If the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr) will consult the OFFICIAL REPORT Of previous debates on this subject he will find that he is sitting on the wrong side of the House. I have probably been associated with more debates on the control of employment than any other hon. Member, with one exception, and my task has always been to defend the steps for deploying and mobilising the labour power of the country. In that sense I came into conflict with my hon. Friends who have put down this Prayer. The only opportunity we have to discuss this matter is by putting down a Prayer.
This Order will affect potentially over 20 million people, and it is debate in this House only because the Opposition have put down a Prayer. On Monday, when it was to be discussed, we were devoting to the interests of 20 million workers the amount of time we should have devoted to one man. I think that is a shocking and scandalous state of things, and the Government ought to have behaved with much more courage.
I have three reasons for associating myself with this Prayer. The first reason is the manner in which this House has been treated, about which hon. Members on both sides ought to be concerned. If when we were in Office we had behaved in this way hon. Gentlemen opposite would have raised the roof—and rightly. Let us see what happened on this occasion. This Order was laid on 29th January. The debate on the economic situation was taking place, and two Ministers referred to the Order in the course of that debate. The Government Chief Whip and the Chancellor were on the Front Bench and a number of interjections were made on points of order asking where the Order was, but the Order was not produced until the following day.