measure itself. They are quite willing to waste a Parliamentary day on the question of how many hours or days of the remainder of the Session should be given to this Bill. I submit that that alone is proof of the fact that they are not so anxious as they appear to be thoroughly to discuss this Measure as they are intent upon manufacturing political capital for use out-of-doors.
His proposal, says the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), is a very mild one, and no exception need be taken to it in any quarter. It is only going to mean that we will remain here until the end of August before we are allowed to separate—thanks to the indulgence of the hon. Gentleman! He confessed this afternoon that he was very much annoyed at there being no prospect of an Autumn Session. He does not feel that the Government can carry on without his aid from the other side of the House. I do not quite know whether it is, as it appears to me, according to his statement given a little earlier, that we are going to be kept here in order that the Government may have his support, and in order that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull may be able to talk day and night throughout the summer. That sort of thing does not hold out any attraction for us. As to the argument of the hon. Gentleman that the Guillotine is a nefarious weapon used for stifling discussion, is there anything further from the fact? It has been said to-day, very unctuously by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin and by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith, that Parliamentary institutions are on their trial, and a great many things very adverse to them were being said out of doors. Why are they on their trial? Why are they being criticized? Mainly, I think, because certain Members of this House, like the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin, come down here, day after day, take part in Debate after Debate, and monopolise the time of the House. So those, whom I venture to describe as the strong silent Members, are altogether kept out of the picture. They are doing their work, nevertheless!
I do think, however, that this sort of thing is rather trading upon our good nature. There are Members of the House whom we hear, as a matter of fact, whatever hour of the day or night one may happen to come. You are sure to find one or other of them talking, and shedding crocodile tears from the Opposition Bench over this iniquitous Government which is going really to put a period to their eloquence. All I have to say as to the Guillotine, as worked out in the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, is that it seems to me to be one of the most effective ways of showing the public and the Press—and the Press more than the public need to be shown—that this House is a businesslike assembly. There is no town council, there is no county council in the country which would cavil at these proposals, because they give every opportunity to every section of genuine opinion to make good its particular point. If those concerned are creating pure obstruction and piling up capital for use in the constituences, then I do not think that either the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles, nor I, or any other Member of the House is entitled to object, because, really, these matters ought to be considered in a statesmanlike way, not from the point of view of trying to resuscitate the fortunes of dissentient Liberals.
I am sorry I was not in my place when the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) moved his Amendment. He will, perhaps, accept my assurance that I did not go out without a motive, which was but to see whether I could possibly come to any arrangement that might meet the views expressed by my hon. Friend opposite, or whether an arrangement could be come to as to some other substituted form of this Resolution. The hon. Gentleman proposes 10 days for the Committee stage. I must ask him to remember that this Bill is founded upon Resolutions, and the Bill to a great extent merely repeats the Resolutions on which the House of Commons spent three days in Committee and another day on Report.
Every Amendment in respect of the Schedule of goods which my hon. Friend, I think, particularly dwelt upon, and most strongly, was as equally in order on the Committee and Report stages of the Resolutions as they will be on the Committee and Report stages of the Bill. A Leader of the House does his best to meet the desires of the Opposition, if he can, and to proceed by way of agreement instead of proceeding by way of compulsion. I am no exception to that rule. I would gladly make such agreement, but then we must be clear as to the kind of agreement that is possible. There are so many people to consider in making the agreement. There are at least two parties representing the Opposition and, covering, I am not quite certain, how many different points of view; not to speak of the one party which forms the Coalition, and which also covers certain differences of opinion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—on detail.
If it were possible, and it may be, that the two parties opposite are prepared to consider my proposal, I will make them this offer. I would allocate an extra day to the Committee if that extra day would be devoted definitely to the Schedule if my right hon. Friend and those representing the two parties opposite would accept that as satisfactory, and would give us the Resolution in that form, and also agree that after giving this extra day we are not to sit late. If my right hon. Friend's intention is that we are simply to trust to a general indisposition for a long discussion, whether it be over many days or late sittings, I do not think that is sufficient foundation for me to build upon. I should be glad if we could come to terms. I think my offer is a fair one, and if it is accepted on behalf of the Independent Liberals and the Labour party I will move an Amendment to that effect in my Resolution. I could not leave this to chance without any definite understanding either as to the number of hours we are to sit or the number of days.
My right hon. Friend has alluded with good humour and playfulness to the number of parties on this side of the House. I do not know how many parties sit on the other side, but I should be inclined to say tot homines tot sententiœ, because there are far more parties represented on the side of the Leader of the House than on this side. There is a real change in the composition of parties and no one knows what will be poured into the crucible at the next General Election. We must move in the new atmosphere and determine to adhere to the best traditions of this House in that atmosphere. My right, hon. Friend's offer is not the suggestion which I put to him. What I suggested was that in this Committee stage he should at any rate try the House of Commons in Committee, and see whether it will not work and function without obstruction or unduly delaying the ordinary business of the Government. That is my suggestion. I believe it would work. I speak simply for those I represent, and I cannot say anything as to the attitude of the Labour party. I believe if my right hon. Friend said, "Very well, I understand from you that six or seven days without the limit of the Eleven o'Clock Rule, which is always the case with Finance Bills, will be sufficient," I believe he would get his Committee stage in that time. As far as we are concerned we would do our best to conclude the Committee stage in that time. I have, relatively speaking, only been in the House a short time—14 years—but my right hon. Friend has had a long experience and speaks with 29 years' experience, and I am sure he will confirm me when I say that there has never been an understanding arrived at across the Floor of the House which has been broken. In the case of the Irish party, with all their fighting strength as a Parliamentary force it was their pride that they never broke a bargain, and they never did. Whatever the changes in the House are, I believe there is a spirit here which is independent and lives on apart from the parties who for the time being compose the House of Commons. I believe in that spirit. That is the offer I made. My right hon. Friend says he cannot accept that, and he offers us another day within the Guillotine, but I am sorry I cannot accept it, and I shall vote against it.
My offer was to confine the discussion to 11 o'clock on any of these days. I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend would confine it to six days or insist upon more. If we are to come to an arrangement it must be one which causes the Debate to finish in six days, and does not require Members to sit after 11 o'clock at a time when late sittings are a great inconvenience to the House.
With regard to late sittings, I wish to point out that on Finance Bills there is no Eleven o'Clock Rule, and if we fix a rule about 11 o'clock misunderstandings will arise. I could, of course, speak for myself, but I really could not guarantee that a sort of voluntary Closure would be acceptable to my hon. Friend.
To-night I have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) held up as a paragon of all that is good by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and he has been spoken of by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) in terms which I am sure every hon. Member will deprecate. I am sorry the Leader of the House did not quote to us his own speeches, because after condemning in very vigorous language a proposition for the allocation of the time of this House, which was not for the purpose he has mentioned this afternoon, that is to avoid an Autumn Session, but was actually made in the Autumn Session, he said:
If it went to the wrong people or was wasted, or was not employed to the best advantage, you are responsible as well as I, and the House of Commons also is responsible. They gagged themselves to prevent themselves from getting adequate time for the discussion of these Measures. I need scarcely say as between the six days of the hon. Gentleman and the 16 days of the learned Attorney-General representing the Government I am for the 16 days. But it is perfectly plain that 16 days for a Committee discussion of the problems which we have in front of us is so patent a pretence that for anybody who has taken part in the discussion of this Bill, who knows our House of Commons procedure and knows the many difficulties which are never considered outside the House but constantly arise in the House, to pretend that those 16 days are sufficient—I do not like to use harsh language—but I will say that it is a pretence to which I will not be a party. It is not adequate. The House of Commons cannot do its duty to the Bill in that time. It will not be the Bill of the House of Commons, it will not be the Bill of the nation. It will
be the Bill of the Government, and the defects which are in it will be due to the restrictions imposed by the Government on the free actions of the representatives of the people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1911; cols. 224–25, Vol. 30.]
This is not altogether the Bill of the Government, but it is a Measure forced upon the Government because of Election pledges given in 1918 by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. I think those words admirably represent our position to-day. After vigorously announcing the allocation of time on that occasion the Leader of the House and his colleagues went into the Lobby against it, and now I find the same hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are going to go into the Lobby in favour of a similar proposal foregoing all the principles which they then advocated. Of the two Bills in question, this Measure has much more far-reaching consequences. We have been told that the House is overburdened with legislation, but may I ask how many useless days and nights have we spent already in this House? I remember sitting for 36 hours—
I was trying to show how the time of the House has been wasted, and how it is now proposed to penalise the House in consequence. I think we should have a free discussion on this most important Motion without any time allocation at all. I am not sanguine that we could carry on our opposition for ten days because we should not get an answer to any of our questions. We shall find the dumb and docile Members of the House supporting this Resolution, and they will come up subterranean passages when the Division Bell rings and ask each other what the Division is about. I shall support the Amendment which has been brought forward, although it is not quite what I should like. I wish to show an uncompromising hostility to the allocation of any time at all for the discussion of this Bill, and I hope that even now the Leader of the House will consider what he said in 1911. I have read all his speeches on that occasion this afternoon, and they are very much opposite to what he has said to us to-day. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remember what he said in 1911 and let us have no allocation of time whatever. Let us have a free and frank discussion of this Bill, which is of great importance as affecting the future
|Division No. 162.]||AYES.||[7.47 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison, Hugh|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gilbert, James Daniel||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Murchison, C. K.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Goff, Sir R. Park||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M.S.||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Neal, Arthur|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Greer, Harry||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Gritten, w. G. Howard||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parker, James|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Perring, William George|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bigland, Alfred||Haslam, Lewis||Pratt, John William|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Reid, D. D.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Remnant, Sir James|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hood, Joseph||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hurd, Percy A.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jephcott, A. R.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jesson, C.||Scott, A M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Seddon, J. A.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Simm, M. T.|
|Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Cope, Major William||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Davidson, J.C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lloyd, George Butler||Taylor, J.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lorden, John William||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Loyd, Arthur T.||Waddington, R.|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Macquisten, F. A.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Maddocks, Henry||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wise, Frederick|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Manville, Edward||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Martin, A. E.||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Forrest, Walter||Mitchell, William Lane||Younger, Sir George|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||McCurdy.|
|Armitage, Robert||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Holmes, J. Stanley||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Briant, Frank||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sexton, James|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Irving, Dan||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Johnstone, Joseph||Swan, J. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey).|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tootill, Robert|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lawson, John James||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Lunn, William||Wignall, James|
|Glanville, Harold James||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mills, John Edmund||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Hayward, Evan||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness and Ross)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Myers, Thomas||Mr. Hogge and Major Barnes.|
Quite a number of Amendments fall by reason of the decision to which the House has just come, and the next in order to be moved would be the substitution of 12.30 for 10.30 as the time for closing Debates each evening. We have come to the conclusion, as far as we are concerned, and after the intimation made by the Leader of the House we shall, at any rate, best consult what we conceive to be our duty in the matter and our own convenience if we do not move any more of our Amendments,
many of which are consequential, and content ourselves with our protest in the Division Lobby against the Motion as a whole. That is an indication of the spirit in which we would have carried out the understanding I put to my right hon. Friend, and which I deeply regret that, in the interests of the House of Commons, he did not see his way to accept.
|Division No. 163.]||AYES.||[8.0 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Edgar, Clifford B.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Jesson, C.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fell, Sir Arthur||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Foreman, Sir Henry||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Forrest, Walter||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bigland, Alfred||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Gee, Captain Robert||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Gilbert, James Daniel||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Lorden, John William|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Loyd, Arthur T.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Greer, Harry||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm. Ladywood)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hall, Rr-Admi Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Maddocks, Henry|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)>|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Manville, Edward|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Haslam, Lewis||Martin, A. E.|
|Cope, Major William||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hood, Joseph||Murchison, C. K.|
|Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Waddington, R.|
|Neal, Arthur||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Parker, James||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Pearce, Sir William||Seddon, J. A.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Peel; Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Perring, William George||Simm, M. T.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville||Wise, Frederick|
|Pratt, John William||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Purchase, H. G.||Stanton, Charles Butt||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Raper, A. Baldwin||Steel, Major S. Strang||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Stewart, Gershom||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Reid, D. D.||Sturrock, J. Leng||Younger, Sir George|
|Remnant, Sir James||Taylor, J.|
|Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Armitage, Robert||Henderson, Rt. Hon A. (Widnes)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Irving, Dan||Swan, J. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Johnstone, Joseph||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Tootill, Robert|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Lawson, John James||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Lunn, William||Wignall, James|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mills, John Edmund||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Hayward, Evan||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Hogge and Major Barnes.|
Question put, and agreed to.