Salvation Army Bill.

– in the House of Commons at on 19 February 1931.

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Photo of Mr Francis Smith Mr Francis Smith , Nuneaton

I desire, first of all, to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me an opportunity to raise a matter concerning the Second Reading of the Salvation Army Bill yesterday. The reason for my asking this permission is that undoubtedly a most unfortunate misunderstanding occurred in connection with it. [An HON. MEMBER: "On your part!"] I am, of course, not questioning your Ruling regarding the decision which you gave, as that would be manifestly improper, but I want to advance reasons to show that the circumstances—

HON. MEMBERS:

Order!

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I did not know that the hon. Member was going to make a speech. I thought that he was going to ask me a question.

Photo of Mr Francis Smith Mr Francis Smith , Nuneaton

I certainly wish, and I assumed that you would desire it, to offer reasons for asking the question. However, I will ask one or two questions. The first question is, whether the orderly confusion which is connected with the introduction of Private Bills—when I say "orderly confusion" I mean the incoming of hon. Members after prayers instead of before prayers—and also the fact that there was a series of machine gun like calls of "No!" "No!" "No!" would not justify one in asking whether these were not the reasons why our objection to the Bill did not reach your ears. In view of the fact that objection was raised and that I am supported in that statement by other hon. Members, would not that have justified a re-putting of the Question in order that an unfortunate misunderstanding should not have governed the matter when it came before the House?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I certainly could not admit that at the time of Private Business there is "orderly confusion." I will not admit that for a moment. As regards the question put to me, I can but repeat what I said yesterday, that, in spite of giving ample time after the reading of the Order for the Second Reading of the Bill, if any objection was made it was utterly inaudible to me when I put the Motion for the Second Reading. In these circumstances, I cannot go back upon the Ruling that I gave.

Photo of Mr Francis Smith Mr Francis Smith , Nuneaton

With great respect, is it not within the memory of hon. Members that where it has been pointed out to you that an unfortunate misunderstanding has arisen you have on other occasions allowed the Question to be re-put in order that no doubt might arise?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

If there have been cases where a question has been put again after the voices have been collected, it must be very rare, and I do not think that it is a precedent that ought to be followed. I do not propose to follow it on this occasion.

Photo of Mr Francis Smith Mr Francis Smith , Nuneaton

In view of the fact that a misunderstanding did arise, is there no way in which you can give Members of this House an opportunity to exercise their right in raising objections to the matter under review?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

If hon. Members have any objection to the Bill, they can raise it in the usual way on the Committee stage.

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

Is it not the command to "watch and pray"? Hon. Members may have prayed, but they did not watch.

Photo of Mr Francis Smith Mr Francis Smith , Nuneaton

In reply to the hon. Member, I may say that I not only watched and prayed, but I spoke also. May I ask whether it is reasonable for the hon. Member to take advantage of the situation in order to satisfy his own opinion?