– in the House of Commons on 23rd November 1922.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House do now adjourn."— [Lieut.-Colonel Buckley.]

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Are we to have no reply from the Government? We havo been treated with less than the usual courtesy by the Prime Minister. We have had speeches from a number of hon. Members who have just come to the House. If the Prime Minister had been here he would have heard a great deal of very eloquent oratory, some beautiful poetry, a lot of sound common sense, and many constructive suggestions. I believe he did hear some quite pertinent questions from myself. Why cannot we have a reply from the Government? Member after Member has risen who has been returned by quite as great a majority as, or even by a greater majority them, that of the right hon. Gentleman, and those Members can claim to speak for large sections of their fellow-countrymen. Why cannot we have some reply, some information as to what the Government intend to do, if they intend to do anything, or as to whether they intend to reflect about it until further orders? Are we to get no change from the policy of drift of the last Government, or are we to slide on to revolution?—for that is what it means. I look at the Treasury Bench. I am sure they have ideas. Cannot we hear some of them? The new President of the Board of Trade is there. I know he is brimful of ideas. What are his plans? We are not asking very much. It is the usual thing at the end of a day's debate for the Government to make some reply. I am grateful to the last speaker, who did condescend to make some answer from the other side of the House. We are all grateful for his intervention. I do not mind being ignored myself, for I have been ignored many times; but if the Government goes on ignoring everyone, it plays into the hands of those who say that Parliament is played out, and that we must have some other system in its place.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I want again to protest against the attitude of the Government to-day. As the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has said, many speeches have been delivered from these benches by men who in most cases have come direct to this House from the workshops where they were employed, and by at least two men, whom I know, direct from the queue outside the Employment Exchanges. These men have been speaking in the name of the men, women and children of the country whom they represent. They have been putting up proposals to the Government of the day. They have been asking the Government what they intend to do regarding the condition in the country, and the Government has sat silent. Speech after speech has been made and no reply has been given from the Government bench which has remained? almost empty during the whole course of the Debate. [Interruption.] I repeat it has remained almost empty during the whole of the Debate and only this past half hour have been seen such a wonderful array of languid and tired members of the Government upon that bench. We have come to a new Parliament; we have come from an election and hon. Members on that side of the House will tell us as this Parliament proceeds that they have as much right to speak in the name of the people and the working people of this country as any Labour Member. I agree hon. Members have, if they are sent here from industrial constituencies, but I submit they are not acting as representatives of their constituencies if they do not join with us in asking from the Government which they are going to support, what that Government intends to do to make somewhat easier the lot of the people whom they claim to represent. What you will be compelled to do, sooner or later, will be to get out of this tired attitude. No doubt, after four years of storm and stress, with the dynamic force which you had as Prime Minister, driving you on and ever on—no doubt you are tired. But, if you are tired, Parliament is not the place in which to take a rest. There are other places outside, and with 1,500,000 of the breadwinners of this country standing in the streets and asking for employment or something that can be done by them of a useful character, you cannot afford, this Government cannot afford, no body of people in this country can afford to look upon matters with a languid eye or stretch their arms and yawn in the face of this misery. I protest against the fact that not one statement has been made except the statement of the Prime Minister at the commencement of the Debate. The President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Labour, and the Minister of Pensions have all been upon the bench taking notes as though they were going to reply to the Debate, but not one word, not one syllable, has passed their lips that could be heard by Members of the House as to the intentions of the Government. I protest again, and I say that to carry on the Government in that way is to flout the democracy of this country, which will one day turn down even those who claim to be the representatives of the people on that side of the House.

Photo of Mr Bonar Law Mr Bonar Law , Glasgow Central

For the benefit of the new Members of the House, I would point out that my hon. Friend, if I may call him so, is playing the ordinary game of opposition, but hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that they intend to move an Amendment to the Address dealing specially with unemployment. It is obvious that that is the occa- sion on which the Government will give their considered reply. As regards our not taking part in the debate, I have always found, especially at the beginning of a Parliament, that there is objection to the Front Benches taking up time which is desired by private Members, and I would certainly not approve of my right hon. Friends taking part in it.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Eleven o'Clock.