CIVIL SERVICE REMUNERATION, &c.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 27th February 1936.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

I do not feel competent to express any opinion on the legal aspects, but, with great respect, there does seem to be some doubt in the minds of hon. Members. We might have had the assistance of the learned Law Officers, but it is not in relation to that aspect of the question that I rise. I am frankly astonished at the attitude adopted by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He made some effort to contribute to our entertainment, and seemed to enjoy himself at that Box, preening his feathers, and creating only one impression in my mind, which was that he sought to treat the Committee with scant courtesy. When I raised this question earlier in the debate I did so without any levity in my mind. My submission to the Committee is that language of this sort is unprecedented in a Government document of this kind. I think that hon. Members have a great regard for the ability of the hon Member opposite, but he ought not to take advantage of the opinion held of him in this House to ride off in the flagrant way he did on a substantial issue of this kind. The very lowest we were entitled to expect from the hon. Member was a submission that this language had been used in other Government documents; in short, to advance a precedent. He did no such thing. On the contrary he added fuel to the fire, insult to injury, by dilating on the association of Members on this side with an alleged crisis. He spoke of a financial crisis, but there was no specification whatever, nor did he venture to inform the Committee as to whether that financial crisis was attributable to the conduct of the National Government or some other Government.

On that head we are entitled to information if in the opinion of the hon. Member, language of this kind is competent in a document of this sort. I take exception to the language used, and also particularly to the attitude of the hon. Member. It is not the way to submit a Government document, and it is not the way to expect acceptance by the House. For my part, not because of the Vote concerned, because there is no exception taken on this side to the restoration of emoluments, but because we object to the language used which ought in my view to be removed, and as the hon. Member has not seen fit to remove it, I am prepared to advise my friends on this side to vote against this Supplementary Estimate on the ground that the language is unprecedented and uncalled-for.