Dissolution of Parliament. – in the House of Commons on 9th October 1924.
May I ask the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make to. the House?
I regret that the action taken by the two Opposition parties yesterday rendered an Election inevitable. I, therefore, have had an audience with His Majesty this morning, and asked for a dissolution. His Majesty empowers me to announce that he has consented.
In considering further arrangements, I felt that I should be meeting the wishes of all parties in the House if I did my best to avoid clashing with the municipal elections. The difficulty was whether it would be better to hang the Election over until the municipal elections had been cleared out of the way, or whether it would not be better, and far more convenient, to try to get the General Election over before the municipal elections.
The Government were very anxious to reduce the inconvenience of the Election to a minimum. By a careful study of the position, we have found that it will be possible to have the Election over before the municipal elections take place. The proposal, therefore, is that this afternoon this House will be prorogued, and the Election will take place forthwith. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] The Dissolution to-night will mean that nominations can he made on Saturday, the 18th October. and we can take the Election on Wednesday, the 29th October.
May T. ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in connection with the dates he has just announced, the position has been made clear that this House will not dissolve until the Irish Free State Bill has been passed?
Yes. In accordance with the pledge I gave the other day, we have seen that the Irish Free State (Confirmation of Agreement) Bill is safe. I understand that another place has made no alteration, and that there is no difficulty. Had it not been for that, the dates that I have just announced could not have been arranged. It is on the supposition that the Irish Bill will receive the Royal Assent this afternoon, and that other formal business will be transacted immediately afterwards.
May I ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies what date was contemplated for the Imperial Conference, to which, I understand, he has invited representatives of the Dominions, and what arrangements be is making about it in view of the Prime Minister's announcement?
I have not had notice of this question, and can only say that nothing that happened last night should, in our opinion, interfere. with the Government going on with their proposal.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it will he possible to consider at that conference the Geneva Protocol?
That is a Foreign Office affair, and it must be the subject of representations to the Dominion Government.
Can the Prime Minister say whether it will be necessary for the new House of Commons to meet this year, in order to pass the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill?
Yes. We have also taken that into account. There are two small Bills, which are very important, that must be passed this year, unless very great public inconvenience is to be caused. One is the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and the other the Property Bill—a Bill dealing with the law relating to property.
It is a Bill to postpone something or other. I am informed that that Bill must be passed, Unless a great deal of public inconvenience is to be caused. I understand that any time up to the 31st December will do for that Bill. The intention is that the House of Commons shall meet reasonably soon after the Election.
May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Election will take place on the 29th October, Parliamentary sanction is required, or, if not, have the Cabinet made any arrangement, in regard to the continuance of the British Empire Exhibition and any Government guarantee?
That is at present in negotiation with the Dominions. I believe it can be settled without Parliamentary sanction. I had it in my mind when I said that we would meet conveniently after the Election, say, just a week or two later, in order to give Members an opportunity of having a little rest before they resume their duties.
May I ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that the Tory Magistrates' Committee in Glasgow have shut the halls in Glasgow against Labour Members, as the first part of their campaign? [HON. MEMBERS: "Sundays!"]
May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in regard to the dates which have been taken carefully into consideration, he is aware that the Autumn Register does not come into force, and is not ordinarily printed and available for use until the 15th October; and, having regard to that fact, can any steps be taken by the Government to expedite the publication of the Registers, so that they may be available for the use of candidates in reasonable time for the Election?
My information is not quite in accordance with what has just been stated by my hon. Friend. My information is that, while the Register comes into operation on the 15th October, it is circulated on the.8th October. As a matter of fact, the Registers ought to have been delivered yesterday. That was one of the things which we took into account, to see whether the dates would be convenient.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in all up-to-date constituencies the Registers are ready now?
Is it possible to give an approximate date when Parliament will re-assemble after the Election?
I think that will be stated in the Proclamation—somewhere about the 18th or 20th November.